A Review on Sappan Wood - A Therapeutic Dye Yielding Tree
K. Mekala*, R. Radha
Department of Pharmacognosy, College of Pharmacy, Madras Medical College, Chennai – 600003
*Corresponding Author E-mail: email@example.com
The plant Caesalpinia sappan is a small leguminous tree upto 10m in height belonging to the Caesalpiniaceae family,with an orange-red hard Heartwood with spiny trunk ,which besides being useful in turnery gives a red dye. It is commonly known as Brazil or Sappan wood, native to tropical Asia, also grown as a hedge plant. The plant is being used worldwide for a large number of traditional medicinal purposes including anti-tumour, anti-inflammatory, immunosuppressive, anti-diabetic, anti-allergic, cardioactive, neurotoxicity, anti-bacterial, anti-acne , anemia, tuberculosis and some other activities. The main active constituent is Brazilin, and together triterpenoids, flavanoids, lipids, steroids, aminoacids etc are found. Leaves yield volatile oil, 0.16 to 0.25%; pods contain 40% tannin; seeds yield 32.1% and 34.4% mucilage and straw –yellow , edible oil(7.5%) having a characteristic smell; roots contains caesalpin-type diterpenoids along with sitosterol. In folklore medicine it is used as a herbal drinking water for its blood purifying, anti- thirst , anti-tumour and to improve complexion in Kerela. It has the potential to hit the market as a safe natural colouring agent with good medicinal value for pharmaceuticals, food products and beverages. The plant is one of the ingredients of an indigenous drug ‘Lukol’ which is administered orally for the treatment of non-specific leucorrhoea. The present article summarizes review on the plant, its phytochemistry and its pharmacological activity which have been reported.
Caesalpinia sappan with highly interesting biological effects and vast folklore uses is worth studying more that might provide a rich natural resource of lead compounds for drug development. This plant enjoys the open altitude of 1000m above sea level and grows well in mountaineous areas that are not too cold (Fig 1). It is cultivated wild in west Bengal, Madhya Pradesh, orissa, These plant belongs to family Caesalpiniaceae, shaped small tree, 5-10m high; 15-25cm diam, spiny trunk and branches rufous-pubescent, stem round brownish green colour (Fig 2).
Propagation by seed or stem cuttings. Leaves 20-38cm long, pinnae 8-12 pairs, 10-15cm. Long , subsessile, with small prickles at the base. Leaflets 10-18pairs, subsessile, close, oblong, rounded at the apex, attached at the lower cornor, very in equilateral, glaborous above, more or less puberulous beneath (Fig 3)
Flowers in panicles, which are terminal and in the axils of the upper leaves, 30-40cm long; pedicles 1.3-1.5cm long, bracts lanceolate, 8mm long, caducous. Calyx 11mm, long , leathery, glaborous, corolla 2cm across; petals orbicular subequal, yellow, the upper with a red spot at the base, stamens delicate, waxy-white, filaments densely woolly at the base (Fig 3).Pods 7-10 by 3.8-5cm,woody, obliquely oblong, sub compressed, polished, indehiscent with a hard returned short beak at the upper angle of the obtuse apex (Fig 4) Seeds 3-4. wood has outer sapwood which is white pale buff colour and inner orange red heartwood(1-2) (Fig 5). The wood was formely used in calico printing of cotton, wool and silk. It is now however now replaced by synthetic dyes3.
Fig 1 Caesalpinia sappan
Fig 2 Spiny trunk
Fig 3 Leaves and Flowers
Fig 4 Pods with Seeds
Fig 5 Heartwood
Kingdom : Plantae
Sub kingdom : Viridiplantae
Infra kingdom :Streptophyta
Super division : Embryophyta
Sub division : Spermatophytina
Super order :Rosanae
Genus :Caesalpinia Linn.
