Etymology / Snippet
- Historically, Echites scholaris was named by Linnaeus. It was renamed Alstonia scholaris by Robert Brown to commemorate of Prof. Charles Alston. The species name scholaris derives from the use of the wood in making blackboards and wooden slates for schools in South East Asia (Arulmozhi et al., 2007c; Baliga, 2010). (45) (46)
- The name Devil's tree is based on a belief in Western India that the tree is an abode of evil spirits. (50)
Dita is a smooth tree growing 6 to 20
meters high. Branches are lenticellate. Bark is dark greyish, somewhat rough, yielding an abundant, bitter, and milky sap. Leaves are in whorls,4 to 7in a whorl, leathery, narrowly obovate to spatulate, 10 to 20 centimeters long, 3 to 4.5
centimeters wide, pointed at the base, rounded at the apex, glossy green on the upper
surface, white or grayish on the underside. Lateral nerves are very numerous, parallel, and terminating in a intramarginal vein. Flowers are crowded, numerous, somewhat hairy, greenish-white,
about 1 centimeter long, hairy in the throat, borne in compact, hairy cymes about 10 centimeters long. Fruits is made up of two slender follicles which are pendulous
and cylindric follicles, 20 to 40 centimeters long, 4 to 5 millimeters in diameter. Seeds
are 3 to 4 millimeters long, with brown ciliate hairs on the ends.
- Found from Cagayan in northern Luzon to Palawan and Mindanao, in most or all islands
and provinces, in primary and secondary forests at low and medium altitudes.
- Also reported from India to southern China, Malaysia, Laos, and tropical Australia.
• Contains alkaloids,
tannins, glycosides, triterpenoids, flavonoids and phenolic acid.
• Bark yield the alkaloids echitenine, ditamine; crystalline and toxic echitamine; ditaine; and an uncrystallizable and bitter principle.
• Study isolated from the mother-liquors of echitamine hydrochloride, a crystalline alkaloid, echitamidine.
• A petroleum ether extract yielded echikautschin, echicerin, and echiretin.
• The bark contains indole alkaloids, including reserpine, echitamine,
alstonine, tetrahydroalstonine, alstonidine, yohimbine and others.
• Antihypertensive effect due to reserpine and echitamine.
• A study revealed three new indole alkaloids: nareline ethyl
ether, 5-epi-nareline ethyl ether and scholarine-N(4)oxide.
• Phytochemical screening of stem bark fractions yielded the presence of alkaloids, carbohydrates, tannins, terpenoids, saponins, flavonoids, steroids, fixed oils and fats. (35)
• Phytochemical screening of extracts of bark, stem, and leaves yielded alkaloids, saponins, terpenoids, flavonoids, phenolic compounds, tannins, steroids, and glycosides. The bark showed higher amounts of glycosides, alkaloids, gums and mucilage. (see study below) (43)
• Phytochemical screening of crude precipitate yielded steroids and triterpenes, fractions yielded alkaloids, saponins, flavonoids, tannins, glycosides and resins, and triterpenoid compounds. (see study below) (47)
• Study of hexane fraction of leaf extract
yielded ursolic acid (1), oleanolic acid (2), betulinic acid (3), betulin (4), 2β,3β,28-lup-20(29)-ene-triol (5), lupeol (6), β-amyrin (7), α-amyri (8), poriferasterol (9), epicampesterol (10), β-sitosterol (11), 6β-hydroxy-4-stigmasten-3-one (12), and ergosta-7,22-diene-3β,5α,6β-triol (13). (see study below) (49)
• GC-MS study of essential oil of flowers
yielded 60 compounds. Main constituents were 2-Dodecyloxirane (31.83%), Benzene, 1,2-dimethoxy-4-(2-propenyl)- (8.49%), Spinacene (6.09%), 1,54-Dibromotetrapentacontane (5.13%), 2,6,10,15-Tetramethylheptadecane (4.91%), Terpinyl acetate (3.74%), Linalool (2.22%), Tritetracontane (2.17%), 1-Cyclohexanol, 2-(3-methyl-1,3-butadienyl)-1,3,3-trimethyl- (1.58%). (51)
• Seeds yield indole alkaloids
