Evolvulus alsinoides

Evolvulus alsinoides is one of four herbs referred to as Shankhapushpi and is traditionally used in Ayurveda for Nootropic and psychotropic effects. It appears to enhance learning in otherwise normal rodents with comparable potency to Piracetam.

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Evolvulus alsinoides is one of the four herbs that is given the common name of Shankhapushpi, and appears to be a Nootropic agent with comparable potency to Piracetam in otherwise healthy young rats. The mechanisms and exact bioactives underlying these benefits are not currently known, but seem to be localized more in the ethanolic extract and are thought to be alkaloids. There is no human data on this plant at this moment in time.

Beyond the memory enhancing properties evolvulus appears to have general anti-inflammatory, adaptogenic, and neuroprotective properties in the brain following oral ingestion and high doses may confer a sedative property. However, there is insufficient evidence to compare the efficacy of evolvulus against other herbs to see if a role for this herb exists or not. The lack of known bioactive limits research on it.

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Also Known As

Dwarf Morning Glory, Shankhapushpi

Do Not Confuse With

Other herbs called Shankhapushpi (Clitoria ternatea, Convolvulus pluricaulis, and Canscora decussata)

There is insufficient evidence in humans to recommend an ideal dose, but the estimated effective dose in rats (200mg/kg) correlates to approximately 32mg/kg of the ethanolic extract in humans and thus:

  • 2,200mg for a 150lb person
  • 2,900mg for a 200lb person
  • 3,600mg for a 250lb person

These dosages for an ethanolic extract of evolvulus alsinoides are but estimates based on the animal research.

Table of Contents:

Edit1. Sources and Composition

1.1. Sources

Evolvulus alsinoides (of the family Convolvulaceae[1]) is a herb from Ayurveda with some other asian usage for the treamtent of fever, cough, and cold (usually administered with Holy Basil[2]) as well as for venereal diseases, azoospermia, asthma and bronchitis (leaves are smoked[2]), adenitis and dementia.[3][4] This plant is reported to have a Nootropic and psychotropic effect,[5] topical application is said to promote hair growth,[2] and is also referred to as Drawf morning glory.[2] It is used commonly in modern days to promote vitality and memory similar to Ashwagandha, Bacopa monnieri, and Jatamansi[6] and is reported to be somewhat tasteless.[1]

Evolvulus alsinoides is one of a few herbs to bear the name of either shankhapushpi or vishnukranti in Sanskrit (as the terms refer to herbs introduced from other regions)[2][3] with Clitoria ternatea, Convolvulus pluricaulis, and Canscora decussata also being referred to as Shankhapushpi.[7][8][9] For many of the cognitive-related traditional usages such as cognitive enhancement, anti-amnesia, and treatment of dementia these herbs are seen as somewhat interchangeable[2][8] although evolvulus likely has most similarity to Convolvulus pluricaulis due to being derived from the same family (Convolvulaceae[1]) and having similar cognitive properties and potency in the limited evidence that exists.

Evolvulus alsinoides is a herb traditionally used for psychotropic and nootropic properties, and appears to have similar historical usage as Jatamansi. It is one of four herbs referred to as Shankhapushpi, with the other three herbs (Clitoria ternatea, Convolvulus pluricaulis, and Canscora decussata) also being nootropic herbs

1.2. Composition

Evolvulus alsinoides has been found to contain:

  • Shankhapushpine[10][1]
  • Evolvine (alkaloid, structure currently unknown)[11][12]
  • Evolvoids A and B[13] which appear to be caffeic acid bound to two 2-methyl-1,2,3,4-butanetetrol molecules and two caffeic acid molecules found to glucose (respectively)[13]
  • Evolvosides C, D, and E[14] which are triglycosides of Kaempferol. Evolvoside C (4′-O-β-d-glucopyranosyl-(1→2)-α-l-rhamnopyranosyl-(1→6)-β-d-glucopyranoside), D (O-methyl derivative of C), and E (di-O-methyl derivative of C)[14]
  • Other Kaempferol glycosides such as 4′-O-β-d-glucopyranosyl-(1→2)-β-d-glucopyranoside, 4′-O-α-l-rhamnopyranosyl-(1→6)-β-d-glucopyranoside,7-di-O-β-d-glucopyranoside, 3-O-β-d-glucopyranosyl-(1→6)-β-d-glucopyranoside, and 3-O-β-d-glucopyranosyl-7-O-α-l-rhamnopyranoside[14][15]
  • Vitexin[14] and 4-methoxyvitexin[1]
  • Quercetin as 3-O-β-glucopyranoside[16][13]
  • Betaine (secondhand reports)[12]
  • Scopoletin (0.0018-0.002% dry weight[17]) and scopolin (coumarin and coumarin glucoside)[12]
  • Umbelliferone (coumarin)[12]
  • 2-methyl-1,2,3,4-butanetetrol[12]
  • 1,3-di-O-caffeoyl quinic acid methyl ester and caffeic acid[2]
  • β-sitosterol[12]
  • Sodium (0.5+/-0.006g/kg), Potassium (16.64+/-0.08g/kg), Copper (35.45ppm), Iron (6,523.07ppm), Zinc (89.84ppm), Magnesium (526.31ppm), and Manganese (114ppm)[18]

