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Traditional uses, phytochemistry, pharmacology and toxicity of Arisaema (Areaceae): a review

Abstract

Background

The genus Arisaema (Areaceae), popularly known as cobra lilies and jack in pulpit is mainly found in temperate to tropical areas of all continents except South America, Europe and Australia and contain about more than 250 species. Arisaema genus is being used by the different folks of human populations for medicinal as well as food purposes. Arisaema plants are used for the treatment of different types of diseases. There have been several attempts to highlight different aspects of genus Arisaema by describing it in terms of phytochemistry and medicinal uses. The present study is, however, an attempt to put together all the former data available related to the phytochemistry and medicinal uses of genus Arisaema.

Main body

The phytochemicals of the plant include alkaloids, phenols, terpenes, flavonoids, lectins, saponins, glycosides, triterpenoids, stigmasterols, n-alkanes, n-alkanols sitosterols, campesterol, oxalates, coumarins, tannins etc. Moreover, the properties such as antioxidant, antifungal, antibacterial, insecticidal, antimicrobial, cytotoxic, nematocidal, antiallergic antitumour and anticancer activities are also shown by the plants belonging to genus Arisaema. Arisaema plants have been traditionally used to treat various ailments such as resolving phlegm, dampness, and to treat asthma, bronchitis, cold, cough, and laryngitis etc. It has been found that there are several species which are toxic by nature. The development of clinical applications of arisaematis rhizomes had been seriously constrained due to its toxic properties like, mouth and lingua pain, even respiration slowing and suffocation, mucous membrane and skin irritation etc. and this toxicity of arisaematis rhizomes is due to raphide components.

Conclusions

The collection of data available on the phytochemistry of genus Arisaema is not sufficient as further work is required to do on phytochemical and medicinal basis. The data available on phytochemistry and medicinal properties of the plants belonging to genus Arisaema throws light on various species of Arisaema which are medicinally important and have been exploited to treat different types of diseases in the world.

Background

The human beings are in search of cure to different diseases by natural therapies especially by different parts of plants and herbs. This paved way to the study of different plants to find novel ways of treatment and several plants have been recognized as medicinally important. Consequently, the research on medicinal plants has gone at a pace that matches no parallel in the history (Newman et al. 2000). Among these medicinally important plants comes the name of genus Arisaema that has around 250 species and every known species is used for different medicinal purposes. The species of Arisaema have been found in different parts of the world which include Eastern Africa, central Africa, Asia and eastern North America (Suresh et al. 2017).

A brief account of morphology of some of the species is given below:

  1. (a)

    Arisaema tortousum commonly known as whipcord Lily has whip like green and purple spadix. Flower can be up to 30 cm long and bisexual. Plant attains a height upto 2 m and grows in aggregation. It is usually regenerated by offsets or seeds (Fig. 1a).

  2. (b)

    Arisaema erubescens has spathe inflorescence which is greenish having cylindrical 6 cm tubers. The tuber is globose in outline and is having 3 cataphylls which are dark green in colour carrying white spots (Fig. 1b).

  3. (c)

    Arisaema serratum is a perennial herb which produces two leaves with 7–13 leaflets. Its blooming period is from May to June. The flowering bract can exhibit variety of shades and is differentiated from others by its small size spathe blade which came to end on the upper part of the mouth (Fig. 1c).

  4. (d)

    Arisaema amurense is a short cobra lily which forms rapidly growing aggregates in woodland gardens. It forms leaves with five leaflets. The spathe inflorescence arises over the small sized spadix (Fig. 1d).

  5. (e)

    Arisaema yunnanense is a perennial herb that usually arises from tubers. It exhibits 20–75 cm tall stem with 1–2 leaves. Sometimes the tuber of the plant form short tubercles which get detached from the tubers and can be the source of new plant in the proceeding years (Fig. 1e).

  6. (f)

    Arisaema leschenaultii is a perennial herb with leaves having tapering tips, lens shaped with 7−12 leaflets. Leaves containing many veins which form an intramarginal vein (Fig. 1f).

  7. (g)

    Arisaema jacquemontii is having perennial behavior developing from tubers. It forms a flowering stem upto 50 cm tall. The new plants in the subsequent years can be developed from the tubercles and from older tubers.

