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Presented by: UT El Paso / Austin Cooperative Pharmacy Program & Paso del Norte Health Foundation

Candlenut Tree


Compilation by Armando Gonzalez Stuart, PhD.
Candlenut

Scientific Name:

Aleurites moluccana

Botanical Family:

Euphorbiaceae

Other Common Name:

Indian walnut, Kukui, Tuitui, “Nuez de la India”, Palo de la India

Where is it found?

The tree is originally from Indonesia, but is now cultivated in South America, especially in Brazil. Some ads mention that this tree is native to the Amazon region, which is incorrect.

Parts of the plant used:

The fruits and leaves of this plant are used in traditional Asian medicine for the treatment of headache, morning sickness, fever, inflammation, gonorrhea, and to lower cholesterol (Pedrosa et al., 2002; Ostraff et al., 2000). Aleurites moluccana extracts showed anti-bacterial activity against Staphylococcus aureus and Pseudomonas aeruginosa (Locher et al., 1995). The seeds have recently been touted as having various therapeutic properties, but no clinical trials have been undertaken in humans to evaluate their potential beneficial or toxicological effects.

How is it used?

Some ads mention that a very small portion (approximately 1/8 to 1/4) of the seed should be boiled in water prior to taking it before bedtime. However, since no exact dose has been specified, it may be difficult to measure exactly how much of the seed will actually be ingested

What is it used for?

Some commercial ads on the Internet claim the seeds of the plant can help in weight loss, as well as to lower cholesterol. Some sites also mention the seed is useful for a great variety of conditions including arthritis, baldness, cellulite, constipation, hemorrhoids, to improve skin conditions, as an appetite suppressant, and as an aid to stop cravings for tobacco (smoking cessation).

Experiments with rabbits have shown that rinsing the eyes with marine solution followed by treatment with a mixture of plant oils extracted from A. moluccana and Callophylum inophyllum is a promising treatment for ocular burns (Said et al., 2009). The candle nut tree may very well have promising medicinal value, but more research in humans is needed before it can be safely recommended.

Safety / Precautions

  • Currently, there are no known clinical studies in humans to verify the various health
    claims made by some commercial companies that market candlenut tree seeds.
  • Since the seeds can have a drastic purgative action (Wagstaff, 2008; Nelson et al., 2007;
    Hocking, 1997), they should not be used without supervision from a health professional,
    especially in patients with colitis (inflammation of the large intestine), or IBS (irritable
    bowel syndrome).
  • In addition, no toxicological studies have been made in order to establish the possible
    side effects of taking the seeds for prolonged periods of time.
  • Patients suffering from any form of liver, heart or kidney disease should best avoid taking
    this product.
  • Avoid during pregnancy and lactation, as well as in small children, and the elderly. Some
    people may be allergic to the seeds of this plant.

Before you decide to take any medicinal herb or herbal supplement, be sure to consult with your health care professional first. Avoid self-diagnosis and selfmedication: Always be on the safe side!

References:

Hocking G. A Dictionary of Natural Products. Medford, NJ: Plexus; 1997; p 30.

Locher CP, Burch MT, Mower HF, Berestecky J, Davis H, Van Poel B, Lasure A, Vanden Berghe DA, Vlietinck AJ. Anti-microbial activity and anti-complement activity of extracts obtained from selected Hawaiian medicinal plants. J Ethnopharmacol. 1995; 49(1):23-32.

Nelson L, Shih R, Balick M. Handbook of Poisonous and Injurious Plants, 2nd ed. New York: Springer-Verlag; 2007; pp. 70-71.

Ostraff M, Anitoni K, Nicholson A, Booth GM. Traditional Tongan cures for morning sickness and their mutagenic/toxicological evaluations. J Ethnopharmacol. 2000; 71(1-2):201-9.

Pedrosa RC, Meyre-Silva C, Cechinel-Filho V, Benassi JC, Oliveira LF, Zancanaro V, Dal Magro J, Yunes RA. Hypolipidaemic activity of methanol extract of Aleurites moluccana.

Phytother Res. 2002; 16(8):765-8.

Said T, Dutot M, Labbé A, Warnet JM, Rat P. Ocular burn: rinsing and healing with ionic marine solutions and vegetable oils. Ophthalmologica. 2009; 223(1):52-9.

Wagstaff J. International Poisonous Plant Checklist: An Evidence-Based Reference. Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press; 2008; p. 15.