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Mesua ferrea


Mesua ferrea


Calophyllum nagassarium, Mesua roxburghii, Mesua coromandeliana, Mesua pedunculata, Mesua nagama, Mesua salicina, Mesua walkeriana, Mesua sclerophylla, Mesua nagassarium [8]

Vernacular Names:


Malopus, Penaga Lilin


Gangau, Kengau


Thiet Lucmoc




Nagkashore, Nagassur, Nagesar, Nag kesar (Bengali); N ga gesar (Bhutanese); Nag Kesar (Hindi); Nagesuri (Nepalese); Kesara, Campeya, Hema (Sankrit); Narmishka (Urdu)

Sri Lanka

Deyana, Na, Nagaha (Singhalese);




Naz Mushk


Ceylon iron wood, Iron wood of Assam, Cobra Saffron


Arbe de fer, Bois d’anis, Bois de fer


Nagassamen [1] [2] [4]

General Information


Mesua ferrea is a member of the Clusiceae family. It is a tree with straight bole and spreading crown of pink terminal leaves, coated with wax. An evergreen tree reaching to a height of 18-20 m. The leaves are lanceolate, coriaceous and generally covered with wax. They measures 7.5-12. 5 cm long and 2.5-3.8 cm wide and have a rounded or aculeate base with an acuminate tip. The flowers occur either solitary or in clusters, They are large, mneasuring 2.5-7.5 cm in diameter. The flowers are fragrant and white in colour when mature. Fruits are ocvoid and pointed, somewhat round, red in coloute with 1-4 seeds. The seeds are angular, smooth, chestnut brown in colour and ovoid in shape. They measure up to 2.5 cm in diameter. The bark is greyish or reddish brown, with a smooth texture. The sapwood is creamy white or pinkish-brown, rather broad in structure. The heartwood is dark red or deep reddish-brown in colour, with a smooth straight or interlocked grain. [3]

Plant Part Used

Flowers, Seeds and Leaves [2] [10]

Chemical Constituents

a-amyrin; b-amyrin; b-sitosterol; dehydrocycloguanadin; euxanthone; jacareubin; linoleic acid; mammeigin; mammeisin; mesuabixanthone A and B; mesuaferrone A and B; mesuagin; mesuanic acid; mesuaxanthone A and B; mesuol; mesuone; oleic acid; palmatic acid; stearic acid [6] [9]

Traditional Used:

Gastrointestinal Diseases 

The flowers are useful in the treatment of acidity in the stomach, vomiting, loss of appetite, heartburns, haematemesis, gastritis, peptic ulcer and pain in the intestine. It is also good for diarrhoea and dysentery, liver disorders and bleeding piles. For chronic dysentery and bleeding diarrhoea Sushruta specifically used the stamens. Paste of the flower with butter and sugar seems to be the universal treatment for bleeding haemorrhoids. [1] [2] [5] [7] [10]

Respiratory Diseases

The flowers of M. ferrea is used to treat cough, bronchitis and asthma. Stamens is taken orally for cases of haemoptysis. [2] [7]

Inflammatory Conditions

The hardwood of M. ferrea is known to have anti-inflammatory activities. Traditionally its used to treat rheumatism and gout. Gout is also treated by using the stamens and flowers. Another remedy for gout is the oil from the seeds which helps to ease the pain. [6] [10]

Gynaecological and Sexually related diseases

M. ferrea had been prescribed for heavy menstrual flows. The flowers has been advocated for this especially the stamen which is known to be of use in arresting bleeding. A teaspoon of the powdered flower mixed with buttermilk is another remedy for metrorrhagia. To cure leukorrhoea, the flower is prescribed with buttermilk. For the promotion of conception Sushruta prescribe the powder of the flower together with that of Areca catechu nut or the powdered flower with Cow’s Ghee. [6] [7] [10]

Other Uses

The flowers and leaves of M. ferrea is an antidote to snake poison.[1] Oil expressed from the seed kernel is a good remedy for itching, scabies, ulcers and eczema. [1] [2] The essential oil from the stamens are antibacterial and antifungal. [6] The plant is also used in the treatment of headache, sore throat, hiccups, heart diseases, and excessive menstrual bleeding. [2] For burning sensation of the feet the powdered dried flowers are mixed with old clarified butter and applied locally. [5]

Pre-Clinical Data


Antimicrobial activity

Antibacterial activity

Extracts of the flowers of M. ferrea had been found to be effective against multidrug resistant bacteria. Verotta [11] found that 9 compounds of the 4-alkyl and 4-phenyl 5,7-dihydrocoumarin series extracted using Supercritical CO2 technique showed potent antibacterial activity against resistant Gram-positive strains. The methanol extracts of Mazumder [12] was found to be able to inhibit a large number of Gram-positive and Gram-negative bacterial at concentration ranging from 100 to 50 microg/ml or even lover as against Virios and Escherichia coli. Their in vivo studies showed that at the dose of 100 and 200 microg/g of body weight the extract could protect Swiss strain albino mice against the virulent strain of Salmonella typhimurium ATCC 6539. They further studied the antimicrobial efficacy against 5 different strains of Salmonella spp. and found that all strains were highly sensitive to the extract with MIC of 50 microg/ml. The mode of action of the extract was bactericial. [13]


Antiprotozoal activity

Nine compounds of 4-alkyl and 4-phenyl 5,7-dihydrocoumarins series extracted using Supercritical CO2 Extraction technique, from flowers of Mesua ferrea were found to have weak antiprotozoal activity against Plasmodium falciparum. [11]

