Review on Traditional uses, Biological activities, Phytoconstituents of Bombax ceiba Linn.


R K Shukla1, Keshari Nandan1*, Abha Shukla2, Amanpreet Kaur2, Deepanshu Rana3

1Department of Chemistry, Gurukula Kangri Vishwavidyalaya, Haridwar, Uttarakhand, India.

2Department of Chemistry, Kanya Gurukula Campus, Gurukula Kangri Vishwavidyalaya,

Haridwar, Uttarakhand, India.

3Department of Botany s Microbiology, Gurukula Kangri Vishwavidyalaya, Haridwar, Uttarakhand, India.

*Corresponding Author E-mail:



Bombax ceiba (semal) species have been used as ayurvedic medicines in several Asian, African and American countries from long times. Previous phytochemical screenings demonstrated that this plant mainly contain alkaloids, flavonoids, terpenoids and other constituents from different parts of plant. The pharmacological studies confirmed that the crude extracts or individual compounds from the plant showed Antidiabetic activity, Antimicrobial activity, Antiurolithiatic activity, anti-inflammatory activities, Hepatoprotective Activity as well as Antihyperglycemic activity. In this review we presented a published literature on the traditional uses, biological activities and isolated compounds from Bombax ceibathrough 2018.


KEYWORDS: Bombax ceiba, Economic and Traditional importance, biological activities, chemical constituents.




Up till now, people in most developing countries like Africa, India [1] and China, are working on medicinal plants for primary health care directly or indirectly. Among the well-known medicinal plants, Bombaxceiba is one of the important medicinal plant playing significant role in protecting the well-being of South American and Asian population [87]. Bombaxceiba L. family Bombacaceae is a diploid deciduous tree widely distributed and cultivated through seeds and cuttings [13] in temperate and tropical regions such as Southeast Asia, Africa, and Australia native to South Asia, Southeast Asia, southern China and northern Australia [23,24,25,28].


Its height reaches up to 30-40 m and girth size up to 3m [26,27], providing food, shelter, roosting and breeding sites to a large number of wild animals, hence playing an important role in the tropical forest ecosystems as well, it provides fodder, fiber, fuel, and many other ecological benefits [13,24]. B. ceiba has strong ethnobotanical background, and extensively used in the treatment of a wide range of diseases [2]. Besides its medicinal properties, B. ceiba is also widely cultivated for its red flowers that open in the spring season [13].


In Southwest China, Yunnan and its adjacent provinces naturally contain these tree species. The distribution patterns of the species offer us a precious opportunity to test the role of the Tanaka line as a geologically or climatically driven barrier to shape population structure of the species. It has been cultivated as a medicinal and ornamental resource. The ability to grow in arid regions such as dry-hot valleys makes B.ceibaan important industrial crop. Although previous studies of B.ceiba mainly focused on photochemistry [29]


Bombaxceiba (Bombaxmalabarica, Bombacaceae), known as white silk cotton or semul, is a medicinal plant which has been reported to have hepatic protective [4] and hypotensive activity [5], as well as anti-inflammatory effect [6]. Phytochemical investigation has revealed the presence of a naphthol, naphthoquinones, polysaccharides, anthocyanins, shamimin, and lupeol in this plant [7-10] Leaves, fruit, bark and flower used in folk medicinal plant [12]. It is used in traditional system of medicinal and exhibit anti-angio activity


Although diverse aspect of this plant species have been explored by many researchers but there is no comprehensive review encountering detailed information about the therapeutic potential of B. ceiba It would provide information about the effectiveness of this miracle plant against different kind of ailments and the responsible potent therapeutic compounds. Moreover, this review would disclose scientific gaps in current knowledge and help scientists around the globe for future studies regarding the discovery of new novel compounds and drugs from B. ceiba.


