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 Table of Contents  
Year : 2021  |  Volume : 5  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 4-12

Scientific review on indication and therapeutic effects of selected nootropic herbs/drugs from Kashyapa Samhita

1 Health & Family Welfare Vertical, NITI Aayog, New Delhi, India
2 Regional Ayurveda Research Institute, Nagpur, India
3 Ministry of AYUSH, New Delhi, India
4 Ministry of Women & Child Development, New Delhi, India
5 Central Council for Research in Ayurvedic Sciences, New Delhi, India
6 Central Ayurveda Research Institute for Cardiovascular Diseases, New Delhi, India
7 G.S. Ayurveda Medical College and Hospital, Hapur, Uttar Pradesh, India

Date of Submission31-Jul-2021
Date of Acceptance13-Sep-2021
Date of Web Publication14-Dec-2021

Correspondence Address:
Dr. Shobhit Kumar
Health & Family Welfare Vertical, NITI Aayog, Sansad Marg 110001, New Delhi.
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/jras.jras_39_21

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BACKGROUND: Ayurveda Samhita's has documented nootropic drugs, which may play crucial role in brain development during infancy and early childhood. Any deviation in brain development can affect the overall personality and result in low IQ, poor cognitive function, defective learning, impairment in memory, language, speech, and social communication in later life of child. As a result, knowledge of nootropic medicines is critical for dealing with memory-related symptoms in children. Objective: The present review is to explore the therapeutic domain of Medhya Rasayana (nootropic drugs) mentioned by Acharya Kashyapa in the light of recently reported contemporary evidence. Materials and Methods: Kashyapa Samhita was reviewed in terms of description of Medhya Rasayana or Medhya drugs including single and compound drugs. The electronic database such as PubMed and Google Scholar were searched for relevant literature published from time of their inception to 2020, with results restricted to report in English language and information was extracted from different published articles as per the search criteria. Results: Important nootropic drugs mentioned by Acharya Kashyapa are Brahmi (Bacopa monnieri (L.) Wettst.), Mandukaparni (Centella asiatica (L.) Urb.), Triphala (Phyllanthus emblica L., Terminalia bellirica (Gaertn.) Roxb., Terminalia chebula Retz.), Chitraka (Plumbago zeylanica L.), Vacha (Acorus calamus L.), Trivrut (Operculina turpethum (L.) Silva Manso), Shatavari (Asparagus racemosus Willd.), Shatapushpa (Anethum graveolens L.), Nagabala (Grewia hirsuta Vahl.) and Danti (Baliospermum montanum (Willd.) Müll.Arg.), Brahmi Ghrita, Kalyanaka Ghrita, and Pancha-Gavya Ghrita, etc. These herbs/drugs have a positive effect on memory; improve the intellect, learning, memory, language, and speech of a child. Moreover, these drugs have shown potential therapeutic actions like cognitive function, antiepileptic effect, antianxiety effect, sedative, tranquilizer, antidepressant, antioxidant, antistress, and adaptogenic effect. Specific medicinal herbs like Triphala, O. turpethum, and P. zeylanica under nootropic drugs are found to act through “gut-brain” axis. Conclusion: Nootropic drugs mentioned in Kashyapa Samhita is very unique contribution and in recent times these drugs are scientifically validated in pre-clinical and clinical trials, which plays an important role for brain development in pediatric age group. These drugs are clinically tested for promoting mental health since ancient times. Moreover, most of the pre-clinical/clinical studies have proved that nootropic herbs/drugs are useful in many diseases like epilepsy, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, intellectual disability, autism spectrum disorders, speech disorders, etc. Clinical studies may be planned on pediatric psychological/mental health issues taking leads from the available anecdotal evidence as well as pre-clinical evidence to generate robust empirical evidence which can be used to promote better physical and mental health in a child. CLINICAL SIGNIFICANCE: Nootropic herbs/drugs are unique drugs mentioned by Kashyapa Samhita, which are having evidence for providing better mental health as well as in the treatment of many neurological disorders.