Anti-inflammatory activity

Xanthones isolated from M. ferrea (dehydrocycloguanandin, alophyllin-B, jacareubin, 6-desoxy jacareubin, mesuaxantbone-A, mesuaxanthone-B and euxanthone) were screened for various pharmacological effects in experimental animals. All these xanthones showed anti-inflammatory activity both by intraperitoneal and oral routes in rats tested by carrageenin induced hind paw oedema, cotton pellet granuloma and granuloma pouch techniques in normal and adrenalectominsed rats. The xanthones did not show any mast cell membrane stabilizing effecta nor do they prevent the degranulating effects of compound 48/80, diazoxide and Won-X-100 on rat peritoneal mast cells in vitro. [14]

CNS depression activity

The xanthoses, dehydrocycloguanandin, alophyllin B, jacareubin, 6-desoxy jacareubin, mesuaxanthone-A, mesuaxanthone B and euxanthone, were found to produce varying degree of central nervous system (CNS) depression characterized by ptosis, sedation, decreased spontaneous motor activity, loss of muscle tone, potentiation of pentobarbitone sleeping time and ether anaesthesia in mice and rats. They however did not show any analgesic, antipyretic and anticonvulsant activities. [14]

Antiulcer activity

Gopalakrishnan [14] found that jacareubin and 6-desoxy jacareubin they isolated from M. ferrea exhibited anti-ulcer activity in rats.

Antivenom activity

In the screening 64 species of plants as animal or insect bite antidoes Uawonggul et al [15] found that M. ferrea extracts exhibited more than 40% efficiency activity against fibroblast cell lysis after Heterometrus laoticus (scorpion) venom treatment.

Antioxidant Activity

Yadav et all found that M. ferrea had amongst the highest antioxidant activity amongst the spices used in Indian food. This is evidenced by the fact that it could inhibit the propagation phase of lipid peroxidation and by the fact that it has higher polyphenol contents as compared to other test samples (Illicium verum, Cinnamomum zeylanicum and Acacia catechu) [16]


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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  1) Botanical Info


  1. Kanny Lall Dey The indigenous drugs of India Thacker, Spink and Co. Calcutta 1867 pg. 73
  2. Vaidya Bhagwan Dash  Herbal Treatment for Peptic Ulcer and Gastritis Health and Harmony New Delhi 2002 pg. 89
  3. D. M Bhat, N. H. Ravindranath, Vidya S. Swamy Nursery Manual for Forest Tree Species Universities Press (India) Pvt. Ltd.  Hyderabad 2003 pg. 202 – 203
  4. L. D. Kapoor CRC handbook of ayurvedic medicinal plants CRC Press LLC., Boca Rotan 1990 pg. 228
  5. U.C. Dutt The Materia Medica Of the Hindus Mittal Publications New Delhi 1995 pg. 119
  6. C. P. Khare Indian Medicinal Plants: An Illustrated Dictionary Springer-Verlag Berlin 2007 pg. 441
  7. C. P. Khare Indian herbal remedies Springer-Verlag Berlin 2004 pg 311
  8. Peter Hanelt, R. Büttner, Rudolf Mansfeld, Institut für Pflanzengenetik und Kulturpflanzenforschung Gatersleben, Mansfeld's encyclopedia of agricultural and horticultural crops Springer-Verlag Berlin 2001 pg. 1346
  9. Todd Caldecott Āyurveda: the divine science of life Elservier Ltd. Philadelphia 2006 pg. 249 – 250
  10. S.Suresh Babu, M. Madhavi Green Remedies Pustak Mahal Delhi 2003 pg. 128 – 129
  11. Luisella Verotta, Erminio Lovaglio, Giovanni Vidari, Paola Vita Finzi, Maria Grazia Neri, Alessandro Raimondi, Silvia Parapini, Donatella Taramelli, Antonella Riva and Ezio Bombardelli 4-Alkyl- and 4-phenylcoumarins from Mesua ferrea as promising multidrug resistant antibacterials Phytochemistry 2004 Vol. 65(21):2867-2879
  12. Mazumder R, Dastidar SG, Basu SP, Mazumder A, Singh SK. Antibacterial potentiality of Mesua ferrea Linn. flowers. Phytother Res. 2004 Oct;18(10):824-6.
  13. Mazumder R, Dastidar SG, Basu SP, Mazumder A. Effect of Mesua ferrea Linn. flower extract on Salmonella. Indian J Exp Biol. 2005 Jun;43(6):566-8.
  14. C Gopalakrishnan, D Shankaranarayanan, SK Nazimudeen, S Viswanathan, L Kameswaran Anti-inflammatory and C.N.S. depressant activities of xanthones from Calophyllum inophyllum and Mesua ferrea Indian Journal of Pharmacology 1980 Vol 12(3):181-191
  15. Uawonggul N, Chaveerach A, Thammasirirak S, Arkaravichien T, Chuachan C, Daduang S. Screening of plants acting against Heterometrus laoticus scorpion venom activity on fibroblast cell lysis. J Ethnopharmacol. 2006 Jan 16;103(2):201-7. Epub 2005 Sep 15.
  16. Yadav AS, Bhatnagar D. Inhibition of iron induced lipid peroxidation and antioxidant activity of Indian spices and Acacia in vitro. Plant Foods Hum Nutr. 2010 Mar;65(1):18-2

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