alstovenine, venenatine, chlorogenine, reserpine, ditamine and echitamine. (54)
Study of leaves yielded two C13-norisoprenoids identified as megastigmane-3β, 4α, 9-triol (1) and 7-megastigmene-3,6,9-triol (2). Compound 1 is a new compound. (56)
• Study of trunk bark isolated a new indole alkaloids, akuammiginone (1), a new glycosidic indole alkaloid, echitamidine-N-oxide 19-O-ß-D-glucopyranoside (2), and five known alkaloids, echitaminic acid (3), echitamidine N-oxide (4), Nb-demethylalstogustine N-oxide (5), akuammicine N-oxide (6), and Nb-demethylalstogustine (7). (62)
• Study of dichlormethane extract of leaves yielded mixtures of erythrodiol (1a), uvaol (1b), and betulin (1c) in a 1:1:1 ratio, oleanolic acid and ursolic acid in a 2:1 ratio, ß-amyrin acetate (3b) and α-amyrin acetate (3b) in a 1:4 ratio, and β-sitosterol (4a) and stigmasterol (4b) in a 3:2 ratio; squalene (5), β-sitosteryl-3β-glucopyranoside-6"-O-fatty acid esters (6), and chlorophyll a (7). (68)
• Reported as antimicrobial, antiamoebic, antidiarrheal, antihypertensive, antimalarial,
febrifuge, stimulant, hepatoprotective, immunomodulatory, anti-cancer,
antiasthmatic, antioxidant, analgesic, anti-inflammatory, anti-fertility,
• Bitter bark and latex considered tonic and antiseptic.
• Ditamine or ditanin considered to possess antiperiodic properties equal to the best sulphate of quinine without the latter's disagreeable side effects.
- In the Philippines, the bark is regarded as a remedy for fevers, chronic diarrhea, dysentery.
- Earlier Spanish
records report the dita bark alkaloid was used in hospitals as a quinine substitute.
- Tonic wine was prepared by macerating 25 grams on the bark in a bottle of muscatel or sherry.
- Milky latex from the bark placed on cloth and applied as poultice to developing boils.
- Milky juice is applied to ulcers and rheumatic pains.
- Milky juice, mixed with oil, used as drops for earaches.
- Juice of leaves, mixed with fresh ginger root or zedoary, is given to women after confinement.
- Tender leaves, roasted and pulverized,
are made into a poultice for unhealthy ulcers and foul discharges.
- Chronic diarrhea, fever: 1% decoction of bark as tea.
- Malaria: 5% decoction of bark as tea.
- Tincture of the bark occasionally used as galactagogue.
- Decoction of the bark used as tonic, febrifuge, emmenagogue, anticholeric
- In eastern Malaysia, decoction of leaves used for beriberi.
- Decoction of leaves given for liver congestion.
- In Java, bark used as stomachic and is used as ingredient into mixtures used for coughs and vermifuges.
- Bark used as antidote for Antiaris poisoning.
- Late applied to hollow tooth for toothache.
- Powder of Alstonia cortex used for patients with paroxysmal attacks and those positive for malarial parasites in the finger's blood. (A clinical investigation in Queensland
showed contrary results, that the drug has little or no demonstrable action in malaria induced in monkeys or naturally occurring in humans.)
- In India, dita bark is used as astringent, tonic, anthelmintic, alterative, antiperiodic and remedy for diarrhea and dysentery.
- In India,
leaves used for asthma, dropsy, dysentery, fever, headaches and ulcers. Roots used for leprosy and as anthelmintic. Latex used for rheumatism, skin diseases, toothache, tumors, and ulcers. In Indonesia, used for diarrhea, diabetes, and hemorrhoids. In Malaysia, used for beriberi, stomatitis, malaria, fever, and yaws. In Burma, latex used for toothache and ulcers. In Vietnam, bark used for malaria and leaves for lactation. (45)
- In Ayurveda, used in phospaturia and as blood purifier. (43) Also, infusion of bark soaked overnight used in diabetes. Bark is an essential constituent in many polyherbal preparations.
- Tribal people of Sikkim use bark decoction for treatment of hypertension and cardiac disease.
