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Fever Nut (Caesalpinia bonducella) - Uses, Health Benefits, Dosage, Medicinal Properties

caesalpinia bonducella natu

English: Bonduc nut, fever nut
Hindi: Katikaranja, kankarej
Sanskrit: Kuberakshi

The seeds are grey coloured and resemble eyeballs, which explains the Sanskrit name kuberakshi, meaning eyes of Kubera, the Hindu god of wealth. It has also been called vajrabijaka which implies its diamond-like hard nature. The bark of the tree has been described as a purgative and recommended as a treatment for disturbed kapha and vata, gynaecological disorders, skin diseases, constipation, abdominal distension, piles and ulcers.


It is found throughout the hotter parts of India, Burma and Sri Lanka, particularly on waste ground and along the coastal areas.

Botanical description.

An extensive climber, with branches finely grey and downy, armed with both hooked and straight, hard yellow prickles (Plate 15). The leaves are bipinnate, 30-60 cm long with short prickly petioles; the stipules a pair of reduced pinnae at the base of the leaf each furnished with a long mucronate point. There are 6-8 pairs of pinnae, each 5.0-7.5 cm long, with a pair of hooked stipulary spines at the base. Leaflets 6-9 pairs, 2.0-3.8 cm long and 1.3-2.2 cm wide, membranous, elliptic to oblong, obtuse, strongly mucronate, glabrous above and more or less puberulous beneath. Flowers produced in dense terminal racemes (usually spicate) with long peduncles and supraaxillary racemes which are close at the top, looser downwards, 15-25 cm long. The pedicles are very short in the buds, elongating to 5 mm in flowers and 8 mm in fruits, brown and downy; bracts squarrose, linear, acute, reaching 1 cm long. The calyx is 6-8 mm long, fulvous and hairy; lobes obovate-oblong and obtuse. Petals oblanceolate, yellow; filaments declinate, flattened at the base, clothed with long white silky hairs. Pods shortly stalked, oblong, 5.0-7.5 by about 4.5 cm, densely armed with wiry prickles. Seeds 1-2, oblong, dark grey, up to 1.3 cm long.

Parts used

Seeds, roots, bark and leaves.

Traditional and modern use

Bonduc is antiperiodic, a febrifuge, tonic and anthelmintic and a powder of the roasted pods has been used as a substitute for quinine. The root bark is used to treat fever, intestinal worms, tumours, amenorrhoea, cough and for removing the placenta after childbirth. The leaves and their juice are used similarly and also traditionally for elephantiasis and smallpox, disorders of the liver and to destroy perspiration odour. In Sri Lanka, they are applied for toothache. The flower is bitter, with a warming effect on the body, ameliorates kapha and vata and the ash is used in ascites. The seeds are astringent and have been used to control contagious diseases, treat inflammation, colic, hydrocoele, skin diseases and leprosy. In Madras, an ointment is made from the powdered seeds with castor oil and applied externally. The seed sprouts have been used for tumours. The fruit is acrid, heating to the body, astringent to the bowels and is considered an aphrodisiac. It is also used to treat urinary disorders, leucorrhoea, piles and wounds. The oil from the fruit is applied to indolent ulcers and the oil from the seeds is used in convulsions and paralysis. In Guinea, the crushed seeds are considered vesicant and the boiled leaves used as a gargle for sore throat. The leaves and seeds, after roasting with castor oil, are applied externally to inflammatory swellings, especially to inflamed piles, hydrocoele, and orchitis.

Ethnoveterinary usage

The seeds, leaves and roots are used for the treatment of tachycardia, bradycardia, tuberculosis, tympanitis, pain in the abdomen, fever, cold and cough and liver fluke in ruminants.

Major chemical constituents
Cassane diterpenes and

The root contains caesaldekarins C, F and G, caesalpinin;3 bonducellpins A,B,C and 0;1 the seed kernels contain a-caesalpin, [3-caesalpin, y-caesalpin,' e-caesalpin6 and caesalpin F.

Steroidal saponin

Diosgenin8 occurs in the root.

Fatty acids, hydrocarbons and phytosterols

Seed kernels contain palmitic, stearic, octadeca -4-enoic and octadeca - 2 ,4-dienoic, lignoceric, oleic and linolenic acids, heptacosane and sitosterol.


