Ethnobotany, Phytochemistry, and Pharmacological Efficacy of Bixa orellana: A Review

  • T Purushothaman Head, Department of Biotechnology and Research, Shri Nehru Maha Vidyalaya College of Arts and Science, Malumachampatti, Coimbatore, Tamil Nadu, India
  • K Irfanamol Research Scholar, Department of Biotechnology, Sri Ramakrishna College of Arts and Science (Formerly SNR Sons College), Avinashi Road, Coimbatore, Tamil Nadu, India
Keywords: Bixa orellana, Annatto, Ethnobotanical, Pharmacological activity, Photosensitizer, Photodynamic inactivation


Bixa Orellana, commonly known as lipstick tree, is a small perennial tree with reddish triangular fruits. It is commonly utilised as a natural dye, which found a wide range of applications in both foods and textile industries. It is also used in traditional medicinal practices to treating various health ailments. This review aims to summarise the ethnobotanical, phytochemistry as well as the pharmacological potential of Bixa Orellana. It has been used for fever, skin problems, intestinal problems, and hepatoprotection by the various tribal communities worldwide. It is also employed as an antidote to bites and as an insect repellant. The phytochemical review demonstrated numerous bioactive compounds such as alkaloids, tannins, terpenoids, saponins, flavonoids, etc. The pharmacological investigations evidenced that the plant has excellent antimicrobial, antipyretic, antidiabetic, anticonvulsant, antioxidant, and anticancer properties. In addition, Bixa Orellana can be used as a photosensitiser in antimicrobial photodynamic inactivation therapy to eliminate micro-organisms. So, the pieces of evidence highlighted in this review will be helpful insights for further scientific studies for the discovery and development of novel therapeutic agents.

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