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Pongamia pinnata (L.) Pierre


Cytisus pinnatus L. Dalbergia arborea Willd. Derris indica (Lam.) Benn. Galedupa indica Lam. Galedupa pinnata (L.) Taub. Galedupa pungum J.G.Gmel. Millettia novo-guineensis Kaneh. & Hatus. Millettia pinnata (L.) Panigrahi Pongamia glabra Vent. Pongamia mitis (L.) Kurz Pongamia xerocarpa Hassk. Pterocarpus flavus Lour. Robinia mitis L[14]

Vernacular Names

Malaysia Mempari, Kacang kayu laut (Peninsular), Biansu (Sarawak)
English Pongam, Indian beech, Pongame oil tree
Indonesia Bangkong (Java); Ki pahang laut (Sunda); Kranji (Madura)
Thailand Khayi (Chumphon); Yi-nam (Peninsular)
Philippines Bani, Balik-balik, Balok (Tagalok)
Vietnam D[aa]y m[nas]u, d[aa]y kim, kh[oor] s[aa]m hoa
India Karanja, Karanjaka, Ghrita-karanja, Naktaahva, Naktamaala, Prakirya, Udakiryaa, Puutika, Naktamaal (Ayurvedic); Karanj (Unani); Pungu (Siddha) [1]

General Information


Pongamia pinnata is a member of the Fabaceae family. It is an evergreen and glabrous shrub reaching up to 25 m high with spreading branches. The bark is smooth or sometimes with vertical fissures and coloured grey. The leaves are imparipinnate with leaflets 5-9 in number, ovate, elliptic or oblong and measuring between 5-25 cm x 2.5-15 cm. The apex in obtuse-acuminate and the base is rounded or cuneate. When young the leaves are pinkish-red but turn glossy dark green above and dull green beneath when matured. Inflorescence is raceme-like, appears axillary and measures 6-27 cm long. The flowers are strongly fragrant and appear in pairs. Calyx is campanulate, 4-5 mm long, truncate and finely pubescent. The corolla is white to pink and purple inside; standard rounded obovate, 1-2 cm long, with basal auricles, often with green central blotch, thinly pubescent; wings are oblong, oblique, slightly adherent to obtuse keel. There are 10 stamens, monadelphous, vexillay one free at the base and joined to the tube in the middle. The pod is short-stalked, oblique-oblongoid to ellipsoid, flat, 5-8 cm x 2-3.5 cm x 1.0-1.5 cm, smooth, thick and leathery, beaked and indehiscent. It usually contains 1-2 seeds which are compressed, ovoid and measure 1.5-2.5 x 1.2-2 cm x 0.8 cm with a brittle coat. [1]

Plant Part Used

Bark, seeds, leaves and flowers. [1] [2] [3]

Chemical Constituents

2',5'-dimethoxy-genistein 7-O-beta-D-apiofuranosyl-(1"'-->6")-O-beta-D-glucopyranoside; 3,7-dimethyl-3’,4’-methylenedioxyflavone; 3,3’,4’,7-tetramethoxyflavone; 3-methoxy-97,8,2”,3”) furanflavone; 4-hydroxybenzoic acid; 4-hydroxycinnamic acids; 4'-O-methyl-genistein 7-O-beta-D-rutinoside; 11,12a-dihydroxy-munduserone; a-hydroxy-alpha-toxicarol; beta-sitosteryl acetate; diketone pongamol; ellagic acid; ferulic acid; galactoside; gallic acid; gentisic acid; glabrachalcone; hiragonic acid; iso=pongaflavone; iso-pongachromene; kaempferol; kaempferol 3-O-beta-D-rutinoside; kaempferol 3-O-beta-D-glucopyranoside; isoquercitrin; kanjone; karanjabiflavone; karanjachromene; karanjapin; karanjin; lanceolatin B, linolenic acid; millettocalyxin; otctadecatrienoic acid oleic acid; p-coumaric acid; pongabiflavone; pongamol; pongapin; pongol; pongaglabrone; pinnatin; pongapinone A; pongapinone B; pongarotene; pongapinnol A-D; pongacoumsetan; pongamosides A-D; pongamones A-G; pongaflavanol; pongapin;protocatechuic acid; quercetin; rutin; salicylic acid;  sorbic acid;  stigmasterol; tunicatachalcone; vecinin-2; vitexin. [2] [4] [5] [6] [7] [8] [9] [10] [11] [12] [13] [38]

Traditional Uses

The leaves are considered carminative and antidiarrhoeal and traditionally used in the treatment of flatulence, diarrhoea and dysentery [39].