Fig. 1
figure1

a Arisaema tortousum, b Arisaema erubescens, c Arisaema serratum, d Arisaema amurense, e Arisaema yunnanense and f Arisaema leschenaultia

Present in the East and the West, the plant has been called by different names. As per the different appearance of its flowers, the Asiatic species are often called cobra lilies while Western species are often called jack-in-the-pulpit. Among its species, the present study would focus on few medicinally important species such as Arisaema erubescens, Arisaema flavum, Arisaema tortuosum, Arisaema intermedium Blume, Arisaema jacquemontii Blume, Arisaema murrayi Hook, Arisaema utile, Arisaema leschehnaultii, Arisaema amurense, Arisaema yunnanense, Arisaema serratum, Arisaema calcareum, Arisaema anurans among others. In the present study, an attempt is made to highlight the phytochemistry and medicinal uses of different species of genus Arisaema, including their location (where the plant is found), traditional uses, toxicity etc.

Main text

Location

The species of the genus Arisaema are found in different parts of the world. The location of some of its species is given in Table 1.

Table 1 Location of some of the species of Arisaema

Traditional uses

In the ancient times when the modern science was yet to develop, the people used different plants and herbs as treatment to different diseases and ailments. The species of genus Arisaema were also used for such purposes. Some of the traditional uses of some species of genus Arisaema are briefly given as under (Table 2):

  1. (a)

    Arisaema tortuosum Among the species of Arisaema, it has been exploited traditionally to cure rheumatism and stomachache (Jain et al. 2005; Hussain et al. 2006), snake-bite (Bhatt and Negi 2006), piles (Suresh et al. 2011), digestive tract ailments including constipation, indigestion, abdominal pain, dysentery (Gangwar et al. 2010) and used as contraceptive (Paulsamy et al. 2017). It has been also used against nematodal infections (Choudhary et al. 2008), dog bite and liver complaints (Jain et al.2005). The rhizomes of the plant are used as antihelmentic whereas tubers are used as anti-nematodal and wound healing (Verma et al. 2012).

  2. (b)

    Arisaema leschenaultii Blume The Asiatic species Arisaema leschenaultii Blume is commonly known as Dhei or cobra (Shaw and Willis 1973). It is used traditionally in Ayurveda system of medicine to cure urinary tract diseases, colitis, eczema, purging, gonorrhea, piles, haemorrhoids, syphilis, roundworm, fistula and sinus (Mathew 1999).

  3. (c)

    Arisaema erubescens Several biological disorders have been treated by this plant in the Chinese traditional medicine. Arisaema erubescens (Wall.) is used in Chinese traditional medicine to discard damp-phlegm, to prevent convulsions, and to elevate the subsidence of induration and swelling (Yang et al. 2007).

  4. (d)

    Arisaema calcareum In traditional Chinese medicine the rhizomes or tubers of A. calcareum are used against tumour and pests and also used as painkiller (Zhao et al. 2010).

  5. (e)

    Arisaema serratum In traditional Chinese medicine the rhizomes or tubers of this plant are used against tumour and pests and also used as painkiller (Zhao et al. 2010).

  6. (f)

    Arisaema asperatum In traditional Chinese medicine the rhizomes or tubers of this plant are used against tumour and pests and also used as painkiller (Zhao et al. 2010).

  7. (g)

    Arisaema heterophyllum Blume In traditional Chinese medicine the rhizomes or tubers of this plant are used against tumour and pests and also used as painkiller (Zhao et al. 2010).

  8. (h)

    Arisaema amurense In traditional Chinese medicine the rhizomes or tubers of this plant are used against tumour and pests and also used as painkiller (Ducki et al. 1996).

  9. (i)

    Arisaema yunnanense This is a plant belonging to genus Arisaema which adulterates the tubers of a plant namely Pinellia ternata which were used in Chinese traditional medicine (Liu and Guo 2010).

