AYU (An International Quarterly Journal of Research in Ayurveda)

: 2012  |  Volume : 33  |  Issue : 2  |  Page : 284--288

Pharmacognostical and phytochemical studies of Curcuma neilgherrensis (Wight) leaf - A folklore medicine

M Shyam Prasad1, Anju P Ramachandran1, Harimohan Chandola2, CR Harisha3, Vinay J Shukla4,  
1 Assistant Professor, PNPS Ayurveda Medical College and Research Centre, Parakalai, Kasargod, Kerala, India
2 Professor and Head, Department of Kaya Chikitsa, Institute for Post Graduate Teaching and Research in Ayurveda, Gujarat Ayurved University, Jamnagar, Gujarat, India
3 Head, Pharmacognosy Laboratory, Institute for Post Graduate Teaching and Research in Ayurveda, Gujarat Ayurved University, Jamnagar, Gujarat, India
4 Head, Pharmaceutical Chemistry Laboratory, Institute for Post Graduate Teaching and Research in Ayurveda, Gujarat Ayurved University, Jamnagar, Gujarat, India

Correspondence Address:
M Shyam Prasad
Assistant Professor, PNPS Ayurveda Medical College and Research Centre, Parakalai, Kasargod, Kerala


Curcuma neilgherrensis Wight is a folk medicinal plant used in the management of diabetes mellitus. The leaves of this herb are said to be successful in managing high blood glucose levels. This study is aimed at assessing the scientific appraisal of C. neilgherrensis in the course of pharmacognostical characters and phytochemical parameters, as these are not yet been done. Pharmacognostic study mainly covered the macroscopic and microscopic features of the leaves including powder microscopy, and revealed the presence of trichomes, spiral vessels etc. Phytochemical parameters such as pH, total ash value, water-soluble extract and MeOH extract values were assessed in the preliminary physicochemical screening. Qualitative analysis revealed the existence of certain chemical constituents such as flavonoids, tannins, organic acids and saponin glycosides. The crude extract of leaves was subjected to TLC and HPTLC for the separation of components.

How to cite this article:
Prasad M S, Ramachandran AP, Chandola H, Harisha C R, Shukla VJ. Pharmacognostical and phytochemical studies of Curcuma neilgherrensis (Wight) leaf - A folklore medicine.AYU 2012;33:284-288

How to cite this URL:
Prasad M S, Ramachandran AP, Chandola H, Harisha C R, Shukla VJ. Pharmacognostical and phytochemical studies of Curcuma neilgherrensis (Wight) leaf - A folklore medicine. AYU [serial online] 2012 [cited 2020 Sep 18 ];33:284-288
Available from: http://www.ayujournal.org/text.asp?2012/33/2/284/105253

Full Text


India's biodiversity offers a great deal of opportunities in health and allied sciences. The existence of traditional as well as folk medicine depends upon this biodiversity. The information of medicine, which is being transformed verbally from generation to generation and not in the course of written documentation is generally known by the name "folklore medicine". It was the only one means through which the ancestors fulfilled their medicinal needs. Even though it was evolved by the individual and ethnic experiences, it needs further investigations in stipulations of different branches of advanced scientific techniques to tackle the issues like that of identification, standardization, safety profile etc. Moreover, in the management of diseases such as diabetes mellitus, the alliance between different branches of medical sciences has much to offer for the suffering populace.

Curcuma neilgherrensis Wight (Family: Zingiberaceae); known as "Kattukalvazhai" in Tamil is a folklore medicine widely used by the tribes of Western Ghats for the management of diabetes mellitus. The traditional medical practitioners of Kodagu District of Karnataka have identified its usage in diabetes mellitus, even so the Palliayar tribes of Tamilnadu are using its tuber for edible purposes. The leaf is considered as the useful part for counteracting the ill effects of diabetes mellitus. In spite of its reputation, it has not yet been investigated scientifically and hence its leaves were thought worth to study in detail. The available textual information regarding the herb is very minimum and inadequate. This paper reviews research on the identification, authentication and qualitative analysis. The plant is extensively distributed in the southern part of India, especially over high altitudes [Figure 1].{Figure 1}