Species :Caesalpinia sappan Linn– Sappan wood
A great deal of chemical investigation has been carried out in this plant and presence of compounds, viz: triterpenoids, flavanoids, steroids, oxygen heterocycles, and aminoacids has been reported in the heartwood and seeds of this plant3,5. Brazilin, the main constituent of plant is oxidised to produce Brazilein by air and light3. Two new aromatic compounds structurally related to brazilin were isolated and identified from the heartwood of sappanwood. They possessed anti-hypercholesteremic activity6. The wood is reported to containing β-amyrin and glucose, and the free aminoacids: alanine, aspartic acid, glycine, proline, valine, leucine, threonine; free sugars: lactose, galactose, sorbose, 4-methyl galactose, 3,4-dimethyl galactose;2-deoxyribose and glucose are also present7. The petroleum ether extract of the heartwood gave 1.15% of a fixed oil (sap val,204.2; and iod val, 28.8) having the following fatty acid composition: palmitic 27.6; stearic , 44.2; linoleic, 25.9; and oleic, 2.23%.The heartwood contains flavanoids and homoisoflavanoids. It also contains sappanol, episappanol, 3’-o-methylepisappanol, 3’-deoxysappanol, 3’-o-methyisappanol, 3’-o-methylbrazilin, 4-methylsappanol, quercetin, rhamnetin and ombuin is also reported7,8. Two new phenolic compounds, epicaesalpin j and 7,10,11-trihydroxydracaenone, were isolated from the heartwood of sappan9. Tannin is found in the leaves 19%, bark 44%, and pods 40%. Leaves yield volatile oil, 0.16 to 0.25%; d-α-phellandrene, terpene and methyl alcohol10
There are innumerable traditional medicinal uses of this plant. The plant is one of the ingredients of an indegenous drug ‘Lukol’ which is administered orally for the treatment of non-specific leucorrhoea (post-I.U.D), and gave encouraging results for bleeding following I.U.D-insertion11.The decoction of the wood is considered as a powerful emmenagogue, astringent, sedative, stomachic, postpartum tonic, vulnery, tuberculosis, anemia, diuretic, used by women as tonic after confinement and also for vomiting of blood 12 in Ayurvedha and Unani. The wood is suitable for making cabinet-making, walking-sticks, and small ornamental turnery articles like dagger sheaths and hilts. Brazilin dye is reported to have anti-inflammatory activity13. The plant pigments find use in manufacture of facials which are resistant to light, heat and water, and non-irritating. The dyeing properties of wood is used in colouring food products, icecreams, bakery, confectionaries, beverages etc. The wood is the component of ‘vicco vajaradanti’TM a famous tooth powder and paste of India. Its folkloric uses includes- in kerela , decoction of heartwood used for blood purifying, anti-thirst, anti-diabetic, and to improve complexion. In Ayurveda, useful in vitiated conditions of Pitta, burning sensations, wounds, ulcers, leprosy, skin diseases, diarrhoea, dysentery, and diabetes. In Thailand , used for arthritis, cancer, and inflammatory complaints. In Indo-china, seeds used as stomachic.2
The methanolic extract of the heartwood showed anti inflammatory activity. The active constituent Haematin isolated from the heartwood used in oriental medicine act both as an analgesic and anti inflammatory agent. In the test conducted for inhibition of hyaluronidase activity, among 130 herbal medicines , sappan Lignum one of the six acive plants, its methanol extract at 5mg/ml concenteration showed more than 50% inhibition of hyaluronidase activity. Study evaluated the effects of an ethanolic extract on human chondrocytes and macrophages. Results showed an anti-inflammatory effect in an invitro cell model of joint inflammation14.
CYTOTOXICITY AND ANTI-TUMOUR ACTIVITY:
The anti cancer activity of brazilein, a compound isolated from Caesalpinia sappan was investigated. MTT assay showed that the IC50 value of brazilein against human breast cancer MCF-7 cells was 7.23±0.24 µmol/L. Western blot, RT-PCR assay, and RNA interference assay illustrated that brazilein induced growth inhibition of breast cancer cells and down regulation of GSK-3β/β-catenin pathway was involved in its mechanism.15 The chloroform extract induces cell death in head and neck cancer cells lines. It resulted in increases in the HNSCC4 and HNSCC31 cells, which is linked to increased cellular levels of p21 WAF1/CIP1. Sappan wood act as a anti tumour agent in oriental medicine16. Methanol and water extracts exhibited marked cytotoxic activity against human cancer cells lines such as HeLa, MDA MB, A 549, and HCT-15 in the MTT assay. The water extract obtained from the heartwood of Caesalpinia sappan has shown promising cytotoxic and apoptotic potential. The in vivo study in albino mice using Ehrlich carcinoma model resulted in an increase in the life span17.
Anti hepatotoxic effect of methanolic extract was observed in freshly isolated rat hepatocytes at concenteations 1000-800 µg/ml and was found to be similar to that of standard drug silymarin. Both extracts was abel to restore the biochemical levels to normal which were altered due to ccl4 intoxification in freshly isolated rat hepatocytes and also in animals.18 The methanol and aqueous extracts of heartwood of Caesalpinia Sappan for its hepatoprotective activity against ccl4 induced toxicity in freshly isolated rat hepatocytes and animals19.
