Convolvulus pluricaulis

Convolvulus pluricaulis is one of four herbs referred to as Shankhapushpi in Ayurveda, and is traditionally used for its cognitive promiting and Nootropic effects. It appears to have efficacy in animals.

This page features 19 unique references to scientific papers.


All Essential Benefits/Effects/Facts & Information

Convolvulus pluricaulis is one of four herbs with the common name of Shankhapushpi that has traditionally been used as a cognitive enhancing herb and Nootropic. Although there is not a large amount of evidence in support of convolvulus, it appears to be able to promote learning in otherwise healthy rats and mice with a potency similar to the reference drug Piracetam and the other Shankhapushpi herb known as Evolvulus alsinoides. The mechanisms underlying the enhancement of learning are not currently known.

Other neural effects of convolvulus include sedative properties (seem to be relevant at doses higher than used for learning enhancement), anxiolytic and anti-depressive properties, and possible neuroprotective properties; currently there is insufficient evidence to examine how relevant convolvulus is for these goals and the limited evidence is somewhat contradictory (depression) or otherwise does not suggest remarkable potency.

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Editors' Thoughts on Convolvulus pluricaulis

This herb will get a lot more interesting once we figure out how Convolamine interacts with muscarinic cholinergic receptors (as it has very similar structure to scopolamine, a potent antagonist).

Kurtis Frank

1Sources and Composition

1.1. Sources

Convolvulus pluricaulis (of the family Convolvulaceae[1] and synonymous with Convolvulus microphyllus) is one of four plants that is referred to as Shankhapushpi, and appears to be the 'true' form of Shankhapushpi according to the Ayurvedic Pharmacopoeia[2][1] with the other three herbs (Clitorea ternatea, Evolvulus alsinoides, and Canscora decussata) being used as replacements for Convolvulus depending on herb availability and region.[1]

Similar to the other herbs, convolvulus and shankhapushpi (historical usage similar due to being interchangeably used) is medicinally used for a brain tonic, nervine tonic, alternative and laxative as well as to reduce anxiety, neurosis, fatigue symptoms, cognitive decline, and has some reported usage for fertility and seminal issues.[1][2][3] It appears to be well respected in traditional medicine for its cognitive properties and inducing a state of calmness and treating insomnia.[3]

The entire aerial plant of convolvulus is used[3] and is reported to be tasteless[1] to somewhat bitter[4] while being traditionally used in the form of a decotion with cumin and milk.[3] The plant itself is sometimes also called Aloe Weed (not to be confused with Aloe vera) in English.[3]

Convolvulus is one of four herbs given the name of Shankhapushpi, and appears to be recommended for the same purposes such as cognitive enhancement and sustaining neurology through aging. Of the four herbs under the name of Shankhapushpi, convolvulus pluricaulis may be the primary herb used (with the others being considered replacements)

1.2. Composition

The root also tends to contain fatty acids (mostly palmitic, myristic, and linoleic acid).[9]

Overall, the composition of Convolvulus is not well known but is thought to be related to the tropane alkaloids (of which convolamine has been detected, and preliminarily thought to be the main bioactive)

It is not known what the structural similarity between convolamine and scopolamine (reference neurotoxin) insinuates; more research needs to be conducted on that topic to see if convolamine is a cholinergic agonist or antagonist and its affinity relative to scopolamine


2.1. Learning

The potency of Convolvulus pluricaulis relative to the other herb known as Shankhapushpi (Evolvulus alsinoides) is either of being slightly less able to promote learning in otherwise healthy mice[10] or the ethanolic extract of evolvulus appears to be comparable to 100mg/kg of Convolvulus.[11]

Relative to Piracetam (200mg/kg), Convolvulus appears to be slightly less effective at 250mg/kg[10] although on a model of step-down latency it has shown comparable efficacy;[11] dosages between 100-400mg/kg of convolvulus have been found to be not significantly different from one another.[11]

Appears to have Nootropic properties in otherwise healthy rodents with a potency not exceeding that of Piracetam of evolvulus as reference drugs. The mechanisms underlying this cognitive enhancement are not yet known

One week administration of 150mg/kg of convolvulus appears to protect against scopolamine-induced neurotoxicity as assessed by acetylcholinesterase and oxidation biomarkers[12] and beta-amyloid pigmentation with a potency comparable to 1mg/kg Rivastigmine.[13] This reduction in beta-amyloid pigmentation may not be exclusive to scopolamine toxicity, as it has been noted in vitro with a potency comparable to polypodium multiflorum[14] and neuroprotection has also been noted against aluminum with 150mg/kg of Convolvulus in rats.[15]

Appears to have neuroprotective effects against the amnesiac compound scopolamine as well as general oxidative stress (aluminum) and may reduce protein aggregates as well, but requires more information and localization of bioactive(s)

2.2. Convulsion

500-1000mg/kg of convolvulus appears to attenuate but not abolish hind limb extension in an electroshock convulsion model.[16]

Appears to have weak anti-convulsive effects, not overly remarkable

2.3. Depression

25-100mg/kg of convolvulus daily for 10 days in mice subject to forced swim tests noted that the chloroform extract (50-100mg/kg, not 25mg/kg) exhibited comparable efficacy to both imipramine (15mg/kg) and fluoxetine (20mg/kg).[17] Although convolvulus reverse reserpine-induced depression, the antidepressive effects were attenuated by prazosin, sulpiride, and p-chlorophenylalanine.[17] Elsewhere, convolvulus has failed to show anti-depressant effects as assessed by immobility (in a forced swimming despair test) and due to the failure underperformed relative to 15mg/kg Imipiramine.[11]

