Solanums comprise a very important group of medicinal plants having multifarious uses.
These plants belong to the family Solanaceae and genus Solanum. A number of species are reported to be medicinal which are briefly described below.
1. S. anguivi Lam. syn. S. indicum auct. non Linn.
Eng: Poison berry; San: Brhati, Simhi;
Hin: Barhauta, Birhatta;
Mal: Puthirichunda, Cheruchunda;
Tam: Karimulli, Puthirichundai;
Tel: Cittimulaga, Tellamulaka It is found throughout the tropics, in plains and at low elevations. It is much branched, very prickly undershrub, 0.3-1.5m in height. Leaves are simple, large, ovate, subentire, sinuate or lobed. Flowers are blue in extra-axillary cymes having stellately hairy and prickly peduncles. Fruits are globose berries, reddish or dark yellow with smooth or minutely pitted seeds. Its roots are useful in vitiated conditions of vata and kapha, odontalgia, dyspepsia, flatulence, colic, verminosis, diarrhoea, pruritus, leprosy, skin diseases, strangury, cough, asthma, bronchitis, amenorrhoea, dysmenorrhoea, fever, cardiac disorders and vomiting. Roots bitter, acrid, astringent, thermogenic, anodyne, digestive, carminative, anthelmintic, stomachic, constipating, resolvent, demulcent, depurative, diuretic, expectorant, aphrodisiac, emmenagogue, febrifuge and cardiotonic.
2. S. dulcamara Linn.
Eng: Bittersweet, Bitter night shade; San: Kakmachi; Pun: Rubabarik It is found in tropical situations in India and Sikkim. The plant is rich in alkaloidal glycosides like solamarine, tomatidenol, solasodine and soladulcine. The berry and twig are alterative, antisyphilitic, diaphoretic, resolvent, narcotic, diuretic, antirheumatic and used in liver disorders and psoriasis.
3. S. erianthum D. Don, syn. S. verbascifolium auct. non Linn.
Tam: Malaichundai, Anaisundaikkai
The plant is distributed over the tropical and subtropical zones of India. The plant contains alkaloids and steroidal sapogenins. Leaves and fruits contain solasodine, solasodiene, solafloridine, diosgenin, vespertilin and pregnenolone. The plant is CNS depressant, antiinflammatory and useful in burns.
4. S. melongena Linn.
Eng: Brinjal, Egg plant; San: Varttaki;
Hin: Bengan, Badanjan;
Kan: Badanekaya, Doddabadane;
Tel: Vankaya, Niruvanga
It is mainly cultivated as a vegetable throughout the tropics and subtropics. It is an erect or suffrutescent, herbaceous, armed or unarmed perennial shrub. Leaves are simple, large, entire and lobed. Flowers are blue, in clusters of 2-5. Fruits are large, white, yellow or dark purple berries of different shapes capped with thick persistent calyx. Seeds are many, yellow or cream and discoid. The roots, leaves and unripe fruits are useful in cholera, bronchitis, asthma, odontalgia and fever. The roots are laxative, analgesic and cardiotonic. Leaves are sialagogue, narcotic and antiherpetic. The unripe fruits are bitter, acrid, sweet, aphrodisiac, cardiotonic and haematinic.
5. S. melongena var. incanum (Linn.) Prain syn. S. incanum Linn., S. coagulens Forsk.
It is a herbaceous prickly plant found in warm humid tropics. It is grown almost throughout the year in the plains and during summer on the hills. It grows 0.6-2m in height. Leaves are simple, alternate lobed. Flowers are blue or white, 5 lobed, calyx with spines. Fruits are ellipsoid berries. The plant is a constituent of the dasamoola which helps to overcome vitiated tridoshas and cures dyspepsia, fever, respiratory and cardiac disorders, skin ailments, vomiting, ulcers and poisonous affections. In Ayurveda the formulations like Brihatyadi Kashaya, dashamoolarishta, Indukantaghritam, Dasamoolaharithaki, etc are the important preparations with the roots. It is also used in the treatment of toothache and sore throat. The fruit is reported to stimulate the intrahepatic metabolism of cholesterol. Roots are antiasthmatic and stimulant. Leaves are used in cholera, bronchitis and asthma. Fruits are useful in liver complaints.
6. S. nigrum Linn. syn. S. rubrum Mill.
Eng: Black night shade; San: Kakamachi;
Hin: Makoy, Gurkkamai;
Tam: Manathakkali, Milagutakkali;
Tel: Kamachi, Kachi
It is seen wild throughout India. It is an erect, divaricately branched, unarmed, suffrutescent annual herb. Leaves are ovate or oblong, sinuate-toothed or lobed and glabrous. Flowers are 3-8 in extra-axillary drooping subumbellate cymes. Fruits are purplish black or reddish berries. Seeds are many, discoid, yellow, minutely pitted. The whole plant is useful in vitiated conditions of tridosha, rheumatalgia, swellings, cough, asthma, bronchitis, wounds, ulcers, flatulence, dyspepsia, strangury, hepatomegaly, otalgia, hiccough, opthalmopathy, vomiting, cardiopathy, leprosy, skin diseases, fever, splenomegaly, haemarrhoids, nephropathy, dropsy and general debility. The plant is bitter, acrid, emollient, antiseptic, antiinflammatory, expectorant, anodyne, vulnerary, digestive, laxative, diuretic, cardiotonic, depurative, diaphoretic, febrifuge, rejuvenating, sedative, alterant and tonic.
