Ligas is a small tree growing to a height of
12 meters. Leaves are crowded at the end of the branches, lanceolate-obovate
to oblong-obovate, 10 to 25 centimeters long, hairy, whitish beneath, rounded or
somewhat pointed at the tip and usually pointed at the base. Flowers
are whitish, 2 to 2.5 millimeters long, borne on panicles that are longer than
the leaves. Fruits are borne in clusters, resembling the kasui, but
much smaller. Drupe is ovoid, oblique, 1 centimeter long, grows at the top of
a red or purple, fleshy and edible fruit, which is about as long as the drupe. The "fruit," like that of the kasui, is really the enlarged
stalk and receptacle (torus) of the flower.
- Common in dry thickets and secondary forests at low altitudes in Cagayan, Ilocos Norte, Bontoc, La Union, Pangasinan, Zambales, Bataan, Nueva Ecija, Rizal, Pampanga, Bulacan, Laguna, Quezon and Sorsogon Provinces in Luzon; and in Mindoro, Palawan, Leyte, Negros, and Guimaras.
- Also reported in Indonesia.
- Cardol is the toxic principle of the
sap found in the bark and fruit.
- Phytochemical study yielded biflavoinoids, phenolic compounds, bhilawanols,
minerals, vitamins and amino acids.
- Nut of the shell contains biflavonoids, biflavones, tetrahydrorobustaflavone, jeediflavone, semecarpuflavone and gulluflavone.
- Oil from the nuts contain bhilavinol.
- Leaves contain amentoflavone.
Oil of pericarp is caustic and escharotic.
Fruits are considered acrid, bitter, astringent, thermogenic, emollient, digestive, carminative, purgative, liver tonic, aphrodisiac, antiarthritic, depurative, anti-inflammatory, cardiotonic, sudorific.
- Although many persons are probably immune to poisoning from the hairs on the leaves, in the Philippines the plant is usually regarded as poisonous, with reports of severe contact dermatitis.
- The sap is considered a violent contact poison which can cause painful swelling and minute blistering pustular skin eruptions
Leaves, fruit, gum.
• Oil of pericap is used as
a caustic or escharotic; sometimes used for indolent ulcers.
• In Malaysia, leaves
used for wounds.
• In India, fruit is traditionally used as folk remedy for the treatment of non-bleeding hemorrhoids. Also used as adjuvant treatment for ascites and tumors. Used for bronchospasms.
• Elsewhere, the gum-resin of S. anacardium has been used in leprosy
and nervous debility.
• Quisumbing lists Semicarpus cuneiformis and S. anacardium
as scientific synonyms. Studies below are mostly on Semecarpus anacardium. Other compilations separate the species. Both can cause acute and extensive dermatitis.
• There are no published studies on Semicarpus cuneiformis.
• Antioxidant / Antiarthritic:
Milk extract of Semecarpus anacardium nuts significantly decreased the
lipid peroxide levels in plasma and tissues of adjuvant arthritis.
The SA nut extract brought back the altered antioxidant defense components
to almost normal levels. The antiarthritic effect may be due to the
retardation of lipid peroxidation and a subsequent modulation of the
cellular antioxidant defense system. (1)
• Antioxidant / Prooxidant:
Nut purification studies suggested that the oil part of the nuts is
prooxidant whereas the alcoholic fraction is antioxidant; and the use
of hexane is better for purification of SA nuts and therapeutic enhancement.
(1) Studies have yielded phenolic compounds (semicarpol and bhilawanol)
found to inhibit the acute tuberculin reaction in sensitized rats and
primary phase of adjuvant arthritis. IN rheumatoid arthritis, inflammatory
activity has been attributed to flavonoids or the inhibition of early
mediator release (histamin and serotonin) and inhibition or cyclo-oxygenase. (2) Study of extract of SA demonstrated a protective immunological and pharmacological role.
Alcoholic extract of dry nuts of SA showed dose-dependent antifungal
activity against Aspergillus fumigatus and C albicans.
SA has been shown to have neuroprotective effect, especially to the
hippocampal region in stress-induced neurodegeneration like Alzheimer's
• Antispermatogenic Effect:
SA extract feeding caused antispermatogenic effect with reduction in
the numbers of spermatogenic cells and spermatozoa.
The antiatherogenic effect may be due to its antioxidant, anticoagulant,
hypolipidemic, anti-platelet aggregation and lipoprotein lipase releasing
Ethanolic extract shown to significantly lower blood glucose level in
alloxan induced diabetic rats.
• Toxicity Studies:
Acute toxicity studies showed no mortality at all dose levels. Subtacute toxicity studies showed not hematologic and biochemical alterations; in the highest dose, there was a moderate increase in blood sugar; histopath exam showed no morphological disturbances.
(1) Study undertaken to evaluate the cardioprotective effect of the hydroalcoholic extract of SA nuts showed it possesses a potential to ameliorate the myocardial damage induced by isoproterenol in rats. (2) Study on the bioactivity in the ethanolic extract of SA fruits on experimentally induced myocardial damage in rats showed high dose of EESA significantly reduced endogenous biomarker enzymes, with significant increase in biological antioxidants and catalase activities, while providing significant recovery from ischemia.
• Antioxidant / Anticarcinogenesis:
Administration of aqueous extract of SA to lymphoma-transplanted mouse caused an increase in antioxidant enzyme activities, with significant decrease in LDH activity, indicating decrease in carcinogenesis. The extract effect was more than doxorubicin, an anticarcinogeic drug.
• Hypoglycemic / Antihyperglycemic Effect:
Ethanolic extract of dried nuts of SA showed reduction of blood glucose in normal rats and also significantly lowered blood glucose in STZ-induced diabetic rats. Antihyperglycemic effect was compared with tolbutamide.
• Anti-Tumor / Anti-Hepatocellular Carcinoma:
Study was done to evaluate the effect of Semecarpus anacardium nut extract on the hepatocarcinogenicity of aflatoxin B1 in adult albino male Wistar rats. Results clearly showed antitumor efficacy of SA nut extract on aflatoxin B1-induced hepatocellular carcinoma.
• Anti-Inflammatory / COX-2 Inhibitory Activity:
Extract of the bark stem of SA showing in vitro anti-inflammatory activity in carrageenan induced rat paw edema was studied to identify its active compounds. The study yielded 2 compounds – butein and a trihydroxyflavone. The compounds showed moderate COX-2 inhibitory activity. (13)
• Reproductive Effects / Spermatogenic Arrest:
S. anacardium fruit extract administration resulted in spermatogenic arrest in albino rats. Sperm motility and density were significantly reduced.
• Toxicological Study of Anacardium Nut Extract:
Toxicological study on S. anacardium nut extract was done to determine its safe non-toxic dose. Toxicity was found to be dose-dependent. Results could be of some use in cancer chemotherapy study of the fraction. (16)