Discrimination of the Thai rejuvenating herbs Pueraria candollei (White Kwao Khruea), Butea superba (Red Kwao Khruea), and Mucuna collettii (Black Kwao Khruea) using PCR-RFLP


The tuberous roots of Pueraria candollei (White Kwao Khruea), Butea superba (Red Kwao Khruea) and Mucuna collettii (Black Kwao Khruea), which belong to the family Leguminosae, are used as rejuvenating herbs in traditional Thai medicine. Although all of these species have an indication for rejuvenation, each differs in its medicinal properties. Two varieties of P. candollei, var. mirifica and var. candollei, affect females, whereas B. superba and M. collettii exhibit effects on males. However, the identification of these roots according to the name “Kwao Khruea” is confusing due to the similarity in their features. Polymerase chain reaction restriction fragment length polymorphism (PCR-RFLP) was utilised to identify plant origin. The partial matK gene was amplified and subjected to restriction enzyme digestion with DdeI and TaqI. The restriction fragments generated differed in number and size. To test the reliability of the method, an admixture of the different Kwao Khruea species containing equal amounts of DNA was tested. The results showed combined restriction patterns, and each species could be detected in the background of the others. The method was also used to authenticate eight different crude drugs sold as various types of Kwao Khruea in Thai markets. The results showed that the misidentification of commercial drugs remains a problem in crude drug markets. The PCR-RFLP analysis developed here provides a simple and accurate discrimination of these rejuvenating “Kwao Khruea” species.