Keywords: Ayurveda, Kashyapa Samhita, Medhya Rasayana, memory, nervous system, nootropic drugs

How to cite this article:
Kumar S, Namburi UR, Chiluveri AC, Londhe D, Dora BB, Chiluveri SK, Chinchalkar S. Scientific review on indication and therapeutic effects of selected nootropic herbs/drugs from Kashyapa Samhita. J Res Ayurvedic Sci 2021;5:4-12

How to cite this URL:
Kumar S, Namburi UR, Chiluveri AC, Londhe D, Dora BB, Chiluveri SK, Chinchalkar S. Scientific review on indication and therapeutic effects of selected nootropic herbs/drugs from Kashyapa Samhita. J Res Ayurvedic Sci [serial online] 2021 [cited 2023 Jun 5];5:4-12. Available from: http://www.jrasccras.com/text.asp?2021/5/1/4/332443

  Introduction Top

Kashyapa Samhita is a complete text for child health care. It has dealt with child health care in detail including breastfeeding, alternate feeding methods, nutritional foods, concept of supplementary feeds, dentition process, concept of wet nurse, infectious diseases, fumigation method and treatment of children diseases, etc. Acharya Kashyapa has explained the concept of supplementary feeds in detail and underpinned its importance by vivid documentation of various herbo-mineral combinations and emphasized that well-being of the child largely depends on the supplementary feeds[1] and it can be given since birth.[2] Further while documenting the different types of supplementary feeds, Kashyapa also mentioned various nootropic drugs along with their mode of administration.[3] The term Medhyarasayana is made up of Medha and Rasayana. As per the Sanskrit literature, Medha means cognition or intellect, meet or to come together or harmonize, to have proper correlation and understanding about the knowledge of the existing objects and also mentioned that without Medha, “knowledge” cannot be understood. The word Rasayana refers to nutrition of the tissues as well as its transportation in the body and used for promotive treatment for attaining premium or quality of the tissues which means rejuvenation. Therefore, the drugs mentioned under nootropic drugs may be beneficial in improving intellect, cognitive function, learning, language, speech, and memory.[4],[5],[6] There are single as well as compound herbal formulations described by Acharya Kashyapa, which includes Brahmi (Bacopa monnieri (L.) Wettst.), Mandukaparni (Centella asiatica (L.) Urb.), Triphala, Chitraka (Plumbago zeylanica L.), Vacha (Acorus calamus L.), Trivrut (Operculina turpethum (L.) Silva Manso), Shatavari (Asparagus racemosus Willd.), Shatpuspa (Anethum graveolens L.), Nagabala (Grewia hirsuta Vahl.), Danti (Baliospermum montanum (Willd.) Müll. Arg.), Kalyanaka Ghrita (KG), Brahmi Ghrita, and Panchagavya Ghrita,[7] etc. Among these, some of the drugs are very unique and not mentioned as Medhya Rasayanas by other Acharya. Acharya Kashyapa has advocated that any nootropic drug can be consumed by mixing with honey and ghee for better cognition and intellect.[7] It is observed in an in-vivo study that mixing of honey with ghee enhances browning, antioxidants and specific gravity of honey without altering the food consumption and organ weight of the animals.[8] These nootropic drugs have shown potential actions like positive effect on memory, cognitive function, antiepileptic, antianxiety, sedative, tranquilizer, antidepressant, antioxidant, antistress, and adaptogenic effects. Moreover, neurological and psychiatric disorders are generally associated with deficits in cognitive function, learning and memory, language, speech and social communication, and overall impaired mental function as per contemporary evidence.[9],[10],[11],[12],[13],[14],[15],[16],[17],[18],[19],[20],[21],[22],[23],[24],[25],[26],[27],[28],[29],[30],[31],[32],[33],[34],[35],[36],[37],[38],[39],[40],[41],[42],[43],[44],[45],[46],[47],[48],[49],[50],[51],[52],[53] Therefore, in the management of these conditions, nootropic drugs can play important role. In this review study, attention has been given to assess the potential actions and therapeutic effect of nootropic drugs.

