The Indian Magical Herb 'Sanjeevni' (Selaginella bryopteris L.) - A Promising Anti-inflammatory Phytomedicine for the Treatment of Patients with Inflammatory Skin Diseases

  • Paswan, Shravan Kumar (Department of Pharmacognosy & Ethnopharmacology, National Botanical Research Institute (CSIR)) ;
  • Gautam, Arti (Amity Institute of Pharmacy, Amity University) ;
  • Verma, Pritt (Department of Pharmacognosy & Ethnopharmacology, National Botanical Research Institute (CSIR)) ;
  • Rao, Chandana Venkateswara (Department of Pharmacognosy & Ethnopharmacology, National Botanical Research Institute (CSIR)) ;
  • Sidhu, Om Prakash (Department of Pharmacognosy & Ethnopharmacology, National Botanical Research Institute (CSIR)) ;
  • Singh, Ajeet Pratap (Department of Pharmacognosy & Ethnopharmacology, National Botanical Research Institute (CSIR)) ;
  • Srivastava, Sajal (Amity Institute of Pharmacy, Amity University)
  • Received : 2017.02.22
  • Accepted : 2017.05.04
  • Published : 2017.06.30


Objectives: Selaginella bryopteris L. (family: Selaginaceae), is often used in traditional Indian systems of medicine for the prevention and cure of several disorders and for the treatment of patient with spermatorrhoea, venereal disease, constipation, colitis, urinary tract infections, fever, epilepsy, leucorrhoea, beri-beri and cancer. It is also used as a strength tonic. This study aimed to evaluate the mechanisms underlying the anti-inflammatory effects of topically administered aqueous, polar and non-polar methanolic fractions ($10mg/20{\mu}L$) of Selaginella bryopteris. Methods: An acute oral toxicity study of Selaginella bryopteris at doses from 250 to 2,000 mg/kg body weight (bw) was performed. Aqueous, polar and non-polar methanolic extracts ($10mg/20{\mu}L$) applied topically for 5 days were evaluated for their anti-inflammatory effects against 12-tetra-O-decanoyl phorbol acetate (TPA)- induced inflammation by using the redness in the ear, the ear's weight (edema), oxidative stress parameters, such as lipid-peroxide (LPO) and nitric oxide (NO), and the pro-inflammatory cytokines involved in inflammation, such as tumour necrosis factor $(TNF)-{\alpha}$, interleukin $(IL)-1{\beta}$ and IL-6. Indomethacine ($0.5mg/20{\mu}L$) was used for the positive control. Results: Selaginella bryopteris produced no mortalities when administered orally at doses from 250 to 2,000 mg/kg bw. Topical treatment with the non-polar methanolic fraction ($10mg/20{\mu}L$) significantly suppressed redness ($2.4{\pm}0.5$) and edema ($30.4{\pm}1$) and effectively reduced the LPO level ($32.3{\pm}3.3$). The NO level was ($8.07{\pm}0.55$), and the $TNF-{\alpha}$, $IL-1{\beta}$, and IL-6 levels were decreased to $69.6{\pm}15.5$, $7.7{\pm}4.8$ and $82.6{\pm}5.9$, respectively. Conclusion: This study demonstrated for the first time the mechanisms underlying the anti-inflammatory effect of medicinal plants like Selaginella bryopteris and quantified the pharmacological interactions between them. The present study showed this herbal product to be a promising anti-inflammatory phytomedicine for the treatment of patients with inflammatory skin diseases.


