Curculigo orchioides (Musali)-An Endangered Ayurveda Rasayan and Aphrodisiac

Curculigo orchioides plant also known as musali
Curculigo orchioides plant also known as musali

Curculigo orchioides Gaertn. of Amaryllidaceae is known as Golden eye grass or Black Musale in English, Kalimusli in Hindi. This is often called as Black gold because of its numerous medicinal values. Curciligo orchioides Geartn. is also known as musali or talamuli in Ayurveda and nilapani in siddha system of medicine. It is an endangered ayurveda rasayan and aphrodisiac herb which holds a special position as a potent adaptogen and aphrodisiac in Ayurvedic system of medicine. It is an important ingredient of many Ayurvedic preparations and is considered to have aphrodisiac, immunostimulant, hepatoprotective, antioxidant, anticancer and antidiabetic activities.


Sanskrit : Bhumitila
Assamese : Talmuli, Tailmuli
Bengali : Talmalu, Tallur
English : —
Gujrati : Kalirnusali
Hindi : Syahmusali, Kalimusli
Kannada : Neltal, Neltathigodde, Nelatale, Nelatelegadde
Kashmiri : —
Malayalam : Nilappenea
Marathi : Kali musali, Bhuimaddi
Oriya : Talamuli
Punjabi : Syah musali, Musali safed,
Telugu : Nel tadigadda
Unani :Musli Siyaah.
Siddha/Tamil : Nilappanan kizhangu.
Urdu : Musali Siyah, Kali Musali

Distribution and Habitat:

C. orchioidedes is an abundantly found in the sub-tropical Himalayas from kumaon eastwards to khasia hill, Manipur, bihar, chota Nagpur, west Bengal and western ghats. This plant is native to Nepal and India mostly in sub-tropical Himalayan areas. It is also distributed in Sri Lanka, Japan, Malaysia and Australia.

Plant Description:

Curculigo orchioides root
Curculigo orchioides root

Curculigo orchioides is a small herbaceous plant with an elongated tuberous rootstock and lateral roots; Root stock elongate, 5-25 cm, vertical; Leaves (5-20 x 0.8-1.5 cm), very much variable, narrowly linear to lanceolate, acute, plicate or flat, crowded on the short stem with sheathing leaf bases; Petiole short to 3 cm, often absent; Flowers throughout the year, light yellow, bisexual, sessile, regular, 1.2 cm. Perianth six lobed, lobes yellow (0.6-1 x 0.2-0.3 cm), stamens-6, filaments 2mm, filiform, anthers 2 mm, ovary 3 celled, oblong to 4 mm. Ovules numerous per cell, style 2 mm, stigma-3, lobes elongate; Fruit oblong, 1.5-2 cm long 8 mm broad; Seeds 8, globose, 1-2 mm, black, beaked, deeply grooved in wavy lines.


Rasa : Madhura, Tikta
Guna : Guru, Picchila
Virya : Usna
Vipaka : Madhura
Karma : Sramahara, Dahahara, Pittahara, Vrishya, Brimhana, Rasayana, Pusthiprada, Balaprada

IMPORTANT FORMULATIONS – Gandharvahastadi Kvatha Churna, Candanadi Churna.


Hepatoprotective Activity:

Curculigo orchioides has been used in various hepatic disorders since ancient times. Due to its pittahara property, it alleviates pitta. So, this is found to be useful in various hepatic disorder. Rao et al suggested the anti-inflammatory and hepatoprotective activities of C. orchioides. Rao et al also showed a hepatoprotective activity against rifampicin-induced hepatotoxicities. This also inhibitory effect of the root on hepatitis virus B replication.

Immunomodulatory Activity:

Due to the rasayan property of musali, this has been used as an immunomodulatory agent. The methanol extract of Curculigo orchioides, when studied on humoral and cell-mediated immunity in normal, as well as cyclophosphamide-induced immunosuppressed mice, produced an increase in humoral antibody titre, delayed-type hypersensitivity and levels of white blood cells in a dose-dependent manner. (Bafna et al, 2006). In traditional Chinese medicine, dried rhizome, containing curculigoside is used as a tonic for its immunological and protective property.

