Marsdenia tenacissima (Murva) Information, Uses and More

Marsdenia tenacissima is a medicinal plant and commonly known as Murva or Moorva. It is a perennial climber, bearing green flowers and found in tropical hilly tracts of peninsular India and Vindhya ranges as well as lower Himalayan tracts. This plant prefers poor soil. Murva is found growing in tropical and subtropical dry and moist deciduous forests having annual rainfall between 1000 mm and 1500 mm. It grows in moist places in nature and is a shade-loving plant.

The roots of Murva plant are used as single drug and also in compound formulations of Ayurveda for treating of fever, polyuria, dryness of mouth, worm infestations, itching, bleeding piles, bleeding disorders and excessive thirst. It belongs to Aragwadhadi group of herbs, which are especially used for chronic obstinate urinary disorders, diseases of skin, vomiting etc. It is detoxifies blood and gives relief in skin diseases. It has purgative action.

Marsdenia tenacissima (Roxb.) Moon. is accepted source of Murva. Murva is one of the most controversial drugs in Ayurveda with more than 7 plant species from different families being used as the source in different parts of the country.

Lannea coromandelica and Maerua arenaria are also referred as Murva. Chonemorpha fragrans (macrophylla) is used as Murva in Kerala, Sansevieria roxburghiana in Tamil Nadu, Clematis triloba in Gujrat and Maharashtra and Helicteres isora in Punjab and Marsdenia volubilis in Southern states.

The roots of this medicinal herb are wrongly supplied as Trivrit / White Turpeth (Safed Nishoth) in Northern India because the accepted botanical source of Turpeth (Nishoth) is Operculina turpethum (Linn.) Silva Manso synonym Ipomoea turpethum R. Br.

General Information

  1. Plant Description: Marsdenia tenacissima is a large, extensive twining shrub with very stout, bluntly angular, densely velvety and hairy branches. Stem and branches are slightly stout and densely tomentose.
  2. Leaves are simple, opposite, petiolate, very large, 15—17.5 cm long and nearly as wide, deeply cordate with rounded lobes at base, shortly, acuminate, acute, softly velvety on both sides or nearly glabrous above, petioles 7.5 cm long, softly hairy.
  3. Flowers are greenish yellow, regular, bisexual, numerous in large, paniculate, axillary cymes, pedicels long and hairy. Sepals 5 almost distinct, oblong, hairy. Petals 5, fused into a sub-campanulate corolla, velvety outside, lobes as long as the tube, oblong, obtuse spreading, contorted. Stamens 5, connate, anthers with inflexed lips, pollen masses one in each chamber, stalked, oblong, erect. Corona staminal, of 5, flat, erect scales, adnate to the back of the anthers.
  4. Ovary is superior, of 2 distinct carpels, stigma large, convex. Fruit-follicles 15 cm long, tapering to a point, smooth, fusiform.
  5. Fruit a follicles of 2, cylindric, up to 8 cm long pubescent.
  6. Roots are cylindrical, externally yellow to buff colored with dark brown patches on the cork. There are prominent longitudinal ridges and furrows and transverse cracks present. The bark easily get separated from wood. The roots taste slightly bitter.
  7. Part(s) used for medicinal purpose: Dried roots, whole plant
  8. Plant type / Growth Habit: twining shrub
  9. Duration: Perennial
  10. Distribution: Throughout India, from Kumaun to Asaam upto altitude of 1500 meters, Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Orissa, Southern states, Deccan peninsula. Also found in Bangladesh (Chittagong, Bandarban, Rangamati and Tangail districts), Sri Lanka, Myanmar, China, Nepal and Thailand
  11. Habitat: Scrub jungles of rain forests, shady-moist places in Sandy-loam soil
  12. Flowering and fruiting: June to December
  13. Propagation: Propagation is done by stem and root cuttings.

Vernacular names / Synonyms

  • Scientific name: Marsdenia tenacissima (Roxb.) Moon
  • Sanskrit/Ayurvedic: Madhusrava, Madhurasa, Devi, Piluparni, Devashreni, Snigdhaparni, Prithakparni, Morata, Piluparnika
  • Assam: Murha
  • Bengali: Chitti, Jitti, Siti
  • Gujarat: Moravel
  • Hindi: Murva, Jartor, Safed Nishoth, Chinhaur
  • Kannada: Koratige Hambu, Kallu Shambu, Koratige, Halukaratige, Kadaluhaleballi
  • Malayalam: Perumkurumba
  • Marathi: Morvel
  • Oriya: Murva, Murga
  • Tamil: Perunkurinjan
  • Telugu: Chagaveru
  • Urdu: Turbud Safed
  • Siddha: Perunkurinjan
  • Unani: Moorwa
  • Folk: Maruaa-bel
  • English: White Nishoth and Rajmahal Hemp
  • Sinhalese: Muruva-dul
  • Marma: Sakmaburo, Townoy
  • Tripura: Duabotoi
  • Khumi: Ayukaethui
  • Trade name: Murva

Scientific Classification

The botanical name of Murva is Marsdenia tenacissima. It belongs to plant family Asclepiadaceae. Below is given taxonomical classification of plant.

