Amorphophallus paeoniifolius, also known as Elephant foot yam or Suran in Hindi, is a tropical tuber crop with great nutritive and medicinal values. These tubers are also a very popular vegetable used in a variety of Indian delicacies.
What is Amorphophallus paeoniifolius?
Amorphophallus paeoniifolius is a perennial, underground corm which is dark brown in color and approximately 20-25 cm in diameter. The plant bears flowers and fruits in the month of April- May. This plant grows well in hot and humid climate. The initial stages of crop growth require humid weather, whereas dry weather helps in adding to the bulk of the tuber.
Elephant foot yam is widely cultivated and used in South East Asian countries such as India, Sri-Lanka, Malaysia, Indonesia and Philippines. In India, it is grown in the states of Andhra Pradesh, West Bengal, Gujarat, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh, and Jharkhand.
Medicinal and Nutritional properties:
Elephant foot yam is a great source of starch, proteins, sugar and also minerals such as potassium, phosphorus, calcium and iron. Plus, it also has the following medicinal properties:
- Analgesic activity: Animal studies have found that methanol extracts of Amorphophallus paeoniifolius cause significant reduction in pain.
- Gastroprotective ability: Phytochemicals present in Amorphophallus paeoniifolius such as polyphenols are known to prevent gastric ulcers. In few animal studies, methanol extracts of Amorphophallus paeoniifolius has been found to acidity, gastric pH and ulcer score.
- Antidiarrheal activity: Ethanol extracts of Amorphophallus paeoniifolius have been found to be effective in reducing the frequency and severity of diarrhoea in rat models. This proves that it can be effective in treating diarrhoea due to different causes.
- Anti-inflammatory effect: Methanol extracts of Amorphophallus paeoniifolius have potential anti-inflammatory effects.
- Antibacterial effect: Extracts of Amorphophallus paeoniifolius is known to be effective against a variety of disease-causing gram-positive organisms such as Bacillus subtilis, Bacillus megaterium, Staphylococcus aureus, Streptococcus β-haemolyticus and gram-negative organisms such as Escherichia coli, Proteus vulgaris, Pseudomonas aeruginosa and Salmonella typhi.
- Antihelminthic activity: The methanolic extracts of Amorphophallus paeoniifolius have shown activity against helminths such as Tubifex tubifex and Pheretima posthuma.
- Anticonvulsant activity: Animal studies have indicated that the petroleum ether extract of Amorphophallus paeoniifolius can be helpful in the treatment of epilepsy.
- Antioxidant activity: Amorphophallus paeoniifolius contain phytochemicals like polyphenols and flavonoids which are potential antioxidants.
- Anti- tumour activity: Animal studies have found that the ethanolic extracts of Amorphophallus paeoniifolius have anti-tumour potential as well.
- Central Nervous system depressant activity: Petroleum ether extracts of Amorphophallus paeoniifolius have been found to bring about significant central nervous system depression.
- Hepatoprotective activity: Animal studies have proven that extracts of Amorphophallus paeoniifolius is effective in normalising the levels of liver function indicators such as serum alkaline phosphatase (sALP), serum bilirubin (SB), serum glutamic pyruvic transaminase (sGPT), and serum glutamic oxaloacetic transaminase (sGOT).
- Immunomodulation: Amorphophallus paeoniifolius have been found to have immunosuppressant property.
Amorphophallus paeoniifolius has been found to be useful for the following conditions:
- Gastric motility disorders: Amorphophallus paeoniifolius extracts have been found to improve gastric emptying and intestinal transit. This indicates that it can be useful in the treatment of gastric motility disorders such as constipation.
- Piles: Amorphophallus paeoniifolius has been found to be effective in curing piles. This is chiefly due to its anti-inflammatory and antioxidative properties.
- Ulcerative colitis: Amorphophallus paeoniifolius have been found to treat ulcerative colitis by reducing inflammation and oxidative damage to the lining of the colon.
According to Ayurveda, Amorphophallus paeoniifolius can be useful in conditions in which there is vitiation of the Vata and Kapha dosha such as elephantiasis, tumors, inflammations, constipation, dyspepsia, flatulence, asthma, cough, bronchitis, amenorrhea, dysmenorrhea, anemia and general weakness.
Traditionally, tuberous roots of Amorphophallus paeoniifolius are known to be useful for blood purification and is used for the treatment of haemorrhoids, spleen enlargement, asthma and rhenumatism.
The Amorphophallus paeoniifolius tubers contain calcium oxalate which can cause irritation of mouth and throat. This can be prevented by cooking these tubers in tamarind water or sour buttermilk. Other than this, no side effect has been reported with the use of Amorphophallus paeoniifolius.
Taking the plant extracts at a therapeutic dose of 250 mg/kg body weight is known to be safe. However, the dose of the Amorphophallus paeoniifolius varies according to the person, and the illness.
Therefore, as any other drug, these tuber extracts should also be taken in doses as suggested by the physician.