Aphrodisiac Activity:

Musali has been used as an aphrodisiac. This is also one of the main ingredient in for formulation of aphrodisiac drugs in ayurveda. This is used for the treatment of erectile dysfunction, oligospermia, premature ejaculation, loss of libido, infertility and various other sexual problems in ayurveda. Various studies conducted on Curculigo orchioides revealed that it increases the spermatogenesis.( Chauhan NS and Dixit VK, 2008)

Antibacterial activity:

The root oil of C. orchioides showed significant antimicrobial activity against various bacteria strains such as Bacillus anthracis, B. suhtilis, Salmonella pullorum, S. newport, and Staph. Aureus and fungi stains such as Fusarium monili forme, F. solani, Aspergillus flavus and Cladosporium.( Jaiswal S, Batra A, Mehta BK, 1984)

Antidiabetic Activity:

Various study conducted for the study of diabetic plants showed that Curculigo orchioides showed remarked anti-hyperglycaemic property. The ethanolic and aqueous extract of the herb exhibited significant hypoglycaemic effect in all three models when compared to control. The activity was comparable to that of effect produced by standard antidiabetic agent, glymeperide.
Beside the above use, this herb is used as nervine tonic, adaptogenic, sedative, anticonvulsive, anti-inflammatory and diuretic. It improves complexion and is useful in general debility, deafness, cough, asthma, piles, diarrhoea, gonorrhoea, skin diseases, impotence, jaundice and urinary disorders. It is used in the ayurveda for the treatment of diseases like sprue, piles, blood related disorders, aphrodisiac, and rejuvenator.

DOSE – 3-6 gm of the drug in powder form. (API)


1. Department of Ayush, Ayurveda Pharmacoepia of India.
2. C.P. Khare, Indian Medicinal Plants, An illustrated dictionary,2007
3. Joy PP, Thomas J , Samuel M, Skaria BP. Curculigo orchioideds: A plant for health care. Indian J. Areca nut, Spices & Med Plants 2004; 6(4):131-134.
4. Raghunathan S, Mitra R. Pharmacognosy of Indigenous drugs, Vol.I, New Delhi, 1982.
5. Rao KS, Mishra SH. Studies on Curculigo orchioides Gaertn. for anti-inflammatory and hepatoprotective activities. Indian Drugs. 1996a; 33(1): 20-25.
6. Rao KS, Mishra SH. Effect of rhizomcs of Curculigo orchioides Gaertn. on drug induced hepatoxicity. Indian Drugs. 1996b; 33(9): 458-461.
7. Rao KS, Mishra SH. Antihepatotoxic principles from the rhizomes of Curculigo orchioides Gaertn. Indian Drugs. 1997a; 34(2): 68-71.
8. Fan Tao, Fu Xi Xian, Zhang Guo Qing. The inhibitory effect of some Chinese herbs on hepatitis B virus replication in vitro and its mechanism (in Chinese). Chinese Journal of Experimental and Clinical Virology, (1996),10, 27–30.
9. Bafna AR, Mishra SH. Immunostimulatory effect of methanol extract of Curculigo orchioides on immunos uppressed mice. J Ethnopharmacol. 2006; 104 (1-2):1-4.
10. Chauhan NS, [)ixit VK. Spermatogenesis activity of rhizomes of Curculigo orchioides Gaertn on male rats. Intl Appi Res Nat Prod. 2008; 1(2): 26-31.
11. Chauhan NS, Rao CV, l)ixit VK. Effect of Curculigo orchioides rhizomes on sexual behaviour of male rats. Fitoterapia. 2007; 78(7-8): 530-534.
12. Jaiswal S, Batra A, Mehta BK. The antimicrobial efficiency of root oil against human pathogenic bacteria and phytopathogenic fungi. J Phytopathol. 1984; 109 (1): 90-93.
13. Chauhan NS, Dixit VK. Antihyperglycemic activity of the ethanolic extract of Curculigo orchioides Gacrtn. Pharmacog Mag. 2007; 3(12): 236-239.
14. Madhavan V. Joshi R, Murali A, Yoganarasimhan SN. Antidiabetic activity of Curculigo orchioides root tuber. Pharm Blot. 2007; 45(1): 18-21.