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Traditional Uses, Chemical Constituents, and Biological Activities of Bixa orellana L.: A Review


Abstract and Figures

Bixa orellana L., popularly known as “urucum,” has been used by indigenous communities in Brazil and other tropical countries for several biological applications, which indicates its potential use as an active ingredient in pharmaceutical products. The aim of this work was to report the main evidence found in the literature, concerning the ethnopharmacology, the biological activity, and the phytochemistry studies related to Bixa orellana L. Therefore, this work comprises a systematic review about the use of Bixa orellana in the American continent and analysis of the data collected. This study shows the well-characterized pharmacological actions that may be considered relevant for the future development of an innovative therapeutic agent.
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Review Article
Traditional Uses, Chemical Constituents, and Biological
Activities of Bixa orellana L.: A Review
Daniela de Araújo Vilar,1Marina Suênia de Araujo Vilar,1
Túlio Flávio Accioly de Lima e Moura,2Fernanda Nervo Raffin,2Márcia Rosa de Oliveira,3
Camilo Flamarion de Oliveira Franco,4Petrônio Filgueiras de Athayde-Filho,5
Margareth de Fátima Formiga Melo Diniz,1and José Maria Barbosa-Filho1
1Laboratory of Pharmaceutical Technology, Federal University of Para´
ıba, 58051-900 Jo˜
ao Pessoa, PB, Brazil
2Department of Pharmacy, Federal University of Rio Grande do Norte, 59010-180 Natal, RN, Brazil
3Department of Molecular Biology, Federal University of Para´
ıba, 58051-900 Jo˜
ao Pessoa, PB, Brazil
4State Company of Agricultural Research of Para´
ıba, Rua Eur´
ıpedes Tavares 210, Tambi´
a, 58013-290 Jo˜
ao Pessoa, PB, Brazil
5Department of Chemistry, Federal University of Para´
ıba, 58051-900 Jo˜
ao Pessoa, PB, Brazil
Correspondence should be addressed to Jos´
e Maria Barbosa-Filho;
Received  February ; Revised  May ; Accepted  May ; Published  June 
Academic Editor: Tsutomu Hatano
Copyright ©  Daniela de Ara´
ujo Vilar et al. is is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution
License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium,provided the original work is properly cited.
Bixa orellana L., popularly known as “urucum,” has been used by indigenous communities in Brazil and other tropical countries for
several biological applications, which indicates its potential use as an active ingredient in pharmaceutical products. e aim of this
work was to report the main evidence found in the literature, concerning the ethnopharmacology, the biological activity, and the
phytochemistry studies related to Bixa orellana L. erefore, this work comprises a systematic review about the use of Bixa orellana
in the American continent and analysis of the data collected. is study shows the well-characterized pharmacological actions that
may be considered relevant for the future development of an innovative therapeutic agent.
1. Introduction
e use of natural compounds of mineral, animal, or plant
origin in food products, cosmetics, and drugs began long ago.
ere are written records of ancient Egyptian and Chinese
there has been a return to the search for products called
“natural,” which in fact never ceased to exist. e analysis
of the composition of many drugs shows that almost %
of those in clinical use are derived from natural compounds.
Furthermore, not only plants but also plant byproducts are
widely used as preservatives and avoring and coloring agents
in various food and cosmetic preparations [].
Bixa orellana is a plant native to Brazil but grows in other
regions of South and Central America. It is grown in tropical
countries such as Peru, Mexico, Ecuador, Indonesia, India,
Kenya, and East Africa [].
e seeds of this plant produce one of the dyes most
frequently used worldwide, not only in food products but
also in the textile, paint, and cosmetic industries. Its use has
by the World Health Organization (WHO), since, in addition
to being nontoxic, it does not seem to change the food value
[]. Another interesting fact is that % of all natural coloring
agents consumed worldwide are derived from annatto [].
known as paprika, a condiment widely used in cooking to
enhance the color of food. Today, however, its use has spread
into many segments of industrial production. us, it is now
and there is research proving that its use brings health
benets, which makes producers thankful for cultivating it
[,]. erefore, in the continuation of our research on
Hindawi Publishing Corporation
e Scientific World Journal
Volume 2014, Article ID 857292, 11 pages
e Scientic World Journal
bioactive molecules from various species of dierent plant
families [], we oer this compilation of the traditional
uses, chemical constituents, and biological activities of Bixa
e aim of this review is to highlight the biological
and phytochemical studies that have been published about
Bixa orellana in South and Central America and try to
correlate these studies with the popular uses of this plant
composition can support the reported biomedical properties
related to Bixa orellana.
