Patha is a widely used Ayurvedic herb known for alleviating a number of ailments. However, it is not a single herb. Instead, the name patha is used to describe two different herbs with distinct botanical names. These are:

  • Cissampelos pareira or laghupatha, commonly known as velvet leaf
  • Cyclea peltata or rajpatha, commonly known as Indian moonseed

Experts suggest that rajpatha can be used as a substitute for laghupatha in various ayurvedic formulations.

Patha is said to be tridoshic in Ayurveda, which means the herb alleviates all three doshas - kapha, pitta and vata. It is known to have digestive, antipyretic and wound healing properties and used for the treatment of diarrhoea, urinary diseases, cough, inflammation, menstrual conditions, piles and skin diseases

Roots of patha plant have muscle relaxant properties and hence are traditionally used in some parts of South America for the management of women’s health conditions including easing childbirth and relieving menstrual cramps. Patha leaves are used in some parts of the world as a vegetable. 

Some general facts about laghupatha: 

  • Botanical name: Cissampelos pareira 
  • Family: Menispermaceae
  • Common names: Velvet leaf, Abuta, False pareira, Midwife’s herb, barbasco, Perira root
  • Parts used: Roots, leaves
  • Geographical distribution: The genus Cissampelos consists of about 30 species. These species are found in the tropical and subtropical regions of the world including East Africa, Asia, America and India. In India, Cissampelos pareira is found in Bihar, West Bengal, Chota Nagpur, Punjab, Rajasthan, Maharashtra (especially in the forests of Marathwada) and Tamil Nadu.

Some general facts about rajpatha:

  • Botanical name: Cyclea peltata 
  • Family: Menispermaceae
  • Common names: Pata root, raj patta
  • Parts used: Roots, leaves
  • Geographical distribution: Rajpatha is found in tropical evergreen forests, including those in India and Sri Lanka. This herb grows widely in South and Eastern India and in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands.
  1. How to identify patha: Cissampelos pareira and Cyclea peltata
  2. Patha health benefits
  3. Patha plant side effects
Doctors for Patha plant benefits and side effects

Here is a morphological description of both types of patha:

Cissampelos pareira

The word Crissampelos comes from two Greek words: kisso, which means ivy, and ampelos, which means vine. The name explains the ivy-like growth of the Cissampelos plants that is apparent from the green spreading branches and the grape-like clusters of fruits in this plant. 

Patha is a perennial shrub with a thin flexible stem that twins and climbs on trees and woody rootstock. The leaves of this plant are very thin and are arranged alternately on the stem. They are oval or kidney/heart-shaped and have the petiole attached to the centre and lower surface rather than at the end. Petiole is the tiny stalk through which a leaf is attached to the stem of a plant. The leaf surface is greyish on the underside and dark green on the upper side and with very fine hair, hence the name velvet leaf. The plant bears small green coloured flowers that form red-orange partially round and hairy fruits. Patha plant has peculiar horseshoe-shaped seeds. 

Cyclea peltata

Cyclea peltata is a highly branched climbing shrub with tuberous roots. Leaves of this plant are oval or deltoid (shaped like a triangle with bottom corners rounded) with a sharp, blunt or wavy base, hairy along the veins and have hairy and fringed margins. Cyclea peltata bears greenish-yellow flowers.

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Patha plant, especially the root, is extensively used in traditional medicine for the treatment of diarrhoea, cough, urinary issues, dysentery, asthma, indigestion and heart diseases. Leaves of this plant are known to possess anti-inflammatory properties. 

Though there isn’t much scientific data to back all these uses of the herb, here are some of the health benefits of patha plant that you should know.

Patha benefits in arthritis

In a study done on mice, a 50% aqueous ethanolic extract of Cissampelos parreira was found to be effective in increasing arthritis pain threshold. The study indicated that the herb may have some benefits in the treatment of pain and arthritis. 

A study, published in the International Journal of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences, indicated the anti-arthritic effects of a polyherbal formulation that contains Cissampelos pareira

According to a study done in India, the ethanolic extracts of the leaves of laghupatha plant is effective against osteoarthritis, hyperuricemia (high uric acid levels in blood that may lead to gout) and rheumatoid arthritis.

Additionally, several studies suggest that Cissampelos pareira plants possess anti-inflammatory properties. Inflammation (marked by swelling, redness and pain) is the characteristic feature of arthritis.

Both rajpatha and laghupatha were suggested to possess analgesic (pain-relieving) properties in an animal study. However, the effect was found to be more pronounced in animals who were treated with laghupatha.

According to a study done in India, the flavonoid extract of C peltata plant shows significant anti-inflammatory activity. 

