A Review on Hydnocarpus wightiana


Kishan K G*,  Shekshavali. T, Kuppast I.J, Kishan Kumar MA,  Jeevanagouda Patil

Department of Pharmacology, National College of Pharmacy, Shimoga-577201,  Karnataka, India.

*Corresponding Author E-mail: kishankampli24@gmail.com



The present study was aimed to review the pharmacological actions and preliminary phytochemical investigation of Hydnocarpus wightiana belonging to Flacourtiaceae family. It has been exploited traditionally for leprosy, rheumatic pain, inflammation and skin diseases. The alcoholic extract of roots of Hydnocarpus wightiana showed  the presence of glycosides, flavonoids, carbohydrates, proteins, tannins, saponins, steroids and triterpenoids.


KEYWORDS: Hydnocarpus wightiana,  Flacourtiaceae, Chaulmoogra Tree, Hydnocarpin, Collagenation.



India has a rich culture of medicinal herbs and species, which includes about more than 2000 species and has a vast geographical area with potential abilities for Ayurvedic, Unani, Siddha traditional medicines but only very few have been studied chemically and pharmacologically for their potential medicinal value. The World Health Organization (WHO) defines traditional medicine as the “diverse health practices, approaches, knowledge and beliefs incorporating plant, animal or mineral based medicines, spiritual therapies, manual techniques and exercises applied singularly or in combination to maintain well-being , as well as to diagnose, treat or prevent illness.1 The goal of herbal drug research and development program is to discover single entity and multicomponent bioactive natural products that may serve as leads for the development of new pharmaceuticals which address unmet therapeutic needs.2 Hydnocarpus is an indo Malaysian genus with 40 species and belongs to family Achariaceae.[3,4] Out of this 5 spices are available in India namely A. alpina, H.kurzii, H.macrocarpa, H.pendulus and H. wightiana and from this species 4 are reported from Kerala namely H.alpina, H.macrocarpa, H.wightiana, H.pendulus.

Hydnocarpus grow extensively in the tropical forests of Western Ghats from Maharashtra to Kerala and is also found in the hilly regions of Tripura and Assam.[5-8] It is cultivated in Nigeria, Uganda, Sri Lanka and few other South East Asian countries. These evergreen , deciduous trees grow up to 15m height, is distributed from sea level up to 2000m and bear fruits between the months of august and September. Seed oil has been widely used in Indian medicine and Chinese medicine for the treatment of leprosy.


Synonym: Hydnocarpus pentandrus, H. laurifolia Sleumer


Common Name: Chaulmoogra  Tree.

Flowering and fruiting: January-may.9



This is a tree up to 10m (33 ft) tall. The tree is deciduous and as well as evergreen too. Bark is brownish, fissured; blaze pinkish. Branch lets are rounding, minutely velvet-hairy. Leaves are simple, alternate, carried on 0.7-2.2 cm (0.28-0.87 in) long stalks.  Leaves are 8-23 × 3.5-10 cm (3.1-9.1 × 1.4-3.9 in), usually oblong to elliptic-oblong, tip long pointed, often falling off, base narrow, margin toothed, papery, hairless. Midrib is raised above; secondary nerves 5-7 pairs. Flowers are borne in short cymes or solitary, in leaf axils. Petals are white. Berry is woody, round, 6-10 cm (2.4-3.9 in) across usually brown tomentose, black when young; seeds numerous. The flowering takes place from January to April. Flowers are greenish white in colour and grow solitary or racemes. Tree of the species that yield chaulmoogra oil grow to a height of 12-15 m (39-49 ft).    


The fruits are ovoid some 10 cm (3.9 in) in diameter with a thick woody rind. Internally they contain 10-16 black seeds embedded in the fruit pulp. Seeds are ovoid, irregular and angular, 1 to 1 ¼ inches long, 1 inch wide, and skin smooth, grey and brittle, kernel oily and dark brown.9 The seeds account for some 20% of the fruit weight. A typical tree produces 20 kg (44 lb) of seed/ annum. The kernels make up to 60-70% of the seed weight and contain 63% of pale yellow oil. The oil is unusual in not being made up of straight chain fatty acids but acids with a cyclic group at the end of the chain.10


Figure 1:Flowers of Hydnocarpus wightiana                                      


Figure 2:Fruits of  Hydnocarpus wightiana.


Preliminary Phytochemical Screening11-13:

Qualitative Analysis

The preliminary phytochemical studies were performed for testing different phytoconstituents present in the ethanolic extract. The chemical group tests were performed and the results are tabulated in Table-1.


Table 1: Results of preliminary phytochemical screening of the ethanolic extract of H. wightiana roots.