- Poultice of young leaves used for ulcers.
- Bark paste applied to skin ulcers.
- In India, used for treatment of malaria, jaundice, intestinal maladies, cancer and other ailments. (45)
- Australian aborigenes used the bark for treatment of abdominal pains and fevers and the latex for neuralgia and toothache. (65)
- Wood: Used for making coffins in Sri Lanka and school boards in Myanmar. (65) Used for making plywood core.
- Ethnoveterinary: Used for fever in cattle (Harsha et al., 2005). (43)
In Kannada and Karnataka in India, on a new moon day (Ati amasé in Tulu), there is a mass annual ritual of drinking the bitter bark decoction, believed to boost the immune system and prevent diseases. (50)
- Fuelwood: In Sri Lanka, recommended as fuelwood for the patana lands. (65)
- Fiber: Bark yields a fiber which is suitable for pulp and paper production. (65)
- Gum: Latex provides source for good quality chewing gum. (65)
inhibitors / Diabetes: Study
showed potent a-glucosidase inhibitory activity in the extract of dried
leaves. It suggests further examination of A. scholaris as a medicinal
supplement for the treatment and prevention of diabetes. (2)
• Radioprotective: The study showed that A. scholaris extract
protected against radiation-induced hematological and biochemical changes
in mice. (3)
• Radioprotective / Bark: A study on Alstonia scholaris bark extract to evaluate its radioprotective effect on cytogenetic alterations in the form of chromosomal aberrations and micronuclei induction in the bone marrow. Results showed pretreatment provides a radioprotective effect.
• Anti-Cancer / Chemomodulatory / Enhancement of Berberine Effect: Study evaluated the chemomodulatory effect of A. scholaris extract in combination with berberine hydrochloride (BCL), a topoisomerase inhibitor, in Ehrlich ascites carcinoma-bearing mice: The study on
the chemomodulatory activity of ASE showed it was effective in the early
stages with decreased efficiency in the later tumor developmental stages.
• Anti-Cancer : Study showed the efficacy of AS in inhibiting mutagenic changes
induced by benzo(a)pyrene induced forestomach carcinoma in female mice. (7)
• Anti-Cancer: An anticancer study of various doses of an alkaloid fraction was done in cultured human neoplastic cell lines (HeLa, HepG2, HL60, KB and MCF-7) and in Ehrlich ascites carcinoma bearing mice. Results showed a time dependent increase in antineoplastic activity. There was also a dose-dependent decline in viable cells.
• Anti-diarrheal: Study
showed the aqueous and alcoholic bark extracts of AS significantly reduced
the diarrhea in mice. (6)
• Anti-malarial: A
study of extract of bark of AS was found to be devoid of antimalarial
activity in mice infected with P berghei. However, a dose-dependent
improvement of conditions and delayed mortality was found in animals
receiving the methanol extract. (8)
• Immunostimulatory: A
study of bark extracts of AS cellular immune response and inhibited a
delayed type hypersensitivity reaction. (9)
• Anti-diabetic / Hypoglycemic:
Study showed hypoglycemic effects attributed to insulin triggering
mechanisms and direct insulin-like actions. (10)
• Antioxidant / Free Radical Scavenging / Nitric Oxide Scavenging Activity: Study of ethanolic extract showed AS possess antioxidant properties
with significant free radical scavenging, superoxide anion radical scavenging
and significant ferric thiocyanate reducing activities. (11) Of 17 Indian medicinal plants, A scholaris showed the most potent NO scavenging activity. (12) Study evaluated various extracts of bark, stem, and leaves. Aqueous and/or methanolic extracts from bark showed potent antioxidant activity, and at every concentration studied the superoxide radical scavenging was higher than those of standard galic acid. (see constituents above) (44)
• Comparative Antibacterial Study on Bark: Comparative study was done on the phytochemical and antibacterial activities of the bark of A. scholaris and A. macrophylla. Different solvent extracts showed alkaloids, saponins, phenolics, and tannins in both species. The chloroform extract of A. macrophylla showed broader spectrum of antibacterial activity than A. scholaris. (13)