Economical uses:

The sawdust obtained from Bombaxceibais an effective, economical and environmental friendly in remediation of Pb(II). [20] Bombaxceiba oil was selected as a feedstock for the production of biodiesel because less work is reported on Bombaxceiba oil as a potential source for the production of biodiesel.[21] The occurrence of Bombaxceiba in rainforest patches and its economic value to indigenous landowners has important implications for the conservation and management of rainforest vegetation. [22]


Wood have been extensively used in the construction industry because of their high mechanical strength, flexibility, ductility, environmental stress resistance, sustainability, playing a major role in the economies of many developing regions such as India, providing materials variety of essential infrastructure components. [40,41,42]. Bombaxceiba, a fast-growing hardwood could provide an alternative source to conventional woods for several applications from engineering construction to composite manufacture due to its easy availability in many southeastern Asian countries, USA, and Europe [39]. This has a variety of potential applications, including use for catamarans, but there is little data performance of this species in marine applications in tropical [40,41,42]


Traditional uses:

Traditionally in Nepal, different parts like bark, flower, and fruits were used in wound healing and revitalizing sexual impotency. The whole plant and its gum is well reputed remedy of diarrhea, dysentery, influenza fever, chronic inflammation, hepatitis, contused wound and menorrhagia [16,3].


Bombaxceiba Linn. Fam. Bombacaceae is a medicinal tree used in India for a number of health benefits and is part of the lexicon in Ayurvedic and Unani system of medicine [35]. Ayurvedic Rasayana, Charaka and Suhruta Samhita mention the use of Young roots of B. ceiba ‘Semal Musli’ alone as well as in combination for the treatment of leuccorhia, morbid thirst and as geriatric tonic [36]. It is also prescribed for sexual debility, attenuated semen and spermatorrhea [37,38]. Hence with these frames of references in mind the present study was carried out to evaluate the fabled claim of utilization of this herb as a sexual rejuvenator and tonic.


Table 1 Traditional uses of Bombax ceiba.

S. No

Use in Diease

Part used





48, 54, 55, 57, 58, 59, 60, 61








63, 64, 65


Sexual problem










66, 67


Hepatic disorder







Urinary ailments




Biological Activities:

Anti-inflammatory activity:

An ethnobotanical study reported the use of B. ceiba79 as a traditional anti-inflammatory agent [30] (Namsa et al., 2009). Furthermore, the dried young fruits of B. ceiba are given in calculus affections and chronic inflammation and ulceration of the bladder and kidneys including strangury and other forms of dysuria [31] (Kapoor, 1990), though the rationale behind its use is not scientifically established [86].


Anti-urolithiatic activity:

Hyperoxaluria is one of the main risk factors of idiopathic CaOx disease, wherein, the increased urinary oxalate promotes CaOx crystallization and stone formation. Factors that are likely to influence urinary oxalate excretion most are the hepatic synthesis of oxalate, the bioavailability and absorption of oxalate from the gastrointestinal tract and the renal handling of oxalate [32] (Krishnamurthy et al., 2003). Furthermore, oxalate is known to cause disruption of the renal cellular membrane integrity probably by inducing lipid peroxidation and thereby exaggerating the condition [33,34] (Bijikurien and Selvam, 1987; Saravanan et al., 1995).



The present study demonstrated the anti-obesity effect of methanolic extract of Bombax ceiba Linn [44]. Against high fat diet-induced obesity in rats. Gemfibrozil is a lipid lowering agent, involved in metabolism of carbohydrates and fats [43], and thus was used as a standard in present study. The experimental reports revealed that the methanolic or hydro-alcoholic extract has marked affinity for the active phytoconstituents of B. ceiba. Hence, the methanolic extract was prepared using soxhlet extractor. Characterization of B. ceiba extract was done in terms of phytochemical screening which signifies the presence of alkaloids, glycosides (cardiac-, saponin- glycosides), tannins, terpenoids, steroids and flavonoids in extract.