  10. (j)

    Arisaema jacquemontii Blume It is an herbaceous plant used as traditional cure to different ailments. Its usage is recorded as an anti-convulsant in the Chinese traditional medicine. It is also known for its physiological properties in the folk medicine system (Kunkel 1984). The juice extracted from the tubers of this plant applied to the skin is used to cure ring worms and other skin diseases by the Garo and khasi tribes of Meghalaya (Rao 1981). The oil obtained by grinding the rhizomes of Arisaema jaquemontii is used to make a paste that can be used for massage purposes to recover muscular strength and is also used to cure skin problems including pimples and blisters (Khan 2007). Fruit decoction is used against snake bites (Banyal et al. 2014).

  11. (k)

    Arisaema tortuosum (Wall.) It is also called Whipcord Cobra Lily. It is used in Indian folk medicine to cure different diseases related to stress and inflammation (Pragada et al. 2012; Nile and Park 2014). The juice and dried powder obtained from the tubers were used to apply for snake bites and to the wounds of cattle in order to kill any parasites (Sharma and Majumdar 2003; Choudhary et al. 2008). The plant was also used by Indian tribal people to cure various ailments associated with digestive tract like constipation, indigestion, abdominal pain and dysentery (Murty and Rao 2010).

Table 2 Traditional uses of some species of genus Arisaema

Medicinal uses and phytochemical description:

Various chemical compounds obtained from different species of Arisaema are summarized in Table 3

  1. (a)

    Arisaema erubescens The extracts from Arisaema erubescens have shown anticancer properties. The agents which bestow anticancer action to this plant are not known yet. Paeonol and a crystalline solid which has been identified as aurantiamide acetate (4) (Fig. 2) have been obtained from methanol extract of dried Aisaema erubescens (Ducki et al. 1996). These extracts have shown growth inhibitory effects in vitro and these same extracts have shown antitumour effects against Si80, solid hepatoma and U14 cervical cancers in vivo. Clinically the plant extract from Arisaema erubescens was effective in treating patients suffering from cervical cancer (cure rate: 78%). Gastric, oesophageal, pituitary, lung, and brain cancers have also been treated by this plant. A. erubescens contain alkaloids and saponins but the components which bestow antitumour effects are not known yet (Ducki et al. 1995). Various researches have revealed that Arisaema rhizome is rich in alkaloids, saponins, triterpenoids and lectins (Shangary et al. 1995), so exhibited the abilities of eliminating dampness, resolving phlegm, expelling wind, relieving convulsions, removing swelling and lumps. The ethanolic extract of tubers of Arisaema erubescens (Wall.) yielded two nematocidal flavone-C-glycosides namely Schaftoside and isoschaftoside (5) which possess great nematocidal activity against the root-knot nematode (Meloidogyne incognita) nematode responsible for huge crop losses (Du et al. 2011). Different chemical compounds were obtained from this A. erubescens which have been listed as aurantiamide acetate, calcium oxalate (2), paeonol, monoterpenoids, fatty acids, flavonoids and alkaloids (Ducki et al.1995), and ethanolic extracts of its tubers exhibit insecticidal activity against the house flies (Musca domestica). The n-butanol obtained from the ethanolic extracts of tubers of A erubescens strongly shows molluscicidal activity against Oncomlania hupensis (Zhang et al. 2009).

    Administration of Arisaematitis rhizomes in rats showed poisonous effect as revealed by interruption in energy metabolism, perturbance of gut microflora environment, vacuole formation in glomerular matrix, inflammation of renal tubular epithelial cells in kidney, membrane damage, and folate deficiency and injury. Rhizomes of Arisaema erubescens (Wall.) Schott has, anticoagulant, stomachic analgesic, sedative, antiemetic, anti-inflammatory and antitumor activities (Mao et al. 2001). Rhizomes of Arisaema are indispensable for managing stroke, hemiparalysis, fever, epilepsy, cancer vertigo, and tetanus. Phytochemicals present in Arisaema rhizomes are beta-sitosterol, lectins, dipeptides, saponins, triterpenoids and alkaloids (Shangary et al. 1995; Wang et al. 1997; Jeelani et al. 2010).

