Celastrus Paniculatus: The Miracle Herb for Cognitive Function (Malkangini, Jyotishamti)

Table of Contents

1. Introduction
2. Vernacular Names
3. Synonyms
4. Distribution
5. Morphology
6. Chemical Constituent
7. Identity, Purity, and Strength (Seeds)
8. Ayurvedic and Pharmacological Actions
9. Health Benefits
10. Therapeutic Uses
11. Official Part Used
12. Dose


“Celastrus Paniculatus is popularly known as the Intellect tree as it miraculously improves cognitive function, learning, memory, and mental acuity.”

1. Introduction

Celastrus Paniculatus or Jyotishmati is named after its ability to enhance cognitive function and natural luminosity (jyoti) of the mind (mati). Since time immemorial, it has been used to treat brain-related diseases and enhance learning and memory.

The plant has a long history of usage as medicine, in Unani and Siddha medical systems, Celastrus Paniculatus is used for treating facial paralysis, backache, gout, paraplegia, fatigue, and neurasthenia. Thai practitioners used it for fever, diarrhea, and dysentery. In Chinese traditional medicine, Celastrus Paniculatus oil is used as a natural insecticide and for the treatment of arthritis, swellings, chills, fever, pain, and infections.

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2. Vernacular Names

Assamese - Kapalphotla

Gujrati - Malkangani

Kannada – Gangunge beeja

Malayalam - Ceruppunnari

Marathi - Malkangani

Oriya - Malkanguni

Punjabi - Malkangoni

Tamil - Valuluvai

Telugu - Malkangani

Urdu - Malkangani

3. Synonyms

Durjaraa – The seeds do not digest easily.

Jyotishska – Improves digestive fire and its ushna virya in nature.

Kakandi – The shape of the fruit resembles a crow’s egg.

Katabhi – The seeds are katu/pungent in rasa.

Medhya – It promotes intellect.

Paravatapadi – Its roots resemble the pigeon’s foot.

Pinyaa – It is a famous trade commodity.

4. Distribution

The plant is native to the Indian subcontinent and is found throughout India up to an elevation of 1800m, including the Himalayas. Eastern Ghats, Western Ghats, and other high-altitude regions. It is also known to grow wildly in Australia, China, Taiwan, Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Thailand, and Vietnam.

5. Morphology

It is a woody climbing or scrambling shrub with terete branches, young branches are pendulous.


Rough, pale, reddish-brown, exfoliating bark covered with densely small elongated white lenticels. Stem up to 6m in length and 10cm in diameter.


Simple, alternate, broad, oval to obovate or elliptic in shape, leathery and smooth. Short petiole, apex acute, acuminate, base-cuneate, obtuse or rounded, margin toothed.


Unisexual yellowish-green, borne in terminal drooping panicles. Male flowers, pale green, calyx lobes suborbicular toothed, petals oblong or obovate entire, disk copular. Female flowers have sepals, petals, and discs like those of male flowers.


Capsule, depressed, globose, three-valved, three-celled, bright yellow, 1 to 1.3 cm in diameter, three to six seeds per capsule.


Grow inside the capsule, ellipsoid or ovoid, yellowish to reddish-brown, enclosed in orange-red fleshy aril. The plant is propagated by seeds.

6. Chemical Constituents

The seeds mainly contain alkaloids, sesquiterpene alkaloids, pristimerin, carbolic acid, fatty acid, and crystalline substances. Leaves are rich in saponin content whereas the bark and root have pistimerin, zeylasteral, terpenes.

7. Identity, Purity, and Strength (Seeds)

Foreign Matter – Not more than 2%

Total Ash – Not more than 6%

Acid-insoluble ash – Not more than 1.5%

Alcohol-soluble extractive – Not less than 20%

Water-soluble extractive – Not less than 09%

Oil content – Not less than 45%

(Source: The Ayurvedic Pharmacopeia of India 1999)

8. Ayurvedic and Pharmacological Actions


Celastrus Paniculatus seeds and taila are described as appetizers, digestive, and intellect promoters, induce vomiting, laxatives, pacify vata dosha, anodynes, stimulants, neurotics, carminative, cardiac stimulants, reduce swelling, diuretics, antipruritus, diaphoretics, antipyretics.

  • Doshakarma – Kaphavatahara
  • Dhatukarma – Medhya, Deepana
  • Malakarma – Vataanuloman, swedajanan


In vivo and vitro studies showed antihistaminic, sedative, anticonvulsant, antiviral, antipyretic, antiemetic, anti-bacterial, antimalarial, hypotensive, stimulant, central muscle relaxant, antiarthritic, hypotensive, healing, hypolipidemic, tranquilizer, analgesic, anti-inflammatory and memory enhancer activities.

9. Health Benefits

Celastrus Paniculatus seeds and oil are used in the treatment of insanity, epilepsy, wounds, loss of appetite, abdominal disorders, constipation, abdominal tumors, anemia, paralysis, facial paralysis, arthritis, backache, neuromuscular disease, cardiac debility, inflammation, cough, asthma, dysuria, infertility, skin disorders, and fever.

Tribals of Chhattisgarh use Celastrus Paniculatus seeds in a gradually increasing dose of 1 to 100 daily to treat weak memory. Traditional healers use Celastrus Paniculatus oil to improve memory, intellect, retention, and recalling power, to alleviate mental fatigue, stress, and minor joint pains. Seed oil mixed with clove, nutmeg, and mace treats beriberi and anxiety neurosis.

10. Therapeutic Uses

External Uses

A type of Dermatosis – Local application of Celastrus Paniculatus seeds oil processed with Apamarga kshara jal (alkaline water) decanted seven times to cure Dermatosis.

Cleansing of Wounds – The decoction of Celastrus Paniculatus seeds is used for washing wounds.

Internal Uses

Abdominal Disease

Oil extracted from the Celastrus Paniculatus fruit mixed with Svarjik kshara and hing should be taken with milk.


Intake of japa flower, kanji, and fried leaves of Celastrus Paniculatus, induces menstruation.

11. Official Part Used

Seeds, seed oil, leaves, bark.

12. Dose

  • Seed Powder – 1 to 2 gm
  • Oil – 5 to 10 drops.

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