Pharmacognostical studies on Calotropis procera (Ait.) R.Br.

Ashwani Kumar

Calotropis procera (Asclepiadaceae) is a wild shrub, which grows upto a height of 1-3 m and its leaves are 10-13 cm wide by 17-19 cm long. Calotropis procera commonly known as Akra is a popular medicinal plant. This plant is very drought resistant and grows throughout the Sahelian countries, notably in Burkina Faso.

Medicinal properties:

Its latex is used in leprosy, eczema, inflamation, cutaneous infections, syphilis, malarial and low hectic fevers, and as abortifacient ( Kumar and Basu, 1994). Leaves: in rheumatism, as an anti-inflmmatory and antimicrobial and Roots: as hepatoprotective agents, against colds and coughs, syphlis and elephantiasis, as an anti-inflammatory, analgesic, antimalarial and antimicrobial. Flowers: as cytostatic, arbortifacient and antimalarial, in asthama and piles and villagers in Bikaner district ingest almost all plant parts in various dietary combinations for malarial fevers and pyrexias (Sharma and Sharma, 2000).

Dried latex and chloroform extract of roots has been reported to possess anti-inflamatory activity ( Kumar and Basu, 1994). Aqueous extract of the flowers has been found to exhibit analgesic, antipyretic and anti-inflammatory activity. The alcoholic extract from different parts has been found to possess antimicrobial and spermicical activity (Kamath and Rana, 2002).

Anti-iflamatory property of the latex of Calotropis procera was studied on crrageenin and formalin induced rat raw oedema model. A single dose of the aqueous suspension of dried latex was effective to a significant level against acute inflammatory response ( Basu and Nag Chaudhri, 1991)

Anti-pest activity: mosquito control by Calotropis latex has been reported by Girdhar et al (1984), The effect of crude fractions of C. procera, ist flowers, buds and root were tested against a chloroquine sensitive strain, MRC 20 and a chloroquine resistant strain, MRC 76 of Plasmodium falciparum ( Sharma and Sharma, 1999).

Traditional uses:

Anti-diarrhoel effects of C.gigantea used traditionally in Indian system of medicine were recorded. The remarkable anti-diarrhoel effect of C. gigantea extract against castor oil-induced diarrhoel model attests to ist utility in a wide range of diarrhoel states ( Chitme et al 2004).


The plant contains several useful enzymes. A protease was purified to homogeneity from the latex of medicinal plant Calotropis procera. The enzyme hydrolyses denatured natural substances like casein, azoalbumin, and azocasein with high specific activity.

Anti-microbial activity:

It has been shown to have anti-bacterial properties against Gram positive bacteria and two gram negative bacteria.

Global use in traditional medicinal system:

The decoction of the aerial part of Calotropis procera is commonly used in Saudi Arabian traditional medicines for the treatment of variety of diseases including fever, joint pain, muscular spasm and constipation. The phytochemical studies showed the presence of alkaloids, cardiac glycosides, tannins, flavonoids, sterols and /or triterpenes. In parts of West Africa, including Nigeria and Republic of Benin, the juice from the leaves of the Sodom apple (C.procera) is used for traditional cheese-making ( Ogundiwin and Oke, 1983). Recently partially purified milk clotting enyzme has been extracted from Sodom apple leaves (Aworh and Nakai, 1986). Chemical composition and texture profile of cheese made with vegetable rennet from Calotropis procera (Sodom applie) leaves were compared with those of a direct acid cheese made with calf rennet. Relative to that made with calf rennet, cheese made with vegetable rennet was harder, less cohesive and more gummy, presumably because of differences in chemical composition and physical characteristics between the cheeses. (Aworh and Muller, 1987).

Literature cited:

Aworh and Nakai, 1986

Aworh and Muller, 1987

Chitme et al 2004).

Kumar and Basu, 1994

Ogundiwin and Oke, 1983