Health benefits of Marking Nut

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Marking Nut Quick Facts
Name: Marking Nut
Scientific Name: Semecarpus anacardium
Origin India, found in the outer Himalayas to Coromandel Coast
Colors Green when young turning to black when ripe
Shapes Drupe of 2 to 2.5 cm long, obliquely ovoid, smooth and shinning, borne on orange colored receptacle
Taste Bitter, acrid, astringent
Health benefits Cancer cure, Atherosclerosis, Diabetes, Leucoderma, Anti-inflammatory effects, Digestive health, Urinary incontinence, Good aphrodisiac, Prevents premature graying of hair,
Semecarpus anacardium, commonly known as marking nut tree, phobi nut tree and varnish tree, is a well-known medicinal plant belonging to family Anacardiaceae. The plant is native to India and found in the outer Himalayas to Coromandel Coast. The plant is found in abundance in Assam, Bihar, Bengal and Orissa, Chittagong, central India and western peninsula of East Archipelago, Northern Australia. It is closely related to the cashew. Marking Nut, dhobi nut tree, Indian marking nut tree, Malacca bean, marany nut, marsh nut, oriental cashew nut, varnish tree, Marking nut tree and Phobi nut-tree are few of the popular common names of the plant.

Semecarpus anacardium was called “marking nut” by Europeans because it was used by washer men to mark cloth and clothing before washing, as it imparted a water insoluble mark to the cloth. The specific epithet anacardium was used by apothecaries in the 16th century to refer to the plant’s fruit; it was later used by Linnaeus to refer to the cashew. It is one of the best, versatile, most commonly used herbs as household remedy. It has been used all over India since centuries. It was held in high esteem by ancient sages of Ayurveda. It is a plant well known for its great medicinal value in Ayurveda and is effective in wide range of diseases. It is used extensively in piles, skin diseases, etc. Since it is very hot in potency, it is used only after purification procedures. The word Bhallataka describes the sharp quality of the herb. The nuts of Semecarpus anacardium show various medicinal properties as they are rich in various biologically active compounds such as phenolic compounds, biflavonoids, bhilawanols, vitamins, minerals, and amino acids.

Plant description

Marking Nut is a moderately sized deciduous tree that grows about 12-15 meter tall and circumference of 1.25 meter. The plant is found growing in moist deciduous and semi-evergreen forests. The plant prefers light to medium gravelly soils with good drainage.  Bark is rough, dark brown in color and exudes an irritant secretion on incising. Leaves are 7-24 inches long, 2-12 inches wide, obovate-oblong, rounded at the tip. Leaf base is rounded, heart-shaped or narrowed into the stalk, leathery in texture.


Flower is small, dull greenish yellow, 0.6 – 0.8 cm in diameter, sub-sessile, fascicled. Petals are oblong, greenish-white filaments subulate. Flowering normally takes place from May-September.


Fertile flowers are followed by obliquely ovoid or oblong drupes 2-5 cm long. The upper portion of the fruit is cup shaped smooth, fleshy, orange red in color and sweet & edible when ripe. It is formed of the thickened disc and accerescent calyx base. The lower base which may be turned the nut, consists of smooth, black shining pericarp which is thick, containing between its outer and inner laminae oblong cells full of a corrosive resinous juice. This juice is white when the fruit is immature, but brownish or quite black when the fruit is ripe. The nut is approximately 1 inch long 0.75 inch wide and 0.33 inch in diameter and weighs on an average 3.5 g. It remains on tree from February to June.

Health Benefits of Marking Nut

Chemical analysis of the nut shows that it contains high levels of phenolic compounds, bhilawanols, biflavonoids, minerals, vitamins and amino acids. Different types of extracts obtained from the nut are considered to be effective against various diseases including cancer, arthritis, infections and many more. In fact, the fruits, seeds and oil of this plant are also found to have medicinal value, and hence are used for treating a wide range of diseases. Listed below are few of the popular health benefits of Marking Nut

1. Cancer cure

Studies suggest that the nut extract of Marking Nut showed inhibitory action on human breast cancer cells. Kalpaamruthaa, which consists of Bibba nut milk extract, dried powder of Phyllanthus emblica fruit and honey is considered to be an effective and promising chemotherapy agent. Research on rats suggests that Kalpaamruthaa exhibits anti-carcinogenic activity by regualting lipid peroxidation and by showing antioxidant defenses in mitochondrial enzymes. Another research showed that the administration of Marking Nut to leukemic animals helped in removing the leukemic cells from the internal organs and bone marrow.

2. Atherosclerosis

Atherosclerosis is a medical condition that is often caused by the imbalance between the antioxidants and pro-oxidants. Antioxidant therapy is suggested to prevent the development of such conditions. Marking Nut has been found to possess potent antioxidant property that helps in fighting off the hydroxyl and superoxide radicals. This plant is also known to have the ability to inhibit the process of atherogenesis caused by lipid peroxidation. Animal studies reveal that the Marking Nut plant helps in preventing the accumulation of cholesterol by inhibiting the absorption of cholesterol in the intestine.

3. Diabetes

According to research, the ethanolic extract of dried nuts of Marking Nut was found to lower the blood glucose levels in normal rats. It also helped in lowering the blood glucose levels in streptozotocin-induced diabetic rats by a significant amount. Seeds are potentially use in treatment of diabetes. More research would establish such further claims.

4. Leucoderma

Leucoderma is a harmless skin disease characterized by white patches on the skin caused by the loss of pigmentation. In some cases these patches can become red in color and cause severe itching. Marking Nut is considered to be an effective remedy for the treatment of this skin condition. Doctors recommend taking one teaspoonful of this medication twice a day to cure leucoderma.