2. Materials and Methods
In this work, the biological activities and compounds isolated
from Bixa orellana were searched using the database of
the Web of Science, Scielo, and the University of Illinois
in Chicago NAPRALERT (acronym for “NAturalPRoducts
ALERT”). e data were updated in April , using “Bixa
orellana, chemical, and bixin” as key words for this review. e
references found in the survey were later consulted for details
about the models or mechanisms of bioassays used to test the
extracts of Bixa orellana.
3. Botanical
e annatto tree belongs to the family Bixaceae and the
genus Bixa. Despite the existence of several species, the most
common in our country is Bixa orellana L., named aer
Francisco Orellana, who was the rst European to navigate
the Amazon [].
According to Revilla [], B. orellana is a small tree or
shrub measuring from  to  meters in height, sometimes
reaching a height of  meters. e trunk is short, measuring
– cm in diameter, with dark gray bark with lenticels in
vertical rows. e leaves are alternate,  to  cm long and 
to  cm wide, sharp, green on both sides, and with extended
According to Oliveira et al. [], seeds measure .–.
cm in length and .-. cm in diameter, and their shape
varies from pyramidal to almost conical. e number of seeds
per capsule varies according to the author: Alonso []found
that each bivalvar capsule may contain from  to  seeds,
on average.
e seeds are considered the plant part of commercial
importance, since the pericarp (layer that surrounds the
seeds) contains the pigments that have wide industrial appli-
cation. About % of this pigment is the carotenoid known as
bixin, which has the dye property and can be extracted with
vegetable oils or chemical bases. Depending on the cultivar
and climatic conditions of the region, the bixin content can
vary from  to % in the seed aril. e remainder is composed
of other dyes and inert substances of minor importance [].
4. Use in Traditional Medicine
Annatto is a native plant from South America, more specif-
ically of the Amazon region. e popular name “urucum
comes from the Tupi word “ru-ku,” which means “red.” In
Brazil, this plant is commonly known as urucum, urucu,
ao, ac¸afroa, and ac¸afroeira-da-terra. It is known by other
e, achiote, and bija
(Peru and Cuba); axiote (Mexico); achiote, achote, anatto,
bija, and santo-domingo (Puerto Rico); bixa (Guyana); analto
(Honduras); guajachote (El Salvador); onotto and onotillo
(Venezuela); achiote and urucu (Bolivia); urucu (Argentina);
roucou (Trinidad); roucou and koessewee (Suriname); and
annatto (United States). e wide dissemination of its use
in those regions is related to the growing demand for
natural dyes by many pharmaceutical, cosmetic, textile, and
especially food industries [].
According to Cˆ
orrea [], seeds urucum supplies seeds
that have been used as a condiment as well as laxative,
cardiotonic, hypotensive, expectorant, and antibiotic. In
addition, it has anti-inammatory activity for bruises and
wounds and has been used for the treatment of bronchitis and
plant. e infusion of the leaves has been shown to be eective
against bronchitis, sore throat, and eye inammation. e
febrifuge. Moreover, it can provide valuable dyeing materials
such as yellow (orellin) and red (bixin) substances, with the
latter constituting a crystallized active ingredient.
mayonnaise, sauces, mustard, sausage, soup, juice, ice cream,
bakery products, macaroni, and cheese, where it is commonly
called “do reino” (of the kingdom), coming from Holland.
It is also widely used in the printing industry and dye
manufacturing. Many Aborigines use annatto for dyeing,
where the dye is naturally obtained as a mixture and used to
color ceramics and other vases for domestic use. In addition,
most endogenous people use this dye on their skin to beautify
themselves during religious rituals and mainly to protect
themselves from ultraviolet radiation and from mosquitoes
that infest forests []. e bast provides bers for rough
cordage, and the powder resulting from grinding the seeds
has been used as an aphrodisiac. Finally, the infusion of cold
buds serves to wash inamed eyes, whereas the decoction
of the leaves has been used for antiemetic therapy during
pregnancy [](Table).
us, despite the dierent culture and traditions among
the countries in South and Central America, several of
the popular uses of Bixa orellana are the same, for exam-
ple, antipyretic, aphrodisiac, antidiarrheal, antidiabetic, and
insect repellent.
5. Chemical Compounds
Bixin, a red-colored carotenoid, is the pigment present in
high concentration in the annatto seed aril. It is the main
substance responsible for the dyeing characteristics of seeds,
where its concentration can be as high as .%. However,
dierent seeds may have levels less than .%, and because
their commercial value is based on the bixin percentage, levels
higher than .% are usually required for export [].
e Scientic World Journal
T : Traditional uses of annatto in American countries.
