Murraya koenigii (L.) Spreng.

Last updated: 29 Sept 2016

Scientific Name

Murraya koenigii (L.) Spreng.


Bergera koenigii L. [Unresolved]. [1]                      

Vernacular Name

Malaysia Garupillai, karwa pale, kerupulai [2]
English Curry bush, curry leaf, [2] curry leaf tree [3]
China Tiao liao jiu li xiang [2]
India Barsanga, barsunga, bowala, gandela, gandi, gandla, gani, gant, harri, kadhee-nimba, karapincha, caraway pillay, karaypak, kari patta, karibevu, karipatta, karivaepamu, kari-vaepu, kariveppilai, kariyapilai, karrinim, karuveppilai, kat-nim, kathnim, katnim, krishnanimba, krishnappatabhinimba, kristnanimbao, lesundodando, meeta neem, meetha neem, meethi neem, mersinga, mitha neem, mithineem, pushpa, surabhini nibi, surabhi nimbi, surabhinimba, tayam, theng-sak-sau [2]
Nepal Karrypati, mitho nim [2], mechia-sag [4]
Pakistan Gandhela [2]
Thailand Hom kaek [3]
Laos Dok kibe [3]
Myanmar Kyaungthwe [4].

Geographical Distributions

Murraya koenigii is believed to be native to India and Sri Lanka and subsequently introduced to other South-East Asia such as Myanmar, China, and Indonesia. It is now widely planted throughout the tropics. [4][5]

M. koenigii has been cultivated in India, Sri Lanka, South-East Asia, Australia, Pacific Island, and Africa. [4]

Botanical Description

M. koenigii is a member of the Rutaceae family [1]. It is a deciduous tree than can reach up to 4-6 m in height and 15-40 cm in diameter with short trunk, thin smooth grey or brown bark and dense shady crown [6].

The bark can be peeled off longitudinally, exposing the white wood underneath. [7]

The leaves are bipinnately compound, 15-30 cm long, each bearing 11-25 leaflets, alternate on rachis, 2.5-3.5 cm long, ovate lanceolate with an oblique base, margins irregularly creatate, petioles 2-3 mm long. [6][7][8]

The inflorescence is terminal cyme, each bearing 60-90 flowers; calyx 5-lobed, persistent, inferior, green; corolla white, polypetalous, inferior, with 5 petals, lanceolate, length 5 mm; androecium polyandrous, inferior, with 10 stamens, dorsifixed, arranged into circles of five each; stigma bright, sticky; style short; ovary superior. [6][7][8]

The flowers arebisexual, white, funnel-shaped, sweetly scented, stalked, complete, ebracteate, regular, actinomorphic, pentamerous, hypogynous, average diameter of a fully opened flower being 1-1.12 cm. [6][7][8]

The fruits are round to oblong with 1.4 - 1.6 cm long and 1- 1.2 cm in diameter; fully ripe fruits are black with a very shining surface; the number of fruits per cluster varying from 32-80. [6][7][8]

Each fruit has one seed, measures 9-11 mm long, 6-8 mm in diameter, colour spinach green. [6][7][8]



199 fig1

Figure 1: The M. koenigii plant.


 199 fig2

Figure 2: The characteristics of the M. koenigii leaves.



Figure 3: The M. koenigii flowers are white in colour.




Soil Suitability and Climate Requirement

M. koenigii plant is quite hardy and well adapted on most soil types. However, it is best suited to well-drained soils, with high organic matter content and high water table (more than 60 cm). The plant needs about 2,000 to 3,000 mm of rainfall, full sunlight and temperature of 25-38°C for optimum growth. [9]

Field Preparation

Land Preparation

Prior to planting, normal field operations such as land clearing, disc ploughing and rotovation are to be conducted. GML (Ground Magnesium Limestone) at the rate of 100 g per planting hole are applied as to improve the soil pH. The size of a planting hole is 30 cm x 30 cm x 30 cm. [9]

Production of Planting Materials

Seeds are normally used to propagate M. koenigii plant. The vegetative propagation techniques by using stem cuttings or the plantlets obtained from the lateral roots can also be adopted. If the seeds are to be used, it should be obtained from the fully matured fruits. The seeds must be sowed fresh since it cannot be stored. The seeds from the dried fruits are not viable. The seeds start to germinate at 3-4 weeks after sowing. These seedlings are then transferred to the polybags at about 2 weeks after germination. They are then kept under about 50% shade in the nursery and ready for field plating when it grows to about 60-80 cm high. [9]


Figure 4: The young seedlings ready for field planting.

