Selaginella bryopteris is a lithophyte with remarkable ressurection capabilities. It is full of medicinal properties, hence also known as ‘Sanjeevani’ (one that infuses life). For lack of credible scientific evidence the plant is not in active use as a medicinal herb. We provide scientific evidence for whyS. bryopteris is known as ‘Sanjeevani’.
The aqueous extract ofS. bryopteris possesses growth-promoting activity as well as protective action against stress-induced cell death in a number of experimental cell systems including mammalian cells. Treatment of the cells in culture with 10% aqueous extract enhanced cell growth by about 41% in Sf9 cells and 78% in mammalian cells. Pre-treatment of cells with the Selaginella extract (SE) (1-2x5%) protected against oxidative stress (H2O2)-induced cell death. The killing potential of ultra violet (UV) was also significantly reduced when the cells were pre-treated with SE for 1 h. Thermal radiation suppressed cell growth by about 50%. Pre-treatment of cells with SE for 1 h afforded complete protection against heat-induced growth suppression. SE may possess anti-stress and antioxidant activities that could be responsible for the observed effects. Chemical analysis shows that SE contains hexoses and proteins. Taken together,S. bryopteris extract may help in stress-induced complications including those due to heat shock.