Journal of Indian System of Medicine

: 2021  |  Volume : 9  |  Issue : 3  |  Page : 153--160

A review on the pharmacological properties of Evolvulus alsinoides (Linn)

Bharathi Kathirvel1, Syed I Kalibulla2, Velayuthaprabhu Shanmugam3, Vijaya A Arumugam1,  
1 Department of Human Genetics and Molecular Biology, Bharathiar University, Coimbatore, Tamil Nadu, India
2 Department of Botany, PSG College of Arts and Science, Coimbatore, Tamil Nadu, India
3 Department of Biotechnology, Bharathiar University, Coimbatore, Tamil Nadu, India

Correspondence Address:
Dr. Vijaya A Arumugam
Department of Human Genetics and Molecular Biology, Bharathiar University, Coimbatore 641 046, Tamil Nadu.


Background: Evolvulus alsinoides (Linn) is a perennial herb found throughout India that belongs to the family of Convolvulaceae. Shankhpushpi was traditionally used in Unani and Ayurveda. Shankhpushpi was used in the Medhya Rasyana (nervine tonic) as a brain and memory tonic. Traditionally, Shankhpushpi has been used as a memory enhancer, a sedative; for antianxiety; as an antiepileptic, anthelmintic, and anticonvulsant; and against leukoderma. Aim: The objective of this review is to summarize the phytochemical constituents, traditional uses, ethnomedicinal uses, and pharmacological properties of E. alsinoides L. Materials and Methods: The articles regarding E. alsinoides L. were collected using keywords such as E. alsinoides L.; pharmacological activities and traditional usage were obtained from accredited scientific databases such as Pubmed, Nature, Wiley, Springer, and ScienceDirect. Results and Conclusion: Based on current observations, a literature review suggested that the E. alsinoides L. may possess pharmacological properties such as wound healing, hepatoprotective activity, cardioprotective property, antidiabetic activity, memory and learning, and neuroprotective activity.

How to cite this article:
Kathirvel B, Kalibulla SI, Shanmugam V, Arumugam VA. A review on the pharmacological properties of Evolvulus alsinoides (Linn).J Indian Sys Medicine 2021;9:153-160

How to cite this URL:
Kathirvel B, Kalibulla SI, Shanmugam V, Arumugam VA. A review on the pharmacological properties of Evolvulus alsinoides (Linn). J Indian Sys Medicine [serial online] 2021 [cited 2022 Nov 26 ];9:153-160
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Evolvulus alsinoides (Linn), which belongs to the Convolvulaceae family, is also commonly called Shankhpushpi. Generally, E. alsinoides L. is seen in grassy and open space as a weed,[1] and it is found in India, Africa, Philippines, and subtropical countries of the world.[2] In Ayurveda, the leaves of Shankhapushpi are one of the prime ingredients among Medhya Rasyana (nervine tonic) plants, which are useful for synaptic plasticity and neural regeneration. The traditional usage includes anticonvulsant, anthelmintic, sedative, memory-enhancement, antiepileptic, and anti-anxiety properties.[3],[4] The plant is also used for various purposes such as insanity, as a brain and memory tonic, and for antifungal, antibacterial, antiulcer, antiasthmatic, uterine bleeding treatment, nervous debility, and epilepsy reasons.[5] The objective of the current study is to compile the pharmacological activities and ethnomedicinal uses of E. alsinoides L.