  Materials and Methods Top

In this current review study, Kashyapa Samhita was reviewed in terms of description of Medhya Rasayana or Medhya drugs including single and compound drugs. The electronic databases PubMed and Google Scholar were searched for relevant literature published from time of their inception to 2020, with results restricted to report in English language and information was extracted from different published articles as per the search criteria. The search criteria were restricted mainly to the indication and therapeutic action of the nootropic drugs in pediatric age group and effects of nootropic drugs in nervous system disorders and child brain development. Further all data was analyzed and important facts are presented in this review study.

  Observations and Results Top

Brahmi (B. monnieri (L.) Wettst.)

B. monnieri is having cognitive, sedative, tranquillizing, antidepressant, antianxiety, antiepileptic, antioxidant, and adaptogenic properties as per the contemporary evidence.[9],[10],[11]B. monnieri shows cognitive property by virtue of its potentials like reversing the depletion of acetylcholine, reducing choline acetylase activity, and decreasing muscarinic cholinergic receptor binding in the hippocampus and frontal cortex due to Bacoside A and Bacoside B, saponins.[12] Further heraponins, glycosides present in B. monnieri shown sedative effect, which is better than pentobarbitone.[13] Bacoside A has better anxiolytic activity than lorazepam without causing side effects and also having memory-enhancing activity.[14]B. monnieri extract in a dose of 20−40 mg/kg for 5 days has shown significant antidepressant activity, comparable to standard antidepressant drugs like imipramine in rodent animals.[15]B. monnieri has protective effect against seizures in mice models.[16] Further, studies have shown antiepileptic activity in higher doses and long-term use of B. monnieri extract and bacosides have antistress and antioxidant activity mainly noted in frontal cortex, striatum, and hippocampus.[17],[18],[19],[20],[21],[22]

Mandukaparni (C. asiatica (L.) Urb.)

C. asiatica aqueous extract has shown significant effect on enhancing memory and learning,[23],[24] anti-depressant activity,[25] and also reduces serum corticosterone level.[26] Brahmoside and brahminoside constituents of C. asiatica have shown sedative effect and the anxiolytic activity due to binding to cholecystokinin receptors.[27] In one another study, it has shown antiepileptic property as well as ability to prevent cognitive impairment induced by seizure activity.[28] Protective action against increase in intracranial electric stimulation (ICES) and chemo-convulsions was observed by use of hydroalcoholic extract of C. asiatica leaves.[29] Crude methanol extract of C. asiatica has shown significant increase in the antioxidant enzymes in lymphoma-bearing mice.[30] Asiatic acid derivatives have shown neuroprotective effects on cultured cortical cells by their potentiation of the cellular oxidative defense mechanism. Therefore, these agents are proved to be efficacious in protecting neurons from the oxidative damage caused by exposure to excess glutamate.[31]

Triphala (P. emblica L., T. bellirica (Gaertn.) Roxb., T. chebula Retz.)

Triphala is a combination of three drugs including Amalaki (P. emblica L.), Vibhitaki (T. bellirica (Gaertn.) Roxb.), and Haritaki (T. chebula Retz.). Triphala has protective effect against cold-induced stress and also reverse behavioral alterations induce by stress and biochemical changes such as increased corticosterone levels and lipid peroxidation.[32]

Chitraka (P. zeylanica L.)

Chloroform extract of P. zeylanica has shown significant memory-enhancing effect in mice.[33] Ethanol extract (50%) of chloroform extract of P. zeylanica root has shown a significant increase in spontaneous motility in rat models. Chloroform extract of P. zeylanica root extract specifically improves the spontaneous ambulatory activity, but did not induce stereotypic behavior.[34] Chloroform extract of P. zeylanica leaf hydro-alcoholic extract has CNS depressant activity and muscle relaxant properties. It has also shown anxiolytic activity.[35]

Vacha (A. calamus L.)

