Maror Phali (Indian screw tree) Information, Medicinal Uses and More

Helicteres isora is most commonly known as Marori, Marorphali, Marodphali, Enthani, Mriga-shinga, Kevani, Varkati, Dhiniani, Valumbirikai, Atmorha and East Indian Screw tree. In Sanskrit it is called Avartani and Mriga-shinga which literally means deer's horn.

The tree is named so because of the appearance of its pods (fruits) which are peculiarly twisted. The pods are singular-looking contorted capsule, consisting of five fibers closely twisted together in the form of a screw. It is of various lengths varying from one inch to two and a half.

Helicteres Isora UsesBy Adityamadhav83 (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

The plant possess antioxidant, hypolipidemic, antibacterial, anti-plasmid, cardiac antioxidant, anticancer, anodyne, hepatoprotective, anti-diarrheal activity.

The bark and fruits are used traditionally in treatment of diarrhea, worm infestation, offensive sores inside the ears, colic, flatulence and chronic dysentery. The root bark is prescribed in diabetes. It acts in diabetes by insulin-sensitizing activity.

General Information

  • Part(s) used for medicinal purpose: Stembark, Root juice, Fruit, Seed
  • Plant type / Growth Habit: Sub-deciduous shrub
  • Duration: Perennial
  • Distribution: Throughout Central and Western India, especially in Rajasthan, Punjab, Bihar, Bengal, Andaman. Also found in Sri Lanka, Java, and northern Australia.
  • Habitat: Dry forests
  • Flowering: April to December
  • Fruiting: October to June

Description of plant:

Marorphali / Marorfali, is a tall shrub or small tree, found throughout Central and western India. The stem is 2-12.5 cm in diameter and the plant reach upto height of 5-10 feet.

Bark of tree us grey in colour and young parts are covered with stellate hairs.

Leaves are simple, alternate, petioled and acute. They are palmately nerved or obliquely cordate. The margins are serrated.

Peduncles are many-flowered and terminating. Flowers are orange-red in colour and turn pale blue later. The petals are long.

The fruit consists of five slender angular carpels, twisted like a corkscrew, and together forming a cone about 1.5 to 2 inches long. The carpels are greenish brown in colour. Single row of dark brown angular seeds are present inside the fruit. The internal surface is of a light greenish hue and highly polished. The taste mucilaginous.

The root bark is of a dark-brown colour and is very thickly studded with small round warts.

Scientific Classification

The botanical name of Maror Phali is Helicteres isora. It belongs to plant family Sterculiaceae.

The word Helicteres is derived from, the Greek word helikteres meaning anything twisted / in spiral. Isora is a Japanese name for boys meaning God of the seashore. Helicteres is a large genus of tropical trees and shrubs with axillary flowers and fruits consisting of five twisted carpels.

Below is given taxonomical classification of plant.

  • Kingdom: Plantae
  • Subkingdom: Tracheobionta
  • Division: Magnoliophyta
  • Class: Magnoliopsida
  • Subclass: Rosidae
  • Order: Malvales
  • Family: Sterculiaceae - large family of plants of order Malvales
  • Subfamily: Helicteroideae
  • Genus: Helicteres - genus of shrubs and small trees of tropical America and Asia having cylindrical fruits spirally twisted around one another
  • Species: isora

Vernacular names / Synonyms

  1. Scientific name: Helicteres isora
  2. Ayurvedic: Aavartani, Aavartphalaa, Aavartaki, Murva, Avartani, Avartaphala
  3. Unani: Marorphali, Maroor phalli
  4. Siddha: Valamburi, Valambiri
  5. English: East Indian Screw Tree, Indian screw tree
  6. Hindi: Marori, Marorphali, Mrigashinga, Marodshingi, Gomathi, Enthani
  7. Bengali: Atmora, Antmora
  8. Gujrati: Mriga Shinga, Maradashingh, Maradashinghi
  9. Marathi: Kevani, Varkati, Dhamni, Kewad, Muradsheng
  10. Madhya Pradesh: Anthi
  11. Payyannur: Kayyula
  12. Kannada: Pedamuri
  13. Malayalam: Ishwarmuri
  14. Oriya: Murmuriya
  15. Tamil: Valumbirikai, Balampari
  16. Telugu: Guvadarra
  17. Persia: Kisht-bar-kisht, Pechak
  18. Tehran: Bahman-i-pich, Pachman-i-puh

Unani Properties

In Unani medicine, it is described as hot and dry in the third degree.

Mulattiff (Demulcent): Break the matter into pieces and make humor more liquid by their mild hotness.

Ayurvedic Properties and Action

In Ayurveda, Marorphali is known as Avartaki or Avartani. It cures aggravated kapha and pitta both from upper and lower parts of the body. It also cures Kushtha (obstinate skin diseases including leprosy).

Marorphali is astringent in taste (Rasa), pungent after digestion (Vipaka), and is cool in effect (Virya).

