Shalaparni (Desmodium gangeticum) Information, Medicinal Uses and Caution

The medicinal plant Shalparni or Sarivan (Desmodium gangeticum) is extensively used in Ayurveda. It is one of the ten roots of famous anti-inflammatory formulation of Ayurveda, Dashmula. Dashmula is used since time immemorial to treat swelling inside body and intake of Dashmula balances Vata and Kapha, digests the ama and gives relief in pain. For medicinal use purpose whole plant is used.

Salparni medicinal uses
By J.M.Garg (Own work) [GFDL ( or CC BY 3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

Shalparni roots are bitter alterative tonic with Anti-inflammatory, Anticatarrhal, fever reducing, carminative, digestive, laxative, emmenagogue, and diuretic properties. The roots are used traditionally for treating inflammatory conditions, chronic fever, cough, diarrhea, dysentery, biliousness, vomiting, piles, bronchitis, asthma, intestinal parasites, arthritis, rheumatism and post-delivery disorders. Acharya Charak prescribed the decoction (Kadha or Kwath) of leaves to treat Chardi (emesis), Atisar (diarrhoea), fluid retention, jwar and constipation.

General Information

Shalparni, is a 2-4 feet high erect under shrub with woody stem, branches covered with soft hairs. It is found in the forest and waste lands of India, from the plains and Western Ghats, and upto 1500 m in the north upto Sikkim.

Shalaparni plant leaves are unifoliate, ovate, oblong, obtuse, pubescent beneath and up to 15 * 8 cm long. Its inflorescence is many flowered, terminal or axillary, slender and 15-30 cm long. The flowers are small and of pink-violet colour. Pods are thin, pointed, 1.5 to 2 cm long clothed with minute hooked hairs.

Flowering and fruiting occur in month of August and November.

Scientific Classification

The botanical name of is Desmodium gangeticum (L.) DC. It belongs to plant family Fabaceae. Fabaceae, is also known as Leguminosae or pea family and consists of about 20,000 species of plants including trees, shrubs, vines, and herbs distributed all across the world. The fruits are present inside a legume or seed pod.

Below is given taxonomical classification of plant.

  1. Kingdom: Plantae – Plants
  2. Subkingdom: Tracheobionta – Vascular plants
  3. Superdivision: Spermatophyta – Seed plants
  4. Division: Magnoliophyta – Flowering plants
  5. Class: Magnoliopsida – Dicotyledons
  6. Subclass: Rosidae
  7. Order: Fabales
  8. Family: Fabaceae ⁄ Leguminosae – Pea family
  9. Genus: Desmodium Desv. – ticktrefoil
  10. Species: Desmodium gangeticum (L.) DC.


  1. Hedysarum gangeticum L.
  2. Hedysarum maculatum L.
  3. Meibomia gangetica (L.) Kuntze.

Part(s) used for medicinal purpose: Roots, leaves, Whole plant

Plant type: Perennial Herb

Distribution: Tropical Africa, Indian subcontinent, China, Japan, Myanmar, Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam, Malaysia, Indonesia, Philippines, Australia.

Group: Dicot

Vernacular names / Synonyms

Latin name: Desmodium gangeticum

  1. Ayurvedic name: Salparni, Salaparni, Shaliparni, Shalparni, Shalparnih, Sthira, Somya, Guha, Triparni,
  2. Vidarigandha, Anshumati
  3. Hindi: Sarivan
  4. English: Ticktrefoil
  5. Assam: Biyanisaawata
  6. Bengali: Salpani
  7. Maharashtra, Satpura, Gujarat and Konkan: Salvan / Salwan, Shaalwan
  8. Kannada: Murelchonne
  9. Oriya: Saloporni
  10. Punjabi: Shalpurni
  11. Malayalam: Moovila
  12. Telugu: Kolakuponna, Nakkotokaponna, Kolaponna, Gitanaram
  13. Tamil Nadu: Pulladi, Sirupulladi Moovilai, Orilai
  14. Urdu: Shalwan

Constituents of Desmodium gangeticum

The roots contain several alkaloids, flavonoids, pterocarpanoids— gangetin (gives antiinflammatory activity), gangetinin, and desmodin. The aerial parts contain indole-3-alkylamines and their derivatives.

Ayurvedic Properties and Action of Shalparni

The root of plant is astringent, bitter and sweet in taste (Rasa), sweet after digestion (Vipaka), and is hot in effect (Virya).

It is an Ushna Virya herb. Ushna Virya or hot potency herb, subdues Vata (Wind) and Kapha (Mucus) and increases Pitta (Bile). It has property of digestion, vomiting and purging, and gives feeling of lightness.