 Materials and Methods

Convolvulaceae (Morning glory) family has 59 genera. In Ayurveda, most of these plants such as Convolvulus prostratus, Convolvulus pluricaulis, and Evolvulus alsinoides belonging to this family are referred to as Shankhpushpi. As the present study focuses on E. alsinoides L., the authors have carefully elicited relevant information regarding this particular plant. About 65 articles in connection with E. alsinoides L. pertaining to pharmacological properties and their traditional formulation were collected from Elsevier, Springer, Wiley, Nature, Pubmed, and ScienceDirect for appropriate content. The research and review works published in the past 20 years (2000–20) were collected and scrutinized using the keywords, including E. alsinoides L., Ayurveda, Shankhpushpi, ethnomedicinal use, phytoconstituents, traditional usage, and pharmacological activities. The following methodologies have been used in the articles collected for this review paper. Gas chromatography and mass spectroscopy technique were used in identifying the phytochemical constituents present in the E. alsinoides L.[6],[7],[8],[9] Agar well diffusion and disk diffusion methods were used in determining the antibacterial activity of E. alsinoides L.[10],[11] The wound-healing property of E. alsinoides L. was assessed by measuring the wound contraction, excision and incision wound model, tensile strength, and total protein estimation.[12],[13] The hepatoprotective effect of E. alsinoides L. was analyzed through histopathological examination of liver and western blot analysis.[14],[15] Biochemical parameters such as triglycerides, total cholesterol, low-density lipoprotein, and very low-density lipoprotein were estimated to check the antihyperlipidemic effect.[16] The anxiolytic activity of E. alsinoides L. was validated by following behavioral tests such as open field test, neuromuscular coordination–rotarod, elevated plus maze test, and superoxide radical scavenging assay.[17] Learning and memory enhancement and neuroprotective property of E. alsinoides L. were investigated through behavioral tests and estimation of lipid peroxidation, reduced glutathione, and acetylcholinesterase (AchE).[18],[19],[20],[21] The antistress effect of E. alsinoides L. was confirmed by estimating biochemical parameters such as corticosterone, creatine kinase, and glucose.[22],[23] The antioxidant capacity of E. alsinoides L. was demonstrated through an in vitro antioxidant assay, including 2,2-diphenyl-1-picrylhydrazyl (DPPH) radicals, ferric-reducing antioxidant power (FRAP) assay, nitric oxide scavenging activity, and reducing power assay.[24],[25],[26],[27] The anti-inflammatory activity of E. alsinoides L. was evaluated by measuring the volume of paw edema.[28] Diastolic blood pressure, systolic blood pressure, pulse pressure, and mean arterial blood pressure were taken into account for assessing the antihypertensive activity of E. alsinoides L.[29] Biochemical studies such as glutathione peroxidase, hexosamine, hexose, glucose 6 phosphate dehydrogenase, glutathione reductase, and sialic acid were conducted to examine the antidiabetic activity of E. alsinoides L.[30],[31] The scrutinized content is categorized into various headings and is drafted into text and table forms in the literature review.



E. alsinoides L. is an annual herb; it is tiny and woody, branches are perennial, more than 30 cm long, numerous, slender, spreading, prostrate, wiry and clothed with long hairs. Leaf is minute (4–8 mm), numerous, strongly apiculate, elliptic to oblong, base acute, minute petiole and with dense silky hair. The flowers are blue or light blue in color, solitary in the upper axil, 4 mm long, very acute and 4-5 calyx lobes are present in corolla blue color, 5 mm long and broad funnel-shaped. The peduncle is axillary and long. Bracts are persistent and linear [Figure 1].[32],[33] The scientific classification and vernacular names of E. alsinoides L. are tabulated in Tables [1] and [2].{Figure 1} {Table 1} {Table 2}

 Phytoconstituents ofE. alsinoides L.

Studies have reported that E. alsinoides L. (whole plant) has alkaloids such as shankhapushpine, evolvine, betaine, stearic, triacontane, beta-sitosterol, and pentatriacontane. Volatile oils are present in the fresh plant.[36] Essential oils present in aerial parts of E. alsinoides L. are cis-a-necrodol, g-nonalactone, hexane-1-ol, g-butyrolactone, 2-butoxyethanol, benzyl alcohol, dimethyl sulfone, and a-Methyl-g-butyrolactone.[37] In E. alsinoides L. (whole plant), two new glycosidic acids (Evolvulic acids C and B) are isolated from crude resin glycoside fraction [Table 3].[38]{Table 3}

