Can Semecarpus Anacardium Ease Inflammation?

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Semecarpus anacardium is a plant long used in ayurveda, the alternative medicine of India. Sometimes referred to as "bibba", "bhallataka" or marking nut, it appears to possess antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Herbal remedies containing Semecarpus anacardium are typically made with extracts of the nut of the plant.


In alternative medicine, Semecarpus anacardium is sometimes touted as a natural remedy for the following health problems:

In addition, Semecarpus anacardium is said to enhance libido, promote weight loss, stimulate digestion, and strengthen your defense against some forms of cancer.

The Health Benefits of Semecarpus Anacardium

Although research on the health effects of Semecarpus anacardium is extremely limited, some preliminary studies show that this remedy may offer certain benefits. Here's a look at some key findings from the available research on Semecarpus anacardium:

1)  Arthritis

Semecarpus anacardium may aid in the treatment of arthritis, according to an animal study published in General Pharmacology in 1996. In the study, tests on rats demonstrated that milk extracted from the Semecarpus anacardium nut helped regulate the activity of enzymes involved in arthritis-related inflammation.

2)  Diabetes

A rat-based study published in Methods and Findings in Experimental and Clinical Pharmacology in 2004 indicates that Semecarpus anacardium may help combat diabetes.

The study found that treatment with an extract of the Semecarpus anacardium nut helped lower blood sugar levels in diabetic rats.

3)  Cancer

Several preliminary studies suggest that Semecarpus anacardium might have anti-cancer effects.

For example, an animal study published in the Journal of Medicinal Food in 2006 determined that Semecarpus anacardium may protect against cancer affecting the mammary glands.

In a rat-based experiment, researchers observed that treatment with Semecarpus anacardium nut milk extract may inhibit cancer growth in part by offsetting the damaging effects of oxidative stress.

There's also some evidence that compounds found in Semecarpus anacardium may help induce apoptosis (a type of programmed cell death essential for stopping the proliferation of cancer cells).


Due to a lack of research, little is known about the safety of long-term or regular use of Semecarpus anacardium. Compounds in the nut have been found to be toxic to the kidneys, and potentially lead to acute kidney failure. If you're thinking of using this remedy to manage a health condition, talk to your doctor before starting your supplement regimen.

It's important to note that, due to the fact that dietary supplements are largely unregulated, the content of some products containing Semecarpus anacardium may differ from what is specified on the product label. In some cases, the product may deliver doses that differ from the specified amount for each ingredient. In other cases, the product may be contaminated with other substances such as metals. While consumers face such risks when purchasing any dietary supplement, these risks may be of greater magnitude in the purchase of Ayurvedic products, especially those containing a variety of herbs in varying doses.

In addition, the safety of supplements in pregnant women, nursing mothers, children, and those with medical conditions or who are taking medications has not been established. You can learn more about using dietary supplements here but should always speak with your doctor before trying any form of alternative medicine. It's also important to note that self-treating a condition and avoiding or delaying standard care may have serious consequences.

Alternatives to Semecarpus Anacardium

Due to the lack of research, it's too soon to recommend Semecarpus anacardium as a treatment for any condition. A number of other natural remedies show promise as an alternative approach to fighting arthritis and diabetes.

These remedies include herbs like turmeric and glucomannan, as well as substances such as omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin D.

Since arthritis and diabetes are both closely associated with chronic inflammation, following an anti-inflammatory diet may help prevent and/or control these conditions. Lifestyle strategies such as taking steps to manage your stress, getting sufficient sleep, and watching your weight can also help keep inflammation in check and fend off disease.

Where to Find It

Available for purchase online, Semecarpus anacardium is sold in some natural-foods stores and drugstores.


Arathi G1, Sachdanandam P. "Therapeutic effect of Semecarpus anacardium Linn. nut milk extract on carbohydrate metabolizing and mitochondrial TCA cycle and respiratory chain enzymes in mammary carcinoma rats." J Pharm Pharmacol. 2003 Sep;55(9):1283-90.

Arul B1, Kothai R, Christina AJ. "Hypoglycemic and antihyperglycemic effect of Semecarpus anacardium Linn in normal and streptozotocin-induced diabetic rats." Methods Find Exp Clin Pharmacol. 2004 Dec;26(10):759-62.

Mathivadhani P1, Shanthi P, Sachdanandam P. "Effect of Semecarpus anacardium Linn. nut milk extract on glutathione and its associated enzymes in experimentally induced mammary carcinoma." J Med Food. 2006 Summer;9(2):265-9.

Matthai TP, Date A. Renal cortical necrosis following exposure to sap of the marking-nut tree (Semecarpus anacardium) Am J Trop Med Hyg. 1979;28:773–4.

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Premalatha B1, Muthulakshmi V, Sachdanandam P. "Anticancer potency of the milk extract of Semecarpus anacardium Linn. nuts against aflatoxin B1 mediated hepatocellular carcinoma bearing Wistar rats with reference to tumour marker enzymes." Phytother Res. 1999 May;13(3):183-7.

Ramprasath VR1, Shanthi P, Sachdanandam P. "Anti-inflammatory effect of Semecarpus anacardium Linn. Nut extract in acute and chronic inflammatory conditions." Biol Pharm Bull. 2004 Dec;27(12):2028-31.

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Verma N1, Vinayak M. "Semecarpus anacardium nut extract promotes the antioxidant defence system and inhibits anaerobic metabolism during development of lymphoma." Biosci Rep. 2009 Jun;29(3):151-64.

Vijayalakshmi T1, Muthulakshmi V, Sachdanandam P. "Effect of the milk extract of Semecarpus anacardium nut on adjuvant arthritis--a dose-dependent study in Wistar albino rats." Gen Pharmacol. 1996 Oct;27(7):1223-6.

Disclaimer: The information contained on this site is intended for educational purposes only and is not a substitute for advice, diagnosis or treatment by a licensed physician. It is not meant to cover all possible precautions, drug interactions, circumstances or adverse effects. You should seek prompt medical care for any health issues and consult your doctor before using alternative medicine or making a change to your regimen.

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