• Antitussive / Anti-Asthmatic / Expectorant / Picrinine: Study of alkaloid fractions of Alstonia scholaris leaf showed antitussive, anti-asthmatic and expectorant activities. The main antitussive and antiasthmatic effect were attributed to picrinine. (14)
• Anti-Inflammatory / Analgesic: Study of alkaloid fraction of Alstonia scholaris leaf yielded three main alkaloids - picrinine, vallesamine and scholaricine which may produce anti-inflammatory and analgesic effects peripherally based on in vivo assays. In in vitro testing, the alkaloids exhibited inhibition of inflammatory mediators (COX1, COX2 and 5-LOX. (15)
• Antidiarrheal / Spasmolytic: In a castor oil-induced diarrhea model, a crude extract of Alstonia scholaris exhibited antidiarrheal and spasmolytic effects, mediated possibly through the presence of calcium channel blocking constituents, a mechanism that provides mechanistic basis for its medicinal use in diarrhea and colic. (17)
• Antidiabetic / Antihyperlipidemic / Bark: A study of an aqueous extract of AS bark in STZ-induced diabetic rats showed significant amelioration in fasting glucose, serum triglycerides, liver glycogen, glycosylated hemoglobin and body weight in diabetic rats. (19)
• Antimycobacterial / Antihyperlipidemic: Study was done to evaluate the susceptibility of Mycobacterium tuberculosis to butanolic extracts of bark and flowers of Alstonia scholaris. Results showed moderate bactericidal activity against clinical strains of sensitive and drug resistant M. tuberculosis. An invitro bioassay showed complete inhibition of the the fast grower MTB. Results show a clear indication of a potent anti-tubercle effect.(21)
• In Vitro Cytotoxicity / Roots: Least studied of the plant parts, an in vitro study investigated the cytotoxic properties of the roots of the plant. Results showed time dependent effect. The cell viability was found to decrease with the increase in concentration of the isopropanol extract. (22)
• Anti-Aging / Anti-Skin Irritation: A. scholaris decreased retinol-induced skin irritation, increased the ability of the retinoids to inhibit matrix metalloproteinase-1, which is strongly associated with anti-aging effects. Results suggest a potential compound that may increase the anti-aging function of retinoids while reducing its ability to cause skin irritation. (23)
• Aerobiological / Clinical / Immunobiochemical Properties: A West Bengal study showed A. scholaris pollen to be present 8.57% in the air from September until November. Among allergic patients, 28.57% showed positive skin reaction to the pollen extract, seven IgE-binding proteins were found; one component of 29.9 kDa was most important, which can be purified and help in the diagnosis and treatment of AS pollen-susceptible patients. (26)
• Anticonvulsant / Sedative: Study concluded an ethanolic extract of A. scholaris possesses antiepileptic and sedative potential, probably through alteration in the GABA mediated chloride channel of neurons associated with sleep activity. (28)
• Antihypertensive Effect: Study of bark decoction of Saptaparna on 30 patients with hypertension showed beneficial effects in reducing elevated diastolic blood pressure. (29)
• Analgesic / Anti-Inflammatory: Study of a dichlormethane fraction of leaves showed peripheral analgesic activity, anti-inflammatory activity and lack of ulcerogenicity. (30)
• Antibacterial / Bark: Study investigated the in vitro antibacterial activity of various extracts of trunk bark of Alstonia scholaris. The extracts showed a broad spectrum of activity against both Gram-negative and Gram-positive bacteria. The aqueous extract showed the best antibacterial activity. (31) Study of various concentrations of a methanol bark extract showed significant inhibition zones against gram-positive Bacillus coagulans and gram-negative Escherichia coli. (48)
• Anticancer / Skin Carcinogenesis: Study of a bark extract of Alstonia scholaris demonstrated chemopreventive potential in DBMA-induced skin tumorigenesis in Swiss albino mice. (32)
• Antidiabetic / Antihyperlipidemic / Leaves: Study evaluated an ethanol extract of leaves for antidiabetic activity in STZ-induced diabetic rats. Blood glucose level, body weight, HbA1c, muscle and liver glycogen, lipid profile, lipid peroxidation and antioxidant status were measured. (33)
