Kurchi Bark

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Chapter: Pharmacognosy and Phytochemistry : Drugs Containing Alkaloids

Kurchi bark consists of dried stem bark of Holarrhena antidysenterica Wall, belonging to family Apocynaceae.






Holarrhenna; Kurchi (Hindi).


Biological Source


Kurchi bark consists of dried stem bark of Holarrhena antidysenterica Wall, belonging to family Apocynaceae.


Geographical Source


The plant is found throughout India, ascending up to 1,250 m in the Himalayas, especially in wet forests.


Cultivation and Collection


Kurchi is a deciduous laticiferous shrub or small tree, 9–10 m high. The bark is collected from the tree by making suit-able transverse and longitudinal incisions. The alkaloidal content is high soon after the rains when new shoots are produced which declines during winter months.




The pieces of Kurchi bark are small and recurved both longitudinally and transversely. The size and thickness vary from piece to piece. Outer surface is buff to reddish brown and bears numerous prominent circular or transversely elongated horizontal lenticels and longitudinal wrinkles.

The thicker pieces are rugose and show numerous yellowish warts; inner surface cinnamon-brown, longitudinally striated, frequently with portions of pale yellow wood attached; fracture is brittle and splintery. The taste is acrid and bitter while the odour is not distinct.


                                   Twig of Holarrhena antidysenterica 



Transverse section of bark shows cork composed of uniformly arranged several layers of tangentially elongated cells. Below cork is a broad zone of cortex, composed of thin-walled, irregular, polygonal parenchymatous cells containing starch grains and prismatic calcium oxalate crystals. Groups of sclereids are scattered in the cortex; individual sclereid cells are more or less rounded-oval, thick-walled with numerous pits. Cortex is limited below by a zone of groups of sclereids, which alternate with parenchymatous zone. Phloem consists of phloem parenchyma similar to cortex, traversed longitudinally by medullary rays at regular intervals. Medullary rays are narrow, one to two cells wide and almost straight.


               Transverse section of Kurchi bark

                  T.S. (schematic) of Kurchi bark 

Chemical Constituents


The total alkaloidal constituents of Kurchi bark vary from 1.1% to 4.72%. The main steroidal alkaloid is conessine (20–30%). The other alkaloids isolated include conarrhimine, conimine, conamine, conessimine, isoconessimine, dimethyl conkurchine and holarrhimine. In addition to alkaloids the bark also contains gum, resin, tannin, lupeol and digitenol glycoside holadysone.





The bark is considered to be stomachic, astringent, tonic, antidysenteric, febrifuge and anthelmintic. The dried bark is rubbed over the body in dropsy. Kurchi bark is used to cure amoebic dysentery and diarrhoea.


Marketed Products


It is one of the ingredients of the preparations known as Diarex PFS, Diarex Vet. (Himalaya Drug Company), Mahamanjishthadi kwath, Mahamanjisthadyarishta (Dabur) and Amree plus granules, Purodil capsules (Aimil Pharmaceuticals).


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