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Tinospora bakis (A.Rich.) Miers

Hook., Niger Fl.: 215 (1849).
Origin and geographic distribution
Tinospora bakis occurs from Mauritania and Senegal through the Sahel east to Somalia and south to Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania. It is also reported from Cameroon.
The woody part of the root has a high reputation in West Africa as a diuretic and febrifuge. The root is used against various liver and gall bladder problems, such as jaundice, haematuria, bilious fever and yellow fever. A decoction of the root is taken against malaria as it is better tolerated than quinine. It is also taken against schistosomiasis, as an emmenagogue or cholagogue and to stop gonorrhoeal discharge. Externally the decoction is applied against various skin problems. The leaves are similarly used as cholagogue, diuretic and general tonic.
Production and international trade
The roots of Tinospora bakis are commonly traded in local markets, especially in West Africa.
The root contains alkaloids, including the protoberberine type alkaloid palmatine, and 2–4% columbin, a diterpenoid furanolactone. The aqueous extract of the root containing the alkaloidal fraction showed moderate activity against a chloroquine-resistant strain of Plasmodium falciparum in vitro. A syrup made from an aqueous root extract induced a significant increase of biliary secretion in rats. Columbin, in small doses, was found to increase the secretion of the bile and the glands of stomach and intestines; at higher doses it produces greasy degeneration of the liver. Palmatine shows a stronger antipyretic effect than a total alkaloid extract in rabbits. It paralyses the respiratory centre more than morphine. It is supposed that the antipyretic effect is due, like that of berberine, to paralysis of the peripheral vessels and the resulting heat dispersion, and not to its toxicity towards microorganisms. A lyophilized aqueous root extract showed hepatoprotective activity of rat hepatocytes in vitro after treatment with CCl4. In mice, the aqueous extract of the root powder administered intraperitoneally or subcutaneously showed LD50 values of 360 mg/kg and 425 mg/kg, respectively. This extract showed a similar inhibition of the contractions of isolated rat duodenum as atropine.
The root can produce toxic effects, including vomiting and depression of the respiratory centre. Toxicity trials on the total alkaloids have shown that 5 mg/kg given orally is not toxic for guinea pigs, whereas 100 mg/kg causes death within 20 minutes, without convulsions. In experimental hyperthermia in guinea pigs, a root extract lowered the temperature more than quinine sulphate did.
Dioecious, deciduous liana up to 10 m long; bark flaking off in orange scales; branches glabrous, with numerous warty lenticels. Leaves alternate, simple and entire; petiole 0.5–4(–8) cm long, sparsely hairy or glabrous; blade broadly ovate-triangular, 3–5 cm × 3–5 cm, base cordate, apex acuminate, pale green, palmately veined with 5–7 main veins, short-hairy or glabrous below. Inflorescence an axillary, elongate false raceme up to 12 cm long, male inflorescence with 3–7-flowers per bract, female one with 1 flower per bract. Flowers unisexual, small, yellowish green; pedicel 2–3 mm long; sepals 6 in 2 whorls, translucent or membranous, outer sepals ovate-triangular, 1–1.5 mm × c. 0.5 mm, inner sepals 2.5–4 mm × 2–3 mm; petals 6, 2–3 mm × 1–2 mm, fleshy; male flowers with 6 free stamens 2.5–3 mm long; female flowers with 6 staminodes, ovary superior, consisting of 3 free carpels 1–2 mm long. Fruit consisting of up to 3 drupes, 6–9 mm × 4–5 mm, each 1-seeded.
Tinospora bakis flowers towards the start of the rainy season. In northern Senegal the natural regeneration is rather poor.
Tinospora comprises about 30 species, of which about 20 occur in Asia, 7 in continental Africa and 2 in Madagascar.
Tinospora bakis occurs mainly in dry areas in bushland and semi-desert scrub vegetation, in thickets in sandy-clayey depressions or on sand dunes, from sea-level up to 1200 m altitude. On Mount Cameroon it occurs in forest gaps, in more humid conditions.
Genetic resources and breeding
Tinospora bakis is widespread and locally common. There are no signs that it is in danger of genetic erosion.
In view of its many medicinal uses and pharmacological results so far, further chemical and pharmacological screening of Tinospora bakis seems warranted.
Major references
• Burkill, H.M., 1997. The useful plants of West Tropical Africa. 2nd Edition. Volume 4, Families M–R. Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, Richmond, United Kingdom. 969 pp.
• Keay, R.W.J. & Troupin, G., 1954. Menispermaceae. In: Keay, R.W.J. (Editor). Flora of West Tropical Africa. Volume 1, part 1. 2nd Edition. Crown Agents for Overseas Governments and Administrations, London, United Kingdom. pp. 66–77.
• Somé, N., Sawadogo, L., Guissou, I.P., Lompo, M. & Pousset, J.L., 1998. Etude des effets pharmacologiques de type atropinique des extraits organiques de la poudre des racines de Tinospora bakis (A.Rich.) Miers, Menispermaceae. Sciences et Techniques 23(1): 70–79.
• Thioune, O., Sène, C.T., Ngom, S., Diop, A.B., Bassène, E., Faye, B. & Lo, I., 2002. Préparation d’un sirop a base de racines de Bakis (Tinospora bakis) et évaluation de son activité cholérétique chez le rat. Dakar Médical 47(1): 60–63.
• Troupin, G., 1962. Monographie des Menispermaceae africaines. Mémoires in-8. Académie Royale des Sciences d’Outre-Mer, Classe des Sciences Naturelles et Médicales, Nouvelle série 8(2), Brussels, Belgium. 313 pp.
Other references
• Akpo, L.E. & Grouzis, M., 1996. Influence du couvert sur la régénération de quelques espèces ligneuses sahéliennes (Nord Sénégal, Afrique occidentale). Webbia 50(2): 247–263.
• Arbonnier, M., 2000. Arbres, arbustes et lianes des zones sèches d’Afrique de l’Ouest. CIRAD, MNHN, UICN. 541 pp.
• Diallo Sall, A., Gueye, M., Sarr, M., N’Diaye, A.K., N’Diaye, M. & Faye, B., 1999. Etude de l’effet et du mécanisme d’action des racines de Tinospora bakis sur la sécrétion biliaire à partir de modèles in vivo. Dakar Médical 44(2): 211–214.
• Diallo Sall, A., Niang Ndiaye, M., Ndiaye, A.K, Dieng, C. & Faye, B., 1997. Etude de l’effet hepato-protecteur d’une plante de la pharmacopée sénégalaise: Tinospora bakis (Menispermaceae) à partir d’un modèle in vitro. Dakar Médical 42(1): 15–18.
• Fortin, D., Lô, M. & Maynart, G., 1990. Plantes médicinales du Sahel. ENDA, Dakar, Senegal & CECI, Montréal, Canada. 280 pp.
• Neuwinger, H.D., 2000. African traditional medicine: a dictionary of plant use and applications. Medpharm Scientific, Stuttgart, Germany. 589 pp.
• Oliver-Bever, B., 1986. Medicinal plants in tropical West Africa. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, United Kingdom. 375 pp.
• Ouattara, Y., Sanon, S., Traoré, Y., Mahiou, V., Azas, N. & Sawadogo, L., 2006. Antimalarial activity of Swartzia madagascariensis Desv. (Leguminosae), Combretum glutinosum Guill. & Perr. (Combretaceae) and Tinospora bakis Miers. (Menispermaceae), Burkina Faso medicinal plants. African Journal of Traditional, Complementary and Alternative Medicines 3(1): 75–81.
• Somé, N., Sawadogo, L., Lompo, M., Pousset, J.L. & Guissou, I.P., 1996. Evaluation de la toxicité générale aigue d’un extrait aqueux de la poudre des racines de Tinospora bakis (A.Rich.) Miers, Menispermaceae. Sciences et Techniques 22(1): 38–46.
• Zafinindra, L.R., Diatta, W., Dieye, A.M., Nongonierma, R., Faye, B. & Bassene, E., 2003. Effet antipyrétiques de l’extrait aqueux et des alcaloides de Tinospora bakis (A. Rich.) Miers (Menispermacea) chez le lapin. Dakar Médical 48(1): 29–33.
L.P.A. Oyen
PROTA Network Office Europe, Wageningen University, P.O. Box 341, 6700 AH Wageningen, Netherlands

