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Family Oxalidaceae
Averrhoa bilimbi L.

Huang gua shu

Scientific names Common names
Averrhoa bilimbi L. Iba (C. Bis., P. Bis., Sul., Tag.) 
  Ibag (Mbo.) 
  Ibe (Yak.)
  Kamias (Tag.) 
  Kolonanas (Tag.) 
  Kolonauas (Tag.) 
  Kalamias (Tag.) 
  Kalingiwa (Bis.) 
  Kiling-iba (Bik.) 
  Pias (Ilk.) 
  Puis (Ig.) 
  Bilimibi (Engl.)
  Bilimbi tree (Engl.)
  Cucumber tree (Engl.)
  Tree sorrel (Engl.)
  Huang gua shu (Chin.)

Other vernacular names
CHINESE: Ma hu gua, Xiang yang tao.
FRENCH : Carambolier bilimbi, Cornichon des Indes, Zibeline.
GERMAN : Bilimbinaum, Gurkenbaum.
HINDI: Bilimbi.
JAPANESE: Birinbi, Nagabanogorenshi.
MALAY : Belimbing asam, Belimbing besu, Belimbing buloh, Belimbing wuluh.
RUSSIAN: Bilimbi.
SPANISH : Grosella china, Pepino de Indias, Mimbro, Vinagrillo.
THAI: Tàlingpling.
VIETNAMESE : Kh? ng?t , Kh? tàu.

Kamias is a small tree, growing 5 to 12 meters high. Leaves are pinnate, 20 to 60 centimeters long, with hairy rachis and leaflets. Leaflets are opposite, 10 to 17 pairs, oblong, 5 to 10 centimeters in length. Panicles growing from the trunk and larger branches are hairy, 15 centimeters long or less. Flowers are about 1.5 centimeters long, and slightly fragrant. Fruit is green and edible, about 4 centimeters long, subcylindric, or with 5 obscure, broad, rounded, longitudinal lobes.

- Cultivated and semi-cultivated throughout the Philippines.
- Introduced from tropical America.
- Now pantropic.

Parts utilized
Leaves, fruit, juice.

• Study on volatile components of fruits showed 6 mg/kg of total volatile compounds; 62 compounds were identified, nonanal and (Z)-3-hexenol were dominant.

• Fruit contains potassium oxalate.

• Considered antibacterial, astringent, antiscorbutic, febrifuge, antidiabetic, stomachic, refrigerant.
• Fruit considered astringent, refrigerant, and stomachic.

- Eaten raw.
- Prepared as a relish and food flavoring.
- Made into sweets and jams; used in making pickles.
• Skin diseases, especially with pruritus: Reduce the leaves to a paste and apply tolerably warm to areas of affected skin.
• Fruit juice used as eye drops.
• Post-partum and rectal inflammation: Infusion of leaves.
• Mumps, acne, and localized rheumatic complaints: Paste of leaves applied to affected areas.
• Warm paste of leaves also used for pruritus.
• Used for boils, piles, rheumatism, cough, hypertension, whooping cough, mumps and pimples.
• Cough and thrush: Infusion of flowers, 40 grams to a pint of boiling water, 4 glasses of tea daily.
• For fevers, fruit made into syrup used as a cooling drink.
• The fruit has been used for a variety of maladies: beriberi, cough, prevention of scurvy.
• Infusion of leaves also drank as a protective tonic after childbirth.
• In Malaysia, leaves are used for venereal diseases.
• In Java, a conserve of fruit used for beriberi, biliousness, coughs.
• In Indonesia, leaves used for boils, diabetes, mumps, fever.
• In French Guyana, fruit decoction or syrup use for hepatitis, diarrhea, fever and other inflammatory conditions.
Stain remover: Because of high oxalic acid content, fruit used to remove stains from clothing and for washing hands, removing rust and stains from metal blades.