Ethyl oleate, neophytadiene, piperine, hexadecanoic acid, docosanol, 4-(3-Hydroxybutyl) phenol, ethyl ester, cholesterol, 6-methoxy-7O-b-glucopyranoside coumarin, eicosamethyl stigmast-5-en-3-ol, 2,6,10,14,18,22-tetracosahexaen (squalene-triterpene), kaempferol-7-O-bglucopyranoside, fucoxanthin, phytol, quercetine-3-O-b-glucopyranoside, 2-methyl-5-(1,2,2-trimethylcyclopentyl)Phenol, 9, 12, 15-octadecatrienole acid, rhodopsin, caffeic acid, cyclodecasiloxane, lupan-3-ol,acetate, 1,1-dimethyldecahydronaphthalene, methyl 17-methyl-octadecanoate, 9-octadecenoic acid(Z), ethyl(9Z,12Z)-9,12 octadecadienoate, methyl 17-methyl-octadecanoate, kaempferol-3-O-b-glucopyranoside, and cholest-5-en-3-ol (3.beta) are found in the ethanolic extract of E. alsinoides L. (whole plant).[6],[7],[39]

The phytochemicals present in the methanolic extract of whole plant and leaves of E. alsinoides L. are hexadecanoic acid, ethyl ester, tricyclo[,6)]heptane, 1,7,7-trimethyl, phytol isomer, n-hexadecanoic acid, octadecanoic acid, dibutyl ester, 2(4H)-benzofuranone, alfa.-copaene, levoglucosenone, 5-oxatricyclo[,6)]dodeca, cytidine, beta-D-glucopyranoside, 2-cyclohexen-1-one, 4-hydroxy-3,5,5-trimeth, cyclohexene,1-methyl-4-(1methylethenyl)-r, oleic acid, 6-(3-Hydroxy-But-1-Enyl)-1,5,5-Trim, D-allose, 2(4H)-benzofuranone, cyclohexanol, benzoic acid, tricyclo[,6)]heptan-3-OL, dotriacontane, methyl, D-allose, etradecanoic acid, diethyl phthalate, pentadecanoic acid, nonanedioic acid, heptadecanoic acid, 2,4-imidazolidinedione, 3-methyl, behenic alcohol, caryophyllene, 5,6,7,7A-tetr, 1,6-cyclodecadiene, 1-methyl-5-m, 5-hydroxymethylfurfural, icosanoic acid, 2,3-dihydro-benzofuran, glycidol stearate, and 1,1′-bicycloheptyl [Table 3].[8],[9]

 Traditional Uses

In Ayurveda, it is referred to as Shankhapushpi, and it is used in the treatment of asthma, insanity, amnesia, epilepsy, nervous debility, stress, memory enhancement, neurodegenerative diseases, and against mental disturbances.[57],[58] In Unani, it is referred to as Sankhaholi, and it is used as an anti-inflammatory, antiaging, brain tonic, memory enhancer, mental stimulant, cardiac tonic, blood purifier, and tranquillizer.[59]

 Ethnomedicinal Use

Ethnomedicinal use of the plant is given in [Table 4].{Table 4}

 Pharmacological Properties

Antibacterial Activity

Ethanolic extract of the whole plant has shown antibacterial activity against various pathogens, including Salmonella para A, Salmonella para B, Staphylococcus aureus, Vibrio cholera, Escherichia coli, and Pseudomonas aeruginosa.[60] Different parts (root, stem, leaf, and flower) of E. alsinoides L. (methanolic extract) were tested against the pathogens. It is reported that the root had maximum activity than other parts against all the pathogens.[10],[11]E. alsinoides L. was tested for antimicrobial activity against various bacteria and fungi in the order ranging from 50 to 150 μL. The extract showed significant results against gram (+), gram (−) bacteria, and fungi; the maximum clearance was observed at a higher concentration.[61]

Wound Healing

Better wound healing was seen in wistar mice treated with an ethanolic extract of E. alsinoides L. (whole plant) than in the control group.[12] A study was carried out to investigate the dermal wound-healing potential of E. alsinoides L. (aerial parts) in comparison with pure alkaloid betaine. Results showed that E. alsinoides L. has promising wound-healing potential and can be used in the treatment of wounds.[13]

Hepatoprotective Effect

The hepatoprotective effect of E. alsinoides L. was tested on paracetamol-induced rats. Biochemical parameters alanine aminotransferase, alkaline phosphatase, and aspartate aminotransferase were elevated in the paracetamol-induced group compared with the control. On administration of E. alsinoides L., it is observed that there is a significant reversal of hepatotoxicity induced by paracetamol.[14] It has been reported that E. alsinoides L. methanol extract can inhibit the proliferation of HepG2 and triggers apoptotic cell death; thus, it can be beneficial in the treatment of liver cancer.[15]

