Year : 2012 | Volume
: 1 | Issue : 2 | Page : 92--97
Curry leaf (Murraya koenigii) or Cure leaf: Review of its curative properties
Prasan R Bhandari
Department of Pharmacology, S.D.M. College of Medical Sciences and Hospital, Sattur, Dharwad, Karnataka, India
Prasan R Bhandari
Associate Professor, Department of Pharmacology, S.D.M. College Of Medical Sciences and Hospital, Sattur, Dharwad - 580 009, Karnataka
Murraya koenigii is a culinary important plant of Indian origin, and also been a component of many formulations used in the Ayurvedic system of medicine since many centuries. A scrutiny of literature reveals some notable pharmacological activities of the plant. Carbazole alkaloids which are abundantly present in the leaves, fruits, roots and bark of this plant, have been reported for their antidiabetic, anticancer, antibacterial, anti-nociceptive and antioxidant activities. Besides these activities, the plant is described to have a wide array of therapeutic activities. Phytochemistry and pharmacology of this plant necessitates a comprehensive review of its prospects as an important therapeutic agent for the management of numerous diseases commonly affecting humans. The current review provides a detailed report of the phytochemical, pharmacological, clinical and pre-clinical works carried out on this culinary plant and also throws light on its therapeutic prospects.
|How to cite this article:|
Bhandari PR. Curry leaf (Murraya koenigii) or Cure leaf: Review of its curative properties.J Med Nutr Nutraceut 2012;1:92-97
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Bhandari PR. Curry leaf (Murraya koenigii) or Cure leaf: Review of its curative properties. J Med Nutr Nutraceut [serial online] 2012 [cited 2020 Aug 7 ];1:92-97
Available from: http://www.jmnn.org/text.asp?2012/1/2/92/101295
Human needs in terms of shelter, clothing, food, flavors, fragrances and even medicines have been provided by plants. Traditional medicine systems like Ayurveda, Unani, and Chinese are based upon plants. Even some important drugs used presently have been derived from plants. Saturation of conventional forms of drug discovery has led to a route where the science of ethnobotany and ethnopharmacognosy has been used as a guide to different sources and classes of compounds for the search of new molecules. It is in this context that the flora of the tropics by virtue of its diversity has a significant role to play in being able to provide new leads.  Almost 25 centuries ago Hippocrates, the father of Medicine, proclaimed "let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food".
The ethnomedicinal plant Murrya koenigii (Curry-leaf tree) which is native to India exhibits diverse biological activities. Murrya koenigii has been used for centuries in the Ayurvedic system of medicine. The present review gives a detailed description of the pharmacological works carried out on this medicinal herb and also throws light on its therapeutic potential for the treatment and management of various ailments frequently affecting humans.
The leaves of Murrya koenigii contain proteins, carbohydrate, fiber, minerals, carotene, nicotinic acid, Vitamin C, Vitamin A, calcium and oxalic acid. It also contains crystalline glycosides, carbazole alkaloids, koenigin, girinimbin, iso-mahanimbin, koenine, koenidine and koenimbine. Triterpenoid alkaloids cyclomahanimbine, tetrahydromahanimbine are also present in the leaves. Murrayastine, murrayaline, pyrayafoline carbazole alkaloids and many other chemicals have been isolated from Murrya koenigii leaves.
Bark contains carbazole alkaloids like murrayacine, murrayazolidine, murrayazoline, mahanimbine, girinimbine, koenioline and xynthyletin.
The pulp of fruits generally contain 64.9% moisture, 9.76% total sugar, 9.58% reducing sugar and negligible amount of tannin and acids, besides containing 13.35% Vitamin C.
The pulp of fruit also contains trace amounts of minerals, 1.97% phosphorus, 0.082% potassium, 0.811% calcium, 0.166% magnesium, 0.007% iron and remarkable amount of protein. 
Traditional system of medicine in eastern asia mentions of important uses of this plant i.e. curry leaf tree (Murrya koenigii Family: Rutuceae). Leaves of Murrya koenigii constitute on important ingredient in the Indian diet to improve appetite and digestion.
Murrya koenigii is being used as stimulant, antidysentric and for the management of diabetes mellitus. The leaves root and bark possess tonic, stomachic and carminatives properties. Antiemetic property too is seen in the leaves. Purgative properties have been demonstrated in the stem distillate of the leaves.