The seed has anti-inflammatory properties and used to treat various skin conditions. The seed oil in particular has been prescribed in the treatment of dermatitis, eczema, scabies, sores and herpes [2].   It is also applied on the chest to treat pneumonia, cold and chest pains, [39] and applied locally for rheumatic disease and muscular atrophy [3]. Sushruta (an ancient Indian surgeon) prescribed the seed oil for used as a laxative for the expulsion of intestinal parasites and as an ingredient for hair oil given to treat alopecia [3].

The fruit had been advocated for used in the treatment of urinary and vaginal discharges [3].

The root is used as a remedy for foul ulcers [39].

The leaves together with the seeds are used to treat leprotic and the rind of the pod and the seed together is given to patients with whooping cough and bronchitis [39]. The extracts from the leaves, bark and seeds are applied locally in cases of rheumatism [1]

Preclinical Data


Antidiarrhoeal activity

The study using crude decoction of dried leaves of P. pinanata was done to evaluate its antimicrobial and its effects on the production and action of enterotoxins and adherence and invasion of enteropathogens to epithelial cells. The results showed that it has no antibacterial, antigiardial and antiviral activities but it was able to reduce the production of cholera toxin and bacterial invasion in epithelial cells. This shows that the crude decoction has selective antidiarrhoeal action especially against those causing bloody diarrhoea including Vibrio cholera, Escherichia coli, and Shigella flexneri. [15]

Antimicrobial activity


Crude aqueous extract of P. pinnata seed showed antiviral activity by completely inhibit the growth of HSV-1 and HSV- 2 of Vero cells at concentration 1 mg/mL (w/v) and 20 mg/mL (w/v), respectively, evidenced by the complete absence of cytopathic effect. [16]


The seed oil was tested against 14 strains of pathogenic bacteria and it was observed that 57.14 % of the pathogens were inhibited at the dose of 500 µL/mL, 28.57 % at 250 µL/mL, and 14.28 % at 125 µL/mL using tube dilution technique. The action was basically bactericidal via inhibition of cell-membrane synthesis of the bacteria [17].


P. pinnata was amongst 47 species of plants tested for their antiplasmodial activity against Plasmodium falciparum. The in vitro inhibition (%) of bark, leaf and seeds extract against chloroquine susceptible strain of P. falciparum (3D7) were recorded. The result showed that the barks and leaves extracts were considered active because they produced more than 80 % inhibitions at 100 µg/ml and more than 50 % at 50 µg/mL. It showed great potential for further studies in this line [18].

Anti-lice activity

The petroleum ether extract of the leaves of P. pinnata proved to be effective pediculocide and ovicide against the head louse (Pediculus humanus capitis) with values of inhibition ranging between 50.3% and 100%. It could provide an alternative to synthetic anti-lice agents [19].

Anti-inflammatory activity

Ethanol extract of the seeds exhibited anti-inflammatory activity especially against bradykinin and PGE-1 induced inflammation. This effect appeared to be a modulation of eicosanoid-events in inflammation. The fractions being the most effective are petroleum ether and chloroform. The extracts (ethanol, and sequential petroleum ether, benzene, chloroform, and acetone) of the roots and the 70% ethanol extract of the leaves also exhibited anti-inflammatory activity. These extracts did not show any ulcerogenic activity. [20][21][22][23]

Antiulcerogenic activity

Various extracts from the root bark and seeds of P. pinnata had proven to be effective in protecting the stomach lining against ulcerogenic assaults. In the case of the root extracts, in one study the petroleum ether extracts proved to be the most effective and it acts by decreasing the acid-pepsin secretion and augmenting mucin secretion. In other studies it was found that the methanol extracts could inhibit ulcer formation in those induced by acetic acid and aspirin but not those by ethanol indicating that this effect is due to its ability to augment the mucosal defensive factors and lipid peroxidation and not the offensive acid-pepsin secretion.