Field Planting

The recommended planting distance is 1 m between plants and 3 m between rows giving a population density of about 3,330 plants/ha.  The plant should be managed to about 2 m in canopy width. To avoid the transplanting shock, field planting should be done at the beginning of the rainy season. Supplemented irrigation is required if transplanting is done during the dry season. [10]

Field maintenance


Both the compound fertiliser NPK (15:15:15) and processed chicken is recommended for maximum growth. Chicken manure is applied in the first year only at the rate of 1.0 kg/planting hole during planting and another 0.5 kg at 6 months after planting. The compound fertiliser is applied at the rate of 500, 750 and 1,000 g/plant in the 1st, 2nd and 3rd year upward, respectively. The recommended amount is divided into two equal portion sand applied at six months intervals. [9]

Weed Control

For the first five months after planting weeds are controlled by two rounds of rotor-tillage operations.  The contact herbicides can be used for the one-year-old crops and older. [9]

Water management

Supplementary irrigation is required for optimum crop growth and yield. Drip irrigation system is recommended for this crop. [9]

Pest and Disease Control

Currently, there are no serious pest and disease problems in the field planting of M. koenigii plant. [9]


The first harvest can be conducted as early as 12 months after field planting. The leaves are harvested by cutting at the base of the petiole. The recommended harvesting intervals are every 2 months. The potential yield depends on the crop vigour. The potential fresh yield of a mature crop is 22 t/ha/year. [9]





Figure 5: The harvested leaves for fresh market.

Postharvest handling

The leaves are consumed fresh. In their fresh form, they have a short shelf life though they may be stored in a freezer for quite some time. The leaves can also be kept as dried product although the aroma is much inferior. [9]

Estimated cost of production

The estimated cost of production for the established crop (year 3 and above) is RM12, 000. Based on the fresh yield of about 22.0 t/ha from the fully established crop, the production cost of fresh leaf is about RM0.55/kg. The production cost was estimated based on the cost of current inputs during writing of this article. [9]

Chemical Constituent

Ethanol and methanol extract of M. koenigii leaves has been found to contain alkaloids (e.g. carbazole) and flavonoids (e.g. rutin, quercetin, catechin and myricetin) and phenolics (e.g. gallic acid and cinnamic acid). [11][12][13][14]

Hexane extract of M. koenigii leaves has been found to contain alkaloids (e.g. mahanimbine, isomahanimbine, koenimbidine and murrayacine). [15]

Chloroform extract of M. koenigii leaves has been found to contain flavonoids (e.g. quercetin). [16]

M. koenigii leaves has been reported to contain carbozale alkaloids, coumarin glucoside, scopolin, β-carotene [17], murrayakoeninol, koenimbine, O-methylmurrayamine-A, and murrayazolinine [18].

M. koenigii roots has been reported to contain 9-carbethoxy-3-methylcarbazole, 9-formyl-3-methylcarbazole, and 3-methyl-carbazole. [19]

M. koenigii seeds has been reported to contain minor furocoumarins (e.g. xanthotoxin, isobyakangelicol, phellopterin, gosferol, neobyakangelicol, byakangelicol, byakangelicin, and isogosferol). [20]

M. koenigii stem bark has been reported to contain benzoisofuranone derivative namely 3xi-(1xi-hydroxyethyl)-7-hydroxy-1-isobenzofuranone and dimeric carbazole alkaloid derivative namely 3,3'-[oxybis(methylene)]bis(9-methoxy-9H-carbazole) [21], and girinimbine [18].

