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Curculigo orchioides Gaertn.


Curculigo malabarica Wight, Hypoxis orchioides Kurz.

Vernacular Names:

Malaysia: Lemba
English: Black Musale, Musali, Golden-eye Grass Rhizome
Hindi: Kali Musli, Krishna Musli, Musali Kand
Chinese: Xian Mao
Philippines: Taloangi

General Information


Curculigo orchioides is a tuberous perennial herb, belonging to the family Amaryllidaceae, can be found growing mostly on hilly slopes and wild places of central and western India. Its roots are fleshy, cylindrical, with numerous side roots alongside the main tap root. It blooms during summer, with the auxillary flower pedicle appearing to show terminal yellow flower. [1]

Plant Part Used

Rhizomes, roots, all parts.

Chemical Constituents

The tubers contain a glycoside yuccagenin, an alkaloid lycorine, flavones, and 3-methoxy, 5-Ac, 31-tritriacontane. [1]

Other phytochemicals: curculigenins A-C, curculigosaponins A-J, curculigosaponins XI-XII, curculigol, 31-methyl-3-oxo-ursen-28-oic acid, orcinol glycoside, curculigines A-C, curculigoside B, corchioside, N-acetyl-N-hydroxy-2-carbamic acid methyl ester, 3-acetyl-5carbomethoxy-2-H-3,4,5,6-tetrahydro-1,2,3,5,6-oxatetrazin, N,N,N’,N’-tetramethyl succinamide, yuccagenin, 5,7-dimethoxy mecetin-3-O-α-L-xylosyl(4-1)-O-β-D-glucoside, 4-acetyl-2-methoxy-5-methyl tricontane, 25-hydroxy-33-methyl pentricontan-6-one, β-sitosterol. A glycoside 5,7-dimethoxy myricetin 3-O-L-xylo-pyranosyl 4-O-β-D-glycopyranoside is present in the rhizomes. Free sugars, mucilage, hemicellulose, and other polysaccharides are present.Roots contain resins, fatty acids, starch, and mucilage composed of mannose, glucose, and glucoronic acid(6:9:10), hemicellulose 20.15%, other polysaccharides 17.01%. [3]

The two phenolic glycosides, orchiosides A and B, and four known compounds, curculigoside C, orcinol-3-O-β-D-glucoside, corchioside A, and anacardoside were isolated from Curculiga orchioides rhizomes. [4]

A new orcinol glucoside, orcinol-1-O-β-D-apiofuranosyl-(1®6)-β-glucopyranoside, was isolated from the rhizomes of Curculigo orchioides, together with seven known compounds: orcinol glucoside, orcinol-1-O-β-D-glucopyranosyl-(1®6)-β-D-glucopyranoside, curculigosides A-C, 2,6-dimethoxyl benzoic acid, and syringic acid. Among previously reported phytochemicals are curculigosaponins A-M, 1,3,7-trimethylxanthine, daucosterol, and aliphatic long-chain ketones. [5]

The two aliphatic compounds, 21-hydroxytetracontan-20-one and 4-methylheptadecanoic acid have been isolated from the rhizomes of this herb. [6]

Traditional Used:

Since generations, C. orchioides herb is used extensively in aryuvedic formulations for a wide variety of ailments.The tubers are a well-known rejuvenative (rasayana) drug and an aphrodisiac. It is slightly bitter, viriligenic, diuretic and is useful in general debility, cough, piles, skin diseases, impotence, jaundice, urinary diseases, leucorrhea and menorrhagia. In the Philippines, it is used for skin diseases. [1],[3]

Pre-Clinical Data


Antioxidative activity

The antioxidative activities of phenols and phenolic glycosides obtained from the ethanolic extract of C. orchioides were estimated based on their scavenging effects on hydroxyl radicals produced by H2O2/Fe3+, and superoxide anion radicals produced by xanthin/xanthine oxidase systems. The results of the scavenging assays of hydroxyl radicals showed that compounds, orcinol-1-O-β-D-glucopyranosyl-(1®6)-β-D-glucopyranoside, curculigoside, and curculigoside C exhibited significant scavenging effects comparable to EGCG, with IC50 values of 0.87, 0.54 and 0.25mM, respectively.    In the scavenging assay of superoxide anion radicals, only curculigoside C showed comparable effect with that of EGCG, with an IC50 value of 0.88mM. Hence, it can be concluded that the anti-oxidative activities of C. orchioides are partly attributed to these phenols and phenolic glycosides. [5]