Antimicrobial activity:

Oral diseases including dental caries, gingival inflammation, periodontal disease, and tooth loss are affecting overall health significantly. Among these, dental caries is prominent chronic oral disease affecting 60% to 90% of young population. Antibacterial chew sticks prepared from miswak, has been successfully promoted and advocated by health agencies as alternatives for oral health [45] (Tichy and Novak, 1998). Crude extracts from whole plant as well as from different parts were assessed for their antimicrobial activity against gram-positive and negative bacteria and fungi. Bombaxceibawas also investigated for its antimicrobial activity against oral pathogens [74,75,77,83]. Extracts were prepared from dried plant powder dissolved in three different solvents [46]. And assessed for antibacterial activity against some cariogenic bacteria i.e. Staphylococcus aureas, Candida albicans, Lactobacillus acidophilus, Streptococcus gordoniivia agar well diffusion assay using Kanamycin as positive control. All the fractions of Bombaxceibawere also tested for antifungal activity against fungi, chloroform extract and carbon tetra chloride extract showed profound activity against Aspergillus nigerand Candida albicans, respectively [53].


Antidiabetic activity:

Juices of various plants helps to lowering the blood glucose by 10-15%. Now these days Diabetes have become one of the common metabolic disease. Around 1.3% of the population suffers from this disease throughout the world and number of diabetics is increasing by 6% per year. Diabetes annually causes 300,000 deaths which contain about 0.2% in less than 17 years of age to about 10% in persons aged 65 years and over. To see this serious issue of diabetes scientists are trying to evolve drug from natural product like plant. Bombax ceiba a traditionally important plant show a positive responds against diabetes48. Bombax ceiba bark and leaves extract was evaluated for its hypoglycemic and hypolipidemic potential through in vivo method gave significant result against diabetes [17,55,85]


Hepatoprotective Activity:

Herbal medicines are getting more importance in the treatment of liver disease because the modern medicine does not find curative treatments. Study of medicinal plants have become more intense in term of their traditional uses are supported by actual pharmacological effects or merely based on folklore. Herbal medicine is free from side effects and less costly when compared to synthetic drugs. The present study will help the industry to produce herbal drugs with fewer side effects, which are affordable and more effective in the treatment of hepatotoxicity. Hepatoprotective study of flower of Bombax ceiba was investigated with two anti-tubercular drugs Isoniazid and Rifampicin on rats [49].


Hypotensive Activity:

Hypertension is a disease, which if left untreated affects all important organs of human body. It is known as silent killer as without showing significant symptoms, it may quietly lead to stroke, brain hemorrhage, cardiac disorders, renal failure and vision loss. Hypertension has affected 10-15% of global population and killed a large number of human race in every region of world. Drugs used for its treatment on one hand are very expensive and beyond the reach of a common man while on the other hand, side effects associated with these drugs restricted the people to use them. Keeping this in view as well as blood pressure reducing property of Bombax ceiba present work describes the hypotensive evolution of its stem bark along with toxicology and histopathology of active fraction [50].


Anti-oxidant activity:

Oxidative stress cause imbalance between reactive oxygen species (ROS) and antioxidant defence system. Oxidative stress leads to various disease and disorders like autoimmune diseases, asthma, AIDS, cancer, nervous system imbalance, diabetes, Parkinson disease etc. These changes in cell components may accelerate the aging process and cause various kinds of diseases as follows: coronary heart diseases, cancer, inflammation, immune system decline, neurological diseases, and atherosclerosis. Bark [83], Root [71,78,82], fruit [81] of Bombax ceiba show a strong antioxidant potential [51,52,56,75].


Antihemolytic activities:

Hemolysis occur when erythrocytes are destructed causing the release of hemoglobin and other internal components into the surrounding fluid. Due to the preponderance of polyunsaturated fatty acids in the erythrocyte membranes, they are highly susceptible to oxidative damage whose consequences are lipid peroxidation and hemolysis. Antihemolytic assay was determined using erythrocytes by using methanolic extract of Bombax ceiba exhibited significant activities [52].



In the course of searching for antiangiogenic agents from medicinal plants we found that a methanol extract of the stem bark of B. ceiba showed a significant antiangiogenic activity at 50μg/mL, a non-inhibitory concentration toward the growth of tumor cell line A549 (human lung carcinoma) [11]. In this paper, we wish to report the in vitro antiangiogenic activity of B. ceiba and the isolation of the active principle from this plant.