M. koenigii has been reported to contain koeinigin [22], mahanimbinine [23], mahanimbicine, bicyclomahanimbicine [24], cyclomahanimbine, bicyclomahanibine, mahanimbidine [25], 11-selinen-4α,7β-ol, 10-aromadendranol [26], mahanimbine, murrayanol, mahanine [27], murrayanine, 8,8' '-biskoenigine [28].

Plant Part Used

Leaves, fruit, shoot and bark. [17][22]

Traditional Use

The leaves of M. koenigii are considered a stomachic, spasmolytic and helps promotes appetite and digestion. The green leaves are taken raw to treat diarhoea and dysentery. It is also useful in the treatment of intestinal worms, abdominal colic and haemorrhoids. The leaves treat digestive disorders like morning sickness, nausea and vomiting where the leaves are mixed with lime juice and honey. Infusion of roasted leaves can stop vomiting. When grounded finely and mixed with butter milk, it helps relieve stomach upset. [17][22][29]

The bark and roots of M. koenigii have antivenous activity and is used to treat insect and poisonous animal bites. In Nepal a paste of the bark is used for this purpose while in India a decoction of the leaves with bitters if given to those bitten by snakes. The Indians again made use of the juice of the berries mixed with equal portions of lime-juice to effectively treat insect stings and bites of poisonous creatures. [17][22][30]

The barks and roots are considered as stimulants and is used to cure eruptions of the skin. The leaves when applied on the skin help to relieve pruritus. It is also advocated for use to nourish hair roots which could promote the growth of healthy hair with normal pigmentation. [22][31]

Indians believed that by taking 10 fresh matured leaves for three months, diabetics could help relieve their burdens of the disease. The leaves also purify the blood and are used in fever, tuberculosis and cases of toxicosis. Juice of the roots on the other hand could help relieve kidney pains. [29][31]

Preclinical Data


Antimicrobial activity 

Ethanol (90%) extract of M. koenigii leaves (50 mg/mL) inhibited the growth of Staphylococcus aureus  with inhibition zones of 16 mm and Escherichia coli (18 mm) compared to vancomycin (16 mm) using disc diffusion assay. [32]

Methanol extract of M. koenigii leaves (50 mg/mL) inhibited the growth of E. coliBacillus subtilis and Klebsiella pneumonia with inhibition zones of 16 mm compared to vancomycin (13 mm) using disc diffusion assay. [32]

Methanol (50%) extract of M. koenigii leaves (5 mg/mL) inhibited the growth of Streptococcus mutans with inhibition zone of 31 mm, Streptococcus sanguinis (27 mm), S. aurues (28 mm), Lactobacillus acidophilus (26 mm) and Lactobacillus casie (28 mm) compared to amoxicillin (12, 14, 12, 13 and 11 mm respectively) using disc diffusion assay. [33]

Antifungal activity 

Ethanol (95%) extract of M. koenigii leaves (250 µg/mL) inhibited spore germination of Trichophyton mentagrophytes (50%) and Microsporum gypseum (80%) compare to the control (30% and 40% respectively). [34]

Anti-inflammatory activity 

Methanol (100%) extract of M. koenigii leaves (400 mg/kg) was administered orally to male albino rats (180–200 g) 30 min before induction of paw edema using carrageenan.  After four hour, the extracts showed significant (p < 0.05) reduction in paw edema volume (2.65 mL) compared to untreated control group (3.45 mL). [35]

Methanol extract of M. koenigii leaves (100, 200 and 400 mg/kg/day) was administered orally to male albino rats (25–30 g) 30 min before induction of paw edema using carrageenan.  After four hour, the extracts showed significant (p < 0.05) reduction in paw edema volume (0.54-0.33 mL) compared to untreated control group (0.73 mL). [36]

Antioxidant activity 

Ethanol:water (1:1) extract of M. koenigii leaves showed antioxidant activity with hydroxyl radical scavenging activity inhibition concentration at 50% of growth (IC50) of 10 µg/mL compared to butylated hydroxyanisole (BHA), (IC50 = 40 µg/mL) using deoxyribose assay. [37]