Hypoglycemic / Hypotriglyceridemic / Anti-Atherogenic / Anti-Lipid Peroxidative:
Effects of Averrhoa bilimbi leaf extract on blood glucose and lipids in streptozotocin-diabetic rats: Study showed that AB extract has hypoglycemic, hypotriglyceridemic, anti-lipid peroxidative and anti-atherogenic properties in STZ-diabetic rats. (1)
Antioxidant / Antimicrobial Activities: The scavenging of NO by the extract of AC fruits was dependent on concentration and stage of ripening. Extracts showed antimicrobial activity against E coli, Salmonella typhi, staph aureus and bacillus cereus. (3)
Phytochemicals / Antimicrobial: Phytochemical screening of fruit extracts yielded flavonoids, saponins and triterpenoids but no alkaloids. The chloroform and methanol fruit extracts were active against Aeromonas hydrophilia, E coli, K pneumonia, S cerrevisiae, S aureus, Strep agalactiae and B subtilis. In conclusion, AB fruits possess potential antibacterial activities that warrants further studies. (4)
Anti-Diabetic: Study showed the aqueous fraction was more potent than the butanol fraction in the amelioration of hyperglycemia and hyperlipidemia in a high fat diet-fed STZ diabetic rats and suggests the AF as the potential source for isolation of the active principle for oral antidiabetic therapy. (5)
Antibacterial: Study of the aqueous extract of AB leaves and fruits showed antibacterial activity against Gram-positive and Gram-negative bacteria. The antibacterial activity could be associated with the presence of bioactive compounds of the flavonoids type, like luteolin and apigenin. The results suggest further studies to isolate and identify the responsible compounds. (7)
Anti-Hyperlipidemic: Study showed the fruit and its water extract, but not the alcohol and hexane extracts, to have remarkable antihypercholesterolemic activity. Results suggest the fruit can be used as a dietary ingredient to treat hyperlipidemia. (8)
Hepatoprotective / Antioxidant: Study of a methanolic extract of leaves in carbon tetrachloride intoxicated rats showed significant inhibition of biochemical alterations, comparable to the standard drug. (10)
Antifertility: Study in mice showed the kamias fruit as a potential source of antifertility drug. A butanol fraction of the ethanol extract exhibited a higher reduction in fertility rate. The
activity may be due to either or both of the steroidal glucosides and potassium oxalate constituents. (11)
Antidiabetic Properties: Study evaluated the antidiabetic activity of ABe in STZ-induced diabetic Sprague-Dawley rats. ABe increased glucose tolerance in OGTT testing and showed potent hypoglycemic, hypotriglyceridemic, and anti-lipid peroxidative and anti-atherogenic activities. (12)
Cytotoxic Activity / Fruits: Study evaluated a crude methanolic extract of fruit and its various fractions for in vitro cytotoxic potential using the brine shrimp lethality bioassay. Results showed a significant cytotoxic potential and a potential source for the isolation of active principle/s for cancer therapy. (13)

Seasonal fruiting.

Last Update August 2013

Photos © Godofredo Stuart / StuartXchange
IMAGE SOURCE / File:Averrhoa bilimbi Blanco1.138.png / Flora de Filipinas / Franciso Manuel Blanco (OSA), 1880-1883 / Public Domain / Wikipedia

Additional Sources and Suggested Readings
Effects of Averrhoa bilimbi leaf extract on blood glucose and lipids in streptozotocin-diabetic rats / P. Pushparaj, C. H. Tan and B. K. H. Tan / Journal of Ethnopharmacology / doi:10.1016/S0378-8741(00)00200-2
Herbal and Traditional Medicine / Averrhoa bilimbi / Lester Packer
Antioxidant And Antimicrobial Activities Of Averrhoa carambola L. Fruits
Phytochemical screening and antimicrobial efficacy of extracts from Averrhoa bilimbi (Oxalidaceace) fruits against human pathogenic bacteria / Nurul Huda Bt. Abdul Wahab et al / Pharmacognosy Journal / Vol 1. Issue 1. June 2009
Anti–diabetic activity of the semi–purified fractions of Averrhoa bilimbi in high fat diet fed–streptozotocin–induced diabetic rats / Benny Kwong Huat Tan et al / Life Sciences / Volume 76, Issue 24, 29 April 2005, Pages 2827-2839 / doi:10.1016/j.lfs.2004.10.051
Volatile Components of Averrhoa bilimbi L. Fruit Grown in Cuba / Journal of Essential Oil Research: JEOR, May/Jun 2004 by Pino, Jorge A, Marbot, Rolando, Bello, Avillo
In vitro antibacterial activity of AB leaves and fruit extracts / Z. A. Zakaria, H. Zaiton et al /International Journal of Tropical Medicine 2(3):96-100. 2007

Studies on the Antihyperlipidemic Properties of Averrhoa bilimbi Fruit in Rats / Savithri Ambili et al / Planta Med 2009; 75(1): 55-58 / DOI: 10.1055/s-0028-1088361
Preliminary studies on the antiferility activity of Averrhoa bilimbi L. / C L Herrera, P M Cuasay et al / Philippine Journal of Science, 1986
Evaluation of the Anti-Diabetic Properties of Averrhoa bilimbi in Animals with Experimental Diabetes Mellitus / Thesis / Peters Natesan Pushparaj / 2004
Sorting Averrhoa names / Authorised by Prof. Snow Barlow / Maintained by: Michel H. Porcher / MULTILINGUAL MULTISCRIPT PLANT NAME DATABASE / Copyright © 1997 - 2000 The University of Melbourne.
Preliminary cytotoxic activity of different extracts of Averrhoa bilimbi (fruits )
/ Md. Ramjan Ali, Marjan Hossain, Jannatul Ferdous Runa, *Md. Hasanuzzaman /
International Current Pharmaceutical Journal, February 2013, 2(3): 83-84

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