Curculigo (scientific name Curculigo orchioides) is a flowering plant belonging to the genus Curculigo. This species has its origin in a number of places, including Japan, China, the Indian subcontinent, Micronesia and Papuasia.
Curculigo orchioides is basically an herbaceous tuberous plant that grows perennially. Plants of this species have a small or extended root stock that bears many plump lateral roots. This plant often grows up to a height of anything between 10 cm and 35 cm. The leaves of Curculigo are petiolate or sessile, measuring about 15-45 cm long and 1.3-2.5 cm in width. They have a linear or linear lanceolate shape, while occasionally their tips are rooting, clavate and scape extremely short. The leaves of this species are hardy and capable of taking shade. In other words, the leaves of Curculigo simply grow a little bigger in shade compared to those growing in full sunlight.
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Plants of this species are in bloom between July and August, when they bear golden-yellowish flowers at the base of the leaves daily. In fact, curculigo orchioides can be grown as an attractive miniature potted plant indoors.
Plants of this species are usually found growing as including forest herbs. For several ages, people have been using Curculigo orchioides in the form of folk medicine. In Ayurveda, the ancient Indian herbal medicine system, the root of this herb is considered to be excellent for heating and is employed for treating fattening and fatigue. Moreover, this herb is also effectively used for treating piles, blood-related disorders and as an appetizer among many other things. In the Unani medicine system it is believed that the root of Curculigo orchioides possesses anti-pyretic, carminative and tonic properties. Hence, it is effectively used for treating conditions like bronchitis, diarrhea, indigestion, vomiting, ophthalmia, hydrophobia, gleet, gonorrhea, lumbago, joint pains and many others. This herb is also employed for treating hypertension (high blood pressure) among women, especially the elderly, and also for curing arthritis. In addition, it is also employed in the form of a tonic.
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It is worth noting that currently Curculigo orchioides is an endangered plant or rasayana herb, popularly referred to as "Kali Musli". This herb has its origin in India and, in Ayurvedic medicine it is regarded highly for its aphrodisiac and potent adaptogenic properties. In fact, this plant forms a key constituent of several Ayurvedic preparations and is believed to possess antioxidant, hepato-protective, immuno-stimulant, aphrodisiac, anti-diabetic as well as anti-cancer activities. This plant is reported to enclose a variety of chemical compounds, including aliphatic compounds, saponins, phenolic glycosides and mucilage. Aside from this, Curculigo orchioides is also deemed to be a vital compound in a variety of herbal formulations of the Kampo and Chinese medicine systems.
Similarly, this plant's rhizomes are employed for treating asthma, jaundice and diminishing strength. In the Unani medicine system, the root of this herb is used for its anti-pyretic, aphrodisiac, carminative and tonic properties.
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Medical practitioners in India have been traditionally using this herb in the form of an aphrodisiac. Likewise, in China, medical practitioners use Curculigo orchioides for treating azoospermia, impotence, urinary incontinence, menopausal syndrome, cold sensation in the abdomen, abdominal pain and various other health conditions. As far as the therapeutic uses of this herb are concerned, it shares some common properties with other herbs like Yin Yang Ho (also known as horny goat weed) and Ba Ji Tian (scientific name Radix Morindae Officinalis). All these herbs are believed to possess properties that tonify Yang. It is worth mentioning here that this particular musli herb is somewhat toxic in nature. If taken in excessive dosage, this herb can prove to be harmful for the human body.
Curculigo orchioides is an excellent herb for boosting the immune system. It has been found that this herb possesses the ability to improve phagocytosis of peritoneal macrophages in rodents. However, this herb does not have any effect on the normal rodents' T cell system. On the other hand, it considerably improves the count of T cells in immuno-suppressed rodents brought upon by cyclophosphamide (Cy).
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Some of the important health benefits of using Curculigo orchioides are discussed in brief below.
This herb has a notable inhibitory action on the ear swellings of rats induced by croton oil.
Curculigo is used to treating erectile dysfunction and warming kidney. In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), Curculigo orchioides is often mixed with other herbs like Yin Yang Huo (Epimedium), Shu Di Huang (Chinese Foxglove Root), Shan Yu Rou (Cornus Fruit) and Gou Qui Zi (Fructus Lycii) to treat yang deficiency in the kidneys, which actually is evident as low sperm count, motility, impotence, premature ejaculation as well as seminal emission.
Curculigo stops diarrhea by warming the spleen. In TCM, it is believed that using Curculigo orchioides helps to nourish the spleen effectively, thereby driving away cold, treating diarrhea and improving one's appetite. Therefore, it is an excellent idea to permeate this herb in wine or blend it with dried ginger, Dali ginseng and Bai Zhu (also known as white atractylodes rhizome).
Curculigo treats rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis. One can use Curculigo orchioides for treating different forms of arthritis classified under the cold-damp type. In order to treat these conditions, this herb is often used together with Dang Gui (Chinese Angelica Root), Du Zhong (Cortex Eucommiae), Xi Xin (Herba cum Radix Asari), Huang Qi (Radix Astragali), Ba Ji Tian, Zhi Chuan Wu (Radix Aconiti Preparata) and many others.
Curculigo combats high temperature and hypoxia. Curculigo orchioides is effective in treating these conditions, as it has anticonvulsant and sedative effects.
It has been found that acetone extracts from Curculigo orchioides helps to inhibit development and growth of solid tumour significantly.
Curculigo regulates endocrine system. A decoction prepared from this herb may aid in regulating the functioning of endocrine glands. The truth is that TCM practitioners often prescribe this herbal formulation to treat various problems endured by menopausal women, who are also suffering from hormone and endocrine disorders.
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In TCM medicine, practitioners also employ this herb to cure male sexual dysfunction, impotence, menopausal syndrome and depression associated with these conditions.
Belonging to the genus Curculigo, Curculigo orchioides is a tuberous plant that grows perennially. This species is a member of the plant family Amaryllidaceae and has its origin in India, China and many regions of Southeast Asia. Generally, this herb is found in places located on altitudes below 1,600 meters, for instance grasslands, wild places, forests and hilly slopes.
Scientific studies undertaken in contemporary times have discovered that Curculigo orchioides contains elevated levels of chloromethyl phenol, methyl phenol, cycloartane triterpene glycosides and various polysaccharides. Aside from these compounds, this species also encloses alcohols, compounds containing nitrogen, flavonols, fatty compounds and various other phytochemicals.
The root of Curculigo orchioides possesses therapeutic properties and ideally it ought to be harvested between February and April, prior to the plant burgeoning out. Alternatively, the medicinal roots can also be harvested between July and September, when the plant has already withered. Soon after they are harvested, the roots need to be washed and sun dried. Occasionally, the roots may require some steaming before they are dried in the sun.