Safed musli (Chlorophytum borivilianum): a review of its botany, ethnopharmacology and phytochemistry

J Ethnopharmacol. 2013 Nov 25;150(2):421-41. doi: 10.1016/j.jep.2013.08.064. Epub 2013 Sep 14.


Ethnopharmacological relevance: Safed musli (Chlorophytum borivilianum) is an eminent medicinal plant of India and considered as a 'white gold' or 'divya aushad' in Indian systems of medicine. In Ayurveda, Chlorophytum borivilianum belongs to the group of "Vajikaran Rasayana" corroborated to its rejuvenating, aphrodisiac, natural sex tonic properties and effective in alleviating sexual disorders. It is largely used as ethnic medicine by local healers of indigenous communities of India.

Materials and methods: A thorough bibliographic investigation was carried out by analyzing worldwide accepted scientific data base (Pub Med, SciFinder, Scopus and Web of Science), thesis, recognized books, non impact and non indexed journals.

Results: Traditionally, Chlorophytum borivilianum is well known for treating male impotency in India. The multi therapeutic and nutritional importance of Chlorophytum borivilianum is attributed to the rich source of phytochemicals particularly saponins. Recently, Chlorophytum borivilianum has gained a well established domestic (Indian) and international market for being the herbal alternative of "Viagra" without any side effects. Under the trade name 'Nai Chetna', the state government of Gujarat, India, has launched a novel potency drug from Chlorophytum borivilianum. Modern pharmacological studies of Chlorophytum borivilianum have demonstrated a wide range of pharmacological activities, most importantly aphrodisiac, immunomodulatory and anticancer activities.

Conclusion: The increased commercial exploitation of Chlorophytum borivilianum and low productivity of this endangered plant has raised the concern over its conservation. It has been envisaged that efforts should be made to standardize, encourage and popularize the cultivation of Chlorophytum borivilianum as a commercial crop. The analysis of previous pharmacological investigations suggested lack of substantial scientific evidences in various studies and do not stand the test of critical assessment. Due to high economic value, Chlorophytum borivilianum has also encountered a problem of adulteration with closely resembling medicinally inferior species. The studies available on toxicity, safety and quality of Chlorophytum borivilianum are inadequate for providing information on commercial utilization. Thus, the present review summarizes comprehensive information on Chlorophytum borivilianum and possible scope for future research to fill the existing lacunae on its different aspects of the study.

Keywords: Chlorophytum borivilianum; Endangered plant; Herbal Viagra; Safed musli; Sex tonic.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Conservation of Natural Resources
  • Ethnobotany
  • Ethnopharmacology
  • Humans
  • India
  • Liliaceae* / chemistry
  • Liliaceae* / classification
  • Medicine, Traditional
  • Phytochemicals / analysis
  • Plant Extracts / pharmacology
  • Plant Extracts / therapeutic use


  • Phytochemicals
  • Plant Extracts