  • Kingdom: Plantae – Plants
  • Subkingdom: Tracheobionta – Vascular plants
  • Superdivision: Spermatophyta – Seed plants
  • Division: Magnoliophyta – Flowering plants
  • Class: Magnoliopsida – Dicotyledons
  • Subclass: Asteridae
  • Order: Gentianales
  • Family: Asclepiadaceae – Milkweed family
  • Genus: Marsdenia R. Br. – marsdenia P
  • Species: Marsdenia tenacissima


Asclepias tenacissima Roxb.

Constituents of Marsdenia tenacissima

The root and seed are rich in pregnane glycosides of z-deoxysugars, which on hydrolysis gave genins and sugars including cissogenin, tenasogenin, tenacissigenin, iso-drevogenin P, drevogenin Q, D-cymarose, asclepobiose, D-canarose, 3-0methyl- 6-deoxy-D-allose, iz-alpha-tz-betamarsdenin, beta-O-glucosyl-L-thevetose, cinnamic and acetic acids. Stems yielded five more glycosides named tenacissoides A-E.

The bark of the young shoots yields a very strong, silky fibre and a milky juice containing caoutchouc. The fine silky fibers are used for making bow strings and ropes.

The latex (the coagulated milky sap) obtained from the stem can be used like rubber.

Important Medicinal Properties

Marsdenia tenacissima is rich in medicinal properties. The understanding of these properties will help us to better utilize this herb. Below is given medicinal properties along with the meaning.

  1. Antiscorbutic: Curing or preventing scurvy.
  2. Antioxidant: Neutralize the oxidant effect of free radicals and other substances.
  3. Antispasmodic: Used to relieve spasm of involuntary muscle.
  4. Anthelmintic: Antiparasitic, expel Parasitic worms (helminths) and other internal parasites from the body.
  5. Antibacterial: Active against bacteria.
  6. Anti-obesity: Reducing or controlling obesity.
  7. Mild CNS depressant: depression of the central nervous system that can result in decreased rate of breathing, decreased heart rate, and loss of consciousness.
  8. Depurative: Purifying agent.
  9. Laxative: Tending to stimulate or facilitate evacuation of the bowels.

Ayurvedic Properties and Action of Murva Roots

Murva is bitter, sweet in taste (Rasa), sweet after digestion (Vipaka), and is hot in effect (Virya).

The roots are available in cut pieces of varying length and 0.5-3 cm thick. They are ground to make powder. This medicinal herb is known as Madhusravi in Sanskrit as it possess milky juice or latex.

  • Rasa (taste on tongue): Madhura (Sweet), Tikta (Bitter)
  • Guna (Pharmacological Action): Guru (Heavy), Sara
  • Virya (Action): Ushna (Heating)
  • Vipaka (transformed state after digestion): Madhura (Sweet)

Karma/ Action

  • Rakshoghna: Anti-bacterial
  • Kaphahara: Pacifies Kapha Dosha
  • Pittahara: Pacifies Pitta Dosha
  • Vatahara: Pacifies Vata Dosha
  • Vishaghna: Poison-destroying
  • Trishgna: Alleviates thirst

In Ayurveda, it is used in treatment of variety of diseases such as:

  1. Fever / Jwar
  2. Obesity / Medoroga
  3. Urinary disorders, polyuria / Meha
  4. Intestinal parasites / Krimi Roga
  5. Heart diseases / Hridya Roga
  6. Itching / Kandu
  7. Piles / Arsha
  8. Bleeding disorders, abnormal bleeding from organs, hemorrhagic diseases / Raktpitta
  9. Excessive thirst / Trishna

Important Formulations

  1. Aragvadhadi Kvatha Churna
  2. Patoladi Kvatha Churna
  3. Prameha Mihira Tail
  4. Sudarshana Churna

Medicinal Uses of Marsdenia tenacissima (Murva)

  1. The decoction of the leaves is given for flatulence and as a remedy for gonorrhea.
  2. The dried flowers and leaves of are used internally for cough, vomiting, fever and as an appetizer.
  3. The paste is applied externally over major burns.
  4. It is used as ingredient in preparation of medicated oil which is applied on skin diseases, fractures, convulsions, hemiplegia, facial paralysis and cephalalgia.
  5. For fungal infections of skin, the sap obtained by breaking the leaf is applied externally.
  6. This plant is also used in the treatment of paralysis.

Dosage of Marsdenia tenacissima

  1. The recommended dose of roots is 2-5 grams powder.
  2. The decoction can be prepared from 10-20 grams of roots. The recommended dose of decoction is 50-100ml.
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