  1. Rasa (taste on tongue): Madhura (Sweet), Tikta (Bitter)
  2. Guna (Pharmacological Action): Guru (Heavy)
  3. Virya (Action): Ushna (Heating)
  4. Vipaka (transformed state after digestion): Madhura (Sweet)

Karma (Action with meaning)

  1. Balya - increases strength
  2. Tridoshahara - corrects the imbalance of Vatta, Pitta and Kapha
  3. Vrishya - increases the quantity of semen
  4. Vishahara - destroyer of poison
  5. Angamarda Prashamana - useful in treating pain in body
  6. Sukha Prasava kara - Oxytocics, induce labor
  7. Sarvadoshahara - kills all diseases
  8. Vatadoshajit - balances Vata
  9. Rasayana - supports Rasa or plasma
  10. Krimighna - destroys worms

Important Ayurvedic Formulations Based on Shalaparni

Dashmula (Group of Ten Drugs: Bilwa, Agnimantha, Shyonaka, Gambhari, Patala, Saliparni, Prishniparni, Brihati, Kantakari, Gokshura) and All Dashmula containing medicines such as Dashamularishta, Dashmula kwath, Dasamula taila etc.

  1. Amritarishta
  2. Amritaprasha Ghrita
  3. Dhanvantara Taila
  4. Indukanta Ghrita
  5. Mahavishagarbha Taila
  6. Mahanarayana Taila
  7. Narayana Taila
  8. Rasnadi Kvatha Churna

Important Medicinal Properties

Shalparni or Desmodium gangeticum is rich in medicinal properties. The understanding of these properties will help us to better utilize this herb.

Below is given medicinal properties along with the meaning.

Antioxidant: neutralize the oxidant effect of free radicals and other substances.

Anti-inflammatory: reducing inflammation by acting on body mechanisms.

Anti-nociceptive: inhibits nociception, the sensation of pain.

Anti-rheumatic: alleviating or preventing rheumatism.

Anti-osteoarthritic: Against Osteoarthritis.

Astringent: causing the contraction of body tissues.

Antipyretic / antifebrile / febrifuge: Effective against fever.

Anthelmintic: anti-parasitic, expel parasitic worms (helminths) and other internal parasites from the body.

Diuretic: Promoting excretion of urine/agent that increases the amount of urine excreted.

Immunostimulant: stimulate the immune system by inducing activation or increasing activity of any of its components.

Laxative: tending to stimulate or facilitate evacuation of the bowels.

Nervine tonic: Anti-stress

Tranquilizer: reduce tension or anxiety.

Dosage of Desmodium gangeticum

5-10 grams as powder and 10-20 grams for preparing decoction.

Medicinal Uses of Shalaparni (Desmodium gangeticum)

Shalparni is used both internally and externally. Internally, it is used as a Rasayan, and to cure cough (Kasa), intestinal parasites (Krimi), fever (jwar), gynecological disorders, loose motion (Atisar), piles (Arsh), Swas (Difficulty to breath), muscle wasting (Sosha), vomiting (Vaman), dysuria (Mutrakricchra), Shotha (inflammation), Prameha (metabolic disorders), Vata roga, intermittent fever (Visham jwar) and disorders due to poison (Vish-vikar).

Scientific study done on aqueous decoction (5, 10 and 20 mg/kg) of roots and aerial parts shows anti-inflammatory activity in-vivo in dose-dependent manner.

The juice extracted from whole plant shows anti-rheumatic and anti-osteo arthritic activity via anti-inflammatory activity.

Diseases of skin

Boil Shalaparni leaves (2-3 grams) + Neem leaves + Tulsi leaves (5-7) and black pepper corn (2-3) in water. Filter and drink 1-2 times a day for few weeks.

Diarrhea and dysentery

The juice of roots or the decoction of leaves is given, twice/thrice a day to cure diarrhea and dysentery.


The leaf paste is applied topically.

Hair fall

The leaf paste is mixed with Aloe Vera and applied topically.


The poultice of leaves is applied.

Mouth ulcer

Root powder mixed with honey is applied.

Premature ejaculation

The roots are chewed.

Post-delivery disorders and swelling in the body

The decoction prepared by boiling Shalaparni leaves or Roots powder (5 gram) + Dry Ginger (3 gram) powder and Carom Seeds / Ajwain (3 gram) in water (400 ml), should be taken 1-2 times a day daily.


The leaves paste is applied on anus once or twice a day.

Snake bite

Half-cup root decoction is taken orally as antidote.

Skin eruptions

The paste of seed powder with water is applied topically.

Vitiation of Vata, pitta and Kapha

The decoction prepared from whole plant is given in dose of 50-100 ml.

Wounds, ulcers

Decoction of plant is used to wash wounds and ulcers.

Caution, Side effects, Warning

  1. Shalparni does not produce any toxic effect in recommended doses.
  2. It did not show any acute toxicity in mice up to 7g/Kg orally.
  3. It exhibits moderate anti-implantation and antifertility, activity in albino rats.
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