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Family Leguminosae / Fabaceae
Indigofera tinctoria Linn.

Mu lan

Scientific names Common names
Indigofera tinctoria Linn. Añil (Tag.)
Indigofera anil L. var. orthocarpa DC. Dagum (Sub.)
Indigofera indica Lam. Tagung-tagung (C. Bis.)
  Tagum (Bis.)
  Taiom (Ilk.)
  Taium (Tag., Iv.)
  Taiong-taiuñgan (Bik.)
  Taiung (Pamp.)
  Tina-tinaan (Tag.)
  Tugum (Bik.)
  Black henna (Engl.)
  Indigo plant (Engl.)
  True indigo (Engl.)
  Mu lan (Chin.)
Tina-tinaan is a common name phonetically and confusingly shared by: (1) Indigofera tinctoria, tina-tinaan (2) Phyllanthus reticulatus, tinatinaan, tintatintahan, malatinta, and (3) Eclipta alba,higus-manok, tinta-tinta.
Quisumbing's compilation has Indigofera tinctoria as synonyms for (1) Indigofera hirsuta, Indigo tinctoria Naves, taiuman, and (2) Indigofera tinctoria Linn, tina-tinaan.
Quisumbing's compilation lists three Indigofera species (1) Indigofera hirsuta Linn. taiuman, and (2) Indigofera tinctoria Linn, tina-tinaan, and (3) Indigofera suffruticosa Miller, tayum - with a confusing crossover attributions of common names in other compilations.

Other vernacular names
ARABIC : El badara (Senegal), Nil.
BAMBARA : Gala, Gara, Gara missé, Ngala.
CHINESE: Lan dian, Huai lan, Dian.
DANISH : Indigoplanten.
DUTCH : Indigoboom, Indigogewassen.
FRENCH : Indigo des teinturiers, Indigotier.
GERMAN : Indigo, Indigopflanze, Indigostrauch.
GUJARATI : Gali, Gari, Nil.
HAUSA : Báábáá (Niger, Nigeria), báábán kóóre, báábán rínii .
HINDI : Neel, Neeli, Niil.
ITALIAN : Anile.
JAPANESE: Nanbanai, Taiwan komatsuna gi.
MALAY : Tarum, Tom.
PORTUGUESE : Anileiro, Indigo, Indigoteiro, Indigueiro.
SANSKRIT : Nilla, Nili, Nilika, Rangapatri.
SPANISH : Añil, Añilera, Ruda cimarrona.
TAMIL : Avuri, Neela amari, Neela avari, Nila amari, Nili.
VIETNAMESE : Chàm, Chàm đậu.

Tina-tinaan is an erect, slightly hairy shrub, 1 to 1.5 meters high. Leaves are 6 to 10 centimeters long, compound, with 9 to 13 leaflets which are obovate-oblong, 1.5 to 2.5 centimeters in length. Flowers are small, reddish or reddish yellow, borne on rather lax racemes 2 to 6 centimeters long. Pods are spreading or reflexed, straight or nearly so, 2 to 3 centimeters long, containing 8 to 12 seeds.

- In waste places in and about towns at low and medium altitudes in the Batan Islands and northern Luzon to Mindanao.
- Sometimes cultivated in the Philippines.
- Pantropic.

- Plant yields a valuable dye, indigo.
- Indican, a glucoside, the oxidized form of Luc indigo or indigo-white, is the product from the fermentation of the fresh green plant.
- Indigotin, or Indigo-blue, an oxidized product that settles at the bottom, is collected, washed, pressed into cakes 3 to 3 1/2 inches square, and finally dried. Yield of indigo is as much as 50 %. Indigotin is insoluble in water, alcohol and dilute acids; soluble in strong sulphuric acid, forming a sulfate of indigo called "extract of indigo." (Q)

- From a complex method of extraction and purification, Indirubin, a pink colored pigment by-product of indigo.
- Phytochemical screening yielded alkaloids, glycosides, carbohydrates, flavanoids, protein and amino acid.

- Plant considered stimulant, alterative, deobstruent, purgative.
- Indigo considered antiseptic and astringent.