Country/use Plant part References
Antipyretic/cardiotonic/antidiarrheal Seeds []
Antidiarrheal/dyes/condiment Seeds []
Body paint Seeds []
Insect repellent Seeds []
Condiment/food coloring Seeds []
Antipyretic Seeds []
Antipyretic/laxatives/burns Seeds []
Malaria Seeds []
Snakebite Leaves []
Aphrodisiac Seeds []
Aphrodisiac Seeds []
Gonorrhea/dysentery Leaves []
Hepatitis Leaves []
Dysentery Leaves []
Blood diseases Leaves []
Gonorrhea Roots []
Diabetes Roots []
Aromatic/food coloring Seeds []
Pain/digestive/dysentery Leaves []
Diabetes Seeds []
Respiratory and pulmonary disorders/diarrhea/diuretic/burns Leaves + seeds []
Labor pains Seeds []
Cough/cold/diuretic/diarrhea/burns/labor pains Seeds []
Insecticide/repellent Seeds []
Diabetes Seeds []
Aphrodisiac/aphrodisiac/diuretic/antidisenteria/astringent Fruits []
Antipyretic/skin problems Leaves []
Alcoholic hepatitis/worms Roots []
Antipyretic/aphrodisiac/dysentery/astringent/stomach Seeds []
Trinidad and Tobago
Diuretic Leaves []
Diabetes Roots []
Diabetes Roots []
Bixin was isolated for the rst time from the seeds of Bixa
orellana in  and in  its complete chemical structure
and stereochemistry were determined by 1Hand13C-NMR.
Bixin belongs to the small class of natural apocarotenoids,
whose formation occurs by the oxidative degradation of C
carotenoids (Table ).
Bixin consists of a chain of  carbons and has the molec-
ular formula C25H30O4(MW = .). It has a carboxylic
acid and methyl ester group at the ends of the chain. Bixin
occurs in nature as -𝑍(𝑐𝑖𝑠), but during the extraction
process it isomerizes resulting in the -𝐸form (trans), which
is called isobixin (Figure ).
e Scientic World Journal
T : e main carotenoids from the seeds of Bixa orellana.
Carotenoid Country of isolation Physical aspect References
Apo-𝜓-carotene, 󸀠Z-󸀠-ol Brazil Oil []
Beta carotene Brazil C[]
Suriname []
Brazil C[]
Peru []
Dominican Rep. []
Suriname []
USA []
Z-Carotene Brazil Oil []
Cryptoxanthin Suriname C[]
Dimethyl-(Z)-,󸀠-diapocarotene-,󸀠-dioate Brazil Oil []
Dimethyl-(Z,󸀠Z)-,󸀠-diapocarotene-,󸀠-dioate Brazil Oil []
Phytoene Brazil Oil []
Phytouene Brazil Oil []
Geranylgeraniol Brazil Oil []
Lutein Suriname C[]
Methyl-(Z)-󸀠-oxo-,󸀠-diapocarotene--oate Brazil Oil []
Methyl-(Z)-󸀠-oxo-,󸀠-diapocarotene--oate Brazil Oil []
Methyl-(Z)-󸀠-oxo-,󸀠-diapocarotene--oate Brazil Oil []
Methyl-(󸀠Z)-apo-󸀠-lycopenoate Brazil Oil []
Methyl-(Z,Z,󸀠Z)-apo-󸀠-lycopenoate Brazil Oil []
Methyl-(Z)-apo-󸀠-lycopenoate Brazil Oil []
Methyl-(all-E)-apo-󸀠-lycopenoate Brazil Oil []
Neurosporene Brazil Oil []
Norbixin Brazil C[]
Trans-bixin Jamaica C[]
Zeaxanthin Suriname C[]
Source: [].
Many other carotenoids (C19,C
occur in Bixa orellana but constitute a minor percentage of
the pigments. e major oily constituent of annatto seeds
is geranylgeraniol, representing % of dry seeds. Norbixin
(Figure ) is a demethylated derivative of bixin and although
it is a naturally occurring compound, it is almost always
referred to as a saponication product of bixin. is is the
form used for commercial purposes [].
Currently, more than two dozen substances have been
isolated from the seeds of Bixa orellana. Besides bixin and
norbixin, other compounds such as isobixin, beta-carotene,
cryptoxanthin, lutein, zeaxanthin, orellin, bixein, bixol, cro-
cetin, ishwarane, ellagic acid, salicylic acid, threonine, tomen-
tosic acid, tryptophan, and phenylalanine have been found in
their respective concentrations, are found in these seeds: 
to % cellulose, . to .% sugars, . to .% essential oils,
% xed oils, . to .% pigments, and  to  % proteins
and alpha and beta-carotene, as well as tannins and saponins
Mercadante et al. [,]isolatedeightapocarotenoids
from annatto seeds: methyl (Z, Z, 󸀠Z)-apo-󸀠-lycopenoate,
methyl (Z)-apo-󸀠-lycopenoate, methyl (all-E)-apo-󸀠-
lycopenoate, methyl (all-E)--apo-beta-carotene-󸀠-oate,
methyl (all-E)-apo-󸀠-lycopenoate, -geranylgeranyl-󸀠-
methyl-,󸀠diapocaroten--󸀠dioate, 󸀠-geranylgeranyl-
󸀠-methyl-(Z)-,󸀠-diapocaroten--󸀠-dioate, and -
More than  volatile compounds have been detected
in aqueous and organic extracts, where  of these have
copaene, -cubebene, (+)-cyclosativene, geranyl phenylac-
etate, -heptanetiol, -methylpyridine, -methylpyridine 𝛾-
elemene, 𝛽-humulene, isoledene, 𝛽-pinene, seline--en--ol,
𝛿-selinene, ()-spathulenol, and (+)-ylangene) [].