Methanol extract of M. koenigii leaves showed antioxidant activity with 1,1-diphenyl-2-picrylhydrazyl (DPPH) scavenging activity with effective concentration at 50% response (EC50) of 6.0 µg/mL compared to trolox (EC50 = 16.2 µg/mL) and butylated hydroxytoluene (BHT) (EC50 = 2.0 µg/mL) using DPPH assay. [38]

Ethanol extract of M. koenigii leaves showed antioxidant activity with DPPH scavenging activity with IC50 of 4.10 µg/mL compared to ascorbic acid (IC50 = 2.69 µg/mL) using DPPH assay. [39]

Methanol extract of M. koenigii leaves showed antioxidant activity with DPPH scavenging activity with IC50 of 0.028 µg/mL compared to ascorbic acid (IC50 = 0.015 µg/mL) and BHT (IC50 = 0.028 µg/mL) using DPPH assay. [33]

Methanol extract of M. koenigii leaves showed antioxidant activity with 2'-azinobis-3-ethylbenzothiazoline-6-sulfonic acid (ABTS) radical scavenging activity with IC50 of 0.019 µg/mL compared to BHT (IC50 = 0.013 µg/mL) using ABTS assay. [33]

Methanol extract of M. koenigii leaves (150 µL) showed antioxidant activity with Fe2+ reducing ability (3176.98 µmol Fe(II)/g) compared to quercetin (3208.27 µmol Fe(II)/g) using ferric reducing antioxidant potential. [33]

Euchrestins B, bismurraya foline E, mahanine, mahanimbicine, mahanimbine, koenimbine, O-methylmurrayamine A, O-methylmahanine, isomahanine, bismahanine, bispyrayafoline from the methylene chloride extracts of M. koenigii significantly prolonged the oil stability index (OSI) with ability of radical scavenging against DPPH radical. [40][41]

The leaves of M. koenigii have been demonstrated to exhibit antioxidant activity. Antioxidant protein (PII) is the most active compound to inhibit lipoxygenase activity, effectively prevented diene, triene and tetraene lipid formation and scavenged about 85% hydroxyl and DPPH radicals. It also reduced cytochrome C and ferric ion, chelated ferrous ion and inhibited ferrous sulphate:ascorbate-induced fragmentation and sugar oxidation to 80-90%. [42]

Antiulcer activity 

Aqueous extract of M. koenigii leaves (200 and 400 mg/kg) was administered orally as single dose to adult healthy female Wister albino rats (160-200 g/body weight) one hour prior to gastric ulcer induction using ethanol.  A significant (p < 0.05) gastro protective activity (58.71%) was observed compared to omeprazole (78.06%). The extract (200 and 400 mg/kg) showed protection index of 47.06% and 58.82% respectively compared to omeprazole 70.59%. [43]

Anticancer activity 

Methanol (80%) extract of M. koenigii leaves showed anti-tumour activity against breast cancer cell lines MCF-7 and MDA–MB–231 with IC50 of 37.5 and 15 μg/mL respectively compared to MG-132 (specific inhibitor of the 26S proteasome, carbobenzoxy-Leu-Leu-leucinal) (IC50 = >40 μM and 20 μM, respectively). [44]

Methanol extract of M. koenigii leaves showed anticancer activity against breast cancer cell lines MDA-MB-231 with IC50 of 103 μg/mL compared to tamoxifen (60 μg/mL). [14]

Methanol (80%) extract of M. koenigii leaves showed anticancer activity against HeLa (breast carcinoma cells), HepG2 (liver carcinoma cells) and LNCaP (prostate adenocarcinoma cells) with IC50 of 4.8, 17.55 and 16.45 µg/mL, respectively. [45]

Cytotoxic activity

9-carbethoxy-3-methylcarbazole and 9-formyl-3-methylcarbazole isolated from the roots of M. koenigii showed weak cytotoxicity against both mouse melanoma B16 and adriamycin-resistant P388 mouse leukemia cell lines. [19]

Ethanol extract of M. koenigii leaves (20 mg/mL) showed 62% cell viability of macrophages RAW264.7 cell line compared to controls (99% cell viability) and dimethyl sulfoxide (125% cell viability). [46]

Khan et al [47] found that rats stimulated with 1,2-dimethylhydrazine(1,2 DMH) and treated with M. koenigii leaves + Brassica juncea seeds had low incidence of colon and intestinal neoplasms.

