Phytoconstituents present in
Semecarpus anacardium is classified in Ayurveda under the category of toxic plants. However, this toxic plant is reported to possess anti-inflammatory activity, anti-arthritic effect, antioxidant activity, antimicrobial activity, anti- carcinogenic activity, hypoglycemic activity, cardioprotective, hepatoprotective, neuroprotective, and hypolipidemic activity etc. All these activities are attributed to its various constituents like phenolic compounds, flavonoids, carbohydrates, alkaloids, steroids, etc. In Ayurveda, a series of pharmaceutical procedures which converts a poisonous drug into a safe and therapeutically effective medicine is termed as Shodhana. Shodhana improves the yield, decreases the phenolic and flavonoid content; and converts toxic urushiol into nontoxic anacardol derivative thereby reducing toxicity of nuts of Semecarpus anacardium. There are reports of alteration in pharmacology and phytochemistry of nuts of Semecarpus anacardium due to Shodhana.
- Semecarpus anacardium
Ayurveda is proven to be the ancient traditional way of treatment in India, which is fully based on philosophical, experimental and practical concepts. It includes the use of indigenous drugs which have been preferred by many pharmaceutical industries towards a novel strategy for natural drug discovery. Ayurvedic proven concepts signifies more on human health and disease that recommend the use of herbal enriched compounds as special diets. However, some herbal compounds may have toxicity besides their therapeutic potential if used improperly .
There are so many plants which are identified as poisonous and semi-poisonous in Ayurveda. Plants like Atsanabha (Aconitum species), nux-vomica,
This is a native of India. It is known as bhallatak in India and “marking nut” by Europeans.
Abundantly the plant is found in Odisha, Chittagong, central India and Northern Australia . The color of fruit is black when ripe as well as smooth and shiny in texture (Figure 2). The fruit is generally categorized as toxic and the integral part of the fruit i.e. nut is about 1 inch long in size .
3. Active principles of
The active principles present in
|Phenolic compounds||1,2-dihydroxy-3 (penta decadienyl-8, 11) benzene|
|1,2-dihydroxy-3 (penta decadienyl-8′, 11′) benzene|
|Bhilavanol A (monoenepentadecyl catechol I)|
|Bhilavanol B (dienepentadecyl catechol II)|
|Biflavonoids||Biflavones A, C, A1, A2|
|O-dimethyl biflavanone B|
|Other components||Anacardic acid|
4. Uses of
It has been reported for wide arena of ethno-pharmacological activities. Researchers have identified SA nuts extracts for potent pharmacological actions. Most of these studies are pre-clinical studies. Their clinical efficacy is yet to be reported. The list of health disorders against which
|Potential use/activity||Efficacy proved in||Possible mechanism of action|
|Analgesic, anti-inflammatory, anti-arthritic||Animal models (pre-clinical)||Inhibition of cyclooxygenase (COX 1 and COX 2), inhibit pro-inflammatory cytokine production|
|Anti-cancer (breast cancer, hepato cellular carcinoma, leukemia)||Cell lines and animal models (pre-clinical)||Cytotoxicity by inducing apoptosis following caspase 3 pathway|
|Cardioprotective (anti atherogenic, lipid lowering)||Animal models (pre-clinical)||Anti-oxidant, decrease cholesterol, increase HDL|
|Nootropic (memory enhancer)||Animal models (pre-clinical)||Inhibit acetylcholine esterase, increase cholinergic activity|
|Hepatoprotective||Animal models (pre-clinical)||Anti-oxidant|
|Anti-fungal and Anti-bacterial (Gram +ve, Gram −ve, tuberculosis)||Microbial culture (in-vitro)||Inhibit microbial growth|
|Aphrodisiac (increase sex desire) in male but spermicidal||Animal models (pre-clinical)||Increase mounting and mating performance, cause spermatogenic arrest (decrease motility and density of sperm)|
|Anthelmintic||Indian earthworm (||Muscle paralysis|
4.1 Analgesic and anti-inflammatory effect
There are reports of analgesic  and anti-inflammatory [21, 22] activity by
4.2 Anticancer activity
Nut extracts of
4.3 Cardioprotective effect
4.4 Nootropic effect
4.5 Hepatoprotective effect
4.6 Antimicrobial activity
The flavonoid present in
4.7 Aphrodisiac and spermicidal activity
4.8 Anthelmintic activity
Petroleum ether, chloroform extract of nuts of
5. Toxicity of
Use of Bhallataka needs adequate precaution due to its extreme hot and sharp attributes. It should be kept away from pregnant women, old aged person and also children. Individual persons showing allergic reactions like rash, itching and swelling to it should avoid its use. Furthermore, it is highly recommended to keep away from direct exposure to sunlight, heat and extreme sex during the course of Bhallataka treatment. The oily portion of nut should be removed for its safe use which can lead to nephropathy. Fewer antidotes like coconut oil, coriander leaves pulp and ghee is useful in case of allergic reactions . The traditional way of administration with peanut oil was proven to be safe up to 25 mg/kg/day for 9 day .
Bhallataka nut oil extracts in male albino rats is reported to decrease hemoglobin count as well as erythrocytes indicating anemia. It exhibited an alteration in kidney enzyme level leading to nephrotoxicity during acute and subchronic toxicity . Hence, it is necessary to undertake Shodhana sanskara of Bhallataka with precaution before using it in medicine to avoid toxic effects of Ashuddha (impure) Bhallataka .
6. Shodhana of
The process Shodhana, which is also known as detoxification or purification process signifies the conversion of any poisonous drug into beneficial, non-poisonous/nontoxic drug.
As per Ayurvedic texts shodhana can be done for SA nuts (Figure 3). The thalamus part of the fruit is removed with a steel knife. Then, the nuts are subjected to fresh cow urine daily for 7 days followed by cow milk daily for 7 days followed by rubbing thoroughly with brick powder for 3 days. During the treatment with cow urine and cow milk, the nuts are washed with water before adding fresh cow urine or milk. On the final day (18th day), the nuts are washed with hot water to remove the brick powder. This shodhana procedure is repeated three times [35, 56, 57, 58].
7. Effect of Shodhana
Shodhana helps in conversion of toxic urushiol into nontoxic anacardol . Our studies on GC-MS which elucidate the presence of anacardol derivative (Anacardol, tetrahydro-; retention time 51.538 in GC-MS) in shodhit extract and urushiol derivative in pre-shodhit extract (1,2-Benzenediol, 3-(8,11,14-pentadecatrienyl)-, (
Shodhana improves the yield in methanolic extract, but decreases the phenolic and flavonoid content . Shodhana decreases cytotoxicity without affecting anticancer activity significantly. The reduction in cytotoxicity may be attributed to reduction in oxidative stress . Shodhana of the nuts reduce nootropic activity . So shodhana not only reduces toxicity but also alters its pharmacological activities.
9. Future scope
The effect of Shodhana on other pharmacological activities of
The authors are grateful to the Siksha O Anusandhan Deemed to be University, Bhubaneswar, India, for providing necessary support and basic infrastructure to make this work successful. The authors also thank Mr. Tapas Ranjan Satapathy for secretarial help.
Conflict of interest
The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.
|API||The Ayurvedic Pharmacopeia of India|
|HDL||high density lipoprotein|
|MIC||minimum inhibitory concentration|
|GC-MS||gas chromatography-mass spectrometry|