A. calamus is a very good promoter of higher mental function. Acharya has mentioned that it has various properties including Medhya (nootropic), Vak-Suddhikara (improves speech), and Apsmarahara (antiepileptic).[36] It especially improves higher function and speech. It has anticonvulsant activity. A. calamus has shown anticonvulsant activity against pentylenetetrazol-induced seizures.[37]A. calamus rhizome extract has shown neuromodulatory effect in mice.[38] Further, in a study, it is found that methanol and acetone extract significantly reversed the stereotypy induced by apomorphine in mice.[39]

Shatavari (A. racemosus Willd.)

Methanolic extract of A. racemosus has shown significant antidepressant activity.[40] Further, it has also shown significant antiamnesic and nootropic activity in experiment models. This may be due to its anticholinesterase, antioxidant, and neuroprotective activity of A. racemosus.[41],[42] Methanolic extract of A. racemosus has also shown significant anticonvulsant activity.[43]

Trivruta (O. turpethum (L.) Silva Manso)

Ethanolic extract of O. turpethum has shown CNS depressant activity. It reduced onset and duration of pentobarbitone induced hypnosis, locomotor, and exploratory activities at the dose level of 250 mg/kg and 500 mg/kg body weight in mice experimental models.[44]

Shatapuspa (A. graveolens L.)

Aqueous extract of A. graveolens has shown significant antistress and memory-enhancing activities.[45]

Brahmi Ghrita

A study carried out for assessing effect of Brahmi Ghrita (BG) in rats for learning and memory show that prolonged use of BG increases levels of cerebral glutamic acid and also shows a transient increase in gamma amino butyric acid. BG has a positive effect on learning and memory.[46] Further, main contents of BG are B. monnieri and Ghrita. B. monnieri is a very potent nootropic herb and various studies have proved its anticonvulsant activity. Ghrita (cow Ghrita) helps in better absorption, assimilation, and better bioavailability in the brain as it has lipophilic nature and due to this nature, it can cross blood−brain barrier easily.[47] Recent research works have shown that BG significantly improves malondialdehyde levels (both serum and brain). It has memory-protective effect and also improves impaired memory function.[48] Further, a study carried out on BG effect in attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) has shown significant decrease in ADHD score.[49]

Panchgavya Ghrita

A study conducted for accessing nootropic activity of Panchgavya Ghrita in amnesia (induced by diazepam) and Morris water maze models (5g/kg and 3.5 g/kg, respectively) indicates that PGG can be used to treat cognitive disabilities such as dementia, amnesia, etc. In one another study, PGG has shown significant memory enhancing and antiepileptic effect in Cooke′s pole climbing models and ICES (increasing current electroshock seizure) animal models as compare with standard drug phenytoin.[50]

Kalyanaka Ghrita

KG is mentioned in psychological and neurological disorders by Ayurveda Acharya. Indication of KG includes Apasmara (epilepsy), Bhutonmada (psychosis), obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), and lack of memory, etc.[51],[52]

In view of the aforesaid observations, information extracted from these studies is summarized in [Table 1], which shows that nootropic drugs mentioned by Kashyapa Samhita are having important role in improving learning, memory, and cognition as well as having therapeutic effect in central nervous system (CNS disorders).
Table 1: Nootropic drugs and their evidence-based activities

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Ayurvedic Rasayana drugs have unique pharmacodynamics as these drugs/herbs promote health and normal development, if given to a healthy individual and shows therapeutic effect if administered in diseases. Based on the above studies uses of nootropic drugs can be classified as shown in [Table 2].
Table 2: Age-specific use of nootropic drugs