Parts used
Parts used.


- Root decoction given for calculus.
- Infusion of root used as antidote for cases of arsenic poisoning.
- Juice of leaves and indigo in powder form have been mixed with honey and used for liver and spleen enlargement, epilepsy and other nervous affections.
- For hydrophobia, two ounces of fresh juice with an equal quantity of milk taken in the morning for 3 days, as prophylactic. In larger doses, the mixture causes purging. Juice is also applied to the part bitten; or the bruised leaves applied as poultice.
- Juice given in asthma, whooping cough, heart palpitations, various lung and renal problems, and edema.
- Leaves and indigo have been used for hepatitis, epilepsy and other nervous conditions.
- Powdered indigo sprinkled on ulcers.
- Used to reduce swellings in the body, relieve bites and stings of venomous insects and reptiles; also used to sooth burns and scalds.
- In
Ayurveda, plant used to promote hair growth.
- Decoction of leaves used for bites and stings of venomous insects. Also used to relive pain, burns, and scalds.
- Mixed with castor oil, it is applied to navels of children to promote the action of bowels; mixed with warm water, to the pubes and hypogastrium, and believed to stimulate the bladder for cases of urine retention.
- Chinese used the plant to detoxify the blood and liver, alleviate pains and fever.
- Used for eyeball injury and eyelid inflammation.
- In Nigeria, root decoction applied externally to counteract various poisons.
- Dye: Yields a valuable blue dye, indigo.
- Indirubin: A by-product of indigo, is an active component in the Chinese traditional medicine, Danggui Longgui Wan, used for the treatment of chronic myelocytic leukemia (CML).

Study of the chloroform fraction of the alcoholic extract of Indigofera tinctoria showed a significant decrease in plasma triglycerides, total cholesterol, glycerol and free fatty acids accompanied by an increase in HDL. (1)
Rotenoids / Insecticidal:
Indigofera tinctoria is a source of rotenoids, varying according to stages of growth. Rotenone was the most predominant, followed by deguelin, rotenol, sumatrol and dehydrodeguelin. Against the larvae of A stephansi and the adults of C chinensis adults, the insecticidal activity of rotenone, deguelin and dehydrorotenone is much higher than the other rotenoids. (2)

