Common Name : Peepal
Plant Parts Used : Fruit, Root and Stem
The erect shrub has a thick, jointed and branched root-stock. Leaves are numerous, 6.3 to 9.0 cm, broadly ovate or oblong-oval, dark green and shining above, pale and dull beneath. Fruits are present in a solitary, pedunculate, fleshy spike 2.5 to 3.5 cm long, 5 mm thick, ovoid, oblong, erect, blunt, blackish green in colour and shining. Odour is aromatic and the taste is pungent.
Characteristics and Constituents of Piper Longum :
The fruits contain 1% volatile oil, resin, alkaloids piperine and piperlonguminine, a waxy alkaloid N-isobutyldeca-trans-2-trans-4-dienamide and a terpenoid substance. Roots contain piperine, piperiongumine or piplartine. Dihydrostigmasterol has been isolated.
Actions and Uses :
Antiallergic activity of the fruit has been studied. It effectively reduced passive cutaneous anaphylaxis in rats and protected guinea pigs against antigen-induced bronchospasm; a 30% protection of mast cells was observed in an in-vitro study. Both alcoholic extract and piplartine extracted from the stems showed significant inhibition of ciliary movements of oesophagus of frog. Neogi et al studied the pharmacology of piperine. Piperine decreased the rate and amplitude of respiration and showed nonspecific blockade of acetylcholine, histamine and 5-hydroxytryptamine induced spasm on isolated guinea pig and rabbit intestine. The oil of fruit has been found to possess significant paralytic action on the nerve-muscle pre- paration of A. lumbricoides. The hepatoprotective effect has been shown in carbon tetrachloride-induced liver damage in rats. A common use of the fruit is in the prevention of recurrent attacks of bronchial asthma. Another important indication is in chronic malaria. In a study of 240 children with a long term use of fruit 58.3% had decreased severity of attacks. In another study 20 children were studied for one year with the same treatment. Eleven had no recurrence. All patients had strongly positive skin test which became negative in 6 and decreased significantly in 12 after five weeks of treatment. Along with Piper nigrum and C. officinale it has been useful in viral hepatitis.
Piper longum is in widespread use for many centuries. The standard doses are well tolerated. No mortality was observed with the powder of the fruit boiled in milk and water administered orally to albino rats in a dose of 1 gm/kg. Acute toxicity studies with piperine, piperlongumine and piperlonguminine were carried out in mice, rat and dog with oral and intraperitoneal route. In mice, oral LD(50) was 56.2+8.0, 110.1+7.8 and 115.3+9.5 mg/kg with piperine, piper-lonigumine and piperlonguminine respectively.