Click here to view

  Discussion Top

In ancient days, supplementary feeds were one of the essential methods, where various Rasayna including nootropic drugs were indicated for the child since birth for better growth and development. Further, Acharya Kashyapa has described drugs under reference as Medhya. However, the recent pre-clinical/clinical studies have shown that each Nootropic drugs in addition to nootropic property, is also having its specific effects on nervous system. Based on these studies findings, the B. monnieri is more useful in cognitive disorders, anxiety, depression, poor memory, and also it acts as neuroprotective drug. Antiepileptic effect of B. monnieri is noted only in higher doses and long-term use. C. asiatica is used in conditions like epilepsy, depression, poor memory, and learning as well as it also prevents cognition impairment caused by the seizure activity. Triphala is more beneficial in stress and also it reverses behavioral alteration induce by stress. P. zeylanica helps in enhancing the memory. A. calamus acts as neuroprotective, improves higher function and speech, and also useful in epilepsy. A. racemosus is useful in depression and convulsions. O. turpethum has CNS depressant activity. A. graveolens reduces stress and enhances memory. BG improves learning and memory and may help in treating ADHD, However, more clinical studies on the role of BG in ADHD may be conducted for producing more scientific evidence. PGG improves cognition and memory, whereas, KG has antiepileptic property.

Further, nootropic drugs like Triphala, O. turpethum, and P. zeylanica mainly act on gastrointestinal tract. In this regard, as per some recent studies, absence of normal gut microbiota can have significant effects on stress responsiveness and it can be partially reversed by normal colonization of the gut.[55] Altered microbiota-related effects reported in various studies include depression-like behavior,[56],[57],[58],[59],[60] anxiety-like behavior,[61],[62],[63],[64] nociceptive responses,[65],[66],[67],[68],[69],[70] stress responsiveness, feeding behavior, and metabolic consequences. Further, it is proven that phytochemicals present in Triphala promotes the growth of healthy gut microbiota.[71] Studies have reported that normal gut microbiota is closely associated with better learning, memory, social interaction, reduced anxiety, and positive effect in autism spectrum disorders (ASD).[72],[73] Therefore, in contemporary science, the insights of the gut−brain axis have opened a new dimension to the way for understanding and treating mental illness which has led to creation of budding branches such as “Nutritional Psychiatry.” However, Ayurveda has documented the “body-mind” relationship eons ago.[74] It detailed the influence of mind on bodily factors such as Ojas (essence of all seven dhātu/vital energy), Rasa Dhatu (primary product of digested food), Panchavida Vata (five subtype of Dosha responsible for movement and cognition), Pachaka Pitta (one of the five subtypes of Pitta that is situated in between the stomach and intestine), which divides the food into nutritive and waste portions and also supports other subtypes of Pitta), Sadhaka Pitta (Pitta responsible for seeking of objects desired by the intellect or self-esteem), Pittadhara Kala (gastro-intestinal mucosa), Majjadhara Kala (fats and lipids membrane), etc. and also the critical impact of diet and regimen on it. In this regard, the observation and documentation of Acharya Kashyapa, by including medicinal herbs like Triphala, O. turpethum, and P. zeylanica under nootropic drugs, is path-breaking and remarkable. These properties increases the potency of drug in multifold by maintaining the healthy gut as well as achieving its target precisely and this area can be further explored by more clinical studies. Kashyapa has also described G. hirsuta and B. montanum as nootropics, however, evidence-based studies are not found for these drugs as per the search criteria. Further, it is observed that most of the studies included in the review are pre-clinical, in which various extract of these nootropic drugs have been used to explore their effect and these effects cannot be directly compared with the crude drug as used in clinical practice. However, these studies may provide further evidence to nootropic drugs, which are in practice since ancient time.

  Conclusion Top

Therapeutic effects of drugs mentioned as nootropics in Kashyapa Samhita are scientifically validated in the present time by various preclinical and clinical studies. Since time immemorial these drugs are being documented for promoting mental health, which is a cardinal integrant of definition of health as per Ayurveda. Nootropic drugs play vital role in optimal growth and development of the nervous system of a child and also helps in the management of many neurological diseases like epilepsy, ADHD, intellectual disability, delayed speech, ASD, poor memory and learning disorder, etc. Further, clinical studies may be planned on pediatric psychological/mental health issues taking leads from the available anecdotal evidence as well as pre-clinical evidence to generate robust empirical evidence which can be used to promote better physical and mental health in a child.

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  [Table 1], [Table 2]


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