• Echitamine Chloride / Inhibition of Glycolysis of Sarcoma 180 Cells: Malignant tumors are reported to exhibit a high degree of glycolytic activity. Echitamine chloride, an indole alkaloid from the bark of A. scholaris, has been reported to have promising anticancer activity against fibrosarcoma in rats. Study showed echitamine chloride affects both cellular and mitochondrial respiration, leading to a reduction of cellular energy pool and loss of viability of S-180 cells. (34)
• Enhanced Radiosensitivity in Various Neoplastic Cell Lines: Study demonstrated the radiosensitizing effect of an alkaloid fraction of Alstonia scholaris in various neoplastic cell lines. Pretreatment enhanced cell killing, the greatest observed for HeLa and KB cells. Results showed enhancement of effect of radiation which resulted in disease-free survival of the mice. (36)
• Antifungal: Study of different concentration of alcoholic extracts of Alstonia scholaris, A. mexicana and Datura alba showed concentration dependent inhibition of radial growth of Candida albicans. (37)
• Antiviral: Study investigated the anti-viral activity of various solvent extracts of Alstonia scholaris. In in-vivo assays, results showed longer survival in mice infected with Coxsackie virus B2. There was also considerable anti-viral activity against polio virus, Herpes simplex, and Hepatitis B virus. (38)
• Anti-Arthritic / Antioxidant / Gastroprotective / Leaves: Study of an ethanolic extract of A. scholaris leaves against Freund's Complete Adjuvant (FCA) induced arthritic rats showed prominent antiarthritic activity which may be attributed to its analgesic, anti-inflammatory, immunosuppressant, and antioxidant activities. The extract also significantly reduced gastric lesion indices and gastric juice secretion in ethanol and sodium salicyate induced gastropathy. (39)
• Hepatoprotective -Arthritic / Antioxidant / Gastroprotective / Leaves: Study in rats showed hepatoprotective effect of A. scholaris on liver injuries induced by carbon tetrachloride, ß-D-galactosamine, acetaminophen and ethanol. (40)
• Anti-Stress / Bark: Study evaluated the effect of stress and its modulation by a methanolic extract of bark of Alstonia scholaris using acute restraint stress model in mice. Results provided support for the anti-stress (adaptogenic), antioxidant, and nootropic activities of A. scholaris. (41)
• Antioxidant / Root-Bark: Study evaluated various solvent fractions of a methanol extract for DPPH radical scavenging activity. The precipitate, fraction, and compound showed a dose dependent inhibition of DPPH radical. An ethyl acetate fraction showed better antioxidant activity with IC50 of 54.25 µg/mL. (see constituents above) (47)
/ Triterpenoids and Sterols / Non-Small Cell Carcinoma Cells / Leaves: Study evaluated the active components of A. scholaris leaf extract for anti-proliferative effects against non-small cell carcinoma cells. Study yielded eight triterpenoids and five sterols. Ursolic acid (1), betulinic acid (3), betulin (4), and 2β,3β,28-lup-20(29)-ene-triol (5) showed anti-proliferative activity against NSCLC with IC50 of 39.8, 40.1, 240.5 and 172.6 µM, respectively. (see constituents above) (49)
• Toxicity Study / Teratogenic Effect: Study evaluated the teratogenic effect of a hydroalcoholic extract of A. scholaris in pregnant Swiss albino mice at various doses (0-480 mg/kg). Doses up to 240 mg/kg did not induced mortality, congenital malformations or alter normal growth patterns. Doses of 360 or 480 mg/kg resulted inn dose dependent increase in mortality, growth retardation and congenital malformations, characterized by bent tails and syndactyly, along with significant delay in other morphological parameters. (52)
• Antibacterial / Mixture of Latexes of A. scholaris and Calatropis gigantia: Ancient Ayurvedic texts record the use of mixture of latexes of Saptaparna and Arka for dental caries pain. Study evaluated the antibacterial activity of the mixture against E. coli and gingivitis bacteria. Results showed the mixture was as effective as control drug ampicillin. The mixture was found more effective than individual samples. (53)
