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Citrullus colocynthis, commonly known as the colocynth, bitter apple, bitter cucumber, is a viny plant native to the Mediterranean Basin and Asia, Nubia, and Trieste. It is classified as Citrullus colocynthis. Citrullus colocynthis is a medicinal plant belonging to family Cucurbitaceae. It is wide spread annual uncultivated plant, procumbent herb having small flowers with yellow color. The fruit is very bitter.

Listing Details

Botanical Names
Citrullus colocynthis
Indian Names
Hindi : Makkal, Badi indrayan Sanskrit : Indravalli Bengali : Rakhal Sasa Mul Gujarati : Indravaran Hindi : Indrayan Malayalam : Valiya Kattuvellari, Valiya pekkummatti
Chemical Constituents
Preliminary phytochemical screening of the plant showed the presence of large amounts of phenolics and flavanoids. Subsequent quantification showed the presence of phenolics and flavonoids calculated as catechin equivalents. Its seed nutty-flavored, and rich in fat and protein, is eaten whole or used as an oilseed. The oil content of the seeds is 17-19% consisting of 67-73% linoleic acid, 10-16% oleic acid, 5-8% stearic acid, and 9-12% palmitic acid. The main chemical constituents of C. colocynthis reported in the literature are docosan-1-ol acetate, 0, 13-dimethyl-pentadec-13-en-1-al, 11, 14-dimethyl hexadecane, 14-ol 2-one, 10, 14- dimethyl hexadecane 14, ol, 2-one, linoleic acid, oleic acid, carbohydrate, amino acid, organic acid, lipid, sterols and phenols.
Pesticide Limits
A limit for pesticide is one of the major issues in standardization of medicinal plants and products in view of the worldwide widespread use of pesticides in cultivated plants. The presence of pesticides in extracts increase the health risk by many folds. The pesticides can be extremely irritant on skin as well as in the internal organs hence it is essential to monitor its concentration as a part of GMP. Various analytical methods for the quantitative determination of pesticides by gas chromatography coupled with mass-spectrophotometer are in use. Konark Research Foundation (KRF), a NABL certified lab is well equipped with the latest technology and instruments and monitors the pesticide limit as part of its GMP.
Chromatographic Profile
From the pharmacopoeial perspective, a better quality control of raw material can be achieved by specifying quantitative test procedure for the determination of the range or a minimum content of the active ingredient or marker substances. A chromatographic finger profile represents qualitative/ quantitative determination of various components present in a complex plant extract, irrespective whether or not their exact identity is known. Thin layer chromatographic technique is the simplest and least expensive method that provides plenty of information on the composition of raw herbs and its preparation. For quantitative analysis of active ingredients or marker substances with simultaneous separation and detection High Pressure liquid chromatography is the best technique. We use the latest model of HPLC for all its analysis.
Limits of Impurities
A test requirement for foreign organic matter would ensure the extent of contamination of extraneous matters such as filth and other parts of botanicals not covered by the definition of the herbal drug. Since sand and soil are predictable contaminants of botanicals, test requirements for ‘total ash’, water soluble ash’, ‘acid soluble ash’, residue on ignition and sulphated ash would be expected to limit such contaminants. Test requirement for heavy metals in botanical raw material are probably more relevant for parts of plants growing under ground than for the aerial parts of the plant. The presence of high levels of minerals interacts with the final product there by affecting its keeping quality.
