Tylophora is a perennial climbing plant native to the plains, forests, and hills of southern and eastern India. The portions of the plant used medicinally are the leaves and root.
The main active ingredient in tylophora is the alkaloid tylophorine. Laboratory research has shown this isolated plant extract exerts a strong anti-inflammatory action.[Indian J Med Res 1979;69: pp.513-20.] Test tube studies suggest that tylophorine is able to interfere with the action of mast cells, which are key components in the process of inflammation. [Ind J Med Res 1980;71: pp.940-8] These actions seem to support tylophora's traditional use as an antiasthmatic and antiallergic medication by Ayurvedic practitioners.
Patients using tylophora may experience temporary nausea and vomiting, soreness of the mouth, and loss of taste for salt, particularly with the fresh leaf and tincture. At the time of writing, there are no well-known drug interactions.
The herb's safety for use during pregnancy and breast-feeding has not been established.
One clinical trial with asthma sufferers found that tylophora leaf (150mg of the leaf by weight) chewed and swallowed daily in the early morning for six days led to moderate to complete relief of their asthma symptoms. [J Allergy 1969;43:145-50] In a follow-up trial with asthma patients, an alcoholic extract of crude tylophora leaves in 1gm of glucose had comparable effects to that of chewing the crude leaf. [Ann Allergy 1972;30: pp.407-12]
Another trial found similar success in reducing asthma symptoms using a tylophora leaf powder at 350mg per day. [J Indian Med Assoc 1978;71: pp.172-6] However, the tylophora was not as effective as a standard asthma drug combination. One double-blind trial failed to show any effect on asthma for tylophora. [Ind J Med Res 1979;69: pp.981-9]
Tylophora leaf at 200-400mg of the dried leaf per day or 1-2ml of tincture per day can be used to treat asthma.[Clinical Applications of Ayurvedic and Chinese Herbs. Warwick, Queensland, Australia: Phytotherapy Press, 1996: pp.134-6]
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