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Background & General Info

Guduchi, or Tinospora cordifolia, is a perennial climbing shrub found at higher altitudes of India and China, distributed from the Himalayas to the southern Indian peninsula. [1][2][3] The name “guduchi” comes from a Sanskrit name that means “one that protects the entire body” in reference to the plant’s claimed abilities to maintain and preserve youthfulness, improve vitality, and enhance longevity. [2] In English-speaking countries, it is commonly referred to as heartleaf moonseed, whereas in Hindi, it is called “gurcha”. [2]


Guduchi is a deciduous plant characterized by small, greenish-yellow flowers; fleshy, relatively succulent stems; and long, filiform, fleshy aerial roots from the branches. [1][2] It has membranous and cordate leaves. [2] Blossoming during the summer months, the male flowers form in clusters, whereas the females are solitary in axillary and terminal racemes or racemose panicles. [1][2] In winter, ovoid, red, and pea-sized drupes form, which are glossy and succulent and contain a single curved seed. [2]

History & Traditional Use

In traditional folk remedy and Ayurvedic medicine, guduchi is vastly applied to treat a variety of diseases, boost immunity, and improve body resistance against infections. [1][4] The Indian Ayurvedic Pharmacopoeia lists it as an approved medicine with anti-inflammatory, immunomodulatory, antiallergic, and antidiabetic properties and considers it as a “rasayana” or rejuvenating, adaptogenic herb. [5] In Hindu mythology, it is frequently identified as giloe, a term that denotes a “heavenly elixir” that keeps celestial beings young for eternity. [6][7] The stem of the plant is also indicated by Indian folk medicine as therapy for diabetes. [8]

General Herbal Uses

Ancient Ayurvedic literature mentions guduchi as a broadly used component of different herbal preparations advised for the treatment of general debility, dyspepsia, and urinary diseases. [9] It has also been documented to be a medicinal plant that is beneficial for peptic ulcer, hepatobiliary disorders, rheumatism, and infectious diseases. [10] It can be used to treat leprosy, diabetes, asthma, anorexia, jaundice, pyrexia, gout, skin infections, and diarrhea and is regarded as a bitter tonic, astringent, diuretic, and aphrodisiac. [11] A range of medicinally beneficial activities have been recently reported and documented for it, including antidiabetic, antispasmodic, anti-inflammatory, antiarthritic, antioxidant, antiallergic, antistress, antileprotic, antimalarial, hepatoprotective, immunomodulatory, and anticancer properties, increasing the scientific interest of researchers on this plant. [1][2]

Constituents/Active Components

Different parts of guduchi, particularly its roots and stem, contain substantial amounts of alkaloids, steroids, diterpenoid lactones, aliphatics, and glycosides. [2] A 2013 quantitative phytochemical analysis of guduchi stems collected from various areas revealed the presence of phenols, flavanoids, alkaloids, saponins, cardiac glycosides, steroids, carbohydrates, and proteins. [12] The major phytoconstituents of the plant include tinosporine, tinosporide, tinosporaside, cordifolide, cordifol, heptacosanol, clerodane furano diterpene, diterpenoid furano lactone, tinosporidine, columbin, and β-sitosterol. Its stems were shown to contain berberine, palmatine, tembertarine, magniflorine, choline, and tinosporin, as well as a new daucane-type sesquiterpene, tinocordifolin. [13]

Medicinal/Scientific Research


A 2016 report by Mishra et al. indicated that treatment using 50% ethanol extract of guduchi can ameliorate the negative effects of sleep deprivation, including cognitive dysfunctions, anxiety, and impairment in motor coordination. Compared with vehicle-treated rats, sleep-deprived rats treated with the extract manifested an improvement in behavioral response in the elevated plus maze and novel object recognition tests for anxiety and cognitive functions, respectively, and exhibited a downregulated expression of inflammatory markers, including CD11b/c, MHC-1, and cytokines, and suppression of apoptotic markers. Furthermore, the pretreatment of Tinospora cordifolia ethanol extract appeared to amend the stress-induced expression of plasticity markers (PSA-NCAM, NCAM, and GAP-43) and proteins associated with long-term potentiation (LTP) maintenance in the hippocampus and pyriform cortex. [14]