However, if you have arthritis, it is best to talk to an Ayurvedic practitioner before taking laghupatha as a remedy.

Patha benefits for liver

A study done on rats indicated that consumption of laghupatha may help prevent CCL4 induced liver damage. CCL4 is a toxic compound that is used to induce liver damage in animal models. The compound produces excessive free radicals resulting in inflammation, necrosis (cell death) and stenosis in the liver.

Another study that was done at the CSIR National Botanical Research Institute found similar results in in vitro (lab study) and in vivo (animal models) studies. Both the studies concluded that this herb has some hepatoprotective potential. 

Hepatoprotective drugs or compounds are those that are used to prevent liver diseases. Liver diseases affect millions of people every year in the world. They include viral infections like hepatitis and hereditary diseases like Wilson’s disease. Excess consumption of alcohol and drugs also slowly deteriorate liver function and may lead to complications like cirrhosis and cancer.

Rajpatha is traditionally used in Kerala for the treatment of jaundice. An in vivo study done in rats indicated that C. peltata plant has hepatoprotective effects. As per the study, these effects may be due to stabilization of the outer membrane in liver cells and prevention of lipid peroxidation. Lipid peroxidation is a process in which free radicals take electrons from lipids in the cell membranes and cause cell damage. 

In another study, the alkaloid extract of C. peltata was found to be effective in promoting liver health by reducing free radical damage.

Antioxidant effects of patha plant

Several studies have shown the antioxidant effects of laghupatha. Antioxidants are compounds that neutralize free radicals, unstable molecules that are formed in the body due to the normal metabolic processes. Ageing and poor lifestyle leads to accumulation of free radicals and a condition called oxidative stress. Oxidative stress damages and deteriorates organ function over time. 

An in vivo study done on mice showed that the alkaloid fraction of the extract of C. pareira plant possesses potent antioxidant properties. It also showed immunomodulatory action by suppressing the hypersensitivity response in test animals. 

Both in vitro and in vivo studies done by a group of researchers in India suggested that the polyphenols present in the roots of C. pareira plants have dose-dependent neutralising effects on free radicals. 

In another study, both the leaf and stem extracts of laghupatha plant were found to have antioxidant effects. As per the study, these effects were due to the presence of flavonoids in the extracts.

Read more: Phytonutrients types and benefits

Antimicrobial effects of patha plant

Infectious diseases are one of the leading causes of death in the world, killing millions of people every year. On top of that, excessive use of antibiotics has led to the development of drug-resistant microbes that do not respond well or at all to existing drugs and most medicines have their own side effects. Hence, researchers are now looking towards natural substances to develop new drugs with limited side effects. 

Experts suggest that C. pareira contains some biologically active compounds and has the potential to be harnessed as a natural antibiotic. 

In a study done to screen for antibacterial activity in this plant, laghupatha root extract was found to be effective against Staphylococcus aureus (causes skin conditions), S. typhimurium (causes gastroenteritis), E. coli (causes diarrhoea and dysentery) and Klebsiella pneumoniae (causes pneumonia and surgical wound infections). 

According to a study published in the Brazilian Journal of Pharmaceutical Sciences, C. pareira extracts can inhibit the growth of the dengue virus.  

In another study, both the methanolic and ethyl acetate extracts of C. pareira roots were indicated to have antibacterial activity. 

According to a study published in the Journal of Pharmacognosy and Phytochemistry, laghupatha plant is highly effective against the tuberculosis bacteria Mycobacterium tuberculosis. The antimicrobial effects were attributed to the presence of certain compounds like phenols, flavonoids, terpenoids and anthraquinones in the plant. Drug-resistant TB is one of the major concerns for healthcare experts right now. 

In a study done in Kerala, India, various extracts of C. peltata were found to be effective against Staphylococcus aureus, Proteus vulgaris (causes UTIs, respiratory tract infections and infections in wounds) and Klebsiella pneumoniae

In another study, C. peltata extracts were suggested to be helpful in inhibiting the growth of E. coli

As per a study published in the Asian Journal of Research in Biological and Pharmaceutical Sciences, ethanolic extracts of C. peltata plant have better antibacterial activity than aqueous extracts. 

Patha benefits for stomach

A study done in mice indicated that C pareira contains a flavonoid called quercetin that is effective against gastric ulcers

Rajpatha is used in Ayurvedic medicine for the treatment of gastric ulcers. According to a study published in the Journal of Ethnopharmacology, root extracts of C. peltata plant may be effective against gastric ulcers as it reduces the secretion of gastric juices. Excess production of gastric acids increases the risk of gastric ulcers.