Antihyperlipidemic Activity

Triton-induced hyperlipidemic rats were nursed with E. alsinoides L. (ethanolic extract) with chloroform fraction. The results showed that E. alsinoides L. have significantly low-density lipoprotein, triglycerides level, very low-density lipoprotein, and reduced total cholesterol.[16]

Anxiolytic Effect

The ethanol extract of E. alsinoides L. was fractionated into the aqueous fractions and ethyl acetate fractions, and it was tested for anxiolytic effect. Ethyl acetate extract was found to be productive at 100mg/kg, and aqueous fraction was devoid of activity.[17]

Adaptogenic and Antiamnesic Activity

Adaptogenic activity of E. alsinoides L. was assessed in the acute stress and chronic unpredictable stress-induced rat model. The rats were subjected to various types of stress for a period of seven days. Ethanolic extracts of varying concentrations (100, 200, and 400mg/kg p.o.) were given to the rats for a duration of three days. Stress-induced conditions such as an increase in corticosterone level, plasma creatine kinase, gastric ulcer, and adrenal gland weight were found to be decreased in rats treated with E. alsinoides L. (ethanolic extract).[62]

The antiamnesic effect of E. alsinoides L. was assessed in adult swiss mice. Amnesia was induced in the mice through the oral administration of scopolamine for three days. Scopolamine-induced mice displayed an increase in transfer latency in the second trial.[62]

Learning and Memory

Ethyl acetate, ethanol, and aqueous extract of E. alsinoides L. displayed significant improvement in the learning, memory enhancement and also significantly reversed the amnesia; the activity of plants was compared using piracetam (standard).[18] Hydro-alcoholic extract was administered in different concentrations ranging from 100 to 500mg/kg, p.o. to the cognitively impaired rats. Cognitive impairment was induced in rats by streptozotocin injections. Hydro-alcoholic extracts of E. alsinoides L. were found to be effective in improving cholinergic function, preventing Rho kinase expression and reduced oxidative stress. Results suggest that E. alsinoides L. has anti-Alzheimeric property.[19] Scopolamine-induced mice resulted in increased AChE activity and cholinergic deficits, which, on administration with ethanolic extracts of E. alsinoides L., displayed AChE activity inhibition and improvement in the spatial memory.[20]

Neuroprotective Activity

At cholinergic synapses, the signal transmission is terminated by AChE and it also hydrolysis the acetylcholine into acetate and choline. In brain cells, AChE–beta-amyloid peptide (highly toxic) complex is formed by amyloid fibrils and this process is persuaded by AChE. The complexes formed are deposited as amyloid plaques in brain cells and they induce Alzheimer’s disease. The methanol and aqueous fractions of E. alsinoides L. potentially inhibited AChE than the galantamine (standard drug).[21]

Antistress Activity

The 2,3,4-trihydroxy-3-methylbutyl3-[3-hydroxy-4-(2,3,4-trihydroxy2-methylbutoxy)-phenyl]-2-propenoate 1,3-di-O-caffeoylquinic acid methyl ester and caffeic acid found in the ethanolic extract (whole plant) of E. alsinoides L. has shown significant results in normalizing the stress parameters.[22] Phenolic glycosides present in E. alsinoides L. were screened for antistress activity. Evolvosides C–E and flavonol-4-O-triglycosides compounds were obtained from the whole plant of E. alsinoides L.; were found to be effective against the acute stress-induced rats; and significantly normalized the stress parameters such as plasma corticosterone, hyperglycemia, adrenal hypertrophy, and plasma creatine kinase.[23]

Antioxidant Activity

The antioxidant capacity of E. alsinoides L. is probably due to the existence of diterpenes, flavonoids, and phenolic substances. The scavenging effects of different extracts of E. alsinoides L. on DPPH radicals and superoxide anion were found to increase when the concentration (20–100 µg/mL) was increased.[24] The total antioxidant capacity and reducing power of ethanolic extract of E. alsinoides L. were found to be increasing in a dose-dependent manner.[25] The antioxidative capacity and total phenolic content of E. alsinoides L. were tested using assay methods such as DPPH, FRAP assay, nitric oxide scavenging activity, and reducing power; the study showed that the E. alsinoides L. has high levels of antioxidant activity.[26] Free radical scavenging capacity and total antioxidant of the E. alsinoides L. were measured using the DPPH, phosphomolybdenum, and FRAP methods. The results revealed that the E. alsinoides L. (methanolic extract) had a higher radical scavenging effect, with an IC50 value of 20.63 ± 0.30mg/mL in phosphomolybdenum complex, 18.21 ± 0.51 in DPPH, and 20.38 ± 0.37 in FRAP method.[27]

