Caesalpinia sappan shares similarities with C. echinata, a species of Brazilian timber in the pea (Fabaceae) family. Portuguese explorers initially referred to the trees as pau-brasil - pau as Portuguese for "stick," metonymy for wood, and brasa for brasil, Portuguese for "ember" - for the deep red hue characteristic of the wood. Pau-brasil was also used to described the Asian sappanwood. And besides sharing in the common name brazilwood, C. echinata and C. sappan also share in some botanical features, chemical constituents, and functional uses of dye and wood.
Sapang is a small tree, 3 to 5 meters high, with scattered
spines. Leaves are compound, up to 50 centimeters long. Pinnae are about 20, opposite, and 10 to 20 centimeters long.
Leaflets are 20 to 30, obliquely oblong to oblong-rhomboid. Flowers are yellow, on terminal panicles, 2 to 2.5 centimeters in diameter with densely wooly filaments. Fruit
is a hard, indehiscent, shiny pod, about 7 centimeters long, and 3.5 to 4 centimeters wide, with a hard recurved beak at the upper angle.
- Locally abundant throughout the Philippines at low and medium altitudes in dry thickets, parang, etc.
- Introduced, and probably of prehistoric introduction.
- Also occurs in India through Burma, Thailand, Indo-China, southern China to Malaysia.
- Coloring matter of sappan wood appears to be identical to the brazilin obtained from brazilwood.
- Study yield a principle resembling haematein.
- Resinous extract yields a crystalline principle, which when fused with potash,
- Besides brazilin, additional constituents include gallic and tannic acids.
- The coloring matter of sappan wood has been attributed to brazilin.
- Tannin is found in the leaves,19%, bark and fruit walls, 44%.
- Leaves yield volatile oil, 0.16 to 0.25%; d-a-phellandrene, terpene, and methyl alcohol.
- Pods contain 40% tannin.
- Seed on extraction with petroleum ether yield an orange colored fixed oil.
- Sapwood is white. Heartwood, 90% of the total volume, is yellow or deep orange when fresh, turning to dark red.
- Stem yields a gum.
- Bark, pods and roots yield dyes. Pods contain about 40% tannin. Roots yield a yellow dye.
- Study yielded isoflavonoids from the dried heartwood.
- Study isolated 21 compounds: Neocaesalpin A(1), Neocaesalpin B(2); three brazilin derivatives:Brazilein (3), Brazilin (4), brazilide A (5); two dibenzoxocins: Protosappanin A (6),Protosappanin C (7); two lignans: (±)-Lyoniresinol (8), (-)-Syringaresinol (9); twochalcones: 3-deoxysappanchalcone (10), Sappanchalcone (11); one homoisoflavonoid:3-deoxysappanone B (12); two flavonoids: Rhamnetin (13), 3,8-dihydroxy-4,10-dimethoxy-7-oxo-benzopyrano[4,3-b]benzopyran(14); one stilbene: (E)-3,Y-dime-thoxy-4,4'-dihydroxystilbene (15); one chroman: 3,7-dihydroxy-chroman-4-one (16);three sterols: Stigrnasterol (17),β-sitosterol (18), Daucosterin (19); two fatty acid:Dimethyl adipate (20), Stearic (21).
- Studies have isolated various types of phenolic components including one xanthone, one coumarin, three chalcones, two flavones, three homoisoflavonoids, and brazilin. Brazilin [(6a S-cis)-7, 11b-dihydrobenz[b]indeno[1,2-d]pyran-3,6a,9,10(6H)- tetrol], is a major and active compound found in CS heartwood.
(see study below) (23)
- Considered emmenagogue, astringent, sedative, stomachic, tonic, vulnerary.
- Studies have suggested anti-anaphylactic, antibacterial, anticoagulant, anticomplementary, antifungal, anti-inflammatory, antitumor, antiviral, cytotoxic, immunostimulant properties.
Bark, wood, heartwoood, and seeds.
- Decoction of wood and bark used for
tuberculosis, atonic diarrhea, dysentery, postpartum tonic, skin infections, wounds, ulcers,
- Seeds used for stomach aches and nervous disorders.
- Decoction of wood used by women as tonic after confinement; also used as emmenagogue and and for vomiting of blood.
- Dried heartwood used against inflammation.
- Decoction is used as diuretic.
- Roots, stems and seeds used as sedative and vulnerary.
- In Indo-China, seeds used as stomachic.
- In Thailand, used for arthritis, cancer, and inflammatory complaints.
- In Ayurveda, useful in vitiated conditions of Pitta, burning sensations, wounds, ulcers, leprosy, skin diseases, diarrhea, dysentery, and diabetes.