Because annatto is a rich source of carotenoids it is
of great commercial importance. In fact, the therapeutic
properties of annatto (e.g., antioxidant and hypoglycemic)
Table lists some of these compounds.
e pigments in annatto seeds can be extracted by
mechanical processes through grinding the seeds and by
physical-chemical methods using solvents or enzymes [].
e solvent extraction can be performed using three basic
methods: alkaline extraction (NaOH or KOH solutions),
which results in the conversion of bixin to norbixin;
extraction with oil (soybean, corn); and extraction using
organic solvents (hexane, chloroform, ethanol, acetone, or
e Scientic World Journal
Bixin (Z-bixin or cis-bixin)
MeOOC 16 1
Isobixin (E-bixin or trans-bixin)
F : Chemical structure of some pigments of annatto.
propylene glycol), which results in the purest form of pig-
Barbosa-Filho et al. [] studied the seeds of four types
of annatto cultivated in Para´
ıba State, Brazil, namely, “cas-
caverde” (“green peel”), “cascavermelha” (“red bark”), “bico
de calango” (“lizard beak”), and “gr˜
aopreto”(“black grain”),
with respect to their oil (material extracted with hexane)
and solid (material extracted with chloroform) contents,
and also pure bixin, which was obtained by successive
recrystallization from the chloroform fraction. Pure bixin
C. e dierent concentrations found for the oil fraction,
chloroform extract, and bixin are as follows: red bark .%,
lizard beak .%, green peel .%, and black grain .%. Red
bark shows the highest yield for both solvent fractions, and
the bixin amount is around %. is species has been reported
as the most used in folk medicine. On the other hand, black
grain shows negligible amounts of bixin.
6. Biological Activity
Table shows data found in  studies performed with
annatto in  dierent countries in the American countries.
To obtain the extracts and fractions tested, several plant parts
were used, such as leaf, root, seed, shoot, and even the whole
plant. e data surveyed were classied according to the
pharmacological activity tested.
Among the twenty-one activities tested, those with the
largest number of studies performed were antifungal activity
(), antibacterial activity (), antimalarial activity (), and
mutagenic activity (). Cytotoxic activity and toxicity have
been little studied, with three and two studies, respectively.
Pharmacological activities have been evaluated in animal
models ( preclinical studies), human models ( clinical
study), cell cultures ( studies), and in vitro tests ( studies).
Antifungal activity has been investigated in one country
in Central America (Guatemala) and in two countries in
South America (Ecuador and Argentina) using eleven dier-
ent fungal strains [,,].
Freixa et al. [] conducted a study in Ecuador to assess
the antifungal activity of extracts from the dried leaves of
the annatto tree in response to  fungi species, obtaining
satisfactory antifungal activity against Tri choph y ton ment a-
grophytes trains. In Guatemala, three dierent strains were
used to evaluate antifungal activity, with no satisfactory
activity being observed [].
e extracts of annatto leaves have been evaluated for
antibacterial activity against  dierent bacterial strains
(Bacillus subtilis, Escherichia coli, Micrococcus luteus, Pseu-
domonas aeruginosa, Staphylococcus aureus, Salmonella typhi,
Shigella dysenteriae, and Staphylococcus epidermidis), show-
ing no activity.
Antimalarial activity has been determined against Plas-
modium gallinaceum,Plasmodium lophurae, and Plasmodium
berghei. Although the studies conducted previously in the
United States did not show signicant results [], Vald´
es et
al. () reported a moderate activity of the seed extracts of
Bixa orellana against Plasmodium berghei and falciparum.
7. Mutagenic and Cytotoxic Activities
No signicant eect was observed when extracts of annatto
seeds were tested for mutagenic activity in studies performed
in the United States and Brazil [,].
Extracts obtained from annatto seeds and leaves have
been tested in cell cultures and the brine shrimp assay,
respectively, and have been found to lack cytotoxicity in
either model used. ese experiments were carried out in
Guatemala and the Dominican Republic [,].
