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Latin NameHolarrhena antidysenterica (Linn.) Wall. (Apocynaceae)
English NamesConnessi bark, Coneru, Tellicherry bark
Sanskrit NamesKutaja, Vatsaka
Local NamesKura, Kora, Kureya, Kurchi
Connessi bark
History: The tree is believed to have sprung from the drops of ‘amrita’ (nectar) that fell on the ground from the bodies of Rama’s monkeys who were restored to life by Indra. The seeds and bark have been used in Materia Medica for a very long time. Arabic and Persian writers call the seeds Lisan-el-asafir-el-murr, and Zaban-i-gungishk-i-talk (bitter sparrow’s tongue) respectively. The Portuguese physicians, Garcia and Christopher a Costa, use the names Coru, Curo, Cura and Corte de pala. Ainslie mentions the bark as having been lately admitted into British materia medica, under the name of Conessi bark. This bark enjoyed for a time considerable repute in Europe. Sir Walter Elliot, regarded it as one of the most valuable medicinal products of India. In 1887, M.R. Blondel discussed and illustrated the botanical history and structure of this plant. Distribution:
Occurring almost throughout India up to an altitude of 4,000 ft.; it is especially abundant in the sub-Himalayan tract. Habit:
H.antidysenterica is a deciduous shrub or small tree. The bark is rather rough, pale brownish or greyish; the leaves are opposite, subsessile, elliptic or ovate-oblong, membranous; the flowers are white, in terminal corymbose cymes; the follicles, divaricate, cylindric and usually white spotted; the seeds are light brown. Phytochemistry:
The principal alkaloid of kurchi isconessine. The other alkaloids reported to be present in the bark are: conamine, conkurchine, connessimine, kurchine, conarrhinine, holarrhinene and isoconcessimine. Pharmacology:
Various fractions of H.antidysenterica showed promising activity against experimental amoebiasis in rats and hamsters. (Dutta, N. K and Iyer, S. N., J. Ind. Med. Assoc., 1968, 50, 349.) The fruit extract (50% ethanolic) showed antiprotozoal effect againstEnt. histolytica strain STA, Trypanosoma evansi; anticancer effect against human epidrmoid carcinoma of the nasopharynx in tissue culture and hypoglycemic activity in rats. (Dhar, M. L, et al., Ind. J. Exp. Biol., 1968, 6, 232.) Clinical studies:
Clinical tests with connessine on patients with intestinal and hepatic amebiasis have been found to give results, comparable to those obtained with emetine (Signier, F. et al., 1949. Medicine Tropicale,9, 99-109, Tanguy, et al., 1948, ibid, 8, 12-31). Toxicity:
Use of connesine must, however, be closely supervised, as in some cases it can produce neurological troubles (Vertigo, sleeplessness, agitation, anxiety and delirium) [Oliver, B.B. (1986). Medicinal Plants in Tropical West Africa, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 163] Indications:
The bark has astringent, antidysenteric, anthelmintic, stomachic, febrifugal and tonic properties. It is used in the treatment of amebic dysentery and diarrhea.

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