External applications of the leaves have been beneficial in bruises, eruption, and to treat bites of poisonous animals.
The leaves being bitter, acrid and cooling have been shown to have cooling, anthelmintic and analgesic action. It is known to cure piles, reduce body heat, thirst, inflammation and itching. Even leucoderma and blood disorders have been controlled.
Pain associated with kidney disorders has been alleviated by the roots of Murrya koenigii. External application of the leaves of Murrya koenigii has been beneficial. Fruits are known to possess nutritional properties.
The branches of Murrya koenigii are used to strengthen gums, popularly used to clean teeth as datum. 
Amongst the green leafy vegetable the total antioxidant activity was the highest in Murrya koenigii (2691 micromol of ascorbic acid/gm sample) as compared to that of methanol extracts of Amaranthus sp., Centella asiatica and Trigonella foenum graecum. 
Studies conducted by Mitra et al. 2012 indicate that the aqueous extracts of Murrya koenigii leaf confer significant protection to rat cardiac tissue against cadmium-induced oxidative stress probably due to its antioxidant activity. The alterations seen in the levels of lipid peroxidation, reduced glutathione, protein carbonyl content, changes in the activities of cardiac antioxidant and pro-oxidant enzymes, indicate that cadmium-induced tissue damage was the result of oxidative stress. This antioxidant activity of Murrya koenigii could be beneficial to people who are exposed to cadmium either environmentally or occupationally. 
Both petroleum ether extracts of Murrya koenigii (PMK) and alkaloids separated from PMK i.e. (AMK) significantly decreased the number of acetic acid-induced writhing, increased the latency of paw licking in hot plate method and basal reaction time in tail immersion method in a dose dependent manner (100 mg and 300 mg/kg p.o). These anti-nociceptive effects were also produced following chronic administration i.e. at the end of 15 days study, suggesting the potential of Murrya koenigii to be used as an analgesic. 
Furthermore, the methanolic extracts of the dried leaves of Murrya koenigii at doses of 100, 200 and 400 mg/kg body weight administered to albino rats caused a significant reduction (P<0.001) in the carrageenan-induced paw edema. Its analgesic activity was evidenced by an increase in the reaction time by Eddy's hot plate method and formalin-induced paw licking method, which too was statistically significant (P<0.05). These anti-inflammatory and analgesic effects were comparable to standard drug diclofenac (10 mg/kg, p.o.). Hence, results suggest the possible benefit of Murrya koenigii in alleviating conditions associated with inflammatory pain. 
When administered orally at doses of 300 mg/kg/day to high fat diet (HFD)-induced obese rats for 2 weeks, the dichloromethane (MKD) and ethylacetate (MKE) extracts of Murrya koenigii leaves significantly reduced the body weight gain, total cholesterol (TC) and triglyceride (TG) levels. These results suggest the potential role of Murrya koenigii to prevent obesity.
Lipid abnormalities which are frequently seen in diabetes patients result in a significant increase in cardiovascular mortality. Hence, a study conducted by Kesari et al. 2007, wherein they evaluated the effect of one month oral administration of Murrya koenigii aqueous leaves extract in normal and streptozotocin (STZ)-induced severe diabetic rats at doses of 300 mg/kg bodyweight on various biochemical parameters. Results demonstrated that the fasting blood glucose (FBG) of treated animals decreased by 48.2%, total cholesterol (TC) by 30.8%, triglycerides (TG) by 37.1%. Murrya koenigii extract increased the HDL-cholesterol levels by 29.4%. Serum alkaline phosphatase values reduced by 33%, SGOT by 36.7% and SGPT by 32.2%. Additionally the serum creatinine levels reduced by 18.2% and urine sugar values decreased by 75% in the Murrya koenigii treated group. Thus the results indicate that besides lipid-lowering activity the aqueous extract of Murrya koenigii also reduced the severity of diabetes and its associated nephropathic complications. 
Dementia is a syndrome of chronic onset and progressive reduction in the higher cognitive functioning. It is prevalent in the geriatric population and has presently become more common. Alzheimer's disease (AD) is characterized by signs of significant oxidative stress and associated loss of cholinergic cells in the CNS.
