Coscinium fenestratum (Gartn.) Colebr.

Last updated: 17 March 2017

Scientific Name

Coscinium fenestratum (Gartn.) Colebr.


Coscinium maingayi Pierre, Coscinium miosepalum Diels, Coscinium peltatum Merr., Coscinium usitatum Pierre, Coscinium wallichianum Miers, Coscinium wightianum Miers ex Diels, Menispermum fenestratum Gaertn.[Unresolved]. [1]

Vernacular Name

Malaysia Koopur, kopah, tole [2]; kunyit-kunyit babi, abang asuh, perawan [3]
English Ceylon calumba root, false calumba, false calumba root, turmeric tree [2]
Borneo Akar badi [2]
India Alakanirani, amalam, atavimancal, cekipputalam, cemattimaram, ceyaparam, ceyokam, cuvacanturattuncuran, dadari, daruhaldi lakada, darvi, dodda maradarishna, haricandana, jhade-halade, kaliyaka, katari, mancatkucci, manjalvalli, maradarishina, nicapica, pitacandana, pasamantram, sanniyam, talapattiri, tiyacayam, urittiram, utaravi, utupati, varam, vastu, venivel, vittirikam [2]
Indonesia Akar kuning, akar kunyit, upak-upak [3]
Thailand Ham, ka-min-kreu [2]
Tibet Tsan dan ser pa, tsan dan ser po [2]
Vietnam Day mo vang, hoang dang la trang, ro mo vang, vang dang [2].

Geographical Distributions

Coscinium fenestratum has been found in southern India, Sri Lanka, Cambodia, Vietnam, Thailand (rare), Peninsular Malaysia, Sumatra, Bangka, western Java and Borneo. [3]

Botanical Description

C. fenestratum is a member of the family Menispermaceae. It is a dioecious liana that can reach up to 10 m long, with yellow wood and sap. [3]

The leaves are arranged spirally, simple, broadly ovate or ovate, rarely subpanduriform, measuring 11-33 cm x 8-23 cm, with rounded base, truncate to shallowly heart-shaped, acuminate apex and palmately 5-7-veined. The petiole is 3-16 cm long, often conspicuously swollen at both ends, abruptly bends at base and inserted up to 0.8(-2.7) cm from basal margin of leaf blade (and thus leaf often peltate). The stipules are absent. [3]

The inflorescence is spherical, with head 6-7 mm in diameter on a peduncle 10-30 mm long, arranged in raceme 5-11 cm long, supra-axillary or on older, leafless stems and with dense brown hairs. The flowers are unisexual, small and yellowish or whitish. There are 9 sepals in 3 whorls, imbricate and with dense silky hairs. The petals are absent. The male flowers are with 6 stamens, 3 outer free and 3 inner connate while the female flowers are with 6 staminodes and 3 superior, densely hairy carpels. [3]

The fruit consists of 1-3 globular drupes about 3 cm in diameter, brown to orange or yellowish and with 1-seeded drupe. [3]

The seed is nearly globular, whitish, with extremely divergent, much folded and divided cotyledons. The endosperm is present. [3]


C. fenestratum occurs in primary lowland forests, sometimes also in brushwoods, up to 200 m altitude. [3]

Chemical Constituent

C. fenestratum have been identified to contain a minor alkaloid, 12,13-dihydro-8-oxo-berberine [5,6,13,13a-tetrahydo-9,10-dimethoxydibenzo(a,g)1,3-dibenzodioxolo(5,6a)quinalizine-8-one], as well as berberine, oxyberberine, tetrahydroberberine (canadine), sitosterol and stigmasterol were isolated from C. fenestratum [4]. Rojsanga et al. had developed an optimal extraction procedure for the determination of berberine from alkaloid extracts of dried stems using 80% ethanol. The recovery of berberine was about 98% when detected and quantified by TLC-densitometric method. [5]

Plant Part Used

Wood, stem, root. [5]

Traditional Use

An infusion of the woody part is administered as a substitution for calumba root to reduce fever. It is also useful as a stomachic. [5]

In traditional medicine, the stem and roots are claimed to have been used as an antibacterial and an antipyretic. They are useful to treat dysentery, malaria, fever and ophthalmia. [5]

Preclinical Data


Hypotensive activity

A 50% ethanol extract of C. fenestratum stem extract was investigated for its hypotensive action in several anaesthesised animal models. The plant extract which was found to reduce the blood pressure of these animals however, was not modified by α and β adrenergic blockers, cholinergic and histaminergic antagonists or by ganglion blocking agents. The hypotensive effect was more prominent in spinal-transected animals. The ethanol extract of the stem of C. fenestratum inhibited the presser responses to epinephrine, norepinephrine, the nicotinic agonist, 1,1-dimethyl-4-phenylpiperazinium (DMPP) and depressor responses to acetylcholine and histamine. The ethanol extract failed to demonstrate any hypotension when administered via cannula into the lateral cerebral ventricle. The extract also did not exhibit grossly observable central nervous effects up to doses of 800 mg/kg (p.o). The oral LD50 was estimated to be 1200 mg/kg in mice. [7]