Evolvulus appears to mostly be a source of kaempferol glycosides which appear to be somewhat unique to this plant, and has a content of common coumarin structures; beyond that, there appears to be an alkaloid content that is not completely identified. The molecules underlying bioactivities of Evolvulus are not yet known

Evolvulus alsinoides has been found to possess a large content of phenolics (192.0+/-0.900mg/g in the ethanolic extract[4], 1213.9+/-93.2mcg/g in the hydroalcoholic extract, and 1402.9+/-99.0mcg/g in the water extract (all gallic acid equivalents)[19]) comprised of both tannins (16.0+/-0.894mg/g) and flavonoids (26.0+/-0.516mg/g).[4] Some alkaloids have also been detected but not identified,[4] and despite no differences between hydroalcoholic and water extracts for total phenolics there appears to be more flavonoids in the hydroalcoholic extract (273.0+/-5.4μM rutin equivalents) relative to the water (203.0+/-5.8μM).[19]

It is highly plausible that the bioactives of interest are concentrated in ethanolic extractions of the plant

Edit2. Neurology

2.1. Memory, Learning, and Amnesia

Evolvulus has been found to inhibit the acetylcholinesterase enzyme with an IC50 of 141.76+/-16.27µg/mL, which underperformed to both Jatamansi (130.11+/-12.97µg/mL) and Centella asiatica (106.55+/-9.96µg/mL) as well as the reference drug of physostigmine (76+/-42ng/mL).[20] When comparing the extracts, it appears that the molecules that mediate acetylcholinesterase inhibition are similar between the water and hydroalcoholic extracts (17.3-21.5% inhibition at 1mg/mL) while the latter is more potent in inhibiting butyrylcholinesterase (26.0+/-1.2% inhibition at 1mg/mL, water extract ineffective).[19]

Evolvulus has also been noted to inhibit catechol-o-methyltransferase (COMT) ex vivo with an IC50 value of 20.7+/-0.6mcg/mL (hydroalcoholic extract) or 51.7+/-1.9mcg/mL (water extract).[19]

May inhibit acetylcholinesterase and increase brain acetylcholine levels, but does not appear overly potent in doing so (outperformed by other herbs)

In rats given 200mg/kg of the ethanolic extract, the amnesiac effects of scopolamine were greatly attenuated relative to control[5] which applies to ethyl acetate and water extractions as well;[21] protective effects have been noted against streptozotocin-induced neurodegeneration with the hydroalcoholic extract where 500mg/kg abolished neural deficits.[19]

A water extract of evolvulus in response to electroshock-induced amnesia has failed to find an anti-amnesiac effect or preserve learning after shock[8] although water extracts (100-200mg/kg) have previously been effective against scopolamine-induced amnesia.[21]

Holds fairly respectable anti-amnesiac effects in animal models of neurotoxicity, but has once failed to prevent amnesia induced by electroshocking. The reason for this failure is unknown, but is likely not due to the extraction process used (as it has shown efficacy elsewhere)

In comparison against the herb Convolvulus pluricaulis (also bears the name 'Shankhapushpi'), 250mg/kg of the ethanolic extract of evolvulus taken one hour prior to cognitive testing in rats noted that it was more effective than Convolvulus pluricaulis at improving memory retention (although both treatments more effective than control) and evolvulus was comparable to the reference drug of 200mg/kg Piracetam.[9] This has been noted elsewhere where the ethanolic extract of evolvulus at 200-400mg/kg (but not 50-100mg/kg) although this study noted that evolvulus outperformed Clitoria ternatea yet was comparable to Convolvulus pluricaulis and Piracetam at 100mg/kg.[22] A third study has also noted comparable efficacy between evolvulus and piracetam in these dosage ranges in otherwise healthy young rats.[21]

Elsewhere, one rat study that investigated anti-amnesiac effects of evolvulus and had both a true control and evolvulus group without neurotoxin failed to note a significant difference in learning as assessed by retention transfer latency, retention latency, or escape latency.[19]

Appears to have Nootropic properties in rats following oral ingestion, even without cognitive deficit or neurotoxicity as a prerequisite. It appears to either be unreliable or restricted to the ethanolic extract, and the ethanolic extract appears as potent as piracetam

2.2. Stress

When looking at molecules which can confer antistress effects, evolvosides C and D as well as kaempferol 4′-O-α-l-rhamnopyranosyl-(1→6)-β-d-glucopyranoside at 40mg/kg were able to reduce biomarkers of stress in rats of comparable potency to 100mg/kg panax quinquefolium.[14] Evolvoid A was also able to effectivel abolish stress in rats whereas caffeic acid and 1,3-di-O-caffeoyl quinic acid methyl ester were partially effective.[13]

In rats subject to either acute (immobilization) or chronic (7 days) stress tests, 200mg/kg of the ethanolic extract taken 45 minutes prior to stressors was able to confer Adaptogen-like effects by reducing stress biomarkers (creatine kinase, corticosterone, adrenal weight) to a potency similar to 100mg/kg panax quinquefolium (American ginseng); 400mg/kg was no more effective than 200mg/kg.[5]