    Table 3 Various chemical compounds obtained from different species of Arisaema
    Fig. 2
    figure2figure2figure2

    Chemical structures of various phytochemicals. (1) Oxalic Acid; (2) Calcium Oxalate; (3) Tannins; (4) Aurentiamide Acetate; (5) Isoschaftoside; (6) Piperidine Alkaloid; (7) Camphesterol; (8) Cerebrocide; (9) Sitosterol; (10) Stigmosterol; (11) Cholesterol; (12) Choline Chloride; (13) Stachyhydrine Hydrocholoride; (14) Rutin; (15) Quercetin; (16) Luteolin; (17) Alanine; (18) Arginine; (19) Aspartic Acid; (20) Leucine; (21) Lysine; (22) Serine; (23) Threonine; (24) Tyrosine; (25) Arisaeminone; (26) Valine; (27) 13-Phenyltridecanoic Acid; (28) Asparginine; (29) Cysteine; (30) Glycine; (31) Norvaline; (32) Ornithine; (33) α and β Amyrin; (34) β -Setosteryl Galactoside; (35) N-Acetyl-D-Glucosamine; (36) Linalool; (37) Eugenol; (38) Cubenol; (39) Guaiol; (40) Carvacrol; (41) Basobalol; (42) Pyrolidine Alkaloid; (43) Berganin; (44) Emodin; (45) Caffeic Acid; (46) Nobelitin; (47) Gagaminine; (48) 1-Methoxycarbonyl-B-Carboline; (49) Indolo[2.3-A]Carbazole; (50) Piperdine Iodide; (51) Coumarin; (52) Flavonoid; (53) Anthraquinone

  2. (b)

    Arisaema flavum Lectin obtained from Arisaema flavum shows antiproliferative activity towards murine cancer cell lines, and potent mitogenic activity towards human peripheral blood mononuclear cells (HPBMC and BALB/c splenocytes as indicated by lymphoproliferation after incorporation of lectin into the cultures. It is known to synthesize biogenic silver nano particles effectively which imparts photocatalytic and antibacterial property to it. It showed potential antimicrobial activity against both gram negative and gram positive bacteria (E. coli BL-21, Bacillus subtilis, Staphylococcus aureus, Pseudomonas putida and Engineered E. coli sub strain QH4) (Rahman et al. 2019).

  3. (c)

    Arisaema tortuosum From the tubers of Arisaema tortuosum, popularly known as Himalayan Cobra lily, a lectin with in-vitro anticancer activity against established human cancer cell lines has been purified by affinity chromatography on asialofetuin-linked amino activated silica beads. Arisaema tortuosum is having complex specificity towards a serum glycoprotein asialofetuin and also towards Nacetyl-D-lactosamine (LacNAc) (Dhuna et al. 2005). In addition, aesthetic, antihepatotoxic, anticancerous, antimicrobial and antioxidant properties are exhibited by its tubers. The juice and dried powder obtained from the tubers were used to apply for snake bites and to the wounds of cattle in order to kill any parasites (Choudhary et al. 2008). Aesthetic, antihepatotoxic, anticancerous, antimicrobial and antioxidant properties are exhibited by its tubers (Murty and Rao 2010). Flavonoids, alkaloids, saponins, triterpenoids and lectins are present in A. tortousum (Kamble et al. 2010) and a lectin was found to be the dominant pro-inflammatory component, exhibiting anticancer activity against human cancer cell lines (Dhuna et al. 2005). Its tubers were used in Indian folk medicine and Ayurveda for the treatment of gout, hyperuricemia, and cancer. The presence of quercetin (15), rutin (14), luteolin (16) and lectin in A. tortuosum was revealed by phytochemical observation and analysis (Nile and Park 2014). Arisaema tortuosum is exploited for abscess and antinematodal activity, its tuber decoction is given to animals for early recovery of fractured bone as well as administered internally to cure piles. It was used to cure stomachache, liver disorders, digestive tract problems including constipation, abdominal pain, dysentery, indigestion and antidote for dog bite by the tribals. Its tubers exhibited good aesthetic, antihepatotoxic, anticancerous, antimicrobial and antioxidant properties. It contains numerous phytochemicals like carbohydrate, glycoside and steroids (Verma et al. 2015). The leaf and tuber extracts of Arisaema tortousum wall found to exhibit strong antibacterial activity due to the presence of various active constituents being solubilized in promising function (Bibi et al. 2011). The assessment of bacterial resistance to antibiotics helps in the administration of various infectious diseases. The uncertain components obtained from different extracts of Arisaema tortousum wall may further helps in coming researches against bacterial illness (Kant et al. 2019).