In another study, the water extract from the dried stem of C. fenestratum was assessed for hypotensive and vasorelaxant effects. The extract was obtained by boiling the dried stem of C. fenestratum in water, concentrated and freeze-dried until a yellowish-brown dried powder was obtained. Freshly prepared solutions from the dried powder were prepared for use in the experiments with an animal model. The study demonstrated that the water extract was effective in reducing blood pressure in anaesthetised normotensive rats in a dose-related manner with rapid onset and short duration. This supports the previous study by Singh et al. The water extract showed endothelium-dependent and independent vasorelaxant activity in isolated rat aortic rings precontracted with phenylephrine (1 mM) and KCl (60 mM). The vasorelaxant effect was reduced by L-N(ω)-nitro-arginine methyl ester (L-NAME) (100 mM), an inhibitor of nitric oxide synthase indicating some role of endothelium derived relaxing factors such as nitric oxide. [8]

Antioxidant activity

A study to assess the antioxidant effect of methanol extract from the stem of C. fenestratum was performed on carbon tetrachloride-intoxicated rat liver. The methanol extract was given orally to the hepatotoxic rats at a dose of 60 mg/kg body weight every day for 90 days. Lipid peroxidation in hepatotoxic rats was shown by a marked increase in the levels of thiobarbituric acid reactive substances and diene conjugates. A profound reduction in glutathione content in the liver and the decreased activities of antioxidant enzymes support the finding. On the other hand, hepatotoxic rats treated with the methanol extract retained an almost normal level of these constituents. The results demonstrated that the methanol extract from C. fenestratum was effective in fighting oxidative stress due to hepatic damage. [9]

Another study to assess the antioxidant activity of the alcoholic stem extract of C. fenestratum was investigated in streptozotocin-nicotinamide induced type 2 diabetic rats. Diabetic rats administered with alcoholic extract of C. fenestratum showed significant increase in the activity of enzymatic antioxidants, such as catalase, glutathione peroxidase, glutathione synthetase, peroxidase and superoxide dismutase and in the nonenzymatic oxidants ascorbic acid, ceruloplasmin and tocopherol. The antioxidant activity of C. fenestratum could be due to the presence of berberine and phenolic compounds. [10]

Antiplasmodial activity

In a study on Vietnamese traditional medicinal plants, 42 extracts (MeOH, MeOH-H2O, and H2O for each plant) prepared from 14 medicinal plants which were used for the treatment of malaria traditionally were investigated for in vitro antimalarial effect against the growth of the chloroquine-resistant Plasmodium falciparum strain FCR-3 and their toxicity against mouse mammary FM3A cells which served as a model host. Amongst the 14 medicinal plants, 24 extracts were found to be active against P. falciparum and the three extracts of C. fenestratum possessed strong activity, in which the MeOH extract was the strongest (EC50, 0.5 mg/mL) among all 24 active extracts. In vitro experiment demonstrated that they all possessed strong antiplasmodial activity with EC50 values of 1.3, 1.9 and 2.8 mM, respectively. [11]

Antihepatotoxic activity

Antihepatotoxic activity of methanol extract of C. fenestratum was investigated against carbon tetrachloride-induced hepatopathy in rats. The hepatotoxic rats were treated orally by intubation with the methanol extract at a dose of 60 mg/kg body weight every day for 90 days. The activity of serum marker enzymes such as AST, ALT, ALP, GGT, LDH, G-6-PD in liver were studied for their hepatotoxic effect. Other biochemical parameters studied were total protein, total lipids, triglycerides, phospholipids and cholesterol in serum, liver and kidney. The activities of all the marker enzymes showed a significant elevation in the hepatotoxic rats, however the levels were significantly recovered towards almost normal levels in hepatotoxic rats treated with the methanol extract of the plant. [12]

Antidiabetic activity

The study by Punitha et al. also investigated the antidiabetic activity of C. fenestratum in a rat model of type 2 diabetes mellitus. In this study, a group of diabetic-induced animals was administered orally with C. fenestratum alcoholic extract 250 mg/kg body weight and another group was administered with C. fenestratum alcoholic extract 500 mg/kg body weight. The enzymes involved in the carbohydrate metabolism evaluated included hexokinase, glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase (G6PD), lactate dehydrogenase (LDH), glucose-6-phosphatase (G6P) and alanine amino-transferase (ALT). Urea and creatinine levels were also estimated in these rats. The results showed that the diabetic rats treated with 500 mg/kg of the alcoholic extract of C. fenestratum exhibited better enzyme activity than those treated with 250 mg/kg dose of the alcoholic extract. Effects of alcoholic extract on glycolytic enzymes (hexokinase, G6PD, LDH) demonstrated a significant increase in their levels. On the other hand, the treated diabetic rats exhibited a significant decrease in the levels of G6P and ALT, indicating the possibility of the suppression of hepatic gluconeogenesis and glucose output from the liver. Serum urea and creatinine levels were also decreased significantly with the diabetic control. This investigation demonstrates significant antidiabetic activity of C. fenestratum. [9]