  • Rasa (taste on tongue): Kashaya (Astringent)
  • Guna (Pharmacological Action): Laghu (Light), Ruksha (Dry)
  • Virya (Action): Shita (Cooling)
  • Vipaka (transformed state after digestion): Katu (Pungent)

It is a Katu Vipak herb. Vipak refers to post-digestive (effect after digestion / cooking of Rasa) effect of tastes after its mixing with digestive juices. It is the long term effect of herb. Katu Vipak herbs, increases dryness in body. Such foods reduce fertility and Kapha. Avartani is indicated in Atisar (diarrhoea), Shula (colic) and Krimi (intestinal parasites).

Constituents of Helicteres isora

The plant contains a 4-quinolone alkaloid,malatyamine, an antidiarrhoeal principle. Roots contain cytotoxic principles—cucurbitacin B and iso-cucurbitacin B.

  • Root: Cucurbitacin b, isocucurbitacin b β-sitosterol, betulic acid, oleanolic acid, daucosterol, isorin, 3 β27diacetoxylup20(29)en-28-oic methyl ester Catechol, Gallic acid
  • Bark/stem: β-sitosterol; 10-methyl, 4-isopropenyl and dodecahydro- ethanophenanthrene
  • Fruits: Rosmarinic acid and their derivatives; isoscutellarein and their derivatives; D-glucopyranosyl isorinic acid with rosmarinic acid; Helisterculins A and B, Helisorin Gallic acid, Caffeic acid, vanillin, p-Coumaric acid

Important Medicinal Properties

Various parts of Helicteres isora possess important medicinal properties. The understanding of properties helps to better utilize the herb. These also indicate the conditions in which we should avoid its internal use. For example, the roots and stem bark are, anti-galactagogue which means an agent for suppressing lactation. Therefore it should not be used during breastfeeding.

Below is given medicinal properties along with meaning.

Pods & Bark

  • Anti-dysenteric: Relieving or preventing dysentery.
  • Antidiarrheal: Relieving or preventing diarrhea.
  • Astringents: Constrict tissues; styptic.
  • Anti-bilious: Serving to prevent or cure biliousness or excess secretion of bile.
  • Antioxidant: Neutralize the oxidant effect of free radicals and other substances.
  • Anthelmintic: Antiparasitic, expel Parasitic worms (helminths) and other internal parasites from the body.
  • Demulcent: Relieving inflammation or irritation.

Root & Stembark

  • Anti-diabetic: Manages diabetes.
  • Anti-hyperglycemic: Counteracting high levels of glucose in the blood.
  • Astringents: Constrict tissues; styptic.
  • Antigalactagogue: Prevents breast milk.
  • Anodyne: Relieves pain without causing loss of consciousness.
  • Demulcent: Relieving inflammation or irritation.
  • Expectorant: Promotes the secretion of sputum by the air passages, used to treat coughs.
  • Hepatoprotective: Prevent damage to the liver.
  • Hypolipidemic: Lowers lipid level in blood.

Medicinal Uses of Helicteres isora (Marorphali)

According to the doctrine of signatures, the shape, appearance of plant part itself suggests its use. The pods of Maror phali are twisted like intestine and it is mainly used in treatment of intestinal complaints such as colic, flatulence diarrhea, and dysentery. Other important medicinal use include in diabetes and locally in otorrhoea (discharge from ear).

The fruit and bark of Marorphali are astringent in gripes, anti-diarrheal and anthelmintic. They are used most commonly in treatment of intestinal complaints such as griping in the bowels and flatulence, diarrhea, dysentery and worm infestation.

In one clinical study, 37 patients of intestinal amoebiasis were treated with a combination of Bekh-e-Madaar (root-bark of Calotropis procera 125 mg) + Marorphali (1000 mg), thrice daily for one month. The clinical efficacy was found close to that of Metronidazole.

The root juice is given in diabetes, empyema, snakebite, stomach trouble.

Below is given some of the traditional therapeutic uses of vicious parts of Maror Phali.

As an ear drop, Discharge from ear

Boil the crushed pods in castor oil and use as earn drop.

Asthma, Cough

Drink decoction of bark.

Colic pain

Roots of tree are chewed in dose of 5 grams per day for three days.

Cut and wounds

Fresh root paste with turmeric paste is applied externally.

Dysentery, stomach ache

  1. The fruit paste or powder is taken in dose of 5 grams twice a day for three days.
  2. Bark boiled with water taken orally thrice per day.
  3. Seed powder, 5 g boiled in water is taken twice a day.


  1. One fresh fruit taken orally.
  2. Fresh root juice taken twice a day.

Gastrointestinal problems

Fruit powder 5 g is taken thrice daily with water.


  1. The root or bark paste is applied topically for scabies.
  2. The Paste is applied externally twice per day till cure on infection area of scabies.

Skin infections

Fresh leaf paste applied thrice a day.


  1. Fresh leaf paste applied on affected area.
  2. Weakness in new born baby
  3. Fruit paste mixed with mustard oil and turmeric is used for massaging in new born baby to cure profound weakness.

Dosage of Helicteres isora

  • The recommended dose of Helicteres isora decoction is 50-100 ml.
  • The powder of fruit, bark is taken in dose of 3-6 grams.
  • Contraindications, Interactions, Side-effects and Warnings Helicteres isora
  • There are no known side-effects.
  • Avoid use in pregnancy and breast feeding.
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