In studies conducted by Mani et al. 2012, the total alkaloidal extracts of Murrya koenigii leaves in doses of 20 and 40 mg/kg p.o., improved the values of protective antioxidants like glutathione peroxidase (GPX), reduced glutathione (GSH), glutathione reductase (GRD), superoxide dismutase (SOD) and catalase (CAT) in brain homogenate. Additionally, it demonstrated a reduction in lipid peroxidation (LPO) and nitric oxide assay (NO). There also was an increase in the acetylcholine (Ach) levels and decrease in the anticholinesterase (AchE) activity. All of these demonstrate the potential beneficial role of Murryakoenigii in neuroprotection against neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer's disease. 
Besides reducing brain cholinesterase activity, Murrya koenigii extracts significantly improved cognitive functions as evidenced by the significant increase in the memory scores of young and aged mice. Murrya koenigii extracts also reversed the amnesia induced by scopolamine (0.4 mg/kg i.p.) and diazepam (1 mg /kg i.p.). Hence, Murrya koenigii supplementation could be beneficial in the management of Alzheimer's disease and dementia. 
Diabetes and its complications
Antidiabetic and islet protective
Extracts of Murrya koenigii resulted in pancreatic beta cell protection and functional pancreatic islets that produce insulin. This was evident by the normalization of plasma insulin and C-peptide levels, indicating endogenous insulin secretion, after treatment in streptozotocin-induced diabetic Swiss mice. Even the histochemical and immunohistochemical analysis suggest and islet protective and insulin productive role. Additionally, extracts of Murrya koenigii increased the levels of glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase enzyme, normalized hepatic and muscle glycogenesis, resulting in proper glucose utilization. The levels of post-prandial hyperglycemia were also reduced due to the pancreatic and intestinal glucosidase inhibitory activity of the extracts of Murrya koenigii. 
The leaf extracts of Murrya koenigii not only have antidiabetic property but also possess certain effects to regulate immunology related to oxidative stress metabolism. This immunomodulatory and anti-inflammatory activity was evident by interleukin (IL)-2, 4, 10 and tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF-alpha) expression. 
Daily oral administration of aqueous extracts of leaves of Murrya koenigii to STZ-induced diabetic male rats (Sprague Dawley strain) for 30 days, produced a significant dose dependent reduction in serum urea and creatinine levels (P<0.001). It also produced tissue regeneration in kidneys as observed from histological studies. 
Ethanolic extracts of leaves of Murrya koenigii resulted in increase in grip strength of STZ-induced diabetic rats that developed neuropathy 9 week following a single injection of 70 mg/kg i.v streptozotocin (STZ). Prior treatment with Murrya koenigii extracts increased the withdrawal time and licking latency in hot plate and tail flick tests, respectively. This indicates that chronic treatment with Murrya koenigii besides decreasing glycemic levels, offered neuroprotective benefits. 
The n-hexane extracts of the seeds of Murrya koenigii demonstrated a significant inhibitory activity against castor oil-induced diarrhea and PGE2-induced enteropooling in rats. Additionally, a significant decrease in gastrointestinal motility was observed in the charcoal meal test in Wistar rats. 
Girinimbine, acarbazole isolated from the bark of Murrya koenigii significantly induced programmed cell death in HepG2 cells suggesting the necessity for further evaluations in preclinical human hepatocellular carcinoma models. 
The results from the study conducted by Bhattacharya et al. 2010 provides evidence for the involvement of death receptor mediated extrinsic pathway of apoptosis in mahanine-induced anticancer activity in MOLT-3 cells, but not in K562 cells which are deficient in Fas/FasL. 
Furthermore, 3 carbazole alkaloids mahanine, pyrayafoline and murrafoline, showed significant activity against HL-60 cells by inducing apoptosis through of capsase-9/capsase-3 pathway, through mitochondrial dysfunction. 
Down regulation of cell survival factors by activation of capsase-3 through mitochondrial dependent pathways and disruption of cell cycle progression could be an additional mechanism. 
The mean number of neoplasms in the colon and intestines were significantly low as demonstrated by morphological and histological studies in the Murrya koenigii treated animals. 
The methanolic extract of Murrya koenigii leaves demonstrated a significant increase in the phagocytic index by the rapid removal of carbon particles from blood stream. It also demonstrated an increase in the antibody titer against ovalbumin and protection against cyclophosphamide-induces myelosuppression. Thus, Murrya koenigii holds promise as an immunomodulatory agent acting by stimulating humoral immunity and phagocytic function. However, these extracts were unable to stimulate cellular immunity. 