Status Epilepticus Benefit / Antioxidant: The ethanol extract of Indigofera tinctoria was found to be useful in controlling lithium/pilocarpine-induced status epilepticus in albino rats. The extract also exhibited both invitro and invivo antioxidant activities. (3)
Antinociceptive: Study showed that Indigofera tinctoria has be peripheral analgesic effect that may be attributed to inhibition of prostaglandin release and other mediators involved. (4)
Anthelmintic: The methanol extract exhibited maximum anthelmintic activity against Pheretima posthuma, comparable to standard drug Piperazine citrate. (5)
Antiproliferative Activity: Study showed the flavanoidal fraction of a methanolic extract of the aerial parts of the plant inhibited the proliferation of human Non-Small Cell lung cancer A-549 cells through cell cycle control and apoptosis.
Results of its chemopreventive effect suggest a potential for future application in cancer therapy. (6)
Indirubin / Anti-Tumor / Anti-Leukemia / Anti-Inflammatory: (1) Indirubin has been isolated as a minor constituent of Indigo tinctoria. (2) It is a minor constituent of the traditional Chinese prescription, Dang Gui Long Hui Wan, used in the treatment of chronic myelogenous leukemia (CML). (3) Studies have shown Indirubin inhibits cyclin-dependent kinases in tumor cells. (4) Study have shown anti-inflammatory effects in animals. (5) Meisoindigo, a metabolite of Indirubin, shares similar properties.
Anti-Tumor / Anti-CDK: Study strongly suggest the inhibition of
CDK activity in human tumor cells is a major mechanism by which indirubin derivatives exert potent antitumor efficacy.(9)
Indirubin / Anti-Breast Cancer: Study showed indirubin has an inhibitory effect on MCF-7 human breast cancer cells growth. Essential factors were incubation time of treatment and indirubin concentration. (7)
Anti-Diabetic: The methanolic extract of the dried leaves of Indigofera tinctoria showed significant decrease in blood glucose levels in alloxan-induced diabetic rabbits. (11)
Indigitone / Hepatoprotective: Fractionation of petroleum ether extract of the aerial parts of IT yielded a bioactive fraction, indigtone which showed significant dose-related hepatoprotective activity against CCl4-induced liver injury in rats and mice. (12)
Antimicrobial: Indigofera tinctoria showed good antimicrobial activities against all the test microbes - E coli, P aeruginosa, S aureus, B subtilis - at all concentrations. (13)
Antiseizure: In a PTZ model in albino rats, EITT significantly delayed the onset of convulsions and reduced the duration of seizures in a dose-dependent manner. Increased brain GABA keveks suggested a mechanism of facilitated GABAergic transmission. (15)
Indigtone / Hepatoprotective: Indigtone, a bioactive fraction, showed significant dose-related hepatoprotective activity against CCl4 induced liver injury in rats and mice through a preventive and restorative effect. (16)
HIV-1 Inhibition: Methanolic extract of whole plants of I. tinctoria showed inhibition of HIV-1 (III B) and HIV-2 (ROD) replication in MT-4 cells. Extracts exhibited EC50 activity of 113 and 125 µg/ml, respectively. (19)
Hepatoprotective: Study evaluated an Indigofera tinctoria extract against toxicity of D-galactosamine and carbon tetrachloride in situ liver perfusion. Pretreatment with IT in vivo ameliorated D-GaIN and CCl4 induced changes to almost normal state indicating a hepatoprotective effect. (20)
Antibacterial / Nonmutagenic: Study evaluated an extract of leaves for antibacterial and mutagenic activity. Results showed antibacterial activity, greater than standard linezolid, against clinically important bacterial isolates. Results also showed the extract to be nonmutagenic up to 5 mg/plate in Ames test. (21)
Antibacterial / Antioxidant / Cytotoxicity / Lung Cancer Cell Line: Leaf extract showed growth inhibition of gram negative bacteria (B. pumilus, S. aureus, Staph pyogenes) with no effect on gram negative bacteria. A strong antioxidant effect was seen, higher than that of ascorbic acid. On cytotoxicity testing on lung cancer cell line NCI-H69, there was decreasing cell viability with increasing concentration. (22)


Last Update July 2013

IMAGE SOURCE: / File:Indigofera tinctoria0.jpg / Kurt Stüber / 2004 / GNU Free Documentation License / Wikimedia Commons
OTHER IMAGES SOURCE: Illustration / Indigofera tinctoria / Permission granted to use under GFDL by Kurt Stueber. Source: www.biolib.de / Public Domain / AlterVISTA / Modifications by G Stuart

Additional Sources and Suggested Readings
Antidyslipidemic Activity of Indigofera tinctoria / Anju Puri, Tanvir Khaliq, S. M. Rajendran et al / Journal of Herbal Pharmacotherapy, 2007, Vol. 7, No. 1 , Pages 57-64