Microbial Limits
If the raw herbs are to be used directly without boiling in water prior to consumption, restrictive limits on microbial contaminants are required for pathogens such as Salmonella sp. Enterobacter and E. coli which are causative agent for various gastrointestinal diseases. A lower level of yeasts and molds and a limit on total aerobes are considered appropriate in plant material for topical use. The presence of aflatoxins detected by chemical means is generally independent of the number of viable molds that are detected using microbiological methods. Aflatoxins in microgram quantity are capable of giving serious hypersensitivity reactions which can be extremely harmful to human health
Citrullus colocynthis fruit, which is lemon-sized, yellowish, green-mottled, spongy, and extremely bitter, is a powerful hepatic stimulant and hydragogue cathartic. It is used as a strong laxative. In overdoses, the fruit can cause violent, sharp pains in the bowels, with dangerous inflammation. In moderate doses it is hydrogogue, cathartic and diuretic; in large doses emetic and gastro-intestinal irritant; in small doses it is expectorant and alterative. Physicians use this drug extensively as a drastic purgative in ascites and jaundice and in various uterine conditions, especially in amenorrhea. Colocynth in the form of the solid extract enters in to many of the purgative pills of modern pharmacy. Infusions of Citrullus colocynthis fruits are traditionally used as antidiabetic medication in Mediterranean countries. The insulin secretory effects of these different extracts were evaluated in vitro in the isolated rat pancreas and isolated rat islets in the presence of 8.3 mM glucose. In conclusion, our results show that different Citrullus colocynthis seed extracts have an insulinotropic effect which could at least partially account for the antidiabetic activities of these fruits.
Health Benefits
Citrullus colocynthis is a medicinal plant traditionally used as an abortifacient and to treat constipation, oedema, bacterial infections, cancer and diabetes. This plant is used as anticancer agent in many drugs. It is useful in biliousness, fever, intestinal parasites, constipation, hepatic and abdominal, visceral and cerebral congestions, dropsy, etc. Juice of the fruit mixed with sugar is a house-hold remedy in dropsy. Root is useful in jaundice. Root is given in abdominal enlargements and in coughs and asthmatics attacks of children. For intestinal inflammation, tumors etc. the powder of this root is given. In many traditional plants such as the Citrullus colocynthis are used as anti-diabetic remedies. Oral administration of the plant extract reduced the plasma level of AST and LDH significantly. However, the plant extract failed to reduce the increased blood level of GGT and ALP in diabetic rats. Methanolic fruit extract of C. colocynthis was screened to evaluate its free-radical scavenging effect. The good antioxidant and free radical scavenging ability of the fruit extract was observed.
Research References
1. USMAN MEMON, ABDUL HAKEEM BROHI, SYED W. A., IQBAL A. AND HUSAN B. ANTIBACTERIAL SCREENING OF CITRULLUS COLOCYNTHIS Pakistan Journal of Pharmaceutical Sciences 2003, 16(1):1-6 2. Dallak M. and Bin-Jaliah I. NTIOXIDANT ACTIVITY OF CITRULLUS COLOCYNTHIS PULP EXTRACT IN THE RBC’S OF ALLOXAN-INDUCED DIABETIC RATS Pak J Physiol 2010;6(1) 3. Atef E. A. and Hatem K. A. EFFECT OF CITRULLUS COLOCYNTHIS IN AMELIORATE THE OXIDATIVE STRESS AND NEPHROPATHY IN DIABETIC EXPERIMENTAL RATS International Journal of Pharmaceutical Studies and Research E-ISSN 2229-4619 4. Sultan A., Farman U. K., Iqbal H., Murad A. K. and Ihsan U. K. Evaluation of Chemical Analysis Profile of Citrullus colocynthis Growing in Southern Areas of Khyber Pukhtunkhwa, Pakistan. World Applied Sciences Journal, 2010 10(4):402-405 5. Oresanya M. O., Ebucchi O. A. T., Aitezetmuller K. and Koleosho O. A. Extraction and Characterisation of Citrullus colocynthis seed oil. Nig. J. Nat. Prod. And Med. 2000, 4:76-78 6. ABBAS D., SIMON G., ALI R. K., HOSSEIN N., MASOUD M., LUTFUN N. and SATYAJIT D. S. FLAVONE C-GLYCOSIDES AND CUCURBITACIN GLYCOSIDES FROM CITRULLUS COLOCYNTHIS DARU 2006, 14(3):109-115 7. SUNIL K., DINESH K., MANJUSHA., KAMAL S., NIDHAN S. and BHOODEV V. Antioxidant and free radical scavenging potential of Citrullus colocynthis (L.) Schrad. methanolic fruit extract Acta Pharm. 2008, 58:215–220