  4. (d)

    Arisaema intermedium Blume and Arisaema wallichianum Hook A. intermedium Blume and A wallichianum Hook were proved to be very useful for the detection of various types of cancers as they showed specificity towards N-acetyl-D-lactosamine which is important cancer marker (Verma et al. 2015). The lectins from A.intermedium Blume and A. wallichianum showed greater almost double mitogenic potential towards human peripheral blood mononuclear cells as compared to that of well known mitogen concanavalin A (con A) and these lectins can be used as a means to study the lymphocytes transformation as a model of initiation of growth and cell division, antigen activation and to detect the immune potential of an individual (Kaur et al. 2005) like other commercially famous mitogenic lectins such as concanavalin and phytohemagglutinin (PHA). By the process of affinity chromatography on asialofetuin-linked amino activated silica beads, two new lectins were purified from the tubers of Arisaema intermedium Blume and A. wallichianum Hook. The lectins obtained from these two plant species comprise a major proportion of total protein content and contain glycoproteins 3.4% and 2.9% carbohydrates respectively. These lectins are homotetramers and their subunits are not linked by disulphide linkages (Kaur et al. 2005).

  5. (e)

    Arisaema jacquemontii Blume The main phytochemicals were obtained from the polar solvent extracts of A. jacquemontii which possess marvelous cytotoxic, anticancerous, antioxidant properties and has a strong kinase inhibitor activity. The methanolic and ethanolic A. jaquemontii tuber extracts exhibited strong radical scavenging and antioxidant activity. It also possesses great anticancerous activity against some cancer cells for instance HL-60 human leukemia cancer cell lines, DU-145 prostate cancer cell lines. Its roots exhibit two triterpenoids (Jeelani et al. 2010). The extracts of A. jaquemontii possess large number of secondary metabolites which paves way to its usage in Pharmaceutical industries (Tabassum et al. 2019). From the tubers of a wild Himalayan cobra lily Arisaema jacquemontii Blume a monocot lectin having potent anti-insect and anti-proliferative activity was refined and was nominated as AJL (A. jacquemontii lectin) (Kaur et al. 2005). In the storage tissues of A. jaquemontii there is presence of the high lectin content of the total extractable proteins and these lectins under reducing as well as non-reducing conditions revealed the absence of disulphide linkages among various subunits which is indicated by the feature of lacking cysteine (29) residues in the amino acid composition of lectins from the araceous plants (Kaur et al. 2006).

    Anti-insect Property These lectins are useful in defending the crop plants from the invasion and attack of fungal pathogens and insects. There is increasing evidence that these lectins provide shield from the attack of herbivores and other insects and also may act as a precise biodegradable active ingredient in the administration of insect pests (Kaur et al. 2006).

    Lectins are proteinaceous compounds formed in species of Arisaema. They are found to have capability of agglutinating erythrocytes. They have a special property of binding carbohydrates due to the presence of non-catalytic domain present in them that actually reversibly get attached to monosaccharides or disaccharides. They actually cause agglutination of erythrocytes by binding with the carbohydrate present on the surface of erythrocytes (Dhuna et al. 2005). Arisaema lectins are exploited to know the immune status of an individual suffering from immune disorders, as a source to study the lymphocyte transformation and is useful in cancer research (Singh and Kamboj 2004).

