Soap berry proven benefits and uses


Scientific names Common names
Cordia dichotoma Forst. f. Anonang (Ibn., Ilk., Tag., Bik., Bis.)
Cordia obliqua Willd. Anonang- bakir (Ilk.)
Cordia mixa C. B. Clarke Anong (Tag.)
Cordia sebastena Blanco Anono (Tag.)
Cordia blancoi Vidal Anonung (Tag.)
Cordia leschenaultii DC Anunong (If.)
Cordia blancoi Vidal var, mollis Merr. Bibili (Bis.)
Varronia sinensis Loureiro Guma (Sul.)
Er qi po bu mu (Chin.) Nunang (Sul.)
Saloyong (Tag.)
Sinaligan (Ilk.)
Fragrant manjack (Engl.)
Glue berry (Engl.)
Indian cherry (Engl.)
Lasora (Engl.)
Sebestan plum (Engl.)
Soap berry (Engl.)
Po bu zi (Chin.)


Other vernacular names
CHINESE: Feng zheng zi
FRENCH: Capestan.
INDONESIA: Kendal, nunang, toteolo.
LAOS: ‘man.
MALAYSIA: Sekendal, sekendai, petekat.
MARATHI: Bhokar.
MYANMAR: Thanat.
THAILAND: Phak mong, man muu, man dong.
VIETNAM: L[as] b[aj]c, l[as] tr [aws]ng, ti[ee]n d[aaf]u th[oos]ng.

Soap berry or Anonang is a tree growing to a height of 5 to 10 meters, deciduous and smooth or nearly so. Leaves are alternate, ovate to oblong-ovate or elliptic-ovate, 6 to 15 centimeters long, with entire or somewhat undulate margins, with a pointed tip and rounded or heart-shaped base. Flowers are stalkless, white or yellowish-white, about 7 millimeters long and borne in lax inflorescences 5 to 10 centimeters long. The calyx is ovoid. Corolla tube is no longer than the calyx, with spreading and reflexed lobes. Throat of the corolla and stamens are hairy. Fruit is a drupe, yellowish white or pinkish, ovoid, 10 to 13 millimeters long with a rather scanty pulp and a hard stone. The persistent calyx in the fruit is broadly funnel-shaped, enlarged and about 8 millimeters in diameter.


– Found in most islands and provinces, usually common in secondary forests and thickets, at low and medium altitudes.

– Also occurs in Philippines, India to southern China and Taiwan, and through Malaya to tropical Australia and Polynesia.

Chemical Constituents of Soap berry

– Bark contains a large amount of tannic acid.

– Fruit yields saponins, amino acids, flavonoids, sugar, gum, proteins, palmitic, stearic, linoleic acids, oleic, arachidic, behenic acids.

– Bark contains a principle similar to “cathartin.”

– Phytochemical screening of leaves and fruits yielded pyrrolizidine alkaloids, coumarins, flavonoids, saponins, terpenes, and sterols.

– Fruit pulp extract yielded flavonoid, alkaloid, glycosides.

Medicinal Properties of Soap berry

– Bark considered astringent and tonic.

– Fruit considered demulcent, expectorant, analgesic, anti-inflammatory, hepatoprotective, diuretic, aphrodisiac and anthelmintic.

Parts used

Leaves, fruit, seeds, bark.

Edibility of Soap berry

– In India, the translucent pulp of the fruit is sweet and edible; sometimes, pickled.

– In Pakistan, ripe fruit eaten raw, green, eaten as vegetable.

Folkloric traditional benefits and uses of Soap berry

– The bark is moistened an applied to boils and tumors to hasten ripening.

– Also used for headaches and stomachaches.

– Bark is used as antidyspeptic and as febrifuge.

– Powdered bark used for mouth ulcers.

– Infusion of bark used as gargle.

– The bark juice, mixed with coconut milk, is used to relieve colicky pains.

– In Java and Bengal, the bark is used as a tonic.

– In Java, the bark is used for dysentery; and with pomegranate rind, used for fevers.