• Cytotoxicity / Stem Bark: Study evaluated the bioactivities and cytotoxicity of various extracts of three medicinal plants from India viz. Alstonia scholaris, A. venenata and Moringa oleifera. Amon the extracts tested for cytotoxicity on DLA cells, the most active were extracts from A. scholaris and A. venenata. A hexane extract of stem bark of A. scholaris showed an EC50 of 68.75 µg/mL. Results suggest a potential for anticancer drugs against leukemia and lymphoma and use as antioxidants in dietary supplements. (55)
• Antioxidant / Flowers and Fruits: Study investigated the antioxidant potential of inflorescence and fruits of A. scholaris. A methanol extract of flower showed powerful antioxidant activity by DPPH and Beta-carotene assays, higher activity than the fruit extract. (57)
• Antidiabetic / Stem Bark: Study evaluated the ameliorative properties of bioactive compounds of an ethanolic extract of A. scholaris stem bark extract in alloxan induced diabetic rats. Results showed highly significant reduction (p<0.005) of blood glucose. (58)
• Antiplasmodial / Bark and Leaf: Study evaluated various plant parts viz. leaf, stem, bark, root, and fruit of A. scholaris against malarial parasite Plasmodium falcifarum. Among the plant parts tested, the bark and leaf exhibited IC50 <3.125 µg/mL followed by stem extract with IC50 3.125 µg/mL. (59)
• Antihypertensive / Vasorelaxant
/ Stem Bark: Study of stem bark extracts and fractions of A. scholaris showed blood pressure lowering activity in a male spontaneously hypertensive rat model and vasorelaxant effect on pre-contracted aortic rings probably via endothelium independent mechanisms. Potent negative chronotropic and ionotropic effect may also augment its antihypertensive effect. (60)
• Antimicrobial: Study showed A. scholaris is rich in secondary metabolities such as flavonoids, alkaloids, tannins, terpenoids and saponin which exhibited antimicrobial activity. Crude extracts showed significant antibacterial effect against selected pathogens i.e., Bacillus subtilis, Staphylococcus aureus, Escherichia coli, Klebsiella pneumonia, Pseudomonas aeruginosa and Streptococcus pyogenes. (61)
• Protective Against Bleomycin Induced Chromosomal Damage / Bark: Study evaluated the protective effects of aqueous and methanolic extracts of A. scholaris bark, stem and leaves against bleomycin induced clastogenicity. Bark extract treatment significantly (p<0.01) reduced total chromosomal aberrations. Results suggest certain compounds in the bark extract enhance DNA repair capacity. (63)
• Broncho-Vasodilatory Activity / Leaves: Study of an ethanol extract of A. scholaris leaves showed pronounced induction of bronchodilatory activity in anesthetized rats with probably mediated by prostaglandins, calcium antagonisms and endothelium-derived relaxing factor/s. (64)
• Ameliorative Against Acetic Acid Induced Colitis / Anti-Inflammatory / Antioxidant / Leaves: Study evaluated an alkaloidal fraction of leaves of A. scholaris against acetic acid induced inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) in a male Wistar rats. Results showed amelioration of colitis through its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties by inhibition of production of oxido-inflammatory mediator and pro-inflammatory cytokines. (66)
• Anticarcinogenic / Antimutagenic: Study evaluated the anticarcinogenic and antimutagenic activity of A. scholaris on bone marrow cells and peripheral human lymphocyte culture against methyl methane sulfonate induced genotoxicity in mice. Extracts of A. scholaris significantly reduced the number of immature cells and frequency of aberration per cell. (67)
• Silver Nanoparticles / Bactericidal / Leaves: Study reports on the green synthesis of AgNPs using a 10% leaf extract of A. scholaris. The antibacterial property was tested against Escherichia coli with minimum inhibitory concentrations of 0.08 nM of AgNPs, suggesting therapeutic efficacy. (69)
• Antioxidant / Anticholinesterase / Bark: Study evaluated the in-vitro antioxidant and anticholinesterase potential of bark extracts of A. scholaris by DPPH assay and rat brain cholinesterase assay. Ethyl acetate and methanolic extracts showed significant antioxidant and cholinesterase inhibitory activity. Results suggest a potential for use in neurological disorders like Alzheimer's disease. (70)