On the other hand, a study performed in Cuba with 
medicinal plants that were active in inhibiting human lung
carcinoma cell growth showed that the ethanolic extract of
Bixa orellana presented cytotoxicity at concentrations below
 𝜇g/mL [].
8. Toxicological Activities
Currently, concerns about the eect of synthetic dyes on
human health are incontestable, making people increasingly
choose those of natural origin, believing that they are devoid
of toxic eects. is is not entirely true, because even a
medication from a natural source can be a poison, depending
e Scientic World Journal
T : Biological activities of extracts of annatto in American countries.
biological activity Part used Type of extract Organism tested Model tested Dose used Activity References
Antibacterial LE EtOH Bacillus subtilis In vitro  mg/mL Inactive []
Escherichia coli In vitro  mg/mL Inactive []
Micrococcus luteus In vitro  mg/mL Inactive []
Pseudomonas aeruginosa In vitro  mg/mL Inactive []
Staphylococcus aureus In vitro  mg/mL Inactive []
Antifungal LE EtOH Aspergillus niger In vitro  mg/mL Inactive []
Candida albicans In vitro  mg/mL Inactive []
Antiviral SE EtOH Virus Herpes simplex 1 Cell culture . mg/mL Inactive []
Insecticidal AP MeOH Insect Sitophilus oryzae % Inactive []
Antimalarial SE CHClMouse Plasmodium berghei  mg/kg Inactive []
Antioxidant SE EtOH In v itro DPPH assay . g LActive []
Insect repellent SE Petr. eth Hamster Lutzomyia longipalpis g/L Active []
SE EtOH Mosquito Aedes aegypti . mg/mL Active []
Molluscicidal SE EtOH Conch Biomphalaria glabrata , ppm Inactive []
Mutagenic Powder Mouse B one marrow cells , ppm Inactive []
Tox icity SE Powder Rat In vivo  mg/kg Inactive []
Antileishmanial LE/RO EtOH Leishmania amazonensis In vitro ,–, mg/mL Active []
Antileishmanial SE OE Leishmania amazonensis In vitro //// 𝜇g/mL Active []
Hyperlipidemia SE HOMouse In v itro  and  mg/kg Active []
Snakebite LE EtOH Mouse Bothrops atrox LD > 𝜇g/animal Active []
Costa Rica
Anti-inammatory RO EtOH Rat Paw edema/carrageenan  mg/kg Inactive []
Positive inotropic eect AP HO Guinea pig Isolated atrium  𝜇LInactive[]
Antimalarial SE Plasmodium gallinaceum/falciparum In vivo/in vitro  mg/kg Active []
Cytotoxic SE EtOH Tumor cells In vitro ,– mg/mL Active []
Antifungal LE MeOH Aspergillus niger In vitro  mg/disk Inactive []
Candida albicans In vitro  mg/disk Inactive []
Cryptococcus neoformans In vitro  mg/disk Inactive []
Fusarium oxysporum In vitro  mg/disk Inactive []
Neurospora crassa In vitro  mg/disk Inactive []
Penicillium purpurogenum In vitro  mg/disk Inactive []
Trichophyton mentagrophytes In vitro  mg/disk Active []
e Scientic World Journal
T : C o nti nue d .
biological activity Part used Type of extract Organism tested Model tested Dose used Activity References
Antibacterial LE Various Escherichia coli In vitro  𝜇L/disk Inactive []
Pseudomonas aeruginosa In vitro MIC > mg/mL Inactive []
Salmonella typhi In vitro MIC > mg/mL Inactive []
Shigella dysenteriae In vitro  𝜇LInactive[]
Staphylococcus aureus In vitro MIC > mg/mL Inactive []
Antifungal LE HOAspergillus avus In vitro MIC > mg/mL Inactive []
Candida albicans In vitro MIC > mg/mL Inactive []
Microsporum gypseum In vitro MIC > mg/mL Inactive []
Antigonorrheal LE EtOH Neisseria gonorrhea In vitro  𝜇L/disk Active []
Antitrypanosomal LE EtOH Trypanosoma cruzi In vitro MIC > mg/mL Inactive []
Cytotoxic LE HO Crustacean Artemia salina LC >, ppm Inactive []
Inhib. of platelet aggregation SE / In vitro rombin ag gregation IC . mg/mL Inactive []
Contraceptive RO / Mouse / . mL/animal Inactive []
Hypoglycemic SE CHClDog  g Active []
HO D og  mL/animal Active []
Antioxidant SE EtOH In vitro In vitro . and . 𝜇g/mL Active []
Allergenic SE Oil Human  𝜇L/ person Active []
Insecticidal SE Petr. ether Insect Rhodnius neglectus  𝜇gInactive[]
Puerto Rico
Molluscicidal TP HOConchLymnaea cuben sis LD >Mppm Inactive []
Dominican Republic
Cytotoxic SE EtOH Cell culture Molt  cells  𝜇g/mL Inactive []
Trinidad and Tobago
Antibacterial SE EtOAc Escherichia coli In vitro , 𝜇g/mL Inactive []
Pseudomonas aeruginosa In vitro , 𝜇g/mL Inactive []
Anticonvulsant RA EtOH Mouse Seizures/electroshock  mg/kg Inactive []
Rat Seizures/pentylenetetrazole  mg/kg Inactive []
Antimalarial SE CHClChicken Plasmodium gallinaceum  mg/kg Inactive []
Mutagenic SE MeOH Salmonella typhimurium  mg/plaque Inactive []
HOIn vitro Placental trophoblasts  mg/plaque Inactive []
Hypotensive RA EtOH Rat  mg/kg Active []
Tox icity RA HOMouse LD> mg/kg Inactive []
LE:leaf;AP:aerialpart;TP:totalplant;RO:root;SE:seed;/:notgiven;LD:%lethaldose;IC:concentrationthatinhibits%oftheeect;MIC: minimum inhibitory concentration.