– The bark are rubbed on the teeth to strengthen them.

– Leaves used for ulcers and headaches.

– The highly mucilaginous fruit is used for coughs and ailments of the chest, uterus and urethra. In large quantities, used as a laxative.

– In India traditionally used for ulcerative colitis, ulcers, and colic pain.

– In Bengal, fresh fruit is used as laxative and pectoral.

– In Java, fruit used for gonorrhea.

– In Punjab and Cashmere, dried fruit used as expectorant.

– Kernels, powdered and mixed with oil, used for ringworm.

– In Pakistan, used as tonic and refrigerant; for irritation of urinary passages, alleviation of thirst and dry cough.

– In Ayurveda, leaves and stem bark used for dyspepsia, fever, diarrhea and leprosy.

Other uses

– In the Philippines, rope is made from the bast.

– From the fruit, the white gelatinous substance is used as glue.

– Fish are cooked wrapped in leaves.

– In Burma, the leaves substitute for cigar wrappers.

Scientific studies on the benefits and uses of Soap berry

Antiulcer Activity:

Study yielded flavonoids in all three extracts of CD tested and showed significant anti-ulcer and cytoprotective effects against gastric ulcer in rats. (1)

Hepatoprotective : Study of the methanolic extract of Cordia dichotoma studied its hepatoprotective action in male Wistar rats with carbon tetrachloride induced liver damage. (2)

Wound Healing / Fruit:

Study of fruit extracts of C dichotoma showed significant wound healing activity on three different models, viz. excision, incision and dead space wound models on albino rats. (4)


Study of C. dichotoma seeds extract yielded alkaloids, glycosides, saponins, tannins and carbohydrates. Screening showed the ethanol extract and aqueous fraction of C. dichotoma possess acute anti-inflammatory activity. (5)


Study of methanolic extract of seeds and leaves of C. dichotoma showed positive antioxidant activity in a concentration dependent manner. The activity was more pronounced in leaves as compared to seeds. (6)

Corrosion Inhibitor:

Study investigated the corrosion inhibition of mild steel using C. dichotoma extracts. Results showed the alcoholic extracts to be a better corrosion inhibitor than toxic chemicals. (7)

Antioxidant in Cerebral Reperfusion Injury:

Study investigated the effect of C. dichotoma on acute cerebral reperfusion in rats. Pretreatment with methanol, chloroform, and aqueous extracts decreased MDA level, increased SOD, catalase, and glutathione levels, with a decrease in BBB penetration and infarct volume. Results suggest Cd may be useful in reducing neuronal damage in stroke patients. (8)


Study evaluated the anthelmintic activity of ethanolic and aqueous extracts of Cd on Eudrilus euginieae earthworms. Both extracts showed concentration dependent paralysis and death of worms, with the aqueous extract showing more significant activity. (9)

Antidepressant / Leaves:

Study of ethanolic and aqueous extracts of leaves in behavioral animal models showed antidepressant activity. (10)

Wound Healing / Fruits :

Ethanol fruit extracts showed wound healing activity in three different models, viz. excision, incision, and dead space wound models on either sex of albino Wistar rats. (11)

Effects on Long-term Hypoperfusion / Potential Benefit for Cerebrovascular Insufficiency:

Study evaluated the effect of C. dichotoma on long-term cerebral hypoperfusion in rats. Long-term hypoperfusion caused a tendency for anxiety, listlessness, and depression, with histopathological changes in the forebrain. Treatment with Cd alleviated the behavioral, cognitive and histopathological changes, and suggests a benefit for treatment of cerebrovascular insufficiency. (14)


A methanolic extract of Cordia dichotoma showed significant antiimplantation activity. (15)


Study investigated the antibacterial and antifungal potentials of C. dichotoma bark. Extracts showed remarkable inhibition zones of bacterial and fungal growth comparable with standard drugs. with the activity increasing with concentration. (16)

Ulcerative Colitis Benefits / Antioxidant Potential:

Extract fractions from dried bark powder were tested for effectiveness against ulcerative colitis. Results showed animals treated