Antioxidant activity

Antioxidant activity of powdered methanol extract (MEC) of rhizomes of C. orchioides was investigated in carbon tetrachloride (CCl4)-induced liver damage in experimental rats. The hepatotoxic group of rats received the methanol extract of C. orchioides daily at the effective dose of 70mg/kg body weight. The animals were maintained at laboratory conditions for 90 days. After an overnight fast on the 89th day, the animals were scarified and liver and blood samples collected for biochemical estimations. The high concentration of thiobarbituric acid reactive substances (TBARS) and diene conjugates (CD) in CCl4 –treated rats indicates excessive formation of free radicals and activation of lipid peroxidation (LPO) system resulting in liver damage. The significant decline in the concentration of these constituents in the liver tissue of CCl4 +MEC –administered rats indicates anti-lipid peroxidative effect of  Curculigo orchioides. The levels of glutathione (GSH) and antioxidant enzymes such as SOD, CAT, GPX, GRD showed decreased activities in CCl4–intoxicated rats whilst these constituents attained near normalcy in CCl4 +MEC-administered rats. It can be concluded that the methanol extract of rhizomes of C. orchioides exhibit a liver protective effect against CCl4 –induced hepatotoxicity and possessed anti-lipid peroxidative and anti-oxidant activities. [7]

Antihyperglycaemic activity

The antihyperglycaemic activity of crude ethanolic extract of powdered dried rhizomes of C. orchioides was evaluated in normal, normoglycaemic and alloxan-induced diabetic rats. The effect of C. orchioides ethanolic extract on glucose tolerance and normal rats was also studied. The results indicate that the ethanolic extract of C. orchioides rhizomes possesses hypoglycaemic activity in all 3 groups of animal models, comparable to the that of the effect of a standard antidiabetic agent Glimeperide. [8]

A similar study investigated the antidiabetic activity of C. orchioides root tuber. Both alcohol and aqueous extracts were tested on alloxan-induced diabetic rats. The study concluded that doses of 500 and 1000mg/kg b.w. of both extracts produced significant glucose lowering activity in alloxan-induced diabetic rats. [9]

Immunostimulatory activity

The methanolic extract of the dried rhizomes of C. orchioides was fractionated by maceration into five insoluble fractions (hexane, chloroform, ethyl acetate and n-butanol).  Repeated chromatography of ethyl acetate fraction over silica gel led to the isolation of Orcino-3-O-b-D-glucoside, Orchiside A and a purified glycoside fraction. The crude methanol and ethyl acetate extracts and the isolated glycosides and a purified glycoside-rich fraction were studied for their effect on microphage migration index (MMI), haemagglutination (HA) titre, plaque forming cell (PFC) response in an animal model (BALB/c mice). The active glycoside purified fraction was further studied for its effect on phagocytic activity of peritoneal macrophages, PHA-induced blast transformation of lymphocytes (BTL) and delayed type hypersensitivity (DTH) response to sheep BBC. The results of this study confirms the immunostimulant activity of C. orchioides and at the same time presents evidence for the presence of other substances besides the curculigosides, which induced stimulation of immune response in the treated animals. Significant immunostimulant activity was found in the purified glycoside-rich fraction isolated from the ethyl acetate extract. The enhancement of HA titre and PFC count in one hand and DTH response on the other, indicates glycoside stimulates both humoral and cell-mediated immune responses. The glycoside-rich fraction stimulates immune response by acting both on macrophages and the lymphocytes. [10]

The immunostimulatory effect of methanol extract of rhizomes of C. orchioides was explored in immunosuppressed animals (Swiss albino mice).  Myelosuppression in the animals was induced by injecting cyclophosphamide  (30mg/kg, i.p), a cytotoxic drug.  Administration of the extract of rhizomes of C. orchioides was found to increase the total white cell count, which was lowered by cyclophosphamide, indicating stimulation of the bone marrow by the C. orchioides methanol extract. The high values of HA titre obtained in animals treated with C. orchioides indicate that immunostimulation was achieved through humoral immunity. The animals treated with the extract showed a significant increase in the DTH response indicating that C. orchioides possesses stimulatory effect on lymphocytes and on other necessary cell types required for the expression of the reaction. Based on these results, it can be concluded that C. orchioides is a potential immunostimulant against cytotoxic drugs and can be used as a complimentary therapeutic agent. [11]

Hepatoprotective activity

A study to evaluate the hepatoprotective effect of the methanolic extract of C. orchioides rhizomes (MEC) was investigated in Sprague-Dawley albino rats treated with carbon tetrachloride (CCl4). Liver damage was studied in hepatotoxic rats by assessing the marker enzymes such as AST, ALT, ALP, GGT in serum as well as concentrations of total proteins, total lipids, phospholipids, triglycerides and cholesterol in both serum and the liver. The animals were divided into 3 groups vis. Group I (control), Group II (received CCl4 alone) and Group III (received both CCl4 + MEC). Animals of Group III showed a significant increase in body weight, and food consumption and the values were significantly higher than Group I rats. This suggested that MEC has significantly neutralised the toxic effect of CCl4 and helped regenerate the hepatocytes. The concentration of the serum marker enzymes in Group III rats showed near normal level compared to the enhanced enzyme activities in Group II rats, showing a clear manifestation of anti-hepatotoxic effect of MEC. [12]