- In Keral, decoction of heartwood used for blood purifying, antithirst, and anti-diabetic properties.
- Dye: Heartwood yields a valuable red crystalline dye, brazilin. Chiefly used as a
dyewood, popular for coloring cotton, silk, and wool fabrics. Elsewhere, used for coloring leather, silk, batik, calico printing, furniture and handicrafts. Also used for coloring wines and meats. Considered safe for coloring food products and pharmaceuticals.
- Lambanog: In some parts of the Quezon province, a popular colorant for the coconut
liquer, lambanog. Also, strip of sappan wood used to test for purity of lambanog, imparting a yellow coloration.
- Wood: (1) Firewood: has an energy value of 25,000 kj/kg. (2) Source of commercial redwood or Brazilwood. (3) Carpentry. Used for inlaying work, cabinetry, and with its straight grains, of great value in making violin bows and walking sticks.
|The Sapan Wood Test
|In the Quezon area, rather than medicinal, sapang finds greater use as a test for the purity of lambanog. Sappan wood is known to produce a red dye. Studies have identified brazilin as the wood constituent responsible for the color.
|The Traditional Rural Lithmus Test: In rural Quezon, the sapan wood has long been used for testing the purity of lambanog. A strip of sappan wood swirled in unadulterated lambanog will impart a yellow color. Above: (1) Gin, bright pink. (2) Vodka, reddish-brown. (3) Bating, the initial distillate in the lambanog process gives a reddish-orange color. (4) Coconut lambanog with the typical "true" unadulterated yellow coloration (5) Nipa or sasa lambanog with a lighter yellow, probably due to a lower "proof."
Aqueous extract study showed antimicrobial activity against methicillin-sensitive
S aureus (MSSA) as well MRSA and suggests a potential to restore the
effectiveness of B-lactam antibiotics against MRSA. (1)
• Immunosuppressive component:
Brazilein, an important immunosuppressive component of CS showed inhibition
of T cell proliferation and suppress mice humoral immune response. (2)
• Antioxidant: Study
results showed significant antioxidant activities of Caesalpinia sappan
heartwood extracts. (3) Ethanol extract showed strong superoxide anion radical and nitric oxide scavenging activity. Phenolic compounds were the major constituents for the antioxidant activity. Results suggest CS extract may be proposed as a dietary supplement for the prevention of oxidative damage or DNA damage by hydroxyl radicals.
of aqueous MeOH extracts isolated pure compounds sappanchalcone and
brazilin which showed remarkable anticonvulsant activity. (4)
• Xanthine Oxidase Inhibitors / Protosappanins: Study
of MeOH extract of Vietnamese CS isolated neoprotosappanin and protosappanin
A dimethyl acetal which showed xanthine oxidase inhibitory activity
comparable to allopurinol. (5) Protosappanin A isolated from the heartwood shown to have a mild sedative effect.
of extracts of CS showed potent inhibitory activity against B-hexosaminidase
release as marker of degranulation in rat basophilic leukemic cells.
Among the compounds tested, sappanchalcone showed the most potent anti-allergic
• Hypolipidemic: A methanolic extract showed significant anti-hypercholesterolemic activity.
• Cardioactive effects of Brazilein: Brazilein, a molecule with a non-steroidal skeleton,
obtained from CS ethanol extracts showed a positive inotropic action
with little effect on heart rate and coronary perfusion, an effect achieved
through inhibition of Na-K-ATPase system. (7)
• Hypoglycemic / Brazilin: Brazilin (7,11b-dihydrobenz[b]indeno-[1,2-d]pyran-3,6a,9,10(6H)-tetrol), the principle component of C. sappan, has been found to exhibit hypoglycemic properties and to increase glucose metabolism in diabetic rats.
