A Review on Medicinal Properties of Elaeocarpus ganitrus Roxb.ex G. Don. (Elaeocarpaceae)


Gaurav Kumar1,2, Loganathan Karthik1, Kokati Venkata Bhaskara Rao1*

1Molecular and Microbiology Research Laboratory, Environmental Biotechnology Division,

School of Bio Sciences and Technology, VIT University, Vellore, Tamil Nadu - 632 014, India

2School of Life Sciences, Jaipur National University, Jaipur- 302025, Rajasthan, India

*Corresponding Author E-mail: kokatibhaskar@yahoo.co.in



Elaeocarpus ganitrus Roxb. (E. ganitrus) is an evergreen tree belongs to the family Elaeocarpaceae. E. ganitrus is an important medicinal plant in traditional medication system and mainly used to cure nervous system related disorders. In recent past, E. ganitrus has been extensively studied for its medicinal properties by advance scientific techniques and a variety of bioactive compounds have been isolated from the different parts of the plant and were analyzed pharmacologically. E. ganitrushas been reported to exhibit antimicrobial, antiulcerogenic and antioxidant activity, in addition the plant is reported to reduce pain and inflammation. In this review we have tried to summarize the traditional and scientific information available about the morphology, distribution, phytochemistry and medicinal properties of E. ganitrus.


KEYWORDS: Elaeocarpus ganitrus Roxb., traditional medication system, antioxidant activity




Medicinal plants are certainly the most ancient source of medicine in human history, yet the lake of authentic literature to support the pharmacological potential of the plants have significantly reduced its acceptability among peoples. In last few decades, medicinal plants have been extensively evaluated for their therapeutic potentials and reported to show various medicinal properties viz, larvicidal activity, diuretic activity, anti-inflammatory activity, antibacterial activity, antifungal activity, anti-diabetic activity and hepatoprotective activity1-7.These reports have further supported the pharmacological potential of medicinal plants and a hope for the discovery of new drugs.


E. ganitrus (Synonyms: E. sphaericus) is a large evergreen tree, commonly known as Rudraksha tree in India. Rudraksha tree is considered as a holy tree and enjoys great respect and devotion of Hindu community.


Different parts of Rudraksha tree are known to show several medicinal properties in both traditional and scientific literature, which will be discussed further in this review.


The main aim of this article is to summarize the morphology, distribution, phytochemistry and medicinal properties of E. ganitrus and its future prospects for the further scientific investigation for the development of effective therapeutic compounds



Kingdom: Plantae, Division: Magnoliophyta, Class: Magnoliopsida, Order: Oxalidales, Family: Elaeocarpaceae, Genus: Elaeocarpus, Species: E. ganitrus Roxb.


The plant

E. ganitrus is an evergreen tree, grows up to 50-200 feet height. The leaves are shining green on the upper side with a dull leathery on the dorsal side. The stem of E. ganitrus is cylindrical with a gray white colour and rough textured bark. The flowers are white in colour with fringed petals. Flowers in racemes mostly from axils of fallen leaves, nodding, white, about 1cm across, anther bristled at the apex. The fruits are globular in shape, 1cm. in diameter, deep blue or mealy when ripe and contain a bead inside. The bead present inside is hard and tubercle 8.


Geographical distribution

E. ganitrus is commonly grows in many countries including India, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, Indonesia, New Guinea to Australia, Guam, Hawaii and Srilanka. In India E. ganitrus is distributed in Eastern Himalayas in Arunachal Pradesh, Bihar, Madhya Pradesh and the Konkan Ghats.



E. ganitrus is an important medicinal plant with several medicinal uses in traditional medication system. It is been used to cure many health problems in different parts of the World. Leaves and seeds are known for various medicinal properties and traditionally used to cure stress, anxiety, depression, palpitation, nerve pain, epilepsy, migraine, lack of concentration, asthma, hypertension, arthritis and liver diseases9.


Phytochemical composition

Phytochemical composition of the E. ganitrus has been extensively studied in last few decades. Various extracts from the different parts of E. ganitrus have demonstrated the presence of alkaloids 10, phenolics, tannins, flavonoids11 and fatty acids9.


Pharmacological properties

Scientific advancement brought a positive approach for the systemic exploration of E. ganitrus for its medicinal properties and in last two decades E. ganitrus has been reported to exhibit immunostimulatory activity, anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, antihypertensive effect, anxiolytic effects, antiulcerogenic, antidepressant activity, antioxidant activity. Medicinal properties of E. ganitrus are summarized in Figure 1. Some of the recent reports are as following:


Figure 1: Medicinal properties of Elaeocarpus ganitrus


Antimicrobial activity

Various extracts of E. sphaericus was evaluated for their antimicrobial activity against 28 gram-positive and gram-negative bacteria. Petroleum ether, benzene, chloroform, acetone and ethanol extracts prepared from dried fruits of E. sphaericus showed broad spectrum antimicrobial activity towards a variety of microorganisms. Among all the extracts, aqueous extract showed remarkable antimicrobial activity than that of other extracts12.