C. neilgherrensis is a herb with small conical rhizomes internally whitish in color, ending in root tubers, fusiform. Leaves green, lanceolate/oblong - lanceolate in shape, 25cm in length and 8 cm wide [Figure 2] and [Figure 3]. Inflorescence present in both lateral and central, long with a distinct coma. Coma bracts are oblong- lanceolate, fused only at base, light to dark pink or violet in color. Fertile bracts are fused about lower 1/3, slightly curved, margin wavy, green, green with a pink or violet spot at the tip, and densely pubescent. The bracteoles are triangular in shape. Flowers are longer than the bracts, 3-4 in each bract, and light yellow in color. Calyx three lobed at apex, violet dotted, and densely pubescent. Corolla tube light yellow in color, lobes unequal, pubescent, hooded at tip. Labellum shows a median cleft, yellow with a deep yellow median band. [1] Flowers usually appear in the season of February-March, and the leaves are not visible at the time of flowering [Figure 4]. [2]{Figure 2}{Figure 3}{Figure 4}

 Materials and Methods

Collection of plant material

The whole plant with leaves was collected in the season of June, from the natural habitat of Talakaveri forests of Kodagu District, Karnataka, a tail of Western Ghats, and accurately identified with the help of different floras [3],[4],[5] at Pharmacognosy Laboratory, I.P.G.T. and R.A., Gujarat Ayurved University, Jamnagar. Matured leaves were separated from the plant, cut in to pieces, shade dried, coarsely powdered (10 mesh), and used for further study. The rest of leaf sample was preserved in the solution of F.A.A (70% Ethyl alcohol: Glacial acetic acid: Formalin in the ratio of 90:5:5) to study the histological profile.

Pharmacognostical studies

The plant was macroscopically studied. Free hand transverse sections of leaves were taken and examined. Surface preparation was done and both the surface of leaves were observed. Organoleptic evaluation was done for the appreciation of color, odor, and taste. The powder microscopy of dried leaves was also carried out. The microphotographs were taken using the Carl Zeiss binocular microscope.

Physico-chemical and Phytochemical studies

The physico-chemical parameters such as loss on drying, total ash content, pH, and extractive values, (water-soluble and alcohol soluble) were determined. Physico-chemical parameters were analyzed in accordance with the Ayurvedic Pharmacopeia of India. The extracts were further analyzed for the presence of constituents such as tannins, flavonoids, and alkaloids, etc. Thin Layer Chromatography (TLC) and High Performance Thin Layer Chromatography (HPTLC) were performed for the normal phase separation of components.

 Results and Discussion

The macroscopic analysis revealed that the leaves of C. neilgherrensis are lanceolate or oblong-lanceolate in shape, measuring about 25 cm in length and 6 cm width with parallel venation.

Organoleptic characters

The nature of powder was coarse, grey in color, bitter in taste, and slightly aromatic in odor.

Surface preparation

Small pieces of (2 mm square) the leaf in the solution of chloral hydrate in a test tube were taken, boiled in water bath until get transparent material, mounted in glycerin and the following characters like trichomes, epidermal cells [Figure 5], and stomata [Figure 6] were observed under the microscope.{Figure 5}{Figure 6}

Transverse Section of leaf

The epidermis is found on both upper and lower surfaces of the leaf. Single-layered oval-shaped cells covered with cuticle, some cells with trichomes, stomata present at both the sides, mesophyll undifferentiated compactly arranged thin-walled isodiametric, chlorophyllous with intercellular spaces. Some cells filled with tannin materials. The vascular bundles [Figure 7] are collateral and closed. The xylum is found towards upper side and phloem towards the lower side surrounded by bundle sheath, consisting of thin parenchyma cells loaded with starch grains. Xylem consists of vessels and phloem of sieve tubes and companion cells [Figure 8]. Sclerenchyma cells present in patches at both ends of the midrib region. It gives mechanical support to the vascular bundles and also for the leaves.{Figure 7}{Figure 8}

Powder microscopy

Leaves were shade dried and made in to coarse powder for the powder microscopy. The diagnostic features observed were the trichomes [Figure 9], spiral vessels [Figure 10], epidermal cells [Figure 11], chloroplasts, abundance of fibers, prismatic crystals, tannins [Figure 12], etc. which are helpful in identification and authentication of the plant material in future works [Table 1].{Figure 9}{Figure 10}{Figure 11}{Figure 12}{Table 1}

