The Many Medicinal Benefits of Celastrus Paniculatus also known as “The Elixir of Life”


Celastrus Paniculatus is also known as:

  • Jyothismati Oil (Sanskrit: jyotishmati ज्योतीष्मती)
  • Celastrus Oil
  • Intellect Tree
  • Malkanguni Oil  (Hindi: Mal-kangani माल-कांगनी)
  • Deng You Teng  (Chinese: 灯油藤)
  • “The Elixir of Life”

due largely to its natural medicinal properties.  It has been an important and hot topic in the medical and botanical research fields for many decades.

Celastrus paniculatus is a member of the Celastraceae family and is a large, woody climber (called a climbing shrub), with a yellow, corky bark. 1 

It grows throughout India, and has been reported to grow as tall as 2,000m. The plants exhibit varying degrees of therapeutic values, some of which are its use in the treatment of:  2

  • cognitive dysfunction
  • epilepsy
  • insomnia
  • rheumatism
  • gout
  • dyspepsia


Figure 1:  Celastrus paniculatus leaves, oil and seeds

The classes of molecules most predominant in this plant appear to be:

  • sequesterpene alkaloids
  • polyalcohols.  3

Overall, the phytochemical evaluation reveals the presence of:

  • carbohydrates
  • fixed oil
  • glycosides
  • cumarines
  • tannins
  • flavonoids
  • saponins
  • steroids
  • triterpenoids

which have been claimed to be responsible for its therapeutic uses.  13

The trace elements found in Celastrus paniculatus and known to be essential for humans and unquestionably associated with deficiency symptoms include:

  • chromium
  • copper
  • iodine
  • iron
  • manganese
  • molybdenum
  • selenium
  • zinc


Figure 2:  a) Stem: Reddish brown stem covered with small elongated white lenticels b) Leaves: Alternately arranged c) Ovate leaf d) Capsules: Orange colored with 3-6 seeds inside e) Dehisced capsule without seeds f) Seeds: Single capsule showing seeds enclosed by an orange-red aril

In the Indian traditional system of medicine, called Ayruvedic medicine, Celastrus paniculatus extract has been used to improve intellect, memory and for the treatment of various mental disorders.  4 

The seeds of Celastrus paniculatus appear to be protective against cell death from glutamate at a very low concentrations, but the maximal protection observed is not too high. This may be, but is not confirmed, related to its antioxidant properties.

The plant’s usage has been extensively researched with promising results to treat neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s.   Mice receiving Celastrus paniculatus showed significant memory enhancement as compared to the scopolamine group.

It has been demonstrated that Celastrus paniculatus seed oil has memory enhancing effects and hence can be developed as a potential drug in the treatment of dementia.  5

The seeds could be used to treat other mental disorders such as stress. The plant exhibits antioxidant properties which have several applications in medicinal biology, especially with respect to immunity and homeostasis. Stress alters the body’s homeostasis and is produced by several factors.

Celastrus paniculatus plant is considered to be rich in antioxidant content and so the seed oil extract’s efficacy was tested against immobilization stress in albino mice. The antioxidant enzyme levels of the animals regained and markedly increased in the acute and chronic immobilized groups, respectively. The results suggested that the extract of Celastrus paniculatus seed was highly efficacious in reducing the stress induced by least mobility for hours.  6 

In another study, the extract of Celastrus paniculatus seed was highly efficacious in reducing the stress induced by least mobility for hours which decreased the levels of reactive oxygen species (ROS) and increases level of thiobarbituric acid reactive substances (TBARS). Another neurological study has shown that the extracts increase ribonucleoproteins and Nissl substance -histologically and histochemically could be an indicator of hyperactivity of the brain cells which might correlate with the increased mental activity.  7

Effects of aqueous extracts of Celastrus paniculatus seeds were shown to have antioxidant properties in rats by neuroprotection against H2O2-induced neurotoxicity.  8

Apart from neurological properties, the alcoholic extracts of Celastrus paniculatus seeds (AlcE) possess significant antinociceptive and anti-inflammatory activity in-vivo.  9 

Histological studies show less cholesterol deposits in the aorta of animals fed with seed extract of Celastrus paniculatus compared to the induced hypercholesterolemic animals not given a Celastrus paniculatus supplement. It helps in reducing the activites of HMG-CoA reductase, glucose 6-phosphate dehydrogenase and malate dehydrogenase which are associated with cholesterol synthesis.  10

Figure 3:  Celastrus paniculatus flower buds and seeds

Ethnobotanical studies claim the significant use of its root as an antidote in snake bites and the use of its bark in bone fractures, bronchitis, abortion, gastric complaints and swollen veins. The leaves are used for sedative and wound healing activity in many regions. Modern research work evaluates the seed oil activity in favour of its ethnomedical claims.

The bark is abortifacient, depurative and a brain tonic.

The leaves are emmenagogue and the leaf sap is a good antidote for opium poisoning.

The seeds are acrid, bitter, thermogenic, emollient, stimulant, intellect promoting, digestive, laxative, emetic, expectorant, appetizer, aphrodisiac, cardiotonic, anti-inflammatory, diuretic, diaphoretic, febrifuge and tonic, abdominal disorders, leprosy, skin diseases, paralysis, asthma, leucoderma, cardiac debility, inflammation, nephropathy, amenorrhoea, dysmenorrhoea.  12

Other therapeutic properties of Celastrus paniculatus include the following in the Table below:  11

Therapeutic Properties of Celastrus Paniculatus

Therapeutic UseActivity
Learning and memorySelectively reverses the impairment in spatial memory produced by acute central muscarinic receptor blockade
AntioxidantDose-dependent free radical scavenging capacity and a protective effect on DNA cleavage
HypolipidaemicReduces serum cholesterol and LDL cholesterol levels; increaded fecal cholesterol excretion
Anti-arthriticActing on secondary lesions
Wound healingLupeol presence causes wound contraction
AntimicrobialInhibition by triterpenoid glycosides present in saponin extracts

Celastrus paniculatus can be taken by consuming the seeds or oil.  The oil can be consumed directly or encapsulated.

Statements made in this article have not been evaluated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Any products referred to on this website are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.



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This article was written by BioFoundations contributing writer Nishant Nirale.

Nishant Nirale is a Biotechnology Professional who is presently pursuing his second Masters degree in Biotechnology Management from the University of California, Irvine to develop business acumen into the bioscience business. Nishant has completed his Masters and Bachelors of Science in Biotechnology from the University of Mumbai, India and has experience working in a variety of functional roles in healthcare/biotech sector. He believes that there is an underlying need to utilize the thrilling advents of science to its best potential. This aspires him to bridge the gap between the scientific fields of life-science/healthcare with management using the unique formula of “Science + Management” from a commercialization standpoint. Nishant is a health and fitness enthusiast and likes to study and educate people towards adapting a healthy lifestyle.

Nishant Nirale, MSc Biotechnology


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