Traditionally referred to as “the elixir of life”, Celastrus paniculatus is used in Ayurvedic medicine to enhance mental function and promote longevity. With no human studies available, its health effects remain elusive. Keep reading to learn more about the possible uses and benefits of this plant along with side effects.
Celastrus paniculatus, also known as black oil plant, jyothismati, or malkanguni is a wild shrub native to India, Taiwan, and Southeast Asia. According to traditional Ayurvedic medicine, Celastrus oil is believed to help treat various health conditions, such as asthma, arthritis, gout, brain dysfunction, and leprosy [1, 2, 3].
This plant is also referred to as the “elixir of intellect” or the “elixir of life” in traditional Ayurvedic medicine, due to its supposed benefits to cognition .
However, these purported health benefits are only supported by limited animal and cell studies. Currently, no human studies have examined the safety or effectiveness of celastrus.
The leaves and seeds of the plant are used medicinally or to prepare extracts or celastrus oil. Celastrus seed oil is most commonly used for its supposed cognitive-boosting properties.
The seeds contain celastrine and paniculatin (alkaloids), which may contain antioxidants. According to some researchers, compounds in the seed extract block acetylcholine esterase, the enzyme that breaks down acetylcholine. This may increase acetylcholine levels in the brain, which potentially could have nootropic effects [5, 6].
The main active component of celastrus is unknown. However, the following compounds isolated from the fresh leaves of the plant may be responsible for its health effects :
- Celapanin, celepanigin, celapagin
- May help protect the brain
- May improve memory
- May have antioxidant effects
- May reduce inflammation
- No human studies available
- May have antifertility effects
No clinical evidence supports the use of celastrus for any of the conditions listed in this section. Below is a summary of the existing animal and cell-based research, which should guide further investigational efforts. However, the studies listed below should not be interpreted as supportive of any health benefit.
Long-term stress can trigger anxiety and impair working memory and learning. According to some researchers, celastrus may help protect the brain against the negative effects of stress. In an animal study, stressed rats that were given celastrus oil performed better on tests measuring learning and memory .
Another rat study also found that celastrus seed oil may improve mental performance and memory .
Research suggests that celastrus may have antioxidant properties, which could potentially protect brain cells by neutralizing free radicals. There is also some evidence that celastrus may improve memory by decreasing acetylcholinesterase activity in the brain [9, 10, 11, 6].
A study in rats found that celastrus may reduce levels of noradrenaline, dopamine, serotonin in the brain. It also may reduce their turnover and elimination via urine. Researchers suggest these effects may help improve learning and enhance memory .
In one study, rats given celastrus oil had fewer stomach ulcers. According to the researchers, celastrus may protect the gut by reducing the levels of TNF-a, an inflammatory cytokine, and increasing antioxidant activity .
In a mouse study, mice that were given celastrus seed extract exercised for a longer period and had less muscle and DNA damage .
In mice with psoriasis-like dermatitis, a study found that celastrus extract applied topically may reduce inflammation and other symptoms of skin inflammation .
Celastrus has not been shown to treat or prevent cancer. The potential effect of celastrus in cancer has only been studied in animals and cells.
A study on breast cancer cells found that celastrus extract may have antitumor effects. According to the researchers, one of its compounds (sesquiterpene) induced cancer cell death via apoptosis .
However, it’s important to note that many substances have anti-cancer effects in cells, even toxic chemicals. This doesn’t necessarily mean that they have medical value. On the contrary, most substances (natural or synthetic) that are researched in cancer cells fail to pass further animal studies or clinical trials due to a lack of safety or efficacy.
The safety of celastrus is unknown. No human studies have evaluated the potential health risks of taking this supplement.
Due to a lack of clinical research, the side effects of taking celastrus is unknown.
A rat study suggests that celastrus seed extract may impair the development of sperm .
A safe and effective dose of celastrus is unknown due to a lack of clinical research.
Commercially available supplements usually contain 400-500 mg of Celastrus Paniculatus powder per capsule. According to the manufacturer, 1 to 2 capsules should be taken each day.
The opinions expressed in this section are solely those of celastrus users, who may or may not have medical or scientific training. Their reviews do not represent the opinions of SelfHacked. SelfHacked does not endorse any specific product, service, or treatment.
Do not consider user experiences as medical advice. Never delay or disregard seeking professional medical advice from your doctor or other qualified healthcare providers because of something you have read on SelfHacked. We understand that reading individual, real-life experiences can be a helpful resource, but it is never a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment from a qualified healthcare provider.
Users either eat celastrus seeds or crush them into powders and make tea. Capsules are also available.
Some people praised the celastrus capsules for their memory-improving effects. They also said that it helped with stress reduction.
However, others said that they did not feel any effect at all.