2.3. Anxiety

200mg/kg of evolvulus (ethanolic extract) has shown anxiolytic activity in rats which was comparable to Convolvulus pluricaulis (100mg/kg) and slightly less effective than the reference drug of 2mg/kg Diazepam; higher doses reduced the anxiolytic effects.[22]

2.4. Sedation

500mg/kg of the hydroalcoholic extract in rats has failed to significantly alter locomotion[19] but 400-600mg/kg of the ethanolic extract has shown some sedative properties with a potency not exceeding the reference drug of 2mg/kg Diazepam; lower doses were not significantly active.[22]

It is possible that evolvulus has sedating properties at higher dosages

Edit3. Inflammation and Immunology

3.1. Joints

Evolvulus has been found to suppress inflammation induced in a mouse model of arthritis (Complete Freund's Adjuvant injections).[23]

Possible benefits, but highly preliminary information and no comparisons to reference drugs at this moment in time

Edit4. Safety and Toxicology

4.1. General

It appears that the LD50 of evolvulus alsinoides in albino mice is approximately 450mg/kg whereas lower doses (200mg/kg) merely cause sedation.[1] This LD50 is somewhat suspect, as elsewhere dosages of 400-600mg/kg have failed to induce any toxicity.[22] Overall, there is a lack of proper toxicology testing on this herb.

Insufficient evidence to establish possible toxicity of the herb and its extractions, with contradictory information thus far


  1. Sethiya NK, et al. An update on Shankhpushpi, a cognition-boosting Ayurvedic medicine. Zhong Xi Yi Jie He Xue Bao. (2009)
  2. Review of Ethnomedicinal Uses and Pharmacology of Evolvulus alsinoides Linn
  3. Austin DF. Evolvulus alsinoides (Convolvulaceae): an American herb in the Old World. J Ethnopharmacol. (2008)
  4. Gomathi D, et al. Secondary metabolite credentials of Evolvulus alsinoides by high performance thin layer chromatography (HPTLC). J Biomed Res. (2012)
  5. Siripurapu KB, et al. Adaptogenic and anti-amnesic properties of Evolvulus alsinoides in rodents. Pharmacol Biochem Behav. (2005)
  6. Shah JS, Goyal RK. Usage trends for memory and vitality-enhancing medicines: A pharmacoepidemiological study involving pharmacists of the Gujarat region. Int J Ayurveda Res. (2010)
  7. Aulakh GS, Narayanan S, Mahadevan G. Phyto - chemistry and pharmacology of shankapushpi - four varieties. Anc Sci Life. (1988)
  8. Andrade C, et al. Investigation of the possible role of Shankapushpi in the attenuation of ECT induced amnestic deficits. Indian J Psychiatry. (2012)
  10. Investigation of Evolvulus alsinoides Linn. (shankhpushpi)
  11. A preliminary note on the pharmacology of evolvine
  12. Cervenka F, et al. Evaluation of natural substances from Evolvulus alsinoides L. with the purpose of determining their antioxidant potency. J Enzyme Inhib Med Chem. (2008)
  13. Gupta P, et al. Anti-stress constituents of Evolvulus alsinoides: an ayurvedic crude drug. Chem Pharm Bull (Tokyo). (2007)
  14. Gupta P, et al. Evolvosides C-E, flavonol-4-O-triglycosides from Evolvulus alsinoides and their anti-stress activity. Bioorg Med Chem. (2013)
  15. Kumar M, et al. Antioxidant flavonoid glycosides from Evolvulus alsinoides. Fitoterapia. (2010)
  16. Cervenka F, Jahodár L. Plant metabolites as nootropics and cognitives. Ceska Slov Farm. (2006)
  17. Nahata A, Dixit VK. Spectrofluorimetric Estimation of Scopoletin in Evolvulus alsinoides Linn. and Convulvulus pluricaulis Choisy. Indian J Pharm Sci. (2008)
  18. Sethiya NK, et al. Comparative pharmacognostical investigation on four ethanobotanicals traditionally used as Shankhpushpi in India. J Adv Pharm Technol Res. (2010)
  19. Mehla J, et al. Amelioration of intracerebroventricular streptozotocin induced cognitive impairment by Evolvulus alsinoides in rats: in vitro and in vivo evidence. Neurochem Int. (2012)
  20. Mukherjee PK, Kumar V, Houghton PJ. Screening of Indian medicinal plants for acetylcholinesterase inhibitory activity. Phytother Res. (2007)
  21. Nahata A, Patil UK, Dixit VK. Effect of Evolvulus alsinoides Linn. on learning behavior and memory enhancement activity in rodents. Phytother Res. (2010)
  22. Malik J, Karan M, Vasisht K. Nootropic, anxiolytic and CNS-depressant studies on different plant sources of shankhpushpi. Pharm Biol. (2011)
  23. Ganju L, et al. Immunomodulatory effects of agents of plant origin. Biomed Pharmacother. (2003)

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