    Anti-proliferative activity A. jacquemontii lectin showed significant constraint on the in vitro multiplication of HCT-15 (82%), HOP-62 (77%), SW-620 (73%) and HT-29 (70%) cancer cell lines. The leaves of Arisaema jacquemontii showed immune stimulating effect as depicted by its potential abrogative effect on delayed type hypersensitivity response in immune suppressed balb/c mice, on humoral antibody response and also showed antioxidant activity. As revealed by phytochemical study Arisaema jacquemontii contain high amounts of terpenoids, coumarins, quinones, moderate amounts of phenols, glycosides and low quantity of alkaloids, anthraquinones. The paste formed by grounding of Arisaema jacquemontii rhizomes with edible oil is used in skin problems like pimples and blisters and also used as massage to recover muscular strength (Sudan et al. 2014). Arisaema jacquemontii is an herbaceous plant found in the northern regions of Kashmir and Pakistan and is also found in upper forest and lower alpine zone in the drier areas of Himalayas in the range of 2400–4000 m (Kunkel 1984). A tuber lectin extracted from this plant bestow anti-insect and anti-proliferative activity to it (Kaur et al. 2006) and its fruits and roots are used to treat nervous and psychic disorders. Tetra cyclic triterpenoid and substituted benzophenol (arisaemanone) have been isolated from this plant and it also contains some phytochemicals like terpenes, saponins and glycosides. Its usage is recorded as an anticonvulsant in the Chinese traditional medicine and is known for its physiological properties in the folk medicine system (Tanveer et al. 2014). Its tubers, leaves, and fruits exhibited antimalarial activity against Plasmodium berghei vincke but tubers exhibited strong antimalarial activity against Plasmodium berghei (Baba and Malik 2015). It is used in the treatment of respiratory infections, intestinal worms, dermatitis, and as an antidote for snakebites (Verma et al. 2015). Anti-insect and anti-proliferative properties were shown by the lectins obtained from its tubers (Kaur et al. 2006). The leaves of A. jacquemontii shows antioxidant, immunomodulating potential (Sudan et al. 2005), anticonvulsant activity and an effect on platelet aggregation (Jeelani et al. 2010). Due to the presence of high concentration of flavonoids A. jacquemontii exhibits strong antimicrobial activity and is known to inhibit some metabolic processes (Cushnie and Lamb 2005) and biosynthesis of nucleic acid. Spore germination of plant pathogens has been found to be retarded by A. jacquemontii flavonoids. A. jacquemontii showed antifungal, antimicrobial and antibacterial properties. The potential antibacterial activity was shown against some bacteria including Salmonella enteritidis, Micrococcus luteus, Streptococcus faecalis and Staphylococcus aureus (Baba and Malik 2015). The juice extracted from the tubers of A. jacquemontii is used by the people of India to cure some skin diseases and ringworm and lectin obtained from it has insecticidal and antiproliferative activity. The tubers of Arisaema jacquemontii were procured from the mountainous areas of Kalam (Swat), Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province of Pakistan. Phytochemicals present in this plant include tannins, sterols, flavonoids, saponins, alkaloid, protein, carbohydrates and oils and it is due to these bioactive compounds A. jacquemontii is bestowed with antibacterial activity (Iqbal et al. 2018).

  6. (f)

    Arisaema murrayi Hook The phytochemicals found to be present in aqueous extract of Arisaema murrayi Hook were picric acid, tannin, protein, sugar, anthraquinone, polyphenols etc. whereas its alcoholic extract contains phytochemicals like flavonoids, alkaloids and glycosides (Sagar et al. 2014).

  7. (g)

    Arisaema ringens A basic lectin was refined from the bulbs of Arisaema ringens. This lectin has two carbohydrate binding sites and identified monooligosacharides and terminal N acetyllactosamine revealed by heamagglutination inhibition (Yagi et al. 2008).

  8. (h)

    Arisaema utile Schott A plant lectin has been refined from the tubers of Arisaema utile which is a homotetrameric molecule of 54 kDa with subunit molecular mass of 13.5 kDa and shows mitogenic and antiproliferative activity. This lectin exhibited powerful mitogenic response towards human lymphocytes i.e. it initiates the state of growth and procreation of quiescent, non-dividing lymphocytes and had shown noticeable proliferation restrain towards some human cancer cell lines viz. SK-N-SH (CNS), MCF-7 (Breast), Colo-205 (Colon), 502713 (Colon), HCT-15 (Colon), Hep-2 (Liver), HT 29(Colon),SW-620 (Colon), IMR-32 (Neuroblastoma), DU-145 (Prostate) and PC-3 (Prostate) (Dhuna et al. 2010). The carbohydrates like N-acetyl-D-lactosamine and asialofetuin inhibits this lectin induced hemagglutination, N-acetyl-D-lactosamine (35) which acts as a particular inhibitor of Arisaema utile lectin (AUL) is one of the necessary cancer markers (Ito et al. 1996).