e Scientic World Journal
on the dose that is administered. e failure to require in-
depth data related to toxicological and chemical analyses
for the registration of food additives derived from natural
sources [,] certainly makes the information about
possible unwanted eects and/or pharmacological activities
resulting from their use, much rarer than expected in view of
Paumgartten et al. [] evaluated the toxicity of annatto
extracts in rats. Doses up to  mg/kg body weight/day
were introduced directly into the stomach of pregnant rats
to evaluate the eect on the mother and fetus, and no
adverse eects were found for either. e annatto extract did
not induce an increase in the incidence of visible external,
visceral, or skeletal anomalies in the fetuses. erefore, the
study suggested that the annatto extract was not toxic to rats
nor was it embryotoxic. Studies performed in Brazil by Alves
de Lima et al. [], where extracts of annatto were mixed with
the food of male rats, showed that the concentrations tested
marrow cells. A parallel toxicity study conducted by Hagiwara
et al. [] showed that .% annatto extract administered for
thirteen weeks in the feed of male and female rats did not
show any adverse eects. However, when higher doses were
administered (. and .%), the authors noticed an increase
in liver weight as well as changes in blood chemistries,
including increase in alkaline phosphatase, phospholipids,
and total protein, as well as albumin and albumin/globulin
Hagiwara et al. [] also evaluated extracts of annatto
for liver carcinogenicity in rats and found no evidence of
liver tumors, even when given to animals at a high dose of
 mg/kg body weight/day, compared to an acceptable dose
of . to . mg/kg/day, thus indicating that the danger
of a hepatocarcinogenic eect in humans may be absent or
A toxicity test was performed with extracts obtained from
both plant seeds and shoots, and no signicant eect was
observed. e experiments were performed in the United
States using mice as the animal model and it was found that
9. Correlation between the Biological
Activities, Phytochemistry, and the
Traditional Uses of Bixa orellana
Table showsthatmanyofthetraditionalusesofBixa
orellana are the same in several countries of South and
Central America, which suggests its eectiveness as a ther-
apeutic agent. Extracts of Bixa orellana showed biological
activities such as antioxidant, hypotensive, molluscicide,
and antimalarial against A cells for carcinoma of the
lung, allergy, hypoglycemic, antifungal, antioxidant, insect
repellent, antigonococcal, and antivenom serum and some of
them are in accordance with the traditional use; for example,
in Brazil it is used to extract the seeds with purpose repellent
insecticide and antimalaria and scientic studies in the same
countrywiththeLutzomyia longipalpis insect repellent action
and prove a study in Cuba proved the pharmacological action
for antimalarial activity when tested against Plasmodium
berghei. Some of them are in accordance with the traditional
use; for example, seed extracts have been used in Brazil and
Cuba as insect repellent and antimalarial. Antioxidant and
insect repellent activities can be attributed to the carotenoids
and the essential and xed oils, respectively.
Despite the previous reports about the presence of com-
ponents with anti-inammatory properties, such as salicylic
acid, lutein, polyphenols, and tannins, this activity has not yet
been proven for Bixa orellana extracts. Similarly, the plant’s
essential and xed oils have shown antibacterial properties,
although this activity has not been proven too.
In general, the data obtained in this review do not allow
correlations between the biologic activities tested in vitro or in
vivo with the compounds identied in this species. However,
taking into account the related activities such as the antipara-
sitic eect and the lack of mutagenic and cytotoxicity activity,
it is possible to consider Bixa orellana as a potential source for
the development of phytopharmaceutical products.
In conclusion, the studies discussed in this review repre-
sent a rich database around the Bixa orellana activities and
its potential uses, which evokes the feasibility of phytophar-
maceuticals to treat some diseases whenever an antioxidant,
hypotensor, or hypoglycemiant activity is necessary.
