Drug and Herbal Research Centre, Faculty of Pharmacy, Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Tinospora crispa (L.) Hook. f. & Thomson (Menispermaceae),
found in the rainforests or mixed deciduous forests in Asia and Africa,
is used in traditional medicines to treat numerous health conditions.
This review summarizes the up-to-date reports about the ethnobotany,
phytochemistry, pharmacological activities, toxicology, and clinical
trials of the plant. It also provides critical assessment about the
present knowledge of the plant which could contribute toward improving
its prospect as a source of lead molecules for drug discovery. The plant
has been used traditionally in the treatment of jaundice, rheumatism,
urinary disorders, fever, malaria, diabetes, internal inflammation,
fracture, scabies, hypertension, reducing thirst, increasing appetite,
cooling down the body temperature, and maintaining good health.
Phytochemical analyses of T. crispa revealed the presence of alkaloids, flavonoids, and flavone glycosides, triterpenes, diterpenes and diterpene glycosides, cis
clerodane-type furanoditerpenoids, lactones, sterols, lignans, and
nucleosides. Studies showed that the crude extracts and isolated
compounds of T. crispa possessed a broad range of pharmacological
activities such as anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, immunomodulatory,
cytotoxic, antimalarial, cardioprotective, and anti-diabetic activities.
Most pharmacological studies were based on crude extracts of the plant
and the bioactive compounds responsible for the bioactivities have not
been well identified. Further investigations are required to transform
the experience-based claims on the use of T. crispa in
traditional medicine practices into evidence-based information. The
plant extract used in pharmacological and biological studies should be
qualitatively and quantitatively analyzed based on its biomarkers. There
should be detail in vitro and in vivo studies on the
mechanisms of action of the pure bioactive compounds and more elaborate
toxicity study to ensure safety of the plant for human use. More
clinical trials are encouraged to be carried out if there are sufficient
preclinical and safety data.