Patha for diabetes

Laghu patha is traditionally used for the management of diabetes mellitus in some parts of the world. Though the effects of the herb have not been clinically proven yet, some preclinical studies indicate that it may be effective in controlling blood sugar levels. 

At least two different in vivo studies (done on rats and mice) done in India suggest that the leaves of the C. pareira plant possess antidiabetic potential and may be considered for diabetes mellitus treatment. 

Similar results were obtained by another group of researchers on using  C. pareira root extract.

According to a study published in the Journal of Drug Metabolism and Toxicology, the hypoglycemic (reducing blood sugar levels) activity of lahgupatha plants is due to the presence of certain plant-based compounds including phenols, flavonoids and terpenes in it. 

An in vivo study done on mice indicated that the root extract of C. peltata plant has antidiabetic potential, which it mediates by reducing free radicals in the body.

Another animal study found that administration of C peltata root extracts improves insulin levels and glycogen levels in peripheral tissues, indicating it’s anti-diabetic potential. Our body converts extra glucose into another sugar called glycogen and stores it inside our liver and muscles.

Since no clinical studies have yet been done on the antidiabetic potential of patha plant or the safety of this plant in diabetes, it is best that diabetic people should talk to their doctor before taking this herb in any form. 

Read more: What to eat and what not to eat in diabetes

Patha for brain health

Several studies indicate that C. pareira has nootropic (improves cognition) and memory-enhancing effects. 

A study done in mice suggested that the hydroalcoholic extract of laghupatha plant can reverse amnesia (a type of memory loss). As per the study, the nootropic effects of this herb may be due to it’s antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties and reduction of acetylcholinesterase, an enzyme that breaks down a neurotransmitter called acetylcholine. 

In another study, a combined preparation made from C. pareira and Anethum graveolens (dill plant) was found to have a protective effect against mild cognitive decline that occurs with age. It was also found to be effective against early-phase Alzheimer’s disease.

According to a study published in the International Journal of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences, C. pareira is a promising candidate for drug development and management of Alzheimer’s and dementia. The study indicated that these effects may be due to the presence of a compound called benzylisoquinoline in the herb. These compounds have been found to have strong inhibitory effects on acetylcholinesterase.

Patha benefits in malaria

As per a study published in the Natural Products journal, 8 g root of laghupatha powder, when mixed with a powder made from about 12 black peppers, taken three times a day is traditionally used for the treatment of malaria in Orissa.  

A study done in Kenya indicated that C. pareira contains potent antiplasmodial compounds. Plasmodium is the causative agent of malaria. 

In an in vivo study done on mice, administration of laghupatha extracts was found to be significantly effective in suppressing the growth of Plasmodium. The study indicated that the antiplasmodial properties of C. pareira plants need to be further investigated.

Read more: 10 most frequently asked questions about malaria

Patha benefits for heart

Laghupatha plant is traditionally said to be beneficial against heart diseases

In a preclinical study done in New Delhi, India, it was found that C. pareira root extracts can reduce cardiac dysfunction by reducing free radicals and improving the activity of antioxidant enzymes.  

Another in vivo study indicated the cardioprotective effects of C. pareira, suggesting the role of antioxidant enzymes in the action.   

However, in the absence of clinical studies, it is best to talk to a doctor to know more about the safety and efficacy of laghupatha plant in humans. 

Other health benefits of patha

Here are some other health benefits of laghupatha:

  • Leaves of laghupatha plant have been found to have anti-hemorrhagic properties.
  • Both laghupatha and rajpatha have been indicated to promote anticancer activity.
  • In an animal study, administration of C. pareira extracts was suggested to have anti-diarrhoeal effects - it reduced the total number of faecal droppings.
  • Both ethanolic and aqueous extracts of C. peltata have been found to possess antihyperlipidemic properties, meaning that they reduce body cholesterol levels. 
  • C. peltata extracts have shown to possess bronchodilator activity in guinea pigs and is hence suggested to be effective in the management of asthma.
  • An animal study suggested that rajpatha root extracts inhibit the formation of kidney stones. It has also been found to possess nephroprotective effects by reducing oxidative stress.

The following are some of the side effects of patha plant:

  • Patha has been indicated to be a potent antifertility agent (natural contraceptive). Pregnant women and those who are trying to conceive should consult an experienced ayurvedic doctor before taking this herb in any form.
  • Patha is suggested to have a hypoglycemic effect. If you are diabetic or tend to have low blood sugar levels, it is best that you stay away from this herb.
  • If you are taking any medication or have a chronic health condition, do not take patha without consulting your physician first.
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