An Overview, Benefits, Side Effects and Interactions
Family Name: Berberidaceae
Botanical Name: Podophyllum hexandrum Royle, Sinopodophyllum hexandrum
English Name: Himalayan mayapple, Indian mayapple, Indian Podophyllum
Hindi Name: Bankakri, Papra
Sanskrit Name: Bantrapushi, Giriparpat
Taste: Bitter, Pungent
Parts Used and Season of Collection: Roots, Rhizome, Rhizome resin (podophyllin) should be collected from the plant, 3 – 5 years age, in the flowering season in May. The resin is more in roots and rhizome than in aerial parts of the plant.
P.hexandrum is an erect, glabrous, fleshy or succulent rhizomatous herb that grows up to 60 cm. The flowers are solitary, cup-shaped, white, sometimes pink. The plant occurs in the Himalayas in shady places at an altitude of 10 – 15 thousand feet. Since it grows in Himalayan region and blooms in May, it is often referred to as Himalayan mayapple and Indian mayapple.
The Rhizome of the plant contain upto 15% Podophyllin resin. The main active constituent of Podophyllin is Podophyllotoxin, a neurotoxin. Root and rhizome also contain aryltetralin Lignans. The root and rhizome of the plant though poisonous, are used are against several diseases.
Mode of Action
- Ayurvedic Doshas: The plant balances Kapha dosha and Pitta dosha, particularly the plant eliminates excess Pitta dosha from the body.
- Cathartic and Cholagogue
- Cytoprotective and Immunomodulatory: Drugs derived from P.hexandrum exhibit ability to scavenge free radicals, chelate metal ions and modulate the antioxidant defence system. Hence, these drugs protect nucleic acids, proteins, and lipids against oxidative damage and render a cytoprotective and immunomodulatory effect.
- Antimitotic: Podophyllum exhibits poisoning of microtubules and the spindle body due to tubulin binding and hence shows antimitotic activity.
- Antitumour: The plant has an ability to inhibit cell proliferative activity, DNA topoisomerase activity and reduce DNA and RNA synthesis, and therefore renders antitumor activity.
- Anti-viral including anti-HIV
- Cathartic and Cholagogue: It is used as purgative, hepatic stimulant and antihelminthic particularly for roundworms.
- Skin diseases: Podophyllin is strongly irritant to the skin and mucous membranes, and hence has been tried in the treatment of a number of Skin diseases characterised by Warty lesions and Skin Neoplasms. Podophyllum 20% solution has been successfully used for the treatment of Genital warts and Planter warts . Drugs derived from P.hexandrum are considered the drug of choice in the treatment of Condyloma acuminata and Tinea capitis, because of the effectiveness, simplicity of treatment and the absence of severe pain to the patient. The anti-viral, including anti-HIV, properties of Podophyllum spp. have also been reported . Podophyllotoxin is effective in the treatment of small superficial Carcinomas of skin including Wilms’ tumour, Genital tumours, Hodgkins, non-Hodgkins and Cancers of brain, lung and bladder. It is also used topically for white patches on the tongue in people with weak immune systems (hairy leukoplakia) and for corns .
Side Effects and Risk Factors
- Podophyllum is poisonous and UNSAFE when taken by mouth.
- Can cause nausea, vomiting, dizziness, headache, spasms, fever, visual changes, hallucinations, paralysis and death. It can take up to 13 hours for symptoms of poisoning to appear. , 
- Podophyllum is poisonous and UNSAFE when applied to skin in higher concentrations over large areas of the body.
- UNSAFE in Pregnancy, Breastfeeding and Children under 2 years of age.
- Podophyllotoxin, a chemical found in podophyllum, is safer and has largely replaced podophyllum as a treatment. 
Talk with your Health care provider before using Podophyllum.
- HERBS, Useful in Dermatological Therapy by Prof.P.N.Behl, Prof.R.B.Arora, Dr. G.Srivastava, Dr. S.C.Malhotra. First Edition 1993. Published by CBS Publishers & Distributors. Indian Podophyllum (page number 116).
- Botanical Medicine in Clinical Practice – Page 72 – Google Books Results
- Sinopodophyllum – Wikipedia
- DRAVYAGUNA-VIJNANA Vol.2 (vegetable Drugs) by Prof. P.V.Sharma, Chaukhambha Bharati Academy, Varanasi, Sixteenth Edition:1995. 9th Chapter, Jwaraghnadi varga: Anti-cancer drugs: Bantrapushi (page no.-833)