G.H. Schmelzer
PROTA Network Office Europe, Wageningen University, P.O. Box 341, 6700 AH Wageningen, Netherlands
A. Gurib-Fakim
Faculty of Science, University of Mauritius, Réduit, Mauritius
Associate editors
C.H. Bosch
PROTA Network Office Europe, Wageningen University, P.O. Box 341, 6700 AH Wageningen, Netherlands
M.S.J. Simmonds
Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, Richmond, Surrey TW9 3AB, United Kingdom
R. Arroo
Leicester School of Pharmacy, Natural Products Research, De Montfort University, The Gateway, Leicester LE1 9BH, United Kingdom
A. de Ruijter
PROTA Network Office Europe, Wageningen University, P.O. Box 341, 6700 AH Wageningen, Netherlands
General editors
R.H.M.J. Lemmens
PROTA Network Office Europe, Wageningen University, P.O. Box 341, 6700 AH Wageningen, Netherlands
L.P.A. Oyen
PROTA Network Office Europe, Wageningen University, P.O. Box 341, 6700 AH Wageningen, Netherlands

Correct citation of this article:
Oyen, L.P.A., 2008. Tinospora bakis (A.Rich.) Miers. In: Schmelzer, G.H. & Gurib-Fakim, A. (Editors). Prota 11(1): Medicinal plants/Plantes médicinales 1. [CD-Rom]. PROTA, Wageningen, Netherlands.