Indian Plants with Cardioprotective Activity – A Review

Kumar, Krishna, Hullatti, Tanmoy, and Akshara: Indian Plants with Cardioprotective Activity – A Review



The medicinal plants are potential sources of drugs as they are rich in secondary metabolites and essential oils of therapeutic importance.1 Uses of medicinal plants in various ailments are due to being economical, effective, their ease availability and due to their safety.2 Because of these advantages the use of medicinal plants has been widely increased by the traditional medical practitioners in their day to day practice.3 Foods are used commonly to meet our nutritional needs. However, foods obtained by plants contain a wide range of non- nutrient phytochemicals that are synthesized by plants for their own defence and for other biological functions. When we ingest these plant foods to meet our nutritional needs, we also ingest a wide variety of these non-nutrient phytochemicals. These phytochemicals have the potential for preventing chronic diseases and also non-toxic.4 Cardiovascular disease is the number one cause of death globally and is projected to remain the leading cause of death. As many as 1.4 million children are suffering from heart related diseases in Pakistan and some 8,000 need heart surgeries annually, but out of them only 1,200 are operated upon. (Sixth “Biennial International Conference,” organized by the Pakistan Society of Cardiovascular and Thoracic Surgeries). Free radicals play deleterious role to body established ischemia. Presence of various antioxidant compounds in fruits and vegetables, for example, vitamins C and E, b-carotene and polyphenolics have been associated with decreased risks of several chronic diseases, such as coronary heart disease and some cancers. Antioxidants scavenging the free radicals and protect the body. There is inverse relationship between intake of polyphenols and heart diseases.5

There is a large and increasing global burden of cardiovascular disease. Approximately 14 million individuals died of cardiovascular disease in 1990, and this is projected to rise to about 25 million by 2020.6 The global burden of disease due to cardiovascular diseases (CVDs) is escalating, principally due to a sharp rise in the developing countries which are experiencing rapid health transition.7 The continuous increase in incidences of cardiovascular disease is a manifestation of chronic poor diet and lifestyle choices, which lead to diabetes and obesity.8

More than 2000 plants have been listed in the Traditional (Herbal/Alternative) systems of medicine and some of these are providing comprehensive relief to the people suffering from cardio-vascular diseases, specially “hyperlipidemia” and “ischemic heart disease”. WHO reports indicate that around eighty percent of the global population still relies on botanical drugs and several herbal medicines have advanced to clinical use in modern times. The use of Western medicinal drugs for the treatment of hypertension, congestive heart failure and post myocardial infarction are widely accepted.9

Various phytoconstituents from plants were responsible for cardioprotective activity. Refer Table 1.10-19


Pharmacology of cardioprotective plants: Phytoconstituents reported in cardioprotective plants significantly prevented the altered biochemical variation such as marker enzymes serum glutamate- pyruvate transaminase (SGPT) or alanine transaminase (ALT), serum glutamate oxaloacetate transaminase (SGOT) or aspartate transaminase (AST), creatinephosphokinase (CPK), alkaline phosphatise (ALP), lactate dehydrogenase (LDH), lipid profile including low density lipoprotein (LDL), VLDL (very low density lipoprotein), triglycerides (TGs), high density lipoprotein (HDL), total cholesterol and antioxidant parameters including Superoxide dismutase (SOD), glutathione (GSH), catalase (CAT), Glutathione peroxidase (GPx), MDA (malonaldialdehyde) and glutathione reductase (GR) come to near normal status. Cardioprotective activity was evaluated using various pharmacological screening models like isoprenaline induced myocardial necrosis in rats, doxorubicin (DOX) induced cardiotoxicity in albino rats, cyclophosphamide induced oxidative myocardial injury in a rat model, ischemia-reperfusion-induced myocardial infarction in albino rats, cigarette Smoke- exposed Rats, adriamycin-induced cardio Myopathy in rats etc.20-38

Table 1:

Various phytoconstituents from plants were responsible for cardioprotective activity

PhytoconstituentsPlant nameFamily
Allicin, sulphur compounds10Allium sativumLiliaceae
Flavonoids, carotenoids11AnacardiumoccidentaleAnacardiaceae
Cardiac glycosides12AntiaristoxicariaMoraceae
Saponins-Shatavarins I–IV13Asparagus racemosusAsparagaceae
Cardiac glycosides16Digitalis purpureaScrophulariaceae
Alkaloidal constituents, including berberine; bitter principles, including columbin, chasmanthin, palmarin and tinosporon, tinosporic acid and tinosporol17TinosporacordifoliaMenispermaceae
Caffeic acid18RaphanussativusCruciferae
Protein19Euryale feroxNymphaeaceae
Table 2:

