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Goniothalamus macrophyllus


Polyalthia macrophylla (Bl.) Bl., Unona macrophylla Blume, Bijdr., Goniothalamus forbesii Baker f. Goniothalamus suaveolens Becc.

Vernacular Names:

Malaysia: Selada, Selayar Hitam Gajah Beranak, Penawar Hitam, Lada Hutan, Gagang Seteru(Malays), Semeliok (Iban), Kayu Tapu, Pelada, Tunging, Sagin Wah, Lidi Ladak
Indonesia:  Ki Cantung (Sundanese)
Brunei:  Limpanas Putih, Linpanas Puteh, Talipanas Puteh (Sengkurong).
Thailand: Chin Dok Diao, Rajchakru, Kaa-yoh braa-noh, King Dok Dieo, Khruu Dam[1][2][3]

General Information


Goniothalamus macrophyllus is a shrub found in the rainforest of Peninsula Malaysia, Sabah and Sarawak up to an altitude of 700m above sea level. The shrub can grow up to 5m high with a relatively straight stem seldom seen to branch. The bark is black in colour and is aromatic. Leaves are oblong-lanceolate or oblong-oblanceolate measuring 22-30cm. x 6-11cm. The base is subacute to rounded with petiole 1-3cm long. Apex is acute. The leaves are characteristically coriaceous, glabrous and placed alternately.

The flowers are solitary, axillary with pedicel measuring 1-1.2cm long. It has 2-3 bracts at the base, sepals oblong-ovate to oblong-lanceolate, measures 1.5cm long and purplish in colour. The outer petals oblong-lanceolate measuring 3.3cm long and almost glabrous, greenish in colour. The inner petals are rhomboid measuring 1.8cm. long with greenish in colour. The stamens are numerous, carpels 12-18, elongate, 6mm. long, glabrous, ovule 1; monocarp globose to ovoid, slightly apiculate, 1-2cm x 1 cm, glabrous, sessile, red, 1-seeded. [1-3]

Plant Part Used

Leaves, barks, roots[1-3]

Chemical Constituents

Aminonaphthoquinones: 2-methoxy-3-amino-5-hydroxy-1,4-naphthoquinone, 2-acetyl-3-amino-5-hydroxy-6-methoxy-1,4-naphthoquinone, 2-acetyl-3-amino-5-hydroxy-1,4-naphthoquinone [4]

Monoterpenoids: terpinen-4-ol, 1,8-cineole, (Z)-β-ocimene, α-terpineol, geraniol and geranyl acetate. linalool, α-thujene and (E)-nerolidol [5][6] 

Styrylpyrones:Goniothalamin, Goniothalamin oxide, 8-chloro-8-deoxygoniodiol [5]

Azaanthraquinone: Dielsiquinone[5] 

Traditional Use:

The plant is used in the treatment of various forms of fever which included common colds, malaria and trypanosomiasis, typhoid fever. Amongst the Aborigines of Peninsula Malaysia, a decoction of the roots is used to treat common cold; while the mountain dwellers of Java used the infusion to treat typhoid fever. Amongst the Malays of Peninsula Malaysia the roots of the plant has been included as an ingredient in the pot herb given to women after delivery. It is believed that the addition of the roots of G. macrophyllus would provide the warming effects to the body of the mother. It is also believed that the roots would also help in rapid involution of the uterus. [2] The decoction of the roots has been used to procure abortion by some unscrupulous village midwives. This is by virtue of the heatiness within it as claimed by those who used it for this purpose. The flower buds are also used in similar manner. The stem in combination with roots of other plants is used to stimulate flow of menstruation. To improve his sexual power and general strength a tonic is prepared using the roots of Goniothalamus macrophyllus and Polyalthia bullata. The petiole is chewed on to provide some tonic effects, maintain good health and relieve body aches. The Sakai tribes of the Malay Peninsula uses this plant to nourish the blood and invigorate the body. [3] 

Fever is also treated by exposing the patient to steam bath with the leaves of this plant as one of the constituents. 

In Brunei patients with febrile fits are treated by exposing them to smoke from the burning stem of this plant. [1][2] 

Wood of the plant is burnt as incense in the Andaman Islands and this smoke when inhaled is claimed to be good for asthma. The smoke is believed to be able to repel mosquitoes, snake and other wild animals. [2]

Pre-Clinical Data


Abortificient activity: 

Traditionally different parts of the plant has been used by various communities in Malaysia to induce abortion or as an ingredient in post-partum pot herb. It is believed to be able to cause the involution of the uterus and keep the body of the mother warm. Studies done has found that the stylylpyrone content of G. macrophyllus does have embryonic toxicity, inducing teratogenic effects on the foetus. 

Antiplasmodial activity: 

In a study of some Malaysian plants for their antiplasmodial properties it was found that the methanol extract of the stem of G. macrophyllus had good antiplasmodial activity against Plasmodium falciparum sensitive strain D10. It was found that it has more than 60% growth inhibition as a measure of antiplasmodial activity. [7] 

In another study on antiplasmodial properties a compound found in G. macrophyllus i.e Goniothalamin was tested against two species of Plasmodia i.e. Plasmodium yoeii and Plasmodium berghei. It was found that when given individually Goniothalamin was able to provide the growth of P. berghei by less than 50% at all doses while those of P.yoeii between 27.8% and 18.5% with 30mg/kg and 60mg/kg respectively. However, it was found that when given in combination with chloroquin at 1mg/kg there was a decrease in parasitaemina of P.yoeii by more than 90% and those of P. berghei by 60%. This shows that in combination with chloroquin the action of Goniothalamin is enhanced. [8] 