Preliminary evidence is mixed, with the one study suggesting anti-depressive effects noting that it has potency similar to reference drugs. These appear to be related to monoamines, but the exact anti-depressive mechanism is unknown

2.4. Anxiety

Convolvulus has demonstrated anxiolytic activity at 50-200mg/kg oral intake in rats with 100mg/kg (as well as 200mg/kg Evolvulus alsinoides) being comparable to the reference drug of Diazepam at 2mg/kg.[11] It should be noted that this study suggested higher doses of convolvulus in the 200-400mg/kg range were less effective than 100mg/kg.[11]

There may be some anxiolytic effects associated with convolvulus ingestion at 16mg/kg (human estimate from 100mg/kg in rats) with the mechanisms mediating this anxiolysis currently unknown

2.5. Sedation

Extracts of convolvulus between the doses of 400-600mg/kg, but not 200mg/kg or less, appear to have sedating effects with the highest tested dose (600mg/kg) comparable to 10mg/kg Diazepam.[11]

Higher doses appear to have sedatory properties

2.6. Stress

375-750mg/kg of convolvulus given acutely prior to stress testing was as effective as sucralfate in preventing stomach ulceration from the cold restraint stress.[18] It is not sure if this is wholly due to a neural anti-stress effect, as protection from ulceration was also noted in response to aspirin and Alcohol.[18]

May have anti-stress properties, but there is not any researched catered to assess this claim

3Interactions with Hormones

3.1. Thyroid

Compounds in the root of convolvulus (400mg/kg for 30 days) appear to inhibit the 5'-deiodinase enzyme which bioactives T4 into T3 as evidenced by the root causing reduced serum T3 and preventing T4-induced elevations in T3.[19]

At least one study has suggested potential anti-thyroid properties of convolvulus, practical significance of this study is not known

Scientific Support & Reference Citations


  1. Sethiya NK, et al An update on Shankhpushpi, a cognition-boosting Ayurvedic medicine . Zhong Xi Yi Jie He Xue Bao. (2009)
  2. Singh RH, Narsimhamurthy K, Singh G Neuronutrient impact of Ayurvedic Rasayana therapy in brain aging . Biogerontology. (2008)
  3. Traditional Indian Herbs Convolvulus Pluricaulis and Its Medicinal Importance
  4. Sethiya NK, et al Comparative pharmacognostical investigation on four ethanobotanicals traditionally used as Shankhpushpi in India . J Adv Pharm Technol Res. (2010)
  5. BASU NK, DANDIYA PC Chemical investigation of Convolvulus pluricaulis Chois . J Am Pharm Assoc Am Pharm Assoc. (1948)
  6. Estimation Of Scopoletin In Leaf And Leaf Callus Of Convolvulus Microphyllus Sieb
  7. Use of HPTLC to establish a distinct chemical profile for shankhpushpi and for quantification of scopoletin in Convolvulus pluricaulis choisy and in commercial formulations of shankhpushpi
  8. Spectrofluorimetric estimation of scopoletin in Evolvulus alsinoides linn. and Convulvulus pluricaulis choisy
  9. Srivastava DN, Deshpande SM Gas chromatographic identification of fatty acids, fatty alcohols, and hydrocarbons of Convolvulus pluricaulis (Chois) . J Am Oil Chem Soc. (1975)
  11. Malik J, Karan M, Vasisht K Nootropic, anxiolytic and CNS-depressant studies on different plant sources of shankhpushpi . Pharm Biol. (2011)
  12. Bihaqi SW, Singh AP, Tiwari M In vivo investigation of the neuroprotective property of Convolvulus pluricaulis in scopolamine-induced cognitive impairments in Wistar rats . Indian J Pharmacol. (2011)
  13. Bihaqi SW, Singh AP, Tiwari M Supplementation of Convolvulus pluricaulis attenuates scopolamine-induced increased tau and amyloid precursor protein (AβPP) expression in rat brain . Indian J Pharmacol. (2012)
  14. Liu LF, et al In vitro screening on amyloid precursor protein modulation of plants used in Ayurvedic and traditional Chinese medicine for memory improvement . J Ethnopharmacol. (2012)
  15. Bihaqi SW, et al Neuroprotective role of Convolvulus pluricaulis on aluminium induced neurotoxicity in rat brain . J Ethnopharmacol. (2009)
  16. Verma S, et al Study of Convolvulus pluricaulis for antioxidant and anticonvulsant activity . Cent Nerv Syst Agents Med Chem. (2012)
  17. Dhingra D, Valecha R Evaluation of the antidepressant-like activity of Convolvulus pluricaulis choisy in the mouse forced swim and tail suspension tests . Med Sci Monit. (2007)
  18. Sairam K, Rao CV, Goel RK Effect of Convolvulus pluricaulis Chois on gastric ulceration and secretion in rats . Indian J Exp Biol. (2001)
  19. Panda S, Kar A Inhibition of T3 production in levothyroxine-treated female mice by the root extract of Convolvulus pluricaulis . Horm Metab Res. (2001)