7. S. spirale Roxb.
It is seen wild in Assam and Khasi hills in India. Its root is diuretic and narcotic.
8. S. stramoniifolium Jacq., syn. S. ferox auct. non Linn.
It is observed in India in the states of Assam, Maharashtra, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu. Its berries contain glycoalkaloids such as solasonine and solasodine. Its roots and berries are bechic, antiasthmatic, antirheumatic, antiviral, anticancerous and spermicidal.
9. S. surattense Burm. F. syn. S. xanthocarpum schrad. & Wendl., S. jacquinii Willd.
Eng: Yellow-berried nightshade; San: Kantakari, Nidigdhika;
It is found throughout India and Pakistan in dry situations as weed on roadsides and wastelands. It is prickly, diffuse, bright green, suffrutescent, perennial undershrub, with zigzag branches. Leaves are ovate-oblong, hairy on both sides and armed on the midrib and the nerves. Flowers are bluish purple, in extra-axillary cymes. Fruits are glabrous, globular drooping berry, yellow or white with green veins, surrounded by the calyx. Seeds are many, small, reniform, smooth and yellowish brown.
The whole plant is useful in vitiated conditions of vata and kapha, helminthiasis, dental caries, inflammations, flatulence, constipation, dyspepsia, anorexia, leprosy, skin diseases, hypertension, fever, cough, asthma, bronchitis, hiccough, lumbago, haemorrhoids and epilepsy. The plant is bitter, acrid, thermogenic, anthelmintic, antiinflammatory, anodyne, digestive, carminative, appetiser, stomachic, depurative, sudorific, febrifuge, expectorant, laxative, stimulant, diuretic, rejuvenating, emmenagogue and aphrodisac. Fruits contain solasonine, solamargine and solasodine.
10. S. torvum Sw.
Eng: West Indian Turkey Berry;
Kan: Kadu Sunde;
Tam: Sundaikai, Amarakai;
Tel: Kundavustic, Kotuvestu; Ass: Hathibhekuri
It is seen throughout tropical India, particularly in Orissa, Bihar and Manipur. The plant is CVS active and used in splenomegaly. Fruits and leaves contain solasonine, solasodine, jurubine, jurubidine, torvonin, torvogenin, chlorogenin, paniculogenin, sisalogenone, neosolaspigenin and solaspigenin.
11. S. trilobatum Linn.
Eng: Climbing Brinjal; San: Alarka;
It is mostly seen in South and Western India. The plant contains alkamine and solamarine. The berry and flowers are bechic and used in bronchitis. The alkaloid solamarine is antibiotic and possesses antitumour activity.
12. S. viarum Dunal, syn. S. Khasianum C. B. Clarke
It is widely distributed in Khasi, Jaintia and Naga hills of Assam and Manipur upto 2000m and in Sikkim, West Bengal, Orissa and in the Niligiris. The plant and berries contain solasonine (which on hydrolysis yields solasodine), solamargine, khasianine, nantigenin, solasodine, diosgenin and saponin-solakhasianin. The plant is spasmolytic and CNS active. The berry is a source of solasodine used in the synthesis of corticosteroidal hormones.
Agrotechnology: The agrotechnology for the solanaceous group of plants are almost similar. They come up very well in tropical and subtropical climate upto 2000m altitude. They can be raised on a variety of soils good in organic matter. Propagation is by seeds. The seedlings are first raised in the nursery and transplanted to the main field 30-45 days after sowing when the plants attain 8-10cm height. During rainy season, planting is done on ridges while during summer in furrows, at a spacing ranging from 30-90cm depending upon the stature and spreading habit of the plant. The transplanted seedlings should be given temporary shade for 2-4 days during summer. FYM or compost at 20-25t/ha is applied at the time of land preparation. A moderate fertiliser dose of 75:40:40 N, P2O5, K2O/ha may be given. P is given as basal dose, N and K are applied in 2-3 split doses. One or two intercultural operations are needed to control weeds. The plants need earthing up after weeding and topdressing. Irrigation is needed at 3-4 days interval during summer and on alternate days during fruiting period. Plants need staking to avoid lodging due to heavy bearing. Shoot borers, mealy bugs, leaf webbers and miners are noted on the crop, which can be controlled by spraying mild insecticides. Root knot nematode, wilting and mosaic diseases are also noted on the crop. Field sanitation, crop rotation and burning of crop residues are recommended.