Seed kernels contain bonducellin.


Aspartic acid, arginine and citrulline are present in the seed.


Brazilin and bonducin have been isolated from the leaf.

Medicinal and pharmacological activities

Antidiarrhoeal activity: The fruits were found to have significant antidiarrhoeal activity in mice.

Antimalarial activity: An ethanolic extract of the defatted seed kernels showed promising antimalarial activity when screened using a Plasmodium berghei-infected mouse model by a blood schizontocidal test.

Antiviral activity: An ethanolic extract of the root and stem exhibited activity against the Vaccinia virus.

Antioestrogenic activity: Powdered seeds of C. bonducella were found to have anti-oestrogenic activity in mice and rabbits, and an antifertility action in mice and rats.
Antifilarial activity: The ethanolic extract of the seed kernel showed antifilarial activity against Litomosoides carinii in the cotton rat. The hexane-soluble portion of the extract showed a 95.5% macrofilaricidal activity with a gradual fall in microfilaraemia up to day 42, at a dose of 1 g/kg daily given orally for 5 days. When tested against Brugia malayi in Mastomys, at the same dose, the hexane fraction produced gradual reduction in microfilaraemia up to day 91 but did not show any macrofilaricidal action. However, all female worms were sterilised.

Hypoglycaemic and antihyperglycaemic activity: The hypoglycaemic activity of the seed powder has been studied fairly extensively. In normal and alloxan-diabetic rabbits, the drug was administered orally as a single dose of 0.5, lor 1.5 g/kg. The highest decrease (36.5%) in blood glucose levels was obtained with the 1.5 g/kg dose, 12 hours after administration, with a more moderate effect at 4 and 24 hours. In diabetic rabbits, the drug produced a significant antihyperglycaemic effect within 3 days when given 1.5 g/kg/day for 10 days. In another study, in normal rats, the aqueous and 50% ethanolic extracts of the seeds exhibited a hypoglycaemic action as early as 4 hours after administration, at a dose of 100 mg/kg. The activity induced by the aqueous extract was of a more prolonged duration than the 50% ethanolic extract and both extracts produced a significant antihyperglycaemic effect in streptozotocin-diabetic rats from day 5 onwards. The hypoglycaemic effect of an aqueous extract was also studied in fed, fasted, dextrose-loaded and streptozotocin-and alloxan-induced diabetic albino rats. It produced a significant hypoglycaemic effect in dextrose-loaded and streptozotocin- and alloxan-diabetic rats but the effects were less pronounced in the fed and fasted rats. An aqueous extract administered intra peritoneally into diabetic rats also reduced fasting blood glucose concentration. "

Hypolipidaemic activity: The aqueous extract of the seeds showed antihypercholesterolaemic and antihypertriglyceridaemic effects in streptozotocin-induced diabetic rats.

Uterine stimulant effect: The aqueous extract of the leaves of C. bonducella increased the contractile force in isolated strips of pregnant rat myometrium preparations in a concentration-dependent manner. The effect EGTA. This suggests an interaction with cholinergic receptors which would influence the influx of calcium (phasic contraction) and mobilisation of calcium from cellular stores (tonic contraction), both of which are responsible for the increase of contractile activity and development of the contracture of uterine smooth muscle.

Antiinflammatory activity: The antiinflammatory activity was studied in rats using the formalin arthritis and granuloma pouch methods. At a dose of 250 mg/kg the extract was found to be effective in the granuloma pouch model and compared favourably with phenylbutazone. The seeds showed a 50% inhibitory activity against carrageenan-induced oedema in the rat hind paw, at an oral dose of 1000 mglkg, when given 24 hours and 1 hour prior to carrageenan injection (IP). The activity (66.67% inhibition) was comparable to that of phenylbutazone at a dose of 100 mglkg.

Safety profile

The maximum tolerated dose of the 50% ethanolic extract was found to be more than 1000 mglkg body weight when tested in adult male albino mice.


Powdered seed: 1-2 g Powdered root: 1-2 g
Leaf infusion: 12-20 ml
Ayurvedic properties

Rasa: Tikta (bitter), kashaya (astringent)
Guna: Laghu (light), ruksha (dry), tikshna (sharp)
Veerya:Ushna(hoG Vipaka: Katu (pungent) Dosha: Pacifies tridosha