Sinduri (Bixa orellana) – Uses, Remedies, Dose, Research, Side Effects

By Dr Renita D’Souza
Sinduri (Bixa orellana) is a small tree well known as the source of the red-orange, annatto pigment. Though it is mainly used as culinary spice, the plant also have some medicinal uses.

Introduction, uses, qualities

Annatto pigment is widely used natural dyes to colour food, cosmetics and pharmaceutical products. It is considered as non toxic and that colouring does not alter the flavor of food.

Botanical Name – Bixa orellana
Family – Bixaceae

Medicinal Uses of Sindhuri (Bixa orellana)
Visha – poisoning, toxic conditions
Rakthapitta – Bleeding diseases like nasal bleeding etc
Trishna – excess thirst
Krimi – worm infestation
Shiroarthi – headache

Medicinal Qualities of Latkan
Taste – Pungent, Bitter, Astringent
Virya (potency) – cold (shita)

Special Qualities
Bhutanasha – wards off evil spirits

Effects on tridosha
Balances kapha and vata dosha

Properties of Sindhuri

  • Seeds and roots are considered as good appetiser (rochaka), absorbent (grahi) and relieves fever (antipyretic).
  • Fruit pulp in small quantity is considered as grahi (absorbent) and in large quantity act as purgative (sramsana).

A natural orange-red condiment obtained from the waxy arils that cover its seeds is called annatto, achiote or bijol. Annato and its extracts are often used to impart a yellow or orange colour to foods such as cheese, butter, ice creams etc. it also adds flavor and aroma. In America it is used to make body paints and lipstick. Hence the plant is also called as Lipstick tree.
Read – Kampillaka: Mallotus philippensis Uses, Research, Remedies

Remedies, dose, morphology

Traditional remedies of Annatto plant

  • Bark of roots is given in fever
  • Leaves infusion is used in the treatment of jaundice.

Bark powder – 3 – 6 grams

Part Used
Whole plant.

Morpholgy of Bixa orellana (Achiote tree)
Bixa orellana is a perennial shrub grows to a height of 5 – 8 meter. Leaves are alternate, large 10 – 20 cm long, chordate, green. It bears clusters of white or pink flowers, appear at the tip of the branches. Fruits are globular, bright red or green, covered with soft spines, arranged in clusters. Seeds are small,30 – 45 in number, cone shaped, covered with red pigment.

Interaction with medicines, supplements

Can this be used while taking Homeopathic medicine?
Yes. This product does not react with homeopathic medicine.

Can this medicine be continued while taking supplements like multivitamin tablets, Omega 3 fatty acids etc?
Yes. Generally, this product goes well with most of the dietary supplements. However, if you are taking more than one product per day, please consult your doctor for an opinion.

With western medicines
Seek your doctor’s advice if you are taking this product along with other western (allopathic / modern) medicines. Some Ayurvedic herbs can interact with modern medicine.
If both Ayurvedic and allopathic medicines are advised together, then it is best to take Allopathic medicine first, wait for 30 minutes and then take the Ayurvedic medicine.

Chemistry, side effects, synonyms

Chemical compostion
Seeds contain major component Bixin, fat and starch also present in small quantity. Isobixin, beta carotene, ellagic acid, salicyclic acid tomentosic acid, orellin, bixein.
Bixin, a red-colored carotenoid, is the pigment responsible for the dyeing characteristics of seeds.

Side Effects of Bixa orellana
There are no recorded side effects of this plant.
However taken in excess dose can cause gastric irritation and constipation due to astringent property.
Externally in some can cause allergic reactions.

Sanskrit synonyms
Rakthabija, rakthapushpa, Sukomala
Virapushpa, trenapushpi

Names of Sinduri in different Languages
English Name – Achiote tree, Annatto plant 
Hindi Name – Latkan, Sada suhagan
Bengali Name – Latkan
Kannada Name – Rangamali
Marathi Name – Shendri
Tamil Name – Jaffar, Sappiraviraj
Telugu Name – Jaffar
Oriya – Lotkon
Gujarati Name – Sinduri
Manipuri – Ureirom
Malayalam Name – Kurannumannal
Spanish Name –  achiolte (Spain), bija
French Name – annato, orelana, rocou, rocouyer, roucou
Chinese Name – hong mu
Portuguese – anato
Brazil Name – açafroa, açafroeira-da-terra, achiote, coloral, urucum, urucuzeiro; uru-uva

Research, distribution, classification

1. Anti bacterial Activity – A research study conducted on antibacterial activity of methanolic extract of  Bixa orellana on Streptococcus mutans and Streptococcus sanguinis have demonstrated its antibacterial effect and concluded that extract of this plant is cytotoxic at high concentrations.

2. A review article describes the natural edible dye Annatto (Bixa orellana L.) as eco-friendly, non-toxic and possess less side effects (read more)

3. Read here – A review article on traditional uses, chemical constituents, and biological activities of Bixa orellana.

Bixa orellana is a native to tropical Central and South America. In India it is distributed in Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Orissa, West Bengal, Gujarat, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh.

Classical Catergorisation
Bhavaprakasha Nighantu – Pushpa Varga
Kaiyadeva Nighantu – Aushadi Varga
Raja Nighantu – Karaviradi Varga

Botanical classification
Kingdom – Plantae
Order – Malvales
Family – Bixaceae
Genus – Bixa
Species- B. Orellana
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