Although the commercial exploitation of this species is
well established, there are very few studies on its pharma-
cological eects. Considering the need for developing a safe
and eective product, more studies should be performed in
order to conrm other biological activities supported by the
popular uses of Bixa orellana.
Conflict of Interests
e authors declare that they have no conict of interests.
e authors are grateful to CNPq/PRONEX/FAPESQ and
CAPES for nancial support and to the NAPRALERT
Database of the University of Illinois, USA, for the literature
on Bixa orellana. A. Leyva helped in editing the English
language of the paper.
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... The fruit pup is used on burn-injured skin to prevent formation of blisters and sores. The seeds have been used for treating bronchitis and healing wounds in addition to be antibiotic and expectorant (5,6). ...
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Chronic inflammation is the underlying mechanism for many diseases. Thus, inflammatory signaling pathways are valuable targets for new treatment modalities. Natural products have gained interest as a potential source of bioactive compounds which provide health benefits in combating inflammatory-related diseases. Recent reports have linked the medicinal values of Bixa orellana L. with its anti-inflammatory activities. Therefore, this review aims to examine the therapeutic potential of bixin, a major bioactive constituent found in the seeds of B. orellana , on inflammatory-related diseases based on existing in vitro and in vivo evidence. Additionally, the anti-inflammatory mechanism of bixin via signaling pathways is explored and possible toxic effects are addressed. The findings suggest that bixin may ameliorate inflammation via inhibition of toll-like receptor 4/nuclear factor-kappa B (TLR4/NF-κB), phosphoinositide 3-kinase/protein kinase B (PI3K/Akt) and thioredoxin-interacting protein/NOD-like receptor protein 3 (TXNIP/NLRP3) inflammasome mechanisms. More well-planned clinical studies should be performed to verify its effectiveness and safety profile.
... This dyestuff is commonly known as annatto [45]. Its main coloring component is a red-colored carotenoid called bixin [70]. Annatto has been used in fabrics, manuscripts, cosmetics, lakes, and painting media [45]. ...
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The Brazilian Legal Amazon region is divided into at least 155 ethnic groups and has the largest concentration of Indigenous people globally. It represents one of the most extraordinary levels of human, cultural, and artistic diversity, but its material culture is one of the least well-studied. This is especially true in technical art history and conservation science, largely due to (1) the limited international awareness of the richness of materials and techniques used by these Indigenous people and (2) the limitations of knowledge access for many scientists to literature usually published in Portuguese within social sciences and humanities. One result is that these arts are marginalized within technical art history, conservation, and conservation science. To address this knowledge gap, the authors explore 70 materials—among them pigments, dyes, binding media, and varnishes—used for paint production and coloring processes, including syntheses. The authors facilitate research possibilities within technical art history, conservation, and conservation science by presenting data from historical texts from the 18th and 19th centuries and more recent scientific literature. The work aims to build a more global, inclusive, and decentralized vision of art history and to create a more pluralistic narrative of Indigenous art history from South America.
... Achiote is valued for its natural pigments used in traditional cuisine and as a coloring agent in food, pharmaceutic, cosmetic, and textile industries (Kang et al. 2010;Avendaño-Arrazate et al. 2012;Shahid Ul et al. 2016). Other phytochemical compounds of achiote have shown functional properties and are promising therapeutic alternatives for the treatment of cancer and diabetes (D de Araújo Vilar et al. 2014;Kumar and Periyasamy 2016;Raddatz-Mota et al. 2017), leading to an increase in the global B. orellana trade. ...
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The achiote or annatto (Bixa orellana L.) is a tropical plant displaying high morphological variation associated with variable bixin content, which is a valuable commercial natural pigment. This study assesses the morphological and genetic variation of 58 domesticated individuals of achiote. The analysis involved 16 morphological traits, 23 SSR markers, and SNPs of the lycopene β-cyclase 1 (Boβ-LCY1) gene. The individuals analyzed showed variation in morphological traits. A two-step cluster analysis revealed three clusters of morphological traits; among them, one group stood out with important agronomic traits considered desirable for the crop. Some individuals exhibited agronomic traits of interest, such as a higher number of seeds per fruit (43 ± 4.7), indehiscent fruits, and a bixin production of 42.6 mg·g–1 (dry weight). The achiote individuals showed genetic diversity covering 2.1 effective alleles, a Shannon-Weaver of 0.75, and an observed and expected heterozygosity of 0.58 and 0.48, respectively. The individuals displaying higher levels of bixin were associated with polymorphisms of Boβ-LCY1 gene; thus, this may be considered a promising marker to be included in the selection profile of elite plants in genetic improvement programs for this cultivar.
