Asteracantha Longifolia Nees (synonyms Hygrophila auriculata, Hygrophila spinosa) is a spiny, stout, wild herb, common in water-logged places. It is traditionally used in ayurvedic medicine as aphrodisiac, tonic, sedative etc. Asteracantha longifolia was also widely used in the Indian systems of medicine for the treatment of various liver ailments.
Aphrodisiac effect of Asteracantha Longifolia Nees
The seeds extract of Asteracantha longifolia shows androgenic as well as improvement of sexual behaviour of rat in dose dependent manner [1,2]. Also a significant increase in the sperm count as well as fructose levels of seminal vesicles was noted . Asteracantha longifolia extract showed very noticeable anabolic effects in treated animals, which was evident by gains in the body and reproductive organ weights .
An administration of seeds extract of Asteracantha longifolia at the doses of 100 mg/kg and 200 mg/kg body weight has also been shown to have erythropoietic activity (formation/production of red blood cells) . Results of this study demonstrated a significant (P<0.05) increase in red blood cell count, haemoglobin count, serum iron and serum protein etc . Due to the presence of iron (and other constituents like: flavonoids, terpenoids, steroids, lupeol and betulin) plant may be useful for management of iron deficiency anemia .
Like many others, Asteracantha longifolia has been used successfully in traditional Ayurvedic medicine for centuries, more clinical trials should be conducted to support its therapeutic use.
Pic. 1 – Asteracantha Longifolia Nees plant.
Other possible Asteracantha Longifolia Nees benefits
Anti-diabetic (hypoglycemic) effects
Muthulingam et al.  investigated the effect of leaf extract of Asteracantha longifolia on diabetics rats. It appears that Asteracantha longifolia increased insulin secretion which brought glucose back to normal levels. The antidiabetic effect of leaf extracts of Asteracantha longifolia may be due to increased release of insulin from the existing beta-cells of pancreas similar to that observed after glibenclamide (antidiabetic drug) administration.
Liver damage protection effects of Asteracantha Longifolia extract
Many animal studies are suggesting that seed as well as root Asteracantha longifolia extract may possess liver damage protection effects [5-7].
The root extract of Asteracantha longifolia also exhibited significant antioxidant activities in vitro .
Asteracantha Longifolia side effects and toxicology
Not many studies have evaluated safety of Asteracantha longifolia extract. However, study by Rajina et al.  concluded that extract of Asteracantha longifolia seeds is safe for oral administration at low and moderate doses while high dose (500mg/kg) is not absolutely free from toxic effects.
Chauhan, Nagendra S., Vikas Sharma, and V. K. Dixit. “Effect of Asteracantha longifolia seeds on the sexual behaviour of male rats.” Natural Product Research 25.15 (2011): 1423-1431.
Sahoo, Atish Kumar, and Bhushan Gandhare. “Effect of Hygrophila spinosa T. on reproductive function of male albino rats.” Journal of Complementary and Integrative Medicine 7.1 (2010).
Pawar, Rajesh Singh, et al. “Erythropoietic activity of Asteracantha longifolia (Nees.) in rats.” Journal of ethnopharmacology 129.2 (2010): 280-282.
Rajina, P. V., and Shini Dominic. “Toxicity evaluation of Ethanolic Extract of Astercantha longifolia Seeds.” (2013).
Hewawasam, R. P., et al. “Protective effect of Asteracantha longifolia extract in mouse liver injury induced by carbon tetrachloride and paracetamol.” Journal of pharmacy and pharmacology 55.10 (2003): 1413-1418.
Shanmugasundaram, P., and S. Venkataraman. “Hepatoprotective and antioxidant effects of Hygrophila auriculata (K. Schum) Heine Acanthaceae root extract.” Journal of Ethnopharmacology 104.1 (2006): 124-128.
Shivashangari, K. S., V. Ravikumar, and T. Devaki. “Evaluation of the protective efficacy of Asteracantha longifolia on acetaminophen-induced liver damage in rats.” Journal of Medicinal Food 7.2 (2004): 245-251.
Muthulingam, M. “Antidiabetic efficacy of leaf extracts of Asteracantha longifolia (Linn.) Nees. on alloxan induced diabetics in male albino wistar rats.” Int. J. Pharm. Biomed. Res 1.2 (2010): 28-34.