The antidiabetic activity of alcoholic stem extract of C. fenestratum was further investigated in streptozotocin (STZ)-nicotinamide induced type 2 diabetic rats. In this study, the oral glucose tolerance test and normoglycaemic studies revealed that the alcoholic extract of the stem had the capacity to lower blood glucose levels. This study suggested that the hypoglycaemic activity of C. fenestratum did not stimulate the secretion of insulin in animals treated with the plant extract. The post-prandial glucose reduction was not caused by any extra load on the pancreatic b cells and/or stimulation of glucose uptake by peripheral tissues. In addition, the C. fenestratum alcoholic extract treated rats showed a weight loss which may be due directly to the lipid lowering activity of the extract or indirectly to the influence of various lipid regulation systems. Berberine is thought to be the contributing constituent in the significant antidiabetic activity of the alcoholic extract of C. fenestratum. [13][14]

Antibacterial activity

Antibacterial activities of C. fenestratum methanol extract, water extract and berberine were investigated by using filter paper disc diffusion method against various microorganisms. Both methanol and water extracts tested positive for berberine by HPLC method. The result of this study showed that the active principle berberine was found to be active against the microorganisms tested. The activity of methanol extract and water extract was as good as the activity of berberine against Klebsiella pneumoniae only. However, the activity of methanol extract and water extract against other microorganisms was low compared to the activity of berberine which led to the conclusion that the antibacterial activity of C. fenestratum is mainly controlled by its active alkaloid berberine. [15]

Antiproliferative activity

In search of more effective anticancer drugs with high selectivity against only malignant cells and with the ability to repress tumour metastasis, various Vietnamese medicinal plants which have been used as tonics, for treatment of inflammation, cancer and other conditions were collected. Methanol, methanol-water (1:1) and water extracts were prepared and their antiproliferative activities examined against highly metastatic human HT-1080 fibrosarcoma cells, human cervix HeLa adenocarcinoma, human lung A549 adenocarcinoma, murine colon 26-L5 carcinoma, murine Lewis lung carcinoma (LLC) and murine B16-BL6 melanoma cells. Among them, methanol extract of C. fenestratum exhibited antiproliferative activity against highly metastatic human HT-1080 fibrosarcoma cells in a concentration-dependent manner with EC50 value of 11.7 mg/mL. The methanol and methanol-water extracts of C. fenestratum showed strong and selective antiproliferative activities against two kinds of lung carcinoma cells, A549 and LLC; methanol extract: EC50 against LLC cells, 1.65 mg/mL; methanol-water extract: EC50 against A549 and LLC cells, 2.88 and 2.84 mg/mL, respectively. It is interesting to note that the principle constituent of C. fenestratum, berberine was earlier reported to inhibit metastasis of LLC cells. The methanol and methanol-water extracts also showed antiproliferative activities against B16-BL6 cells. [16]

Neurotoxicity activity

A study to observe the effect of C. fenestratum stem on neurotoxicity and neurobehaviour was carried out in various brain areas of an animal model. The alcoholic extract of the C. fenestratum stem was administered orally to rats at dosages of 5, 10 and 20 mg/kg body weight, once daily for 14 days. The extracts significantly increased the body weight of rats and induced neurotoxicity in the cerebral cortex, hippocampus and striatum. However, the extracts were found to produce no acute toxicity in the experimental rats except increased licking behaviour. The plant extract did not show any anxiolytic activity, antidepression, sensory motor co-ordination impairment and ataxia. The study concluded that the application of long-term use C. fenestratum products as drugs, supplementary foods or for various medicinal purposes should be reconsidered, and humans should be very careful in order to avoid its toxicity. [17]

Subchronic and acute toxicity tests

The subchronic and acute toxicity tests were performed in rats to establish the safety of the water extract of the stem of C. fenestratum. The water extract was fairly non-toxic since the single dose of 5000 mg/kg body weight did not cause death, or any toxic signs and symptoms. In subchronic toxicity study, the repeated dose of plant extract did not cause changes of rat behaviour or motor activity. No noticeable changes in body weight and food intake were observed demonstrating that the plant water extract at the dose of 2500 mg/kg body weight did not significantly change the appetite or metabolism of treated animals. These finding were different from the previous study by Wattanathorn et al. which used alcoholic extract of the plant. The different findings indicate that the compounds which produced neurotoxicity were not extracted with water [16]. Due to this statistical difference, further studies should be done to confirm the safety of this plant when it is used over a long period of time [8].


No documentation

Clinical Data

No documentation


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Poisonous Management

No documentation

Line drawing



Figure 1: The line drawing of C. fenestratum [3]


  1. The Plant List. Ver 1.1. Coscinium fenestratum (Goetgh.) Colebr. [homepage on the Internet]. c2013. [updated 2012 Mar 23; cited 2017 Mar 17]. Available from:
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