The methanol seed extract was found to protect gastric mucosa against the assault by 2h cold resistant stress in rats. This was found to be due to its ability to decrease acid output and increase mucin secretion and mucosal glycoprotein while decreasing gastric mucosal shedding without any effects on cell proliferation. Subsequently it was identified that karanjin was one of the flavonoids responsible for this effect. [22] [23] [24] [25] [26] [27]

Antinocicptive and antipyretic activities

The 70% ethanol extract of P. pinnata leaves (100, 300, 1000 mg/kg) exhibited significant (p<0.05) antinociceptive activity when administered orally to hotplate, tail flick (central) and acetic acid writhing (peripheral)-induced nociceptive effect in Swiss mice compared to normal saline (10 mL/kg) as a control while for Randall-Selitto (peripheral)-induced nociceptive effect in Wistar rats, the extract was compared with 1 mL/kg normal saline. These proved that the extracts acted both centrally and peripherallyin alleviating the pain response. It also was found to inhibit fever induced by brewer’s yeast. [28]

Nephroprotective activity

The ethanol extract of the flowers of P. pinnata was able to protect rat kidneys from damage induced by cisplatin and gentamicin. There were evidences that the protection against tubular necrosis was done to its antioxidant activity. [29]

Cytotoxic activity

19 compounds were identified from petroleum ether and ethyl acetate extracts of stem bark of P. pinnata using activity-guided fractionation methods to study the cytotoxic activities against Hepa 1c1c7 mouse hepatoma cells [30].

 Two out of the seven compounds isolated through bioassay-guided fractionation of P. pinnata were found significantly overcame tumour necrosis factor-related apoptosis-inducing ligand (TRAIL)-resistance in human gastric adenocarcinoma (AGS) cell lines [31].

Antidiabetic activity

The flowers, fruits, bark and leaves of P.pinnata proved to have antidiabetic activity. Two compounds isolated from the fruit i.e. pongamol and karanjin showed activities related to lowering the blood glucose levels in animal models. More detailed studies showed that both compounds acted in similar manner to reduce the blood glucose levels. They apparently increase glucose transport and GLUT4 translocation to the cell surface and significantly potentiated insulin-mediated phosphorylation of AKT (Ser-473). [32] [33] [34] [35] [36] [37] [38]

Antioxidant activity

The leaves, seeds and root bark extracts of P. pinnata exhibited significant antioxidant activity as proved by various studies. The root bark yielded karanjapin (a chalcone), karanjachromene (a pyranoflavonoid), pongabiflavone (a biflavonyloxymethane), and karanjabiflavone. All proved to possess significant antioxidant activity.

The antioxidant activity had proven to be effective in reversing ischaemic damage seen in the forebrain of rats. The ethanol root extract of P. pinnata ameliorated histopathological changes and inflammatory cell infiltration in the fronto-parietal region of the rat brain. There was an attenuation of reactive changes in forebrain histology like gliosis, lymphocytic infiltration, astrocytosis and cellular oedema. It was observed that the extract also alleviated long term hyperperfusion-induced anxiety and listlessness, improve learning and memory deficit. [32] [33] [34] [35] [36] [37] [38]


No documentation

Teratogenic effects

No documentation

Clinical Data

Clinical Trials

No documentation

Adverse Effects in Human:

No documentation

Used in Certain Conditions

Pregnancy / Breastfeeding

No documentation

Age Limitations

Neonates / Adolescents

No documentation


No documentation

Chronic Disease Conditions

No documentation


Interactions with drugs

No documentation

Interactions with Other Herbs / Herbal Constituents

No documentation



No documentation

Case Reports

No documentation


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