Aphrodisiac activity

The ethanolic extract of the rhizomes of C. orchioides was evaluated for its effect on sexual behaviour in male rats. Administration of 100mg/kg of extract change significantly the sexual behaviour as assessed by determining parameters such as penile erection, mating performance, mount frequency and mount latency. The ethanolic extract has also accelerated the process of spermatogenesis by increasing the sperm count and accessory sex organ weights. The treatment also markedly affected sexual behaviour of animals as reflected in reduction of mount latency, an increase in mount frequency and enhanced attract ability towards female. The present investigation of C. orchioides established some evidence to support the folklore claim that it is used as an aphrodisiac. [13]

Estrogenic activity

A comparative study between the alcoholic extract of the rhizomes of C. orchioides with diethylstilbesterol was conducted in bilaterally ovariectomised young albino rats. The bilaterally ovariectomised albino rats were divided into 5 groups, each group receiving different treatment including ethanolic extract of rhizomes of C. orchioides at 3 different doses (300, 600, 1200mg/kg body weight) and standard drug diethylstilbesterol  at a dose of 2mg/kg body weight. The parameters of assessment for estrogenic activity were assessed by taking percentage vaginal cornification, uterine wet weight, uterine glycogen content and uterine histology. The result of the study exhibited a significant increase in percentage vaginal cornification, uterine wet weight (P<0.001), uterine glycogen content (P<0.001) and proliferative changes in uterine endometrium compared to the control. [14]


No documentation

Clinical Data

Clinical Trials

No documentation

Adverse Effects in Human:

No documentation

Used in Certain Conditions

Pregnancy / Breastfeeding

No documentation

Age Limitations

Neonates / Adolescents

No documentation


No documentation

Chronic Disease Conditions

No documentation


Interactions with drugs

No documentation

Interactions with Other Herbs / Herbal Constituents

No documentation



No documentation

Case Reports

No documentation


    1. Daniel, M. Medicinal Plants: Chemistry and Properties. Science Publishers, New Hampshire, USA. 2006. pp 126.
    2. Oudhia, P. 2004. Kali Musli (Curculigo orchioides Gaetrn.), accessed on 8 November 2007.
    3. What is Curculigo orchioides or Xian Mao? accessed on 15 December 2007.
    4. Gupta, M., Achari, B. & Pal, B.C. Glucosides from Curculigo orchioides. Phytochemistry. 2005. 66:659-663.
    5. Wu, Q. et al. Antioxidative Phenols and Phenolic Glycosides from Curculigo orchioides. Chem. Pharm. Bull. 2005. 53:1065-7, and references cited therein.
    6. Misra, T.N, Singh, R.S. & Tripathi, D.M. Aliphatic compounds from Curculigo orchioides rhizomes. Phytochemistry. 1984. 23:2369-71.
    7. Venukumar, M.R. & Latha, M.S. Antioxidant activity of Curculigo orchioides in carbon tetrachloride-induced hepatopathy in rats. Indian J Clin Biochem. 2002. 17: 80-7
    8. Chauhan, N.S. & Dixit, V.K. Antihyperglycaemic activity of the ethanolic extract of Curculigo orchioides Gaertn. Phcog. Mag. 2007. 3:237-40
    9. Madhavan, V. et al. Antidiabetic activity of Curculigo orchioides root tuber. Pharmaceutical Biology. 2007. 45:18-21.
    10. Lakshmi, V. et al. Immunostimulant principles from Curculigo orchioides. J. Ethnopharmacol. 2003. 89: 181-4
    11. Bafina, A.R. & Misah, S.H. Immunostimulatory effect of methanol extract of Curculigo orchioides on immunosuppressed mice. J Ethnopharmacol. 2006. 104: 1-4
    12. Venukumar M.R & Latha, M.S. Hepatoprotective effect of the methanolic extract of Curculigo orchioides in CCl4-treated male rats. Indian J Pharmacol. 2002. 34: 269-75
    13. Chauhan, N.S., Rao, Ch.V. & Dixit, V.K. Effect of Curculigo orchioides rhizomes on sexual behaviour of male rats. Fitoterapia. 2007. 78: 530-4. Abstract
    14. Vijayanarayana, K. et al. Evaluation of estrogenic activity of alcoholic extract of rhizomes of Curculigo orchioides. J. Ethnopharmacol. 2007. 114: 241-5 Abstract

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