Simarouba amara is a plant belongs to Simaroubaceae family. In this family, almost 170 different species of plants which have 32 diverse genera are distributed all over the world. Brazil is the native place of Simarouba amara. However, Simarouba spices are also found in America, Africa, Madagascar, Malaysia (Asia) and Australia. Simarouba amara has many local names, such as pau-paraíba, simaruba, marupá and praíba. Simarouba amara comes under the tree category. The height of this tree is 40 m and diameter is 0.5 to 0.9 m.
A typical bitter taste of this herb may present due to certain phytochemicals, which are responsible for medicinal properties. However, the chemical properties of different plants which belong to the Simaroubaceae family differ from each other. One of the phytochemical quassinoide is present in Simarouba amara had identified in 1961 and since then many research studies have performed to establish the medicinal benefits of this herb.
In different traditional medicinal system Simarouba amara used in different purposes due to its multiple medicinal properties including anti-malaria, anthelmintic, anti-inflammatory, antiviral, antitumor, general health tonic, insecticide, and amebicide. Another folk medicinal application of this herb includes controlling appetite (anorectic), which helps to control body weight. It also has other traditional applications including antiviral, insecticide, ant parasitic, amebicide, herbicide, and antiparasitic activities.
In 1926, the Brazilian Pharmacopoeia had enlisted the name of Simarouba amara in its first volume. In 2012, International Journal of Pharmaceutical Sciences and Research published article reported the ‘Acute and Subacute Toxicities of The Aqueous extract of Simarouba Amara Aublet Stem Bark’ result and depending upon this study finding the new data has entered in the monograph.
Researchers have already identified many chemical constituents in Simaroubaceae. Some of these phytochemicals are quassinoids, triterpenes, anthraquinones, alkaloids, steroids, flavonoids, coumarins, and other metabolites. Simarouba amara also belongs to Simaroubaceae and may contain most of these phytochemicals.
The stem bark of Simarouba amara contains quassinoids, alkaloids, and triterpenes. Recently six new triterpenoids and two other constituents such as 3-oxatirucalla-7,24-dien-23-ol and niloticin have been identified by herbal researchers. Tannins and alkaloids present in this herbal constituent have potent antioxidant properties.
There are two dosage forms of Simarouba Amara are frequently used to evaluate the efficacy of this herbal remedy against different diseases. These are as follows:
The cytotoxic and chemo-preventive effect of this herb has a preventive effect against breast cancer, prostate cancer, lung cancer, and colon cancer. The antileukemic activity of Simarouba amara has well established through research evidence. The anticancer activity of this herb showed positive effect against Lymphocytic leukemia and pharynx epidermoid carcinoma are two cancer cell lines.
In traditional practice, the bark of Simarouba amara stem is collected and a decoction of this herbal part is recommended to treat malaria. However, Pharmacological researchers reported the fruit of Simarouba amara has anti-malarial property. In another in vitro trial result reported that Simarouba amara fruit extract is effective against Plasmodium falciparum and Plasmodium berghei in mice. Researchers identified four active quassinoids, such as ailanthinone, 2′-acetylglaucarubinone, glaucarubinone, and holacanthone, which has anti-malarial property.
The decoction prepared from Simarouba amara stem bark is recommended to treat inflammatory diseases due to its anti-inflammatory property.
Aqueous extract of stem bark of Simarouba amara is effective to treat diarrhea. An Animal research study conducted to evaluate the antidiarrheal effect of this herb showed that this herbal treatment is effective to reduce the frequency and number of diarrheal episodes, intestinal fluid accumulation, and intestinal transit time. Thus this herb effective to control diarrhea. Simarouba amara also has ambicide activity, which also controls the infectious diarrheal property.
Simarouba amara bark aqueous extract is effective against both Gram-positive and Gram-negative bacteria. The antibacterial effect of this herbal remedy has an inhibitory effect against multiple bacterial strains, including Escherichia coli, Klebsiella pneumoniae, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Staphylococcus aureus, and Salmonella typhi. The bactericidal activity of Simarouba amara has found against Shigella flexineri and Salmonella typhosa.
The root bark of Simarouba amara has a moisturizing property which is effective to maintain the moisture balance in human skin.
Many herbal practitioners recommended Simarouba amara bark aqueous extract as a general health tonic.
Simarouba amara bark aqueous extract has scientifically proven its anti-ulcer activity through animal research.
The liver is a sensitive organ, which may damage in exposure to chemical toxicity. Simarouba amara bark extract has potent hepatoprotective activity and helps to maintain liver health.
An animal research study showed that Simarouba amara bark aqueous extract with a dose of 100 mg/kg of body weight is effective to provide hepatoprotective activities.
The acute and chronic toxicity study showed that mild to moderate dose of Simarouba amara for short treatment period does not cause any toxic effect. However, long-term therapy or a higher dose can cause an anorectic condition. In such a condition, the appetite of the affected individual has significantly reduced and subsequently reduces body weight. Long term treatment with an increased dose of Simarouba amara with a higher dose of tannins can cause intestinal abnormality by altering the intestinal mucosa. It also changes the liver functioning by increasing the levels of alkaline phosphatase and total bilirubin.
Long term treatment is recommended for female as it alters the estrogen hormonal level. Patients who have a higher risk of gout should avoid this herbal treatment as it may enhance the xanthine oxidase activity and accumulate uric acid.