  9. (i)

    Arisaema curvatum Kunth By affinity chromatography using asialofetuin-linked amino activated porous silica beads the lectin from tubers of cobra lily, Arisaema curvatum was refined. The influence of this lectin was studied on the larvae of Bactrocera cucurbitae. This treatment lead to prolongation of the remaining larval development period and a significant decrease in the percentage pupation and emergence of the adults from these treated larvae (Singh et al. 2008).

  10. (j)

    Arisaema franchetianum Arisaema franchetianum is well known medicinal plant used to treat the snake bites and as an anti-inflammatory agent in Chinese folk medicine since for a long time. The chemical constituents like pyrrolidine alkaloid, -N,2-dimethyl-3-hydroxy-5-(10-phenyldecyl) pyrrolidine (Su et al. 2013), and many different compounds like bergenin (43) (Miglani et al. 1978), emodin (44) (Ducki et al. 1996), caffeic acid (45) (Zhao et al. 2010), nobiletin (46), (Jung et al. 1996a), 3-O-b-D-galactopyranosyl-hederagenin 28-O-b Dxylopyranosyl (1 ! 6)-b-D-galactopyranosyl ester (Jung et al. 1996b), coniferin (Li et al. 2013) qingyangshengenin (Lamkadem et al. 2005), methylconiferin (Nunomura et al. 2009), syringaresinol 40-O-b-D-glucopyranoside (Sun et al. 2011), gagaminine (47) (Tao et al. 2011), perlolyrine (Wang et al. 2007) (S)-1-(10-hydroxyethyl)-b-carboline, (He et al. 2002) 1-(b-carboline-1-yl)-3,4,5-trihydroxy-1-mpentanone, (Huang et al. 2004) 1-methoxycarbonyl-b-carboline (Ma et al. 2007) indolo [2,3-a]carbazole (Sun et al. 2009), 4-hydroxycinnamic acid methyl ester (Lee et al. 2000), and l4-[2-hydroxy-2-(4-hydroxy-3-methoxyphenyl)-1-(hydroxymethyl) ethyl] ferulate (Bremner et al. 2004) have been extracted from Arisaema franchetianum tubers. The pyrrolidine alkaloid (42) exhibited inhibitory action against human leukemic K562 cells, human breast cancer MCF-7 cells, porcine respiratory and reproductive syndrome virus (PRRSV). The cytotoxic piperdine alkaloid (50) obtained from A. decipiens Schott, and its N-methyl derivative showed inhibitory response against the K562 and MCF-7 cell line. Collection of A. franchetianum tubers was done from Songming County of Yunnan region, China, in June 2010 (Su et al.2013).

  11. (k)

    Arisaema amurense Several species of Arisaema are exploited in the folk medicine for curing ulcer of digestive tract, rheumatism and cancer. The extracts obtained from Arisaema amurense Max Var serratum revealed strong phospholipase A2 inhibitory activity due to the presence of the compound 2,3-dihydroxypropyl, 9Z,12Z octadecadienoate (Chung et al. 1995).

  12. (l)

    Arisaema leschenaultii Arisaema lecshnaultii plant is endemic to Sri lanka and south India which is used to treat skin diseases and piles. The corm of this plant contains cyanogenic glycosides, and high levels of calcium due to the presence of calcium oxalate (2) crystals and free calcium (Selvakumari 2015).

  13. (m)

    Arisaema dicipiens A dicipiens is one of the perennial herbaceous plant belonging to genus Arisaema. From the extracts of the rhizomes of this plant three known tetranortriterpenoids and a new piperidine alkaloid (6) were isolated and their chemical structures were recognized as (-)-(2R*,3S*,6S*)-N,2-dimethyl-3-hydroxy-6-(9-phenylnonyl) piperidine, 6-deacetylnimbin, 28-deoxonimbolide and nimbin. This plant is also designated as a natural antitumor herbal medicine as it is the prime source of limnoids.

    From A. amurense cytotoxic diacylglyceryl galactosides against murine leukemia P388, human colon adenocarcinoma DLD1 cells and antihepatotoxic cerebrosides(8), from A. helleborifolium Schott insecticidal (Bactrocera cucurbitae) and in vitro antiproliferative[HOP-62 (lung),HCT-15 (colon) and so forth] lectins and from A. flavum antiproliferative lectins against J774 and P388D1 murine macrophage cancer cell lines (Singh et al. 2004) were recognized. Similarly, from A. vulgare Targ some alkaloids like 2-alkylpyrrolidine and alkylpiperidine which significantly interact with DNA have been extracted (Melhaoui and Belouali 1998).