Anti-inflammatory Activity

Chloroform and ethyl acetate extracts of E. alsinoides L. were investigated for anti-inflammatory effects in two methods: carrageenan and formalin-induced paw edema in rats. The volume of the paw was taken into consideration in comparison with diclofenac (standard), in which ethyl acetate has shown maximum activity in both methods.[28]

Antihypertensive Activity

A study was conducted in the rats induced with adrenaline to analyze the antihypertensive effect of E. alsinoides L. (methanolic extract). Hypertensive conditions such as pulse pressure, systolic blood pressure, diastolic blood pressure, and mean arterial blood pressure are induced in rats on adrenaline administration. The results suggested that hypertension parameters were significantly decreased on the administration of E. alsinoides L. and they suggested that the intake of E. alsinoides L. could be beneficial in hypertension management.[29]

Cardioprotective Property

A study was performed to analyze the cardioprotective effect of E. alsinoides L. Rats were induced with acute myocardial infarction through the isoproterenol administration for two consecutive days. The animals were pretreated with methanolic extract of E. alsinoides L. for 30 days. Several biochemical parameters and heart tissue enzymes were analyzed in isoproterenol-induced rats. The results suggest that methanolic extracts at dosages of 200 and 100mg/kg/p.o were found to be effective against the oxidative stress linked with myocardial injury.[63]

Antidiabetic Activity

The antidiabetic property of E. alsinoides L. was examined in rats induced with streptozotocin. The ethanolic extract of E. alsinoides L. was administered orally to rats for a period of 45 days. The results displayed that there is a significant increase in the insulin level as well as an inhibition of lipid peroxidation.[30] In diabetic condition, thickening of basal membrane is caused by the derangement of glycoprotein metabolism. Streptozotocin-induced diabetic rats were administered with an ethanolic extract of E. alsinoides L. for a duration of 45 days. The results indicated that E. alsinoides L. is beneficial in normalizing glucose homeostasis and in restoring glycoprotein level.[31] Polysaccharides are converted into disaccharides by the action of α Amylase. Disaccharides are further broken down to monosaccharides by α Glucosidase enzyme, which increases the blood glucose level. Aqueous and methanolic extracts of E. alsinoides L. were found to be potential in inhibiting α Glucosidase and α Amylase enzymes.[21]


The pharmacological activities discussed provide evidence that the Ayurveda property of E. alsinoides L. is reliable, thus making the plant medicinally important. Different formulations of E. alsinoides L. have been used as a cure for many diseases in various countries. E. alsinoides L. could be used as alternative or complimentary medicine for many diseases, especially in oxidative stress-induced diseases such as diabetes, neurodegenerative disorders because of their strong antioxidant capacity. In antidiabetic activity, the alcoholic extract of E. alsinoides L. was found to be effective in reducing glucose level and stimulating insulin production.[31]E. alsinoides L. extracts were found to be potential in providing anti-Alzheimer’s effect.[21] The findings suggest that E. alsinoides L. has numerous health benefits that are yet to be explored.


In the past few decades, medicinal plants and herbs have started gaining attention again because of their abundant phytoconstituents, less toxicity, and easy availability. E. alsinoides L. is used in Unani and Ayurveda traditional medicine systems in the name of Shankhpushpi. The evidence supports that different extracts of the plant have various pharmacological activities, such as learning and memory, antibacterial, antihypertensive, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, antistress, wound healing, anxiolytic, and hepatoprotective effects. Hence, further investigations on the plant can be helpful for various treatments and therapeutic formulations.


The authors are grateful to the authorities of Bharathiar University, Coimbatore for their valuable support.

Financial support and sponsorship


Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.


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