Celastrus paniculatus Seeds and Oil Studies

Celastrus paniculatus is a shrub used in Ayurdevic medicine in India.  Various properties are attributed to the aerial parts of the plant, but we will deal here primarily with the seeds and the oil expressed from them.  This information is provided for educational purposes only and no medical claims are made or implied.  These statements have not been reviewed by the FDA for accuracy. These products are not meant to diagnose, treat, prevent or cure any disease or condition.  Their use is regarded only in terms of health supplements which may or may not have intrinsic value.

Celastrus paniculatus seeds and oil have long been regarded in India as beneficial to the intellect and memory. “…The seeds…are hot, bitter, dry, acrid, appetizer, emetic expectorant, sodorific, liver tonic, aphrodisiac, stimulant, powerful brain tonic, stimulate intellect and sharpen memory, …cure joint pain, paralysis, rheumatism, weakness; seed oil enriches the blood, cures abdominal complaints, stomachic, tonic, treats cough, asthma,  leprosy, headaches, leucoderma…Seeds used externally on foul, indolent ulcers and scabies….From seeds…an oil is obtained…it is said to be excellent for beri-beri (note: vitamin B1 deficiency disease) and 10-15 drops daily acts as a powerful stimulant, followed in a few hours by a free diaphoresis, unattended by subsequent exhaustion; oil is used in courts and colleges to increase intelligence…”  (Indian Medicinal Plants  vol. 1 Lalit Mohan, Basu, India)

“…The seeds are acrid, bitter, thermogenic, emollient, stimulant, intellect promoting, digestive, laxative, emetic, expectorant, appetiser, aphrodesiac, cardiotonic, anti-inflammatory, diuretic, emmenagogue, diaphoretic, febrifuge and tonic, and are useful in abdominal disorders, leprosy, pruritis, skin diseases, paralysis, cephalalgia, arthralgia, asthma, leucoderma, cardiac debility, inflammation, stranguary, neuropathy, amenorrhoea, dysmenorrhoea and fever and for stimulating the intellect and sharpening the memory.  The seed oil is bitter, thermogenic and intellect promoting and is useful in abdominal disorders, beri-beri and sores.” (Indian Medicinal Plants, a compendium of 500 species, V.2,Orient Longman 1994)

“…Decoction and oil of the seed are considered a powerful stimulant for neuromuscular system and are given in rheumatism, gout and paralysis.  It is used as a brain tonic to promote intelligence and to sharpen the memory..”  (Major Medicinal Plants of India, R.S. Thakur, H.S. Puri and Akhtar Husain, Central Institute of Medicinal and Aromatic Plants, Lucknow, India. 1989)

“…Oil is rubefacient; seeds are alterative,  stimulant and nervine;  seeds and oil stimulate intellect and sharpen memory…Uses:  Oil with benzoin, cloves, nutmeg and mace added is a sovereign remedy for beri-beri (Note: vitamin B-1 deficiency caused disease) and a powerful stimulant…oil is used as a pomade for relieving rheumatic pains of a malarious character and in paralysis.  It is also used in a pomatum made by mixing one part of the oil in 8 parts of butter for application to the head.  It is known as ‘magzsudhi’ (brain clearer) and believed to promote intelligence.”  (Indian Materia Medica, Dr. K. M. Narkarni)

“…The seeds have a bitter sharp taste;  expectorant, tonic to the brain and liver; cure joint pain, paralysis and weakness.  In addition to the properties of the seeds,  the oil is stomachic, tonic, good for cough and asthma; used in leprosy; cures headaches and leucoderma…The seeds are thought to be hot and dry, aphrodisiac and stimulant, useful both as an external and internal remedy in rheumatism, gout, paralysis, leprosy and other disorders…Crushed and combined with aromatics they are…very efficient in removing pains of a rheumatic or malarious nature.  Bruised and formed into a poultice they are a good stimulant application to foul, unhealthy and indolent ulcers.  The seeds are supposed to have the property of stimulating the intellect and sharpening the memory.”

Recent studies have shown Celastrus oil has the ability to increase the intelligence of mentally retarded children.  “It  is concluded...that Celastrus oil has a beneficial effect on the learning and memory process in mentally retarded children.”  (‘Studies on biogenic amines and their metabolites in mentally retarded children in Celastrus oil therapy’ K. Nalina, A.R. Aroor. K.B. Kumar and Anjali Rao, Alternative Medicine,  vol 1 #4 pg 355-360.  1986)

The oil in its raw state has a shelf life of 2 years if kept in a cool and dark place such as a refrigerator. When put into softgels the shelf life can be expected to be much longer, on the order of four years if kept in a dark and refrigerated state.

There are many studies that show the oil is not harmful even in doses many hundreds of times those normally administered.  “…No mortality was observed following oral administration of Celastrus oil even with the highest doses.  Celastrus oil administration up to the highest dose  (5 g/kg body weight)*  did not produce any toxic effect on the normal behavior of the rats…Celastrus oil did not impair motor coordination at any dose level..”    *3500 times the softgel dose of  100mg.

‘Effects of Celastrus paniculatus on passive avoidance performance and biogenic amine turnover in white rats’  K. Nalina, K.S. Karanth, A. Rao and A.R. Aroor.  Journal of Ethnopharmacology 47 (1995) 101-108.

“The products of this plant used clinically are considered safe with low toxicity.  Dosage:  2-10 drops of oil twice a day…”   ‘(Selected Medicinal Plants of India  [A Monograph of Identity, Safety and Clinical usage])’  Published by  Basic Chemicals, Pharmaceuticals, and Cosmetics Export Promotion Council, Bombay, India (Set up by the Ministry of Commerce, Government of India)  pg. 82.

“…ten to fifteen drops twice daily acts as a powerful stimulant…unattended by subsequent exhaustion.”  (Indian Medicinal Plants  vol. 1  Lalit Mohan, Basu, India)

Each softgel contains 100mg. of Celastrus paniculatus oil which equals 3 and ½ drops.  Usually one softgel in the morning is all that is necessary, but up to three twice a day can be safely used.


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