Petroleum ether, chloroform, ethanol and aqueous extracts prepared from E. ganitrus seeds demonstrated potential broad spectrum antifungal activity against Asperagillus niger, Candidum geotrichum, Candida albicans, C. glabrata and C. tropicalis 13.


Anti-inflammatory activity

Various solvent extracts (Petroleum ether, benzene, chloroform, acetone and ethanol extracts) from E. sphaericus fruits exhibited significant anti-inflammatory action against both acute and sub-acute models in mice. In addition, all extracts protected guinea-pigs against bronchospasm induced by histamine and acetylcholine aerosols 14.


Petroleum ether, chloroform, methanol and aqueous extract of E. sphaericus leaves exhibited significant analgesic and anti-inflammatory potentials in carrageenan-induced paw oedema (inflammation) in rats and tail flick tests in mice. Methanol and aqueous extracts exhibited significant dose dependent anti-inflammatory activity during the experiment 15.


Antiasthmatic activity

E. sphaericus fruits were reported to show antiasthmatic activity in vivo. Various solvent extracts (petroleum ether, benzene, chloroform, acetone and ethanol extracts) of E. sphaericus fruits exhibited mast-cell stabilizing activity, substantiating the efficacy of E. sphaericus against bronchial asthma 16.


Antioxidant activity

E. ganitrus leaves extract was reported to exhibit significant antioxidant activity in various in vitro methods. Ethanolic extract of E. ganitrus leaves against a variety of free radicals. Extract exhibited significant total antioxidant activity, reducing power potential, metal chelating activity and ABTS scavenging activity. Further a positive correlation between total phenolic content and antioxidant capacity, and total flavonoid content and antioxidant activity was also reported 17.


Immunostimulatory activity

E. ganitrus seeds were reported to exhibit significant immunostimulatory activity. Alkaloidal fraction of E. ganitrus seeds was reported to stimulate immune mediators from peritoneal exudates cells and proliferation of immune cells in in vitro and in vivo model 18.


Antihypertensive activity

Aqueous extract of E. ganitrus seeds exhibited antihypertensive activity in renal artery occluded hypertensive rats. Treatment of animals with aqueous extract of E. ganitrus for 6 weeks significantly decreased the elevated blood pressure of the animals 19.

Anxiolytic activity

Fruits of E. sphaericus were reported to exhibit anxiolytic activity in Swiss albino mice model. Methanolic extract of E. sphaericus fruits (200 mg/kg b w) exhibited significant anxiolytic effects in mice model. This is been stated that anxiolytic activity of the extract may be due to high flavonoid content20.


Antidiabetic activity

Aqueous extract of E. ganitrus seeds exhibited significant hypoglycemic effect after 2 hours of treatment in streptozotocin induced diabetic rats. Extract treatment significantly decreased the blood glucose level in a dose-dependent manner during the 30 days of treatment 21.


Chitosan based extract and aqueous extract prepared from E. ganitrus leaves were evaluated for its antidiabetic potential in displayed Albino rats. Among both extracts, Chitosan based extract of E. ganitrus leaves demonstrated significant antidiabetic activity than that of aqueous extract 22.


Nephroprotective activity

Ethanolic extract of E. ganitrus seeds was found to exhibit significant nephroprotective effect in male Wistar rats against GM induce nephrotoxicity. Extract treatment of diseased mice, significantly reduced the elevated level of serum creatinine, blood urea nitrogen, uric acid, and albuminuria with considerable increase in the serum albumin and urine creatinine 23.



Most of the plants are generally considered as nontoxic; however it is very important to confirm their level of toxicity before therapeutic use. Aqueous extract of E. ganitrus seed was found to be nontoxic up to the dose of 5.0 g/kg body weight (Highest dose checked) in Swiss albino mice model 21. There is no literature available to report the long term exposure of the extract. In an another study, aqueous extract of E. ganitrus leaves did not exhibit any hemolytic activity against human erythrocytes up to 1000 μg/ml concentration; therefore it could be considered safe towards human erythrocytes 24.



Ethnomedical and scientific reports about the medicinal properties of E. ganitrus represent it as a valuable plant and establishing it as a candidate for the future drug development. Future studies could be directed to determine the active principle of the extracts and its mode of action in vitro and in vivo.



The authors wish to thank the Management and Staff of VIT University, Vellore, TN, India for supporting this study.



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Received on 02.08.2014          Modified on 16.08.2014

Accepted on 19.08.2014          © RJPT All right reserved

Research J. Pharm. and Tech. 7(10): Oct. 2014 Page  1184-1186