Pharmacological status of some cardioprotective plants has been mentioned below

Plant/Family nameDose administered mg/kgExtractIn vitro/in vivo modelMechanism involved and observation
Bacopamonnieri, Scrophulariaceae50, 100, 150,200hydroalcoholicIsoproterenol induced myocardial necrosis in ratsAntioxidant components (Bacosides A and B) caused significant rise in endogenous antioxidants (SOD, CAT, GSH) and decrease in MDA
Cocosnucifera,Palmae100WaterIsoproterenol induced myocardial infarction in albino ratsDecrease in serum enzymes (CPK, LDH, SGOT, SGPT)and very little myocardial damage in isoproterenol treated rats fed tender coconut water
Cichoriumintybus, Compositae500AqueousAgeing myocardium of albino ratsCichorium extract was found to ameliorate the age induced injury and offered protection to the heart from oxidative damage and also found to decreases erum enzymes
Colebrookeaoppositifolia, Lamiaceae250,500MethanolicDoxorubicin(DOX) induced cardiotoxicity in albino ratsThe study of lipid peroxidation and anti-oxidant enzymes reveled that the malondialdehyde level was decreased,GS, SOD and CAT levels were significantly rised in C.oppositifolia extractt reated group
Curcumalonga, Zingiberaceae100hydroalcoholicIsoproterenol induced hemodynamic, biochemical and histopathological alternations in ratsAdministration of hydroalcoholice xtract causes myocardial adaptation by augmenting endogenous antioxidants and protects rat hearts from decline in cardiac function and oxidative stress associated with isoproterenol induced myocardial injury
Cynodondactylon, Poaceae25,50,100,200 μg/ŵlhydroalcoholicIschemia/reperfusion-(I/R)induced arrhythmiasC.dactylon produce protective effects against I/R-induced arrhythmias in isolated rat hearts probably by increase in the myocardial contractility and as a result by improvement of Hemodynamic factors
Daucuscarota, Umbeliferae250,500AqueousIsoproterenol induced myocardial infarction in albino ratsAqueous extract showed a decrease in serum as partate Transaminase (AST), alanine transaminase (ALT), lipidperoxidase, lactate dehydrogenase levels and cardiac total protein lipid peroxidase, and lactate dehydrogenase
Dracocephalum moldavica, Labiatae25-200 μg/ŵlTotal extract (Methanol-water)Ischemia/Reperfusion induced arrhythmias and infarcts izein the isolated rat heartTotal extract of D.moldavica causedasignificantreductioninthenumberofventriculartachycardia(VT), totalventricularectopicbeats(VEBs) and VT duration in ischemicandreperfusionperiods
Embelicaribes, Myrsinaceae100AqueousIsoproterenol induced myocardial infarction in albino ratsPretreatment with an a queous extract of E.ribes, significantly reduced the elevated markerenzym elevels in serum and heart homogenates and also enhances the antioxidant defence system against isoproterenol-induced myocardial infarction
Ficushispida, Moraceae400 mg/kgMethanolicCyclophosphamide induced oxidative myocardial injury in a rat modelMethanolic extract of F.hispida protected the cardiac tissue by scavenging the free radicals, which was proved by normalization of biochemical parameters
Tribulusterrestris,Zygop hyllaceae250HydroalcoholicIsoproterenolinducedmyocardialinfarctionin ratsT.terrestris hydroalcoholicextractdecreasedtheleakage of CK-MBandLDHenzymesfrommyocardium.Presenceofantioxidantconstituents (flavanoids)intheextractmightberesponsibleforitscardioprotection
Trichopuszeylanicus, Trichopodaceae500EthanolicIsoproterenolinducedmyocardialinfarctionin ratsSignificant decline was shown in the activities of cardiac markers such as ALT, AST, LDH and CK in the heart of acute Is oproterenol-treatedrats
Withaniasomnifera, Solanaceae300EthanolicDoxorubicin-induced cardiotoxicityin ratsSignificantdecreaseinserumenzymes
Zingiberofficinale, Zingi beraceae200EthanolicIsoproterenol induced oxidative myocardial necrosis in ratsSignificant decline was shown in the activities of cardiac markers such as ALT, AST, LDH and CK
Cinnamomumtamala Lauraceae200 and 400Ethanolic extractDoxorubicin-induced cardiotoxicity in ratssignificant cardio protective activity by lowering the levels of serum marker enzymes and lipid peroxidation and elevated the levels of catalase.
Garciniaindica250 and 500aqueous extractIsoproterenol induced oxidative myocardial lnecrosis in ratsCardioprotective effect was also confirmed by histopathology of hearts which showed less necrosis in extract treated rats when compared to untreated rats of toxic control group.
PithecellobiumDulce200aqueous and ethanolic extractIsoproterenol induced oxidative myocardial necrosis in ratsAqueous and ethanolic extracts of P. dulce fruit peel reverses the cardiac damage induced by isoproterenol.


Secondary metabolites like carotenoids, triterpenes, flavonoids, cardiac glycosides, alkaloids saponins, polyphenols, terpenoids, fatty acids etc were responsible for cardio-protective activity at a particular dose which was evaluated using appropriate pharmacological screening approach.



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Amith Kumar B: Asst Professor Department of Pharmacognosy Bapuji Pharmacy college, Davangere, India.


  • Secondary metabolites like carotenoids, triterpenes, flavonoids, cardiac glycosides. alkaloids saponins, polyphenols, terpenoids, fatty acids etc were responsible for cardioprotective activity at a particular dose which was evaluated using appropriate pharmacological screening approach.