Pharmacological basis for the medicinal use of Carissa carandas in constipation and diarrhea

Document Type



Biological and Biomedical Sciences


Ethnopharmacological relevance Carissa carandas Linn. commonly known as “Karaunda” (Apocynaceae) is a popular medicinal herb widely distributed in different parts of Pakistan. In addition to other medicinal uses, Carissa carandas is popular in indigenous system of medicine for its medicinal use in gut motility disorders like, constipation and diarrhea.

Objective This study was planned to provide pharmacological basis to the medicinal use of Carissa carandas in constipation and diarrhea.

Materials and methods The crude extract of the leaves of Carissa carandas (Cc.Cr) was prepared in methanol and its fractionation was carried out with ethylacetate, petroleum ether and n-butanol. In-vivo studies were conducted on mice, while isolated rabbit jejunum and guinea-pig ileum preparations were used for the in-vitro experiments. The spasmogenic and spasmolytic responses of gut tissues were recorded using isotonic transducers coupled with PowerLab data acquisition system.

Results The HPLC fingerprints of Cc.Cr, its petroleum (Cc.Pef), ethylacetate (Cc.Eaf) and n-butanol (Cc.Baf) fractions showed the presence of oleanolic acid, ursolic acid, stigmasterol and β-sitosterol. Oral administration of Cc.Cr to mice increased fecal output at lower doses (30 and 50 mg/kg), while it showed protection against castor oil-induced diarrhea at higher doses (300 and 600 mg/kg). In isolated guinea-pig ileum and rabbit jejunum, Cc.Cr and Cc.Baf exhibited stimulatory effect at 0.003–3 mg/ml, which was partially sensitive to atropine or pyrillamine or partially/fully sensitive to atropine+pyrillamine, followed by relaxation at higher tested concentrations, being more potent in rabbit tissues. The ethylacetate fraction (0.1–5 mg/ml) exhibited fully atropine-sensitive contractions in both guinea-pig and rabbit tissues, being more potent in guinea-pig while more efficacious in rabbit tissues. However, the petroleum fraction (0.003–1.0 mg/ml) showed only spasmolytic activity in spontaneously contracting rabbit tissues, similar to nifedipine. In guinea-tissue, Cc.Pef did not cause any stimulant effect. When studied against high K+ (80 mM)-induced contraction, the crude extract and its fractions caused a dose-dependent inhibition, with the following order of potency: Cc.Pef>Cc.Eaf>Cc.Cr≥Cc.Baf, similar to nifedipine indicating Ca++ channel antagonist like activity, which was further confirmed when the plant extract displaced Ca++ curves to the right with suppression of maximum effect similar to that of nifedipine.

Conclusion This study demonstrates that the crude extract of Carissa carandas possesses a gut-stimulatory effect mediated primarily through the activation of muscarinic and histaminergic receptors while its spasmolytic effect was mediated possibly through Ca++ antagonist pathway. Thus, this study provides a clear evidence for the dual effectiveness of Carissa carandas in constipation and diarrhea, thus validating its medicinal use.


Journal of Ethnopharmacology