Preliminary Phytochemical Test

























Medicinal Use:

The active ingredient that produces antimicrobial activity has been identified as hydnocarpic acid, a lipophilic compound. It acts by being an antagonist of biotin14. The oil was used intravenously or intramuscularly in the early part of the twentieth century against leprosy15. Sodium hydnocarpate marketedas Alepol, which produced lesser disagreeable symptoms of pain, swelling, irritating treatment with alepol16.


Species of Hydnocarpus:

About 40 species of Hydnocarpus are reported, some species are discussed below.

1.    Hydnocarpus annamensis found in china, Laos, and Vietnam.

2.    Hydnocarpus anthelminticus found in china.    

3.    Hydnocarpus cucurbitina, Hydnocarpus scortechinii endemic to peninsular Malaysia.

4.    Hydnocarpus hainanensis found in China and Vietnam.

5.    Hydnocarpus kurzii in India and Myanmar.

6.    Hydnocarpus octandra and Venenata in Sri Lanka17.


Pharmacological Activity :

Wound Healing Activity :

Oil of Hydnocarpus has been replaced by other chemotherapeutic agents having better mycobactericidal activity. However none of the currently used antileprosy drugs has been reported to have a positive effect in wound healing. Anecdotal reports claim that leprosy patients who have taken capsules containing Hydnocarpus oil orally have shown more rapid wound healing than those not receiving it. A pilot study was undertaken to determine the wound healing effect of Hydnocarpus oil in wound experimentally inflicted on male Wistar rats. The wound healing effect of Hydnocarpus oil was studied with reference to collagenation and strength of scar tissue. The result of this pilot study indicate that the Hydnocarpus oil, which also has anti-leprotic activity, could be useful adjunct in the healing of wounds and ulcers in leprosy patients.18



Anti- Diabetic Activity :

Oil of Hydnocarpus wightiana possesses strong anti-oxidant activity, α-glucosidase inhibitory activity. The ethanolic extract of seed hull of Hydnocarpus also showed anti-oxidant activity.to check the anti-diabetic activity, diabetes induced SD Rats were used and extracts were given to them and after 28 days glucose levels were checked and compared with first day of glucose levels. It showed better anti-diabetic activity.19


Hypolipidemic, Anti-Inflammatory, Anti-Neoplastic Activity and Cytotoxicity :

Flavanolignans isolated from Hydnocarpus wightiana seed namely hydnocarpin, isohydnocarpin demonstrated potent hypolipidemic activity in mice, lowering both serum cholesterol and triglyceride levels. Good anti-inflammatory and anti-neoplastic activity was demonstrated by hydnocarpin in mice in vivo. Cyto-toxicity against the growth of murine and human tissue cultured cells was shown. All the compounds showed good activity against the growth of human KB nasopharynx, colon adenocarcinoma, and osteosarcoma.20


Anti-Oxidant Activity  :

Antioxidant activity was assessed on the basis of DPPH free radical scavenging method. DPPH can trap other free radicals and therefore rate reduction of chemical reaction upon addition of DPPH is used as an indicator of radical nature of that reaction. The leaf extract showed better antioxidant activity.


Antibacterial Activity

Antibacterial activity was studied by disc diffusion method. Nutrient agar medium was prepared, after solidification bacterial culture was inoculated by swabbing method and kept for incubation. After 24 hours zone of inhibition was measured. The extract showed good antibacterial activity with increase in the concentration of extract.21



Hydnocarpus wightiana has been ethnomedcinally used as a therapeutic agent for a variety of diseases as illustrated in the article. The plant appears to have a broad spectrum of activity on several ailments. The various parts of the plant have been explored for antioxidant, antidiabetic, anticancer, antibacterial, anti-inflammatory activity, wound healing activity. It is reported to contain hydnocarpic acid, chaulmoogric acid, hydnocarpin, isohydnocarpin, flavanolignans which is responsible for the different biological activity. With regard to the development of quality herbal medicine the standardization of the extract, phytopharmacology, isolation, characterisation and elucidation of mechanism of action of isolated compounds and clinical trials are needed. In the changing global scenario the interest the scientists towards plants with medicinal value is increasing substantially in the primary health care system both in the developed and developing countries. Therefore the information will help the scientists and researchers to screen the compounds responsible for different bioactivities, and to elucidate the molecular mechanism of action.



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Received on 23.09.2016       Modified on 16.10.2016

Accepted on 24.10.2016      ©A&V Publications All right reserved

Res. J. Pharmacology & Pharmacodynamics.2016; 8(4): 168-170.

DOI: 10.5958/2321-5836.2016.00030.6