  1. Ganeshaiah KN, Vasudeva R, Uma Shaanker R. In search of Sanjeevani. Curr Sci. 2009;97(4):484-9.
  2. Srimad Valmiki Ramayana. 74th chapter. Yuddakanda. Slokas. 29-34.
  3. Singh S, Singh R. Ethnomedicinal use of pteridophytes in reproductive health of tribal women of pachmarhi biosphere reserve, madhya pradesh, India. IJPSR. 2012;3(12):4780-90.
  4. Singh S, Singh R. Utilization of pteridophytes of achanakmar-amarkantak biosphere reserve, central India in women's health and beauty care practices. IRJP. 2013;4(1):235-40.
  5. Shweta S, Singh R, Sahu TR. Ethnomedicinal uses of Pachmarhi Hills, Madhya Pradesh, India. Floral Diversity and their conservation. Publisher Biotech Book. 2013;267-90.
  6. Singh Shweta, Rita Singh. Ethnobotany of Pteridophytes in Bastar region of Chhathisgarh State. Ethnobotany of India. Deep Publication Published. 2014.
  7. Singh AK, Raghubanshi, AS, Singh JS. Medical ethnobotany of the tribals of Sonaghati of Sonbhadra district, Uttar Pradesh, India. J Ethnopharmacol. 2002;81(1):31-41.
  8. Agarwal SS, Singh VK. Immunomodulators: a review of studies on Indian medicinal plants and synthetic peptides. part I: medicinal plants. Pinsa. 1999;65(3-4):179-204.
  9. Miki K, Nagai T, Nakamura T, Tuji M, Koyama K, Kinoshita K, et al. Synthesis and evaluation of influenza virus sialidase inhibitory activity of hinokiflavone-sialicacid conjugates. Heterocycles. 2008;75(4):879-86.
  10. Sah P. Does the magical himalayan herb "Sanjeevani Booti" really exist in nature?. J Am Sci. 2008;4(3):65-7.
  11. Garg NK. Memory enhancing activity of methanolic extract of Selaginella bryopteris in Swiss albino mice [internet]. Pharma Tutor. Pharmacy Infopedia; 2011 [cited 2017]. Available from:
  12. Kumari R, Singh JK, Kumari P, Jha AM. Impact of Selaginella bryopteris on biochemical analysis of diabetic swiss albino mice caused induced by alloxan. Int J Basic Appli Sci Res. 2014;1(2):95-9.
  13. Rupa P, Bhavani NL. Preliminary phytochemical screening of desiccated Fronds of Selaginella bryopteris (L.) baker (pittakalu). World J Pharm Sci. 2014;3(9):1370-8.
  14. Chandrakant J, Mathad P, Mety S, Ahmed L, Sanaullah MD. Phytochemical and antidepressant activities of Selaginella bryopteris (L.) baker on albino mice. IJABPT. 2015;6(4):14-9.
  15. Shah SK, Shah RP, Xu HL, Aryal UK. Biofertilizers: an alternative source of nutrients for sustainable production of tree crops. J Sustainable Agric. 2006;29(2):85-95.
  16. Alam G, Singh MP, Singh A. Wound healing potential of some medicinal plants. IJPSRR. 2011;9(1):136-45.
  17. Gittler JK, Krueger JG, Guttman-Yassky E. Atopic dermatitis results in intrinsic barrier and immune abnormalities: implications for contact dermatitis. J Allergy Clin Immunol. 2013;131(2):300-13.
  18. Haertel E, Werner S, Schafer M. Transcriptional regulation of wound inflammation. Semin Immunol. 2014;26(4):321-8.
  19. Kendall A, Nicolaou A. Bioactive lipid mediators in skin inflammation and immunity. Prog Lipid Res. 2013;52(1):141-64.
  20. Nicolaou A, Pilkington SM, Rhodes LE. Ultraviolet-radiation induced skin inflammation: dissecting the role of bioactive lipids. Chem Phys Lipids. 2011;164(6):535-43.
  21. Wagener F, Carels CE, Lundvig DMS. Targeting the redox balance in inflammatory skin conditions. Int J Mol Sci. 2013;14(5):9126-67.
  22. Zimmerman M. Ethical guidelines for investigation of experimental pain in conscious animals. Pain. 1983;16(2):109-10.
  23. Chang J, Blazek E, Skowronek M, Marinari L, Carlson RP. The anti-inflammatory action of guanabenz is mediated through 5-lipoxygenase and cyclo-oxygenase inhibition. Eur J Pharmacol. 1987;142(2):197-205.
  24. Rasadah MA, Khozirah S, Aznie AA, Nik MM. Anti-inflammatory agents from Sandoricum koetjape Merr. Phytomedicine. 2005;11(2-3):261-3.
  25. Shafiq-ur-Rehman, Rehman S, Chandra O, Abdulla M. Evaluation of malonaldehyde as an index of lead damage in rat brain homogenates. Biometals. 1995;8(4):275-9.
  26. Menaka KB, Ramesh A, Thomas B, Kumari NS. Estimation of nitric oxide as an inflammatory marker in periodontitis. J Indian Soc Periodontol. 2009;13(2):75-8.
  27. Sosa S, Balick MJ, Arvigo R, Esposito RG, Pizza C, Altinier G, et al. Screening of the topical anti-inflammatory activity of some Central American plants. J Ethnopharmacol. 2002;81(2):211-5.
  28. Morris CJ. Carragenan-induced paw edema in rat and mouse. Methods Mol Biol. 2003;225:115-21.
  29. Ferrandez-Arche A, Saenz MT, Arroyo M, de la Puerta R, Garcia MD. Topical anti-inflammatory effect of tirucallol a triterpene isolated from Euphorbia lactea latex. Phytomedicine. 2010;17(2):146-48.
  30. Weinstein IB, Lee LS, Fisher PB, Mufson A, Yamasaki H. Action of phorbol esters in cell culture. mimicry of transformation altered differentiation and effects on cell membranes. J Supramol Struct. 1979;12(2):195-208.
  31. Torres RL, Torres IL, Gamaro GD, Foretell FU, Silveira PP, Moreina JS, et al. Lipid peroxidation and total redical-trapping potential of the lungs of the rats submitted to chronic and sub-chronic stress. Braz J Med Biol Res. 2004;37(2):185-92.
  32. Delporte C, Backhousea N, Erazoa S, Negretea R, Vidala P, Silvab X, et al. Analgesic-antiinflammatory properties of Proustia pyrifolia. J Ethnopharmacol. 2005;99(1):119-24.
  33. Geronikaki AA, Gavals AM. Antioxidant and inflammatory diseases: synthetic and natural anti-oxidant with anti-inflammatory activity. Comb Chem High Thoughput Screen. 2006;9(6):425-42.
  34. Ohshima H, Bartsh H. Chronic infection and inflammatory processes as cancer risk factors: possible role of nitric oxide in carcinogenesis. Mutat Res. 1994;305(2):253-64.
  35. Koo HJ, Song YS, Kim HJ, Lee YH, Hong SM, Kim SJ, et al. Anti-inflammatory effects of genipin, an active principle of gardenia. Eur J Pharmacol. 2004;495(2-3):201-8.
  36. Calixo JB, Otukai MF, Santos AR. Anti-inflammatory compounds of plant origin part I action on arachidonic acid pathway, nitric oxide and nuclear factor kappa, B (NF kappa B). Planta Med. 2003;69(11):973-83.