Cytotoxic activity: 

Goniothalamin isolated from the roots of G. macrophyllus showed promising cytotoxic activities against (SRB assay) against colon cancer cell line , breast cancer cell lines and lung carcinoma. LDH assay of goniothalamin suggested that it had no toxicity on cell membrane. Cytotoxic evaluation of goniothalamin to normal cell revealed moderate toxicity against skin fibroblast and human fibroblast. [9] 

The cytotoxicity of goniothalamin was found to be strong towards both cancerous,and non-cancerous cell lines, especially in cases of dividing cells. Drug exposure studies indicated that the cytotoxic action of goniothalamin was time- and dose-dependent. At the ultrastructural level, goniothalamin-induced cytotoxicity revealed a necrotic mode of cell death towards MCF-7 cells. [10] 



In a study to determine the genotoxicity of Goniothalamin, one of the bioactive compounds found in G. macrophyllus, it was found that Goniothalamin induce and enhance chromosome aberration. Chromatid and whole chromosome breaks/gaps, as well as interchanges, endoreduplications and ring chromosomes were the main types of aberration induced by Goniothalamin. The overall clastogenic effect of Goniothalamin was statistically significant. The investigators thus conclude that Goniothalamin is potentially a genotoxic or clastogenic substance without any anti-genotoxic properties. [11] 

Toxicological evaluation of Goniothalamin was done on rats. It was found that at the dose of 300mg/day for 14 days where no evidence of toxicity was detected. [12]

Clinical Data

Clinical Trials

No documentation

Adverse Effects in Human:

No documentation

Use in Certain Conditions

Pregnancy / Breastfeeding

It is an absolute contraindication in pregnancy because of it know teratogenic effects on foetuses. [13]

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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   1) Botanical Info

  2) Malaysian Herbal Plants


  1. H.N. Ridley. Flora of Malay Peninsula. 1. London: L. Reeve & Co;1923. p.66.
  2. I.M. Burkill. A Dictionary of Economic Products of Malay Peninsula.1. Kuala Lumpur Government of Malaysia;1935. p.1115.
  3. Kamarudin Mat-Salleh, A. Latif. Tumbuhan Ubatan Malaysia. Bangi: Pusat Pengurusan Penyelidikan, Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia; 2002. p.114.
  4. Sawitree Chaimanee and Uma Prawat. 3-Aminonaphthoquinones, Styrylpyrones and Azaanthraquinone from roots of Goniothalamus macrophyllus (Annonaceae): 3rd Congress on Science and Technology of Thailand.Phuket. Department of Chemistry, Faculty of Science and Technology, Phuket Rajabhat University, Phuket 83000, Thailand. p. 1-2.
  5. Jantan, Ibrahim bin, Ahmad, Fasihuddin bin, Din, Laily bin. Chemical Constituents of the Bark Oil of Goniothalamus macrophyllus Hook. f. from Malaysia. Journal of Essential Oil Research: JEOR. Mar/Apr 2005.
  6. I. Jantan, F. Ahmad, A.S. Ahmad A Comparative Study Of The Essential Oils of four Goniothalamus species. ISHS Acta Horticulturae 677: III WOCMAP Congress on Medicinal and Aromatic Plants.Vol 3: Perspectives in Natural Product Chemistry.
  7. Noor Rain A, Khozirah S, Mohd. Ridzuan MAR, Ong BK, Rohaya C, Rosilawati M, Hamdino I, Badrul Amin and Zakiah I , Antiplasmodial properties of some Malaysian Medicinal Plants.Tropical Biomed. 2007;24(1):pp. 29-35.
  8. Mohd. Ridzuan MAR, Rueneuetai U, Noor Rain, Khozirah and Zakiah I. Antimalairial properties of Goniothalamin in combination with chloroquin against Plasmodium yoeii and Plamodium berghei growth in mice. Tropical Biomedicine.2006;23(2): pp.140-146.
  9. Chatchai Wattanapiromsakul, Boonsong Wangsintaweekul Puttachat Sangprapan, Arunporn Itharat, Niwat Keawpradub, Songklanakarin Goniothalamin (Goniothalamus macrophyllus (Blume) Hook. f. and Th var. macrophyllus). Journal of Science and Technology (Thailand)Warasan Songkhla Nakharin 27(Suppl. 2). pp. 479-487.
  10. Ali AM, Mackeen MM, Hamid M, Aun QB, Zauyah Y, Azimahtol HL, Kawazu K. Cytotoxicity and electron microscopy of cell death induced by goniothalamin. Planta Med. Feb1997;63(1): pp.81-83.
  11. Nasir Umar-Tsafe, Mohamed Saifulaman Mohamed-Said, Rozita Rosli, Laily Bin Din and Leslie C. Lai Genotoxicity of goniothalamin in CHO cell line. Mutation Research/Genetic Toxicology and Environmental Mutagenesis.8August2004; 562(1-2). pp.91-102.
  12. Mosaddik M.A.; Haque M.E. Toxicological Evaluation of Goniothalamin Isolated from Bryonopsis laciniosa Linn. in Rats. Pharmacy and Pharmacology Communications. 6June1999; 5(3): pp. 411-413.
  13. A. A. Herrera, M. O. D. Anne and A. P. Lerrie. Detection of congenital anomalies in Mus musculus induced by crude leaf extracts of Goniothalamus amuyon (Blanco) Merr. and Alstonia macrophylla Wall. Ex G. Don. Journal of Medicinal Plants Research, Vol. 4(4) pp. 327-334, 18 February, 2010

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