• Nephroprotective: Study of an ethanolic extract of CS in male albino rats showed nephroprotective and antioxidant activities by histopathological and biochemical observations against acetaminophen-induced renal damage in rats. (10)
• Ovarian Cancer Growth Inhibition: Study showed C. sappan aqueous extract inhibited growth of human ovarian cancer cell line and induce apoptosis by increasing expression of Caspase-3, Caspase-9, and decrease expression of surviving. (11)
• Constituents / Anti-Tumor Activities: Study isolated 21 compounds (see constituents). Neocaesalpin A, brazilein, brazilin, and sappanchalcone exhibited moderate cytotoxicity against seven tumor cell. lines. A stilbene, (E)-3,Y-dime-thoxy-4,4'-dihydroxystilbene, exhibited hepatoprotective activity against D-GaIN-induced toxicity in WB-F344 cells. (13)
• Hepatoprotective / CCl4 Hepatotoxicity: Study of methanol and aqueous extracts of the heartwood of CS in CCl4-induced hepatotoxicty showed potent hepatoprotective activity comparable to standard silymarin. (14)
• Neuraminidase Inhibitory Activity / Anti-Influenza Virus: Study of yielded six constituents with neuraminidase inhibitory activity: Brazilein, brazilin, protosappanin A, 3-deoxysappanchalcone,
sappanchalcone and rhamnetin. Of these, 3-deoxysappanchalcone and sappanchalcone showed the highest activity against influenza virus (H3N2). (15)
• Anti-Arthritic: Study showed CS significantly attenuates CIA in rats by decreasing the levels of IL-1b, IL-6, TNF-a and PGE2 in serum and the expression of COX-2 and transcription factor NF-kB in paw cartilage. (17)
• Antihelmintic: Study evaluating the ethanol and aqueous extracts of CS bark against Pheritima posthuma showed anthelmintic activity with paralysis and death of worms compared to standard reference Albendazole. (18)
• Brasilin / Antibacterial:
Study isolated an active antibacterial principle from CS, brasilin, which showed potent activity against antibiotic-resistance bacteria, notably methicillin-resistant Staph aureus and vancomycin-resistant enterococci, multi-drug resistant Burkholderia capacia. Results showed brasilin is bactericidal against MRSA. (19)
Study evaluated the effects of an ethanolic extract on human chondrocytes and macrophages. Results demonstrated an anti-inflammatory effect in an in vitro cell model of joint inflammation. Blockade of IL-1ß-induced NF-kB signaling and downstream pro-inflammatory targets may be beneficial for reducing cartilage breakdown in arthritis. (21)
Study evaluated the antimicrobial activity of C. sappan and Mimosa pudica against S. aureus, B. subtilis, P. aeruginosa, E. coli, K. pneumonia, P. vulgaris, C. albicans and A. niger. Extracts of C. sappan showed broad spectrum activity against both gram-positive and gram-negative bacteria and fungi attributed to the identified alkaloids and tannins. (22)
• Brazilin: Brazilin [(6a S-cis)-7, 11b-dihydrobenz[b]indeno[1,2-d]pyran-3,6a,9,10(6H)- tetrol], is a major and active compound found in CS heartwood.
It has been reported to possess antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, anti-photoaging, hypoglycemic, vasorelaxant, anti-allergic, anti-acne, anti-oxidant properties. CS heartwood extract is safe and did not produce toxicity in both male and female rats. It is considered to be a safe natural compound with the potential as medicinal compound, as well as applications in food, beverage, cosmetics, and pharmaceutical industries. (Review) (24)
• Anti-HIV-1 Integrase Activity: Study evaluated an EtOH extract of C. sappan and its isolated compounds for anti-HIV-1 IN effect. Extraction from heartwood and roots isolated nine compounds. Compound 2, sappanchalcone exhibited the strongest anti-HIV-1 IN effect with an IC50 value of 2.3 µM. (25)
• Anti-Tumor Mechanisms / Review: Article reviews the studies done on the mechanisms on Caesalpinia sappan effects on tumors, including areas of cytotoxicity, tumor cell apoptosis, antimultidrug resistance, inhibition of tumor metastases, enhancement of chemotherapeutic effects, etc. (26)
• Wound Healing / Brazilin: Study evaluated the wound healing effect of standardized brazilin rich extract (BRE) from C. sappan heartwood. Results showed brazilin and BRE showed similar antioxidant and antibacterial activity (P>0.05). Cytotoxicity study showed brazilin and BRE was nontoxic up to 500 µg/mL concentrations. Results suggest BRE could be used as a potentiial herbal compound for the treatment of wound healing and can be a replacement for brazilin due to its similar biological activities and low cost production. (27)
• Anti-Cancer / Apoptosis Induction / HeLa Cell Line: Study evaluated the cytotoxicity activity of extracts from C. sappan heartwood against multiple cancer cell lines. Cell death through induction of apoptosis was evidenced by DNA fragmenttion and caspase-3 enzyme activation. (29)
• Antioxidant : Study of 85% ethanol extract from C. sappan heartwood yielded protosappanin A, protosappanin B and brazelein. All showed in vitro antioxidant activity. The ECS, protosappanin A and protosappanin B showed more inhibition of MDA and scavenging of H2O2, while brazilein showed more scavenging of hydroxyl radicals. (30)
• Antioxidant / : Study reports on the synthesis of AgNPs using Caesalpinia sappan extract as a reducing agent to convert Ag+ to AgNPs. Results showed a source of potential novel nanoantibiotics against MRSA (methicillin resistant Staphylococcus aureus). (31)
Tinctures, extracts, powders in the cybermarket.