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Mallotus philippinensis (Lamk.) Muell. Arg.


Croton philippense Lam., Rottlera tinctora

Vernacular Names:

Malaysia Rambai Kucing, Balik Angin
English Kamala Tree, Monkey-face Tree, Spoonwood
Indonesia Kapasa, Papasan, Paskapasan, Tapen (Java); Sia, Tuba Sirah (Sumatra)
Thailand Sad, Kampa

General Information


This small bushy tree, belonging to the family Euphorbiaceae, which grows to a height of 9m is found in a geographical zone stretching the north-western Himalayas, Sri Lanka, Taiwan, southern China, New Guinea, Solomon Islands and eastern Australia. In peninsular Malaysia, it grows in the hilly forest fringes and open places or limestone hills of the northern part of the country (1).

Plant Part Used

Leaf, bark, seed, fruit (2).

Chemical Constituents

Phloroglucinol derivatives which are the dyeing principles: rottlerin and isorottlerin (1).
Five chalcone derivatives: mallotophilippens A-E were isolated from the fruits (3).

Traditional Use:

Kamala powder obtained by crushing of the fruits or capsules has long been used to produce red dye for colouring silk. Besides being used as dyes, the materials from this plant are claimed to have medicinal properties. It is used in Ayurvedic medicine to relieve cough, constipation, flatulence, wounds, ulcers, renal and vesicle calculi, haemorrhage and poisonous affections. It is an anthelmintic and has also been recorded to be an active emetic. It is capable of producing nausea or gripping but seldom vomiting. This plant is applied externally as a treatment for skin disorders such as scabies and cutaneous troubles, tinea, herpes and other parasitic infections. The leaves and bark are used in India to poultice skin disorders and the pounded seeds are applied to wounds. The leaves are used by Malays, probably as a poultice to prevent bed-wetting by toddlers (1).

Pre-Clinical Data


Antifilarial activity:

Aqueous and ethanolic extracts of leaves of M.philippinensis inhibit the spontaneous mobility of Setaria cervie microfilariae with an LC50 value of 18 ng/ml. This antifilarial activity is probably due to the presence of rottlerin which is known to destroy intestinal worms efficiently and possibly through inhibition of calmodulin-dependent protein kinase III that phosphorylates a number of substrates (1).

Antibacterial activity:

In a screening programme for antibacterial and antifungal agents from selected Indian medicinal plants against a battery of microorganisms, a dichloromethane:methanol extract of M.philippinensis exhibited significant antimicrobial activity (4).

Anti-inflammatory and immuno-regulatory activity:

Three novel chalcones, mallotophilippens C,D,E isolated from the fruits of M.philippinensis inhibited:
1) nitric oxide (NO) production
2) inducible NO synthase gene expression by a murine macrophage-like cell line which was activated by lipopolysaccharide and recombinant mouse interferon-gamma.

In addition, the chalcones also down-regulated cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2), interleukin-6 and interleukin-1β genes expression. The results suggest that these chemical compounds have anti-inflammatory and immuno-regulatory effects (4).


A study of the M. philippinensis seed ethereal extract on various reproductive parameters of female rats found that the extract has adverse effects. At a high dose of 100mg/kg body weight, the extract reduces serum levels of gonadotropins in treated animals. These sub-normal levels of steroid hormones may be the cause of reduced weights of the ovary and uterus, follicular development and increased atretic follicles in the ovary. Thus, pregnancy is impossible in these Kamala seed extract-treated female rats (5).

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:

When used together with other stimulant laxative herbs it may increase effects and adverse effects.



Stimulant laxatives in individuals with symptoms of appendicitis.

Case Reports:

No documentation

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  1)  Botanical Info


  1. View Abstract: Medicinal Plants of the Asia-Pacific: Drugs for the Future? . 2006, World Scientific Publishing Co. Pte. Ltd., Singapore .
  2. Compendium of Medicinal Plants Used in Malaysia. 2002, Institute for Medical Research.
  3. View Abstract: Daikonya, A., Katsuki,S. and Kitanaga, S.. Antiallergic Agents from Natural Sources 9. Inhibition of Nitric Oxide Production by Novel Chalcone Derivatives from Mallotus philippinensis (Euphorbiaceae).. Chem. Pharm. Bull. . 2004; 52: 1326-1329
  4. View Abstract: Kumar, V. P. Chauhan, N. S. Padh, H. Rajani, M.. Search for antibacterial and antifungal agents from selected Indian medicinal plants. J Ethnopharmacol. 2006 9 , 19; 107:2: 182-8
  5. Thakur, S.C., Thakur, S.S., Chaube, S.K. and Singh, S.P.. An ethereal extract of Kamala (Mallotus philippinensis (Moll. Arg) Lam.) seed induce adverse effects on reproductive parameters of female rats. . Reproductive Toxicology. 2005; 20: 149-156

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