Phytochemical analysis

Physico-chemical parameters and qualitative tests of powder of C. neilgherrensis were done. The value of total ash (8.02% w/w) shows the presence of residue after ignition, representing the plant residue, and external materials. Total ash is the gauge of non-volatile inorganic constituents remaining subsequent to incineration. It is made up of physiological and non-physiological ash. The physiological ash consists of silicates, carbonates, chlorides, nitrates, and phosphates of metals that the plant acquired when it was growing. The non-physiological ash represents the ash from external matter. pH [6] the quantitative measure of alkalinity or acidity was studied with the help of digital pH-indicator. The pH of the water-soluble extract was observed as 6.27, suggesting that the sample is near to neutral or slightly acidic in nature. Further analysis of crude drug yielded water-soluble extract of 6.4% w/w and alcohol-soluble extract about 8.0% w/w [Table 2]. The qualitative analysis revealed the occurrence of flavonoids, alkaloids, tannins, organic acids, and saponin glycosides that will be the land marks in authentication of this plant [Table 3].{Table 2}{Table 3}

TLC and HPTLC profiles

Thin-layer chromatography [7] [Table 4] and high-performance thin-layer chromatography [8] [Table 5] were executed for the normal phase separation of components of methanol extracts of leaves of C. neilgherrensis Wight. For TLC screening, solvent system was prepared by taking toluene and ethyl acetate in a proportion of 8:2. Stationary phase for the TLC profile was silica gel. The spots obtained from the extract were examined under ultra violet light of wavelength 254 and 366 nm. The resolution factor was calculated by using the formula R f = distance travelled by solute/distance travelled by solvent.{Table 4}{Table 5}

After postchromatographic deprivation with Anisaldehyde H 2 SO 4 , the R f values were obtained at 0.16, 0.75, 0.85. The solvent system prepared by toluene and ethyl acetate in a ratio of 8:2 was used for the HPTLC [Figure 13] and [Figure 14] screening of methanol extracts of leaves of C. neilgherrensis.{Figure 13}{Figure 14}

When the sample is tested in 254 and 366 nm, two spots were identical, that is, 0.32 and 0.68. After postchromatographic deprivation with anisaldehyde H 2 SO 4 , six spots were obtained with an R f value of 0.035, 0.10, 0.57, 0.63, 0.71, and 0.98. The presence of spots after this specific spray may be suggestive of occurrence of phenolic-type compounds or tannins.


The available textual information regarding the herb C. neilgherrensis is very minimum and inadequate. As the drug is widely used in conditions like diabetes mellitus by folklore practitioners, and to adopt it in current herbal medicinal practice, it is essential to conduct the pharmacognostical and phytochemical analysis that covers the preliminary steps of standardization. Therefore, this study was carried out with the objective of claiming identification and also to investigate the physico-chemical and qualitative analysis. The microscopic parameters and other physico-chemical reports, which are obtained in this work, can be used for the confirmation and diagnosis of this plant. TLC and HPTLC results showed the presence of certain constituents with matching R f values when visualized in UV radiation of various wavelengths. Hope that the current study and the facts obtained here, may act as a stepping stone for further cavernous research works on C. neilgherrensis Wight in the field of plant science and medicine.


1Sabu M. Zingiberaceae and Costaceae of India. Indian association for angiosperm taxonomy. 1st ed. Kerala: Calicut University; 2006. p. 169-71.
2Fyson PF. The flora of Nilgiri and Pulney hill tops (above 6,500 feet). 1st ed., vol. 1. Delhi: BSMPS and Periodical experts; 1974. p. 409.
3Gamble JS. Flora of the Presidency of Madras. Vol. 3. Hart street, London: Published under the authority of the secretary state for Indian council, 1928. p. 1481.
4Manilal KS. Flora of Silent Valley, Dept of Science and Taxonomy, Govt of India. 1st ed, Calicut: Mathrubhumi Press; 1988. p. 312.
5Nair TS, Rasiya Beegum A, Mohanan N, Rajkumar G. Flowering plants of Kerala. Trivandrum: Tropical Botanical Garden and Research Institute; 2006. p. 844.
6Anonymous. The Ayurvedic Pharmacopeia of India, Part 2, 1 st ed., vol. 1. New Delhi: Ministry of Health and Family welfare, Government of India; 2007. p. 191.
7Wagener H, Bladt S. Plant drug analysis - A thin layer chromatography atlas. Berlin: Springer; 1996. p. 230-1.
8Heftmann E. Chromatography - A laboratory handbook of chromatographic and electrophoretic methods. 3 rd ed. New York: Van Nostarand Reinhold; 1975. p. 112.