Antitussive agents: Pharmacognosy

Antitussive agents: Pharmacognosy

Cough is a reflex action elicited by our body to clear the airway of irritants. Now, this is normal. But what if we keep coughing for prolonged periods? Wouldn’t that be quite irksome?  To curb this, antitussives entered the market. While allopathic antitussives flood the market, these are now being replaced by natural antitussive agents. Some popular antitussives are:

i)Vasaka:

This herb has been traditionally used in the Ayurvedic system of medicine in India for its medicinal properties. The leaves are used as juice, syrup or alcoholic extracts. (Antitussive agents: Pharmacognosy)

  • Occurrence:

This herb was first mentioned in the Atharvaveda which proves that is has been in use since the origin of Ayurveda.

  • Distribution:

This herb is indigenous to India, specifically in the Himalayan region and Maharashtra. It is also found in Myanmar, Sri Lanka and Malaya.

  • Organoleptic evaluation:

The drug contains the leaf, fruit and seeds. The macroscopic characters are:

  • Leaves : 10-30cm length and 4-10cm wide
  • Petiolate, exstipulate and lanceolate leaves
  • Crenate margin with acuminate apex
  • Bitter taste and characteristic odor

 

  • Chemical constituents:

The main constituents are vasicine, vasicinone and 6-hydroxy vasicine which are all quinazoline derivatives. The other constituents are volatile oil, betain, vasakin and adathodic acid.

Antitussive agent

  • Therapeutic efficacy:
  • Bronchodilator
  • Expectorant
  • Antitussive

ii)Tolu balsam:

The next potent antitussive agent is Tolu balsam that is a brownish, sticky mass from the trunks of Myroxylon balsamum.

  • Occurrence:

The native pre-Columbian people were the first to use this balsam. Later on, it was exported to Europe in the 17th century and got documented in the German Pharmacopoeia first.

  • Distribution:

It is indigenous to Columbia and predominantly cultivated in the West Indies and South America.

  • Organoleptic evaluation:

This drug is obtained by making incisions on the bark of the tree. The external features are:

  • Brownish-yellow color
  • Vanilla-like odor
  • Aromatic taste
  • On standing, the sticky mass becomes hard and brittle and also darkens.

 

  • Chemical constituents:

The main constituents are free cinnamic acid, benzoic acid, cinnamicin and ester of toluresinotannol.

The chemical test is as follows:

Alcoholic solution of drug + Ferric chloride gives green color

  • Therapeutic efficacy:
  • Expectorant
  • Antitussive
  • Antiseptic

 

iii)Tulsi:

Belonging to the family Lamiaceae, the medicinal part of this herb is its leaves. It is also known as the Holy basil and is sacred to Hindus.

  • Occurrence:

It has been used since ancient times. Its medicinal properties were explained in the Charaka Samhita where it is regarded as an “elixir of life”.

  • Distribution:

The herb is native to India. But now it is also cultivated in Egypt, France, Hungary and Morocco.

  • Organoleptic evaluation:

The leaves depict the following characters:

  • Oblong, acute with serrate margin
  • Green color with aromatic flavor
  • Slightly pungent taste
  • Chemical constituents:

The active constituents are volatile oils, namely, eugenol, carvacrol, eugenol-methyl-ether, and caryophyllin. Other constituents are alkaloids, glycosides, and tannins.

  • Uses:
  • Expectorant
  • Anti-inflammatory
  • Antibacterial

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