Jagetia and Rao (2006) reported the anticancer activity of dichloromethane extract of guduchi in mice transplanted with Ehrlich ascites carcinoma. Administration of the extract at doses of 25, 30, 40, 50, and 100 mg/kg led to an increase in tumor-free survival rate in a dose-dependent manner, with the 50 mg/kg dose being regarded as the optimum concentration because of its resultant highest number of survivors and potent neoplastic activity. At 50 mg/kg, the treatment with guduchi extract managed to attain a long-term survival rate of 100% and average survival time (AST) and median survival time (MST) of around 56 and 55 days, respectively (in comparison, nontreated controls only reached 19 days). Superb anticancer activity was also observed for guduchi dichloromethane extract intraperitoneally administered at a dose of 50 mg/kg after 1, 3, and 6 days of tumor inoculation, with the percentage of long-term survivors reaching approximately 33, 25, and 17%, respectively. Furthermore, this extract dose displayed a time-dependent depletion in glutathione activity in mice up to 12 hours’ post-treatment and marginal elevation, along with a drastic increase in lipid peroxidation, suggesting that guduchi extract exerted its cytotoxic effect against tumor cells via reduction of glutathione concentration and increase in lipid peroxidation. [7] Likewise, a 2006 Indian research further explained the underlying mechanism of the antitumor property of guduchi dichlormethane extract and ascribed the cytotoxic effect of the said extract on cultured HeLa cells to a concentration-dependent increase in lipid peroxidation (peak at 4 hours), release of lactate dehydrogenase (LDH) (peak at 2 hours), and a decline in glutathione-S-transferase (GST). Moreover, exposure of HeLa cells to different concentrations of guduchi dichlormethane extract led to diminished clonogenicity. [15]


An aqueous extract prepared from Tinospora cordifolia stems was demonstrated to display anti-inflammatory activity, as investigated using a carrageenan-induced paw edema model in rats in a 2014 study. The edema in rats orally receiving the aqueous extract and the market sample of the extract at a dose of 50 mg/kg reduced by 33.06% and 11.71%, respectively, at 3-hour interval, with the first group showing significant anti-inflammatory effects compared with the control group. [5] Wesley et al. (2008) also confirmed the anti-inflammatory property of Tinospora cordifolia alcohol extract against both acute and sub-acute inflammation in rats using carrageenan-induced hind paw edema and cotton pellet granuloma models, respectively. A 66.72% and 83.21% maximum inhibition of edema resulted from the intake of the alcohol extract at doses of 375 and 500 mg/kg, respectively, after 3 hours, whereas in the test for sub-acute inflammation, the extract produced a 51.25% and 60.21% decrease, respectively, in weight of granuloma. [16]


Antimicrobial activity of methanol extract of Tinospora cordifolia had been screened and reported. [17] An early 1992 study confirmed the immunotherapeutic ability of guduchi to protect peritonitis caused by Escherichia coli. Mice intraperitoneally injected with Escherichia coli had a mortality rate of 100%, but this percentage was reduced to 17.8% and 11.1% upon pretreatment with guduchi and gentamicin, respectively. Such decrease in mortality in mice treated with guduchi was associated with considerably ameliorated bacterial clearance and an improvement in phagocytic and intracellular bactericidal capacities of neutrophils. [18]


Patel and Mishra (2011) demonstrated the hypoglycemic effect of an alkaloid-rich fraction acquired from guduchi stems, specifically their insulin-mimicking and insulin-releasing activities in vitro and in vivo. Similar to insulin, the fraction was observed to significantly diminish the process of gluconeogenesis (biosynthesis of glucose from noncarbohydrate sources) in the liver cells of rats and, similar to tolbutamide, to enhance insulin secretion in RINm5F cells. An acute in vitro test lasting for 30 minutes indicated that guduchi fraction stimulated the secretion of insulin from RINm5F cells. Moreover, its oral administration at different doses of 50, 100, and 200 mg/kg considerably decreased fasting serum glucose levels and prevented any increase of blood glucose levels after 2 g/kg glucose loading in normal rats. [8]


Thatte, Rao, and Dahanukar (1994) elucidated the immunomodulatory activity of guduchi, especially its mechanism of action. It appears that oral treatment of mice using 100 mg/kg for 10 days considerably increases the number of colony-forming units in serum and activates macrophages, increasing levels of granulocyte-macrophage colony-stimulating factor (GM-CSF), which in turn results in leukocytosis and better neutrophil function. The leukocytosis that developed after 15 days of guduchi treatment was predominantly marked with neutrophilia, and on the tenth day, a statistical increase of 82% of total white cell count was noted in treated animals. [19]

Sharma et al. (2012) isolated and characterized seven active compounds with immunomodulatory activity in Tinospora cordifolia. By employing polymorphonuclear phagocytic function studies, nitroblue tetrazolium test, and chemiluminescence assay, the researchers determined immunomodulatory effects for Tinospora cordifolia ethyl acetate and water fractions and hot water extract, with an increase in phagocytosis percentage. Of the seven identified compounds, cordifolioside A and syringin exhibited excellent immunomodulation, whereas at a concentration of 0.1–2.5 μg/mL, 11-hydroxymustakone, N-methyl-2-pyrrolidone, N-formylannonain, magnoflorine, and tinocordiside improved the phagocytic activity and augmented the production of nitric oxide and reactive oxygen species. [4] On the other hand, Chintalwar et al. (1999) isolated immunologically active arabinogalactan from the dried stems of guduchi and found that the purified polysaccharide exhibited polyclonal mitogenic activity against B-cells, with their proliferation having been revealed to not necessitate the presence of macrophages. [20]