  14. (n)

    A. propinquum It has been revealed through large number of experimental evidences that Arisaema propinquum exhibits a strong anti-helminthic property. This disclosure was based on investigational studies done on aqueous and methanolic extracts obtained from the rhizomes of Arisaema propinquum (Mir et al. 2020).

Toxicity

By the research on the plants, especially on the species of genus Arisaema, it has been found that there are several species which are toxic by nature. The development of clinical applications of arisaematis rhizomes had been seriously constrained due to its toxic properties like, mouth and lingua pain, even respiration slowing and suffocation, mucous membrane and skin irritation etc. and this toxicity of arisaematis rhizomes is due to raphide components including calcium oxalate (2), protein and trace carbohydrates as revealed by previous researches (Liu et al. 2011). Some of the species which are found toxic are mentioned as under:

  1. (a)

    Arisaema tortuosum The plant has toxic character as revealed by the research. The researchers argue that the plant contains calcium oxalate (2) crystals. The presence of these crystals is the cause to produce annoying sensation. Moreover, the intake of its leaf induces vomiting in animal due to its poisonous character.

  2. (b)

    Arisaema jacquemontii Blume Though the plant is used for medicinal purposes, yet it contains toxicity. It is said that because of its similarity with snake cobra, the plant is classified as poisonous plant. In its native region, the people call it by the name of “sap-ki-booti” (The snake herb). The plant also contains minute needle like crystals of calcium oxalate (2). These crystals present in this plant are extremely annoying when brought to contact with the mucus membrane of the mouth, nose and throat, or with tender skin (Kaur et al. 2006).

  3. (c)

    Arisaema murrayi Hook The plant is a poisonous herb. In an experiment, Arisaema murrayi (Hook) showed poisonous effect on Albino mice due to which several changes occurred in its behavior like, drowsiness, dilation in pupils, convulsion of limbs and finally lead to death. The affected organs including kidney, small intestines and liver bear some changes such as kidney changed to black, small intestine showed black or sometimes yellowish patches and liver got congested and turned slightly black on edges.

Conclusions

To top it all, it can be said that there are many medicinally important plants among which Arisaema genus has not been studied as it should be. The collection of data available on the phytochemistry of genus Arisaema is not sufficient as further work is required to do on phytochemical and medicinal basis. The present study, among others, authenticate the fact that the world is full of vast diversity of medicinally important plants. Among this diversity, genus Arisaema also has large number of plant species which are useful as medicines but some of them have been explored and the rest are unexplored. The large number of data available on phytochemistry and medicinal property of the plants belonging to genus Arisaema throws light on various species of Arisaema which are medicinally important and have been exploited to treat different types of diseases in the old world as well as in the modern times. The Phytochemicals like lectins, phenols, cerebrosites, alkaloids, calcium oxalates, hydrochlorides, campesterol, choline chloride, stachy hydrine, glycosides, terpenoids, coumarins, quinones etc. have been extracted from the different species of Arisaema which are used against different diseases. The enormous work although have been done on the phytochemistry of Arisaema but there is still a need to explore more of its species on phytochemical and medicinal basis so that it can be used as a powerful medicine against large number of ailments. Some of its species have also been used as insecticides, for instance against insect pest, Bacterosa curcurbitae. The medicinal properties exhibited by the genus has revealed that it could play a vital role in modern medicinal industry as well as in the therapeutics. As cancer disease has become a serious issue in present times, various species of Arisaema have been used to treat cancer, for instance Arisaema utile, Arisaema schott, Arisaema franchiatum.

Availability of data and materials

Not applicable.

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Ali, H., Yaqoob, U. Traditional uses, phytochemistry, pharmacology and toxicity of Arisaema (Areaceae): a review. Bull Natl Res Cent 45, 47 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1186/s42269-021-00489-y

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Keywords

  • Arisaema
  • Areaceae
  • Phytochemistry
  • Medicinal uses
  • Toxicity