5. Anti-inflammatory effects

Studies on the anti-inflammatory effects of the nut extract of Marking Nut on adjuvant arthritis showed that the anti-inflammatory and therapeutic properties of the extract against all the various stages of inflammation are equivalent to that of indomethacin. Kalpaamruthaa is a siddha formulation that is made up of Marking Nut milk extract, fresh dried powder of Emblica officinalis fruit and honey. According to studies, this formulation when administered to arthritis induces rats helped in normalizing the activities of lysosomal enzymes that are considered to be the mediators of inflammation.

6. Digestive health

Marking Nut is known to be an appetizer, purgative, digestant, liver stimulant and anthelmintic and hence is used in treating various gastrointestinal disorders. It is an effective remedy for loss of appetite and many digestive disorders such as constipation, abdominal distension, piles and various types of intestinal worms, especially hookworm.  Marking Nut is a useful medicine for piles as it helps in improving blood circulation, which reduces the pressure on veins and also reduces the accumulation of blood in the veins of the rectal area.

7. Urinary incontinence

For those who don’t know what is urinary incontinence, it is a health problem which is characterized by the loss of bladder control leading to involuntary urine leakage. Marking Nut is one among the various Ayurvedic plants that are used effectively in the treatment of this condition. Consuming 5 grams of this remedy along with milk is found to be beneficial in curing urinary incontinence.

8. Good aphrodisiac

Marking Nut plant is found to have aphrodisiac properties and has been used to increase libido and sexual desire. It is often recommended as a tonic to improve male fertility as it has the ability to increase the production of semen. It is also used to treat seminal leakage and premature ejaculation. For women, Semecarpus anacardium has been used as a remedy for uterine inflammation and also abnormal and painful menstruation.

9. Prevents premature graying of hair

Marking Nut is usually recommended in the form of linctus to prevent early graying of hair. One teaspoonful of this medication with a cup of warm milk should be taken two times a day to obtain the desired results.

Traditional uses and benefits of Marking Nut

  • It regulates bowels, aid digestion, control phlegm and respiratory function, heal sores, alleviate leprosy, and reduce hemorrhoids, bloating, and fevers.
  • Fruit can be crushed together with lime and used as a poultice to heal sores.
  • Three drops of the oily sap released by the heated fruit can be taken with milk for coughing.
  • Children can be given just two drops of this sap twice a day to alleviate phlegm and coughing.
  • Crushed fruit can be applied to joints to relieve inflammation.
  • An ointment of the fruit mixed with resin from the tree and cooked with sesame oil can be used to treat rashes, itches, and cracks on the heels and soles of the feet.
  • Paste of ground fruit and sesame oil remedies ringworm.
  • Fruit is also used in medicines for motor paralysis and joint inflammation.
  • Resin of this species is used for leprosy, nervous debility, and skin diseases.
  • Fruit oil is used on warts and tumors; on cuts, sprains, piles, injuries; and for ascites, rheumatism, asthma, neuralgia, dyspepsia, epilepsy, psoriasis.
  • Ripe fruits are aphrodisiac, digestive and stimulant.
  • Paste or juice of the fruit is used in the treatment of bronchitis, dysentery, fever, asthma and hemorrhoids.
  • Pure black acrid juice obtained from the fruits is used externally to remove rheumatic pains, aches and sprains.
  • Little of the oil is rubbed over the parts affected – it is an efficacious remedy except in such constitutions as are subject to inflammations and swellings.
  • Mixed with garlic and other substances, the juice is used in the treatment of almost every sort of venereal complaint.
  • Bark is mildly astringent.
  • Paste of the seed, mixed with honey, is used in the treatment of gastric troubles.
  • Juice of the seeds is applied externally in the treatment of ringworm and severely chapped feet.
  • Juice of the seeds has been tested as a possible anticancer agent.
  • Oil obtained from the seeds is used to treat skin eruptions.
  • Juice of the root is considered to be effective in causing sterility in women.
  • Latex is applied externally in the treatment of headaches, skin diseases and scabies.
  • It is used for improving sexual power and increasing sperm count, curing diseases related to digestive system.
  • In moderation, it is however considered good for female reproductive system.
  • Fruit is useful in leucoderma, scaly skin, allergic, dermatitis, poisonous bites, leprosy, cough, asthma, and dyspepsia.
  • It is extremely beneficial in the diseases like piles, colitis, diarrhea, dyspepsia, ascites, tumors and worms.
  • Topical application of its oil on swollen joints and traumatic wounds effectively controls the pain.
  • Crushed seeds are applied to cuts, bruises and scratches to stop bleeding.

Other Facts

  • Rind surrounding the seed furnishes a sort of indelible ink.
  • Juice of the pedicels, mixed with lime water, is used as a black marking ink to write on cloth.
  • Black dye is obtained from the pedicels.
  • Seeds are a source of tannins.
  • Oil obtained from the seeds is used for various industrial purposes such as a floor dressing; as addictive substances to lacquers, dyes and insulating material; in the plastics industry; for regenerating rubber materials; and to protect wood from white ants.
  • Gum is obtained from the tree.
  • Wood is used to make charcoal.
  • Juice of the fruit pericarp is used for marking cotton clothes.
  • Fruit shell oil used as termite repellant.
  • Stem yields, by tapping, an acrid, viscid juice from which a varnish is prepared.


  • Shell surrounding the seed contains a strongly irritant substance.
  • Plant is poisonous to the touch in the same manner as poison ivy, bringing the skin up in a severe rash.
  • If consumed in very large quantity, it is said to induce abortion.
  • Seeds are hot in potency that gives heating effect to the body. Therefore it should not be used in hot weather.
  • It should not be used by kids and pregnant women.
  • Nut has anti-fertility effect.
  • People with excess bile should not use it.






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