In vivo and in vitro investigations on rotenoids from Indigofera tinctoria and their bioefficacy against the larvae of Anopheles stephensi and adults of Callosobruchus chinensis / R Kamal and M Mangla / J. Biosci., Vol. 18, Number 1, March 1993, pp 93–101
Effect of Ethanol Extract of Indigofera tinctoria Linn (Fabaceae) on Lithium/Pilocarpine-Induced Status Epilepticus and Oxidative Stress in Wistar Rats / G Asuntha, Y Prasannaraju and KVSRG Prasad / Tropical Journal of Pharmaceutical Research April 2010; 9 (2): 149-156
Evaluation of the antinociceptive properties from Indigofera tinctoria leaves extracts / Saravana Kumar, Gandhimathi R, Mohana Lakshimi et al / Saravanakumar A et al /J. Pharm. Sci. & Res. Vol.1(2), 2009, 31-37.
PRELIMINARY PHYTOCHEMICAL SCREENING AND ANTHELMINTIC ACTIVITY OF INDIGOFERA TINCTORIA LINN / Gunasekaran Balamurugan, Shinnaraj Selvarajan / Int J Drug Dev & Resp, Dec 2009;1(1):157-160
Antiproliferative Activity of Flavanoidal Fraction of Indigofera tinctoria is Through Cell Cycle Arrest and Apoptotic Pathway in A-549 Cells / Thiruvanmiyoor Ravichandran Kameswaran and Ravichandran Ramambai / Journ of Biological Sciences, 2008
Simple Purification of Indirubin from Indigofera tinctoria Linn. and Inhibitory Effect on MCF-7 Human
Breast Cancer Cells
/ Paitoon Aobchey, Supachok Sinchaikul et al / Chiang Mai J. Sci. 2007; 34(3) : 329-337
Indirubin / Cancer Information / Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center
Inhibition of cyclin-dependent kinase 1 (CDK1) by indirubin derivatives in human tumour cells / Marko D, Schatzle S et al /
Br J Cancer. 2001 Jan;84(2):283-9.
Highlight on the studies of anticancer drugs derived from plants in China / Han R /
Stem Cells. 1994 Jan;12(1):53-63.
Antidiabetic Activity of Leaves of Indigofera tinctoria Linn (Fabaceae) / Verma S M, Suresh K B and Verma Amit / International Journal of Toxicological and Pharmacological Research 1(2); 42-43
Hepatoprotective activity of indigtone—a bioactive fraction from Indigofera tinctoria Linn. / B Singh, A K Saxena, B K Chandan et al / Phytotherapy Research, Volume 15, Issue 4, pages 294–297, June 2001 / DOI: 10.1002/ptr.760
Antimicrobial efficacy of Senna auriculata, Pongamia glabra and Indigofera tinctoria against pathogenic Microorganisms / S Selvakumar and C M Karunakaran / Int.J. PharmTech Res.2010,2(3)
PHYTOCHEMICAL STUDY AND PHYSICAL EVALUTION OF Indigofera tinctoria LEAVES / Saurabh Jain, S Nayak, Prajakta Joshi / Pharmacie Globale (IJCP) 2010, 4 (06)
Effect of Ethanolic Extract of Indigofera tinctoria on Chemically-Induced Seizures and Brain GABA Levels in Albino Rats / Asuntha Garbhapu, Prasannaraju Yalavarthi, Prasad KogantiIranian / Journal of Basic Medical Sciences, Vol 14, No 4, July-Aug 2011, 318-326
Hepatoprotective activity of indigtone—a bioactive fraction from Indigofera tinctoria Linn. / B. Singh, A. K. Saxena, B. K. Chandan et al / Phytotherapy Research, Volume 15, Issue 4, pages 294–297, June 2001 / DOI: 10.1002/ptr.760
Sorting Indigofera names / Authorised by Prof. Snow Barlow / Maintained by: Michel H. Porcher / MULTILINGUAL MULTISCRIPT PLANT NAME DATABASE / Copyright © 1997 - 2000 The University of Melbourne.
Indigofera tinctoria L. (accepted name)
/ Chinese names / Catalogue of Life, China
Studies on anti-HIV activity of Indigofera tinctoria. / Kavimani, S.; Jaykar, B.; Clercq, E. de; PannecouQue, C.; Witvrouw, M. / Hamdard Medicus 2000 Vol. 43 No. 1 pp. 5-7
Antibacterial activity and mutagenicity of leaves of Indigofera tinctoria Linn / Magesh Vijayan, Kunjumman Jacob, Yuvaraj Govindaraj. / J Exp Integr Med. 2012; 2(3): 263-269 / doi: 10.5455/jeim.060612.or.032
Determination of Antibacterial, Antioxidant, and Cytotoicity Effect of Indigofera tinctoria on Lung Cancer Cell Line NCI-H69 / K P Renukadevi and S Suhani Sultana / International Journal of Pharmacology 7(3): 356-362, 2011 / DOI:10.3923/ijp.2011.356.362

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