Cytotoxic study:

In the present bioactivity study, the crude methanolic extract of different parts of B. ceiba showed positive results indicating that the test samples are biologically active [53,75].


Phytochemical profile:

Bombax ceiba has many pharmacological activities like in-vitro Anti-inflammatory, Anti-diabetic, Anti-obesity, Hypotensive, Antioxidant, Antiangiogenic, Antimicrobial, Cytotoxicity, Aphrodisiac, Haemostatic, Astringent Diuretic, Cardiotonic, Demulcent, Anti-dysentric, anti-diahorreal, and Antipyretic effects [7-11]. All these activities are due to presence of specific phytochemical and phytoconstituents. Some important phytoconstituents present in Bombax ceiba different parts are-Alkaloids, Cardiac Glycosides, Carbohydrates, Flavonoids, Phenols, Phlobatannin, Proteins, Saponins, Tannins, Terpenoids, Quinones [47,84].



In this research, Bombax ceiba oil was selected as a feedstock for the production of biodiesel because less work is reported on Bombax ceiba oil as a potential source for the production of biodiesel. The present study mainly focused on optimized production and kinetic study of Bombax ceiba methyl ester (BCME) from high FFA non-edible Bombax ceiba oil (BCO) using synthesised CaO-NPs as catalyst in transesterification reaction. Hence, Bombax ceiba oil can be considered as a potential source for biodiesel production [21].



Flavonoids, xanthones, coumarin and other aromatic compounds from the flowers of this plant [19].


Table 2 Compounds separated from Bombax ceiba.

S. No

Chemical compounds







[18] [73] [80]














Stigmasta-3,5-diene, lupenone,


















isohemigossypol-1-methyl ester



acid lactone






lacinilene C



sesquiterpene lactone






betulinic acid












simalin A



simalin B



B- Sitosterol









Future monitoring:

The present review reports detailed information about the medicinal uses, phytochemical, pharmaceutical and biological investigation of medicinal plant Bombax ceiba for the first time. This miracle herb had been traditionally used among the various communities across the Himalayan region for UTI, GI, skin, respiratory, skeletal, gynecological and inflammatory diseases. In addition to this, the species is also well known to treat kidney stones and kidney disorders by the traditional healers. Almost all parts of the plant are used for curing different ailments but rhizome is the most frequently used part consumed in the form of powder. This plant has potential anti-diabetic, antibacterial, antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, anti-obesity and anti-ulcer activities. The major phytochemical compounds reported in this species are phenols, flavonoids, and fatty acid and terpenoids. Despite the presence of scientific evidence related to pharmaceutical and medicinal uses several gaps in present review paper occurs regarding the utilization of this plant species. First of all, experimental evidences of some traditional uses are reported by different researchers like anti-inflammatory, anti-diabetic, anti-obesity, antiulcer etc. But there is a dire need for experimental investigation in future for some provisions used for gynecological, skin, muscular/skeletal, ENT disorders and antidote activities. Furthermore some pharmaceutical activities are observed in vitro and in vivo. Deficiency in clinical trials of some activities has also been observed. Therefore for the future discovery of drugs it is necessary to conduct additional clinical studies on this plant. In future clinical trials should be conducted to test the efficiency of this plant against several ailments and proper utilization and improvement of a drug. The outcome of research in these areas will give convincing support for future clinical use of B. ceiba in modern medicine. Further phytochemical investigation may lead to the expansion of existing therapeutic potential of B. ceiba. Based on the present review, we further suggest that detailed ethno-pharmaceutical and toxicological research work should be carried out. These studies will provide valuable knowledge about preparation of new herbal drugs for different ailments. Moreover, the plant has lesser side effects on living organisms as compared to modern medicines.



The authors are grateful to Department of Chemistry, Gurukula Kangri University, Haridwar for providing all the necessary facilities.



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Received on 24.07.2019           Modified on 13.10.2019

Accepted on 31.12.2019         © RJPT All right reserved

Research J. Pharm. and Tech. 2020; 13(11):5607-5612.

DOI: 10.5958/0974-360X.2020.00978.6