Kosaraju et al. (2014) evinced the neuroprotective activity of ethanol extract acquired from Tinospora cordifolia aerial parts against 6-hydroxy dopamine (6-OHDA) lesion in rats with experimental Parkinson’s disease. Daily oral gavage of the extract at doses of 200 and 400 mg/kg for 30 days led to a significant neuroprotection, elevated the dopamine levels, increased the activity of complex I, and attenuated . iron asymmetry ratio when compared with the negative control group. Treated rats were also marked with reduced oxidative stress and restored locomotor activity, signifying further neuroprotection by the extract. [11]

Learning And Memory

Guduchi had been reported to improve cognition in normal rats; boost intelligence, power of retention, and memory; and effectively reverse cyclosporine-induced memory deficit. [10][21] Agarwal et al. (2002) showed that oral administration of alcoholic and aqueous extracts of Tinospora cordifolia for 15 days in rats enhanced learning and memory, as evidenced by a decrease in learning scores in Hebb William maze (i.e., spatial working memory). Moreover, such administration of extracts also countered the memory deficit induced by cyclosporine, as it decreased the learning scores of treated rats following cyclosporine administration. In the two-compartment passive avoidance test, rats treated with the extracts after cyclosporine administration presented a significant increase in latency to enter dark compartment in the retrieval trial, compared with those on cyclosporine with 2% gum acacia treatment. Tinospora cordifolia treatment also afforded protection against neurodegenerative changes elicited by cyclosporine upon histopathological assessment of the hippocampus. [22]

At a daily dose of 500 mg, its pure water extract has been demonstrated by a 2004 double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled study published in the Iranian Journal of Pharmacology and Therapeutics to enhance verbal learning and memory and sharpen immediate- and short-term logical memory in 18–30-year-old healthy volunteers. Administration of the extract for 21 days significantly increased the scores of volunteers in the psychological tests for “verbal learning and memory” and “logical memory”. [10]

Allergic Rhinitis

A 2005 randomized double-blind placebo-controlled trial revealed the effectiveness of Tinospora cordifolia extract as treatment for allergic rhinitis. In this trial, the extract and placebo were randomly administered to 75 patients for 8 weeks, and hemoglobin percentage (Hb%), total lymphocyte count, differential lymphocyte count, and nasal smear were clinically investigated. Guduchi treatment led to absolute relief from sneezing, nasal discharge, nasal obstruction, and nasal pruritus in 83%, 69%, 61%, and 71% of patients, respectively. Additionally, total lymphocyte count increased in 69% of treated patients but only 11% in the placebo group. Patients treated with the extract also displayed decreased eosinophil and neutrophil count and an absence of goblet cells in nasal smear, whereas those on placebo had marginal decline in eosinophil and neutrophil count. Overall, Tinospora cordifolia was found to significantly diminish all allergic rhinitis symptoms and was well tolerated by the patients, with the nasal smear cytology and leukocyte count correlating with clinical findings. [23]

Contraindications, Interactions, And Safety

The use of guduchi as a medicinal herb is generally considered safe. Findings from 2006 study indicated that dichloromethane extract of guduchi is nontoxic in vivo up to a dose of 1.2 g/body weight. [7] Likewise, in the study of Bairy et al. (2004), an absence of complaints of significant untoward effects was documented during and after Tinospora cordifolia treatment in study participants, [10] whereas the acute toxicity study of Agarwal et al. (2002) for 3000 mg/kg Tinospora cordifolia in rats indicated no remarkable adverse effect and no death documented up to 3 g/kg. [22]


[1] S. Saha and S. Ghosh, "Tinospora cordifolia: One plant, many roles," Ancient Science of Life, vol. 31, no. 4, p. 151–159, 2012.

[2] A. Upadhyay, K. Kumar, A. Kumar and H. Mishra, "Tinospora cordifolia (Willd.) Hook. f. and Thoms. (Guduchi) – validation of the Ayurvedic pharmacology through experimental and clinical studies," International Journal of Ayurveda Research, vol. 1, no. 2, p. 112–121, 2010.

3] K. Geetha, M. Josphin and S. Maiti, "Gender instability in Tinospora cordifolia: An immunomodulator," Current Science, vol. 92, p. 591, 2007.

[4] U. Sharma, M. Bala, N. Kumar, et al., "Immunomodulatory active compounds from Tinospora cordifolia," Journal of Ethnopharmacology, vol. 141, no. 3, p. 918–926, 2012.