Hydroethanaolic leaf extracts of Murrya koenigiii in doses of 200, 400 and 600 mg/kg body weight demonstrated significant reduction in the levels of alanine aminotransferases, aspartate aminotransferases, alkaline phosphatase, total bilirubin in CCl4-treated hepatotoxic rats. Additionally, Murrya koenigii treated rats also resulted in a dose-dependent increase in hepatic superoxide dismutase, catalase, reduced glutathione and ascorbic acid and a decrease in lipid peroxidation. Even the microscopic studies revealed minimal CCl4-induced lesions in Murrya koenigii treated rats, thus suggesting the hepatoprotective potential of Murrya koenigii. 
One of the most common and important cause of liver failure and death is long-term alcohol consumption. Since there are no dependable hepatoprotective drugs, the existing problem gets complicated. This makes the patient prefer and resort to complementary and alternative medicines for treating and managing hepatic complications. 
The tannins and carbazole alkaloids from the aqueous extracts exhibited excellent hepatoprotective activity against ethanol-induced hepatotoxicity comparable to standard drug L-ornithine L-aspartate (LOLA). ,
The 3 carbazole alkaloids viz. mahanine, mahanimbicine and mahanimbine and essential oils from the leaves of Murrya koenigii were evaluated for the effects on growth of five antibiotic-resistant pathogenic bacteria and three tumor cell lines (MCF-7, P388 and Hela). Mahanimbine and essential oil demonstrated potent dose-dependent antibacterial and cytotoxic effect (<=5.0 microgm/mL). Additionally, significant antitumor activities against MCF- 7, Hela and P388 cell lines were also noted. ,
Complete inhibition of growth of L. innocua was observed with both Solvent-free microwave extraction (SFME) and conventional hydro-distilled oil (HD) essential oils, at 400 and 600 microgm/mL (minimum inhibitory concentration), respectively. The SFME-essential oil at 300 microgm/mL provided 92% inhibition, indicating its potential as a natural antimicrobial agent. 
These findings of the study conducted by Sengupta et al. 2011 suggest that Murrya koenigii - and T. terrestris-based formulation significantly lowered IPSS scores in the initial treatment of symptomatic BPH. 
Orofacial dyskinesia (OD) is a late complication of prolonged neuroleptic treatment characterized by involuntary movements of the oral region. The study conducted by Patil et al. 2011 concludes that Murrya koenigii could be screened as a potential drug for the prevention or treatment of neuroleptic-induced OD. 
The methanol extracts of plants like Murrya koenigii is an ideal eco-friendly approach aid for the control of mosquito species, Ae. aegypti, and An. stephensi. 
Ethanolic extract of fresh leaves of Murrya koenigii (MKEE) showed a dose dependent positive inotropic effect on isolated frog heart possibly by increasing availability of calcium from extra cellular sites. 
The activity demonstrated by some of the isolated carbazole alkaloids of Murrya koenigii and their derivatives against Trichomonas gallinae confirmed that the anti-trichomonal activity of the leaf may be due to its carbazole alkaloids. 
Investigation into phytochemicals from foods for disease prevention has increased substantially in the last few decades. An ethnobotanical approach represents an effective method which may improve the outcomes of phytochemical research. Research on the health properties of native Indian plants is limited. The vast number of edible plants used as foods and medicines by the Indian population creates opportunities for the discovery of novel physiologically active compounds. They evidently justify enquiry on recent methodical lines such as phytochemical analysis, biological assessment on experimental animal models, toxicity studies, investigation of molecular mechanism of action(s) of isolated phytoprinciples and their clinical trials. It is a finest conventional approach in exploration of novel lead molecules for management of various ailments. Comprehensive screening of literature available on Murraya koenigii revealed the fact that it is a common remedy among the various ethnic groups, ayurvedic practitioners for treatment of diversity of ailments. However, very little efforts have been put by the scientific community to discover the beneficial potential of this plant. It is thought-provoking to know that crude organic extracts of leaves of Murraya koenigii have been evaluated for some pharmacological activities and have demonstrated antidiabetic, lipid-lowering, anti-diarrheal, cytotoxic, antioxidant, antiageing, and antimicrobial property. Additionally, other parts of plant such as seeds, leaves and seed oil which too possess significant medicinal benefits, needs to be evaluated scientifically for their therapeutic potential. In future, the isolated principles from the plant need to be evaluated using scientific experimental animal models and clinical trials to know the molecular mechanism of action, in pursuit of lead molecule from natural resources.
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