Brazilein an important immunosuppressive component of sappan showed inhibition of T cells proliferation and suppress mice humoral immune response. Ethanol extract of sappan heartwood suppress the immune competence of lymphocytes , water extract affect T cells function and its ester extract can affect immune competence and NK cells. Ehanol extract has the strongest immunosuppressive function20.
ANTI OXIDANT ACTIVITY:
Brazelien showed highest DPPH radical scavenging activity and ferric reduction activity as compared to standard vitamin E and other compound isolate from sappan lignum including brazilein, sappanchalcone, protosappanin B and C. It also showed dose dependant inhibition of peroxide formation in linoleic acid emulsion during incubation at 500 c for 250h21.
ANTI ALLERGIC ACTIVITY:
The dichloromethane extract of the roots and heartwood of Sappan lignum exhibit potent inhibitory activity against β- hexosaminidase release as marker of degranulation in rat basophilic leukemic cells, with inhibition of 98.7% and 87.5% at concenteration of 100 µg/ml, respectively. Sappanchalcone possessed the most potent effect against allergic reaction in rat basophilic leukemic ( RBL 2H3) cells with an inhibitory concenteration (IC50) value of 7.6um22.
CARDIOACTIVE EFFECTS OF BRAZILEIN:
Ethanol extract of Sappan lignum obtain brazilein. In isolated cardiac tissues, brazilein exhibited a +ve inotropic action in a concenteration dependant manner with little effect on heart rate and coronary perfusion. Albino guinea pig erythrocytes enriched with Na+ K+, ATPase isoforms were utilized to compare the inhibition promoted by brazilein with that of classical inhibitors such as cardiac glycosides deslanoside. The extent of maximum inhibition rate was about 50%. Brazelien produced its positive inotropic effect through inhibiting Na+ K+-ATPase .23
Brazilin, the principle component of sappan lignum has been found to exhibit hypoglycaemic properties and to increase glucose metabolism in diabetics rats. It improved glucose metabolism in cultured rat hepatocytes, also increased basal glucose transport in 3T 3L1 fibroblasts and adipocytes , but insulin stimulated glucose transport was not influenced.24
ANTI ACNE ACTIVITY:
Brazilin isolated from Sappan lignum possessed antibacterial activity against propionibacterium acnes with MIC and MBC values of 15.6 and 31.2ug/ml, respectively. Brazilin rich extract considered as a potential coloring agent with anti bacterial and acne activity which is used for pharmaceutical, cosmetic, and neutraceutical applications.25
MELANOGENESIS INHIBITORY ACTIVITY:
Homoisoflavanone, sappanone A, was isolated from Caesalpinia sappan and proven to dose-dependently inhibit both melanogenesis and cellular tyrosinase activity via repressing tyrosinase gene expression in mouse B16 melanoma cells. sappanone A is the first homoisoflavanone to be discovered with melanogenesis inhibitory activity. Results gave a new impetus to the future search for other homoisoflavanone melanogenesis inhibitors26.
The Caesalpinia sappan possessed various reported activities such as anti osteoporotic activity27, suppression of melanin synthesis28, anti helmintic29, anti bacterial30, anti influenza virus31 , vasorelaxant32 were also reported in this plant. Toxicity evaluation of Sappan wood extract showed it did not produce any acute or sub acute toxicity upto 5000 mg/kg in rats33.
Sappan wood with high therapheutic effect and vast folklore uses is worth studying more that might provide a rich natural resource of lead compounds for drug development. Medicinally the wood is recommended as a substitute for logwood. It has vast uses in ayurveda and yunani. Based on literature review, Caesalpinia sappan heartwood has high potential for therapeutic and colouring use. Dyeing properties which has a use in colouring foods such as hard cheese, butter, dairy products, fish products, beverages, bakery, ice creams etc. Brazelien has potential pharmacological activity such as anti-tumour, anti inflammatory, anti-diabetic, immunostimulant properties and also anti thirst, blood purifying action and healing properties in Aurvedha and Unani beneficial to develop into a drug , neutraceuticals and cosmetics.
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Received on 22.09.2015 Modified on 06.10.2015
Accepted on 30.10.2015 ©A&V Publications All right reserved