[5] B. Patgiri, B. Umretia, P. Vaishnav, P. Prajapati, et al., "Anti-inflammatory activity of Guduchi Ghana (aqueous extract of Tinospora Cordifolia Miers.)," Ayu, vol. 35, no. 1, p. 108–110, 2014.

[6] C. Bhandari, Vanaushadhi Chandrodaya, Varanasi: Chaukhamba Sanskrit Sansthan, 2006.

[7] G. Jagetia and S. Rao, "Evaluation of the antineoplastic activity of guduchi (Tinospora cordifolia) in Ehrlich ascites carcinoma bearing mice," Biological and Pharmaceutical Bulletin, vol. 29, no. 3, p. 460–466, 2006.

[8] M. Patel and S. Mishra, "Hypoglycemic activity of alkaloidal fraction of Tinospora cordifolia," Phytomedicine, vol. 18, no. 12, p. 1045–1052, 2011.

[9] V. Rana, K. Thakur, et al., "Genetic diversity analysis of Tinospora cordifolia germplasm collected from northwestern Himalayan region of India," Journal of Genetics, vol. 91, no. 1, p. 99–103, 2012.

[10] K. Bairy, Y. Rao and K. Kumar, "Efficacy of Tinospora cordifolia on learning and memory in healthy volunteers: a double-blind,randomized, placebo controlled study," Iranian Journal Of Pharmacology & Therapeutics, vol. 3, no. 2, p. 57–60, 2004.

[11] J. Kosaraju, S. Chinni, P. Roy, et al., "Neuroprotective effect of Tinospora cordifolia ethanol extract on 6-hydroxy dopamine induced Parkinsonism," Indian Journal of Pharmacology, vol. 46, no. 2, p. 176–180, 2014.

[12] D. Pradhan, V. Ojha and A. Pandey, "Phytochemical analysis of Tinospora cordifolia (willd.) Miers ex Hook. F. & Thoms stem of varied thickness," International Journal of Pharmaceutical Sciences and Research, vol. 4, no. 8, p. 3051–3056, 2013.

[13] G. Josh and R. Kaur, "Tinospora cordifolia: a phytopharmacological review," International Journal of Pharmaceutical Sciences and Research, vol. 7, no. 3, p. 890–897, 2016.

[14] R. Mishra, S. Manchanda, M. Gupta, et al., "Tinospora cordifolia ameliorates anxiety-like behavior and improves cognitive functions in acute sleep deprived rats," Scientific Reports, vol. 6, p. 25564 , 2016.

[15] G. C. Jagetia and S. K. Rao, "Evaluation of cytotoxic effects of dichloromethane extract of guduchi (Tinospora cordifolia Miers ex Hook F & Thoms) on cultured HeLa cells," Evidence-based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, vol. 3, no. 2, p. 267–272, 2006.

[16] J. Wesley, A. Christina, N. Chidambaranathan, et al., "Effect of alcoholic extract of Tinospora cordifolia on acute and subacute inflammation," Pharmacologyonline, vol. 3, p. 683–687, 2008.

[17] R. Samy, "Antimicrobial activity of some medicinal plants from India," Fitoterapia, vol. 76, no. 7–8, p. 697–699, 2005.

[18] U. Thatte, M. Kulkarni and S. Dahanukar, "Immunotherapeutic modification of Escherichia coli peritonitis and bacteremia by Tinospora cordifolia," Journal of Postgraduate Medicine, vol. 38, no. 1, p. 13–15, 1992.;year=1992;volume=38;issue=1;spage=13;epage=5;aulast=Thatte

[19] U. Thatte, S. Rao and S. Dahanukar, "Tinospora cordifolia induces colony stimulating activity in serum," Journal of Postgraduate Medicine, vol. 40, no. 4, p. 202–203, 1994.

[20] G. Chintalwar, A. Jain, A. Sipahimalani, et al., "An immunologically active arabinogalactan from Tinospora cordifolia," Phytochemistry, vol. 52, no. 6, p. 1089–1093, 1999.

[21] G. Satyavati, "Pharmacological Review: Medhya Rasayana," in Herbal Drug Industry, New Delhi, Eastern Publishers, 1996, p. 238.

[22] A. Agarwal, S. Malini, K. Bairy and M. Rao, "Effect of Tinospora cordifolia on learning and memory in normal and memory deficit rats," Indian Journal of Pharmacology, vol. 34, p. 339–349, 2002.

[23] V. Badar, V. Thawani, P. Wakode, et al., "Efficacy of Tinospora cordifolia in allergic rhinitis," Journal of Ethnopharmacology, vol. 96, no. 3, p. 445–449, 2005.

Article researched and created by Dan Albir for © 2018

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