... Although this tree is common in Brazil (Amazon), its fruit (annatto) was only recently introduced to Europe. According to Vilar., et al. [23], the colorant bixin accounts for approximately 80% of the total amount of colorants extracted from annatto seeds and can be further transformed into norbixin, a high added-value compound with several bioactive potential. The antioxidant activity of bixin has received more attention. ...
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Dyslipidemia presents high levels of serum cholesterol and is characterized as a risk factor for cardiovascular diseases, especially for the development of atherosclerosis. E. oleracea oil (OFEO), A. esculentus oil (OFAE), B. orellana oil (OFBO), and Chronic SM® granules (CHR) are rich in bioactive compounds with the potential to treat changes in lipid metabolism. This study investigated the effects of treatments with oils from A. esculentus, E. oleracea, B. orellana, and Chronic SM® on Cocos nucifera L. saturated-fat-induced dyslipidemia. The chromatographic profile showed the majority presence of unsaturated fatty acids in the tested oils. The quantification of tocotrienols and geranylgeraniol in OFBO and CHR was obtained. Treatments with OFEO, OFAE, OFBO, and CHR were able to significantly reduce glycemia, as well as hypertriglyceridemia, total cholesterol, and LDL-cholesterol, besides increasing HDL-cholesterol. The treatments inhibited the formation of atheromatous plaques in the vascular endothelium of the treated rats. The obtained results suggest that the OFEO, OFAE, OFBO, and CHR exhibit antidyslipidemic effects and antiatherogenic activity.
Full-text available
Dyslipidemia presents high levels of serum cholesterol, being characterized as a risk factor for cardiovascular diseases, especially for the development of atherosclerosis. E. oleracea (OFEO), A. esculentus (OFAE), B. orellana (OFBO) and granulated (CHR) oils are rich in bioactive compounds with potential to treat changes in lipid metabolism. This study investigated the effects of treatments with oils from A. esculentus, E. oleracea, B. orellana and granules (Chronic SM®) on saturated fat-induced dyslipidemia Cocos nucifera L. The chromatographic profile showed the majority of unsaturated fatty acids in the tested oils. The quantification of tocotrienols and geranylgeraniol was obtained in OFBO and CHR. Treatments with OFEO, OFAE, OFBO and CHR were able to significantly reduce glycemia with p>0.001, as well as hypertriglyceridemia, total cholesterol and LDL-cholesterol, in addition to increasing HDL-cholesterol. The treatments inhibited the formation of atheromatous plaques in the vascular endothelium of the treated rats. The obtained results suggest that the OFEO, OFAE, OFBO and CHR groups have antidyslipidemic effects and antiatherogenic activity.
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Molluscicidal assay of 200 Puerto Rican plants revealed 30 to be active against Lymnaea cubensis and L. columella under laboratory screening. Among these 30, 16 were notably toxic against lymnaeids, killing all snails in the range of 25 to 200 p/m. Of plant parts tested, including seeds, roots, fruits and leaves, the latter two proved most uniformly toxic. Only in the case of Solanum nodiflorum were all parts toxic. This paper discusses how molluscicidal plants may be beneficially used in the field to control snail-borne diseases, and what qualities an ideal molluscicidal plant should have.
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Neste trabalho foi verificado o teor de Óleos, sólidos e bixina em sementes de quatro variedades de Bixa orellana L. cultivadas na Paraíba: "Casca verde", "Casca vermelha", Bico de calango" e "Grão preto". Os melhores resultados foram obti­dos com os tipos "Casca verde" e "Casca vermelha" que apresentaram um rendimento em bixina pura, cristalina, de 1,3 e 1,1%, respectivamente.
OBJECTIVES: to evaluate the effect of 10 Cuban medicinal plant extracts on the human lung tumor cell line A549. METHODS: the effect of the plant extracts on tumor cells was determined by a colorimetric assay using the 3-(4,5-Dimethylthiazol-2-yl)-2,5-diphenyltetrazolium bromide (MTT) at concentrations ranging from 3,9-250 μg/mL for 72 hours and the mean cytotoxic concentration was calculated for each of them. RESULTS: the ethanolic extracts of Parthenium hysterophorus, Bixa orellana, Momordica charantia and Cucurbita maxima showed mean cytotoxic concentrations under 100 μg/mL. Except for P. hysterophorus, the others are used in traditional medicine to fight cancer. The remaining extracts from Cecropia peltata, Melia azedarach, Annona glabra, Artemisia absintium, Lepidium virginicum and Bidens pilosa did not show significant cytotoxic effects. CONCLUSIONS: the plant extracts for cancer treatment in traditional medicine showed cytotoxic effect on the tumor cell lines. Ethnobotanical data represent an important tool for medicinal plants screening in the quest for new compounds to treat cancer.