Mahanine isolated from M. koenigii has exhibited cytotoxic capabilities. At a dose of 10 microM it caused complete inhibition of cell proliferation and the induction of apoptosis is time dependent in human myeloid cancer cells (HL-60). The cell death caused by mahanine is characterized by changes in nuclear morphology, DNA fragmentation, activation of capase like activities, poly(ADP-ribose) polymerase cleavage, release of cytochrome C into cytosol and stimulation of reactive oxygen species generation. Basically it down regulates cell survival factors by activation of capase-3 through mitochondrial dependent pathway, and disrupts cell cycle progression. [48]

Ito et al [49] concurred on this and recognized two other carbazole alkaloids (pyrayafoline-D and murrafoline-I) isolated from M. koenigii to have similar effects. Battacharya et al [50] noted that mahanine also has anti-proliferative activity in acute lymphoid (MOLT-3) and chronic myeloid (K562) leukaemic cell lines and in primary cells of leukemic and myeloid patients with minimum effects on normal immune cells including CD34+ cells.

Hepatoprotective activity

The aqueous extract plus isolates (carbazole alkaloids and tannin) of M. koenigii had modulating effects on liver metabolizing enzymes, reduction in lipid peroxidation and decreased cellular damage are contributing factors to the hepato-protective activity of M. koenigii[51]

Anti-acetylcholinesterase activity

Mahanimbine, a carbaxole alkaloid isolated from the petroleum ether extract of the leaves of M. koenigii possessed anti-acetylcholinestarase activity in a dose dependent manner. [52]

Antilipase activity

Dichloromethane, ethanol, and methanol extracts of the leaves of M. keonigii exhibited antilipase activity greater than 80%. From these extracts four carbazole alkaloids have been isolated viz. mahanimbin, koenimbin, koenigicine, and clausazoline-K which proved to be responsible for this activity. [53]

Antidiarrhoeal activity

Kurryam and koenine are two bioactive carbazole alkaloids isolated from n-hexane extracts of the seeds of M. koenigii. These two compounds significantly inhibit castor oil induced diarrhoea and PGE(2)-induced entropooling in rats. They were found to reduce gastrointestinal motility significantly. [54]

Antiamnesic activity

Young and aged mice have been subjected to feeds of M. koenigii leaves to determine its effects on cognitive functions, total serum cholesterol levels and brain cholinesterase activities. This diet resulted in significant improvement in memory scores of young and old mice and a significant reduction in amnesia induced by scopolamine and diazepam. The brain cholinesterase activity and total cholesterol were also reduced. The nootropic effect of the leaves is attributed to the pro-cholinergic activity and cholesterol lowering property. [55]

Inotropic activity

Ethanolic extract of fresh leaves of M. koenigii showed a dose dependent positive inotrophic effect on isolated frog heart. The responses to MKEE (62.5-1000 μg) were not affected in either way by theophylline, imidazole, propranolol and sildenafil; there was not alteration in K+ and Na+ concentration and not abolished by lignocaine. This effect was inhibited by Ca++ depletion and potentiated when Ca++ concentration was increased significantly. Verapamil was found to inhibit the response. This indicates that the ethanol extract of M. koenigii has the ability to mobilize Ca++ from extra cellular sites. [56]

Antidiabetic activity

Aqueous extract of M. koenigii leaves has been demonstrated to exhibit hypoglycaemic effect in normal and alloxan-induced diabetic rats. At the various dose levels administered, the glucose lowering effect was more pronounced in the alloxan-diabetic rats than in control rats. When compared with chlorpropamide, the glucose lowering effect of aqueous extract of M. koenigii was significantly (p < 0.05) lower at the dose levels administered in both normal and alloxan-diabetic rats. [57]

Isopropanol extract of M. koenigii leaves has been demonstrated antidiabetic activity by inhibitory action on HPA, thereby reducing the rate of starch hydrolysis leading to lowered glucose levels. [58]

Khan et al [59] attributed their hypoglycaemic activity of M. koenigii to be due to increased glycogenesis and decrease glycogenolysis and gluconeogenesis in the liver of their rat models. This was evidenced by the increased activity of glycogen synthetase and decreased activity of glycogen phosphorylase and guconeogenic enzymes.

Aqueous and methanol extract of M. koenigii showed significant reduction (P<0.05) in blood glucose level of diabetic rats as compared to diabetic control groups. Plasma insulin showed significantly high on 43rd and 58th days of treatment in aqueous and methanol extracts of M. koenigii treated groups. They postulated that this effect could be due to either stimulation of insulin synthesis and/or secretion from the beta cells of pancreatic islets of Langerhans. [60]

Ethanol extract of M. koenigii at a dose of 200 mg/kg/b.w./day for a period of 30 days significantly decreased the levels of blood glucose, glycosylated haemoglobin, urea, uric acid, and creatinine in diabetic treated group of animals. [61]

M. koenigii leaves extract has been reported to exhibit protective effect on pancreatic beta-cells by alteration of glucose level, glycosylated haemoglobin, insulin, TBARS, enzymatic and non-enzymatic antioxidants in diabetic rats. [62]

Feeding of diet containing various doses of M. koenigii leaves (5, 10, and 15 %) to normal and treated rats showed varying hypoglycaemic and anti-hyperglycemic effect. In normal rats, reduction in blood glucose was almost negligible (approximately 4% with 10 and 15% diet). In mild and moderate diabetic rats, feeding of 5, 10 and 15% diet caused a maximal reduction in blood sugar by 13.1, 16.3 and 21.4% (NS, P<0.05 and 0.005) and 3.2, 5.58, 8.21% (NS), respectively. [63]

Aqueous extract of M. koenigii leaves has been demonstrated to exhibit hypoglycaemic activity in normal and alloxan induced diabetic rabbits. A single oral administration of variable dose levels (200, 300 and 400 mg/kg) of aqueous extract led to lowering of blood glucose level in normal as well as in diabetic rabbits. [64]

The dichloromethane and ethyl acetate extracts of M. koenigii leaves significantly reduced the body weight gain, plasma total cholesterol (TC) and triglyceride (TG) levels when given orally at a dose of 300 mg/kg/day to the high fat diet (HFD) induced obese rats for 2 weeks. [65]


Acute toxicity

Methanol extract of M. koenigii (200-2000 mg/kg body weight) leaves was administered orally as single dose to male Swiss albino rats (145-163 g).  After 14 days, moderate toxicity effect was observed (Lethal Dose 50% (LD50) = 316.23 mg/kg body weight). [66]

Clinical Data

Clinical findings

M. koenigii leaves powder supplementation (12 g providing 2.5 g fibre) was carried out for a period of 1 month in 30 non-insulin dependent diabetes mellitus patients (16 males and 14 females) with average age of 59.3 (male) and 57.8 (female). Patients were provided 2 packets of 6 g powder each and consumed 6 g of powder along with lunch and 6 g along with dinner. The 12 g of powder provided 2.4 g protein, 0.4 g fat, 2.5 g crude fibre and 43 calories. M. koenigii leaves supplementation at 12 g per day providing 2.5 g fibre resulted in a significant reduction in fasting blood sugar level (from 148.9 mg/dl to 130.06 mg/dl ) and a non-significant reduction in post-prandial sugar levels (from 206.49 mg/dl to 190.84 mg/dl) at 15 day period. [66]


No documentation.

Interaction & Depletion

Interaction with drug

Close monitoring of patients on anti-diabetic drugs should be exercise for fear of developing hypoglycaemia. [63]

Interaction with other Herbs

No documentation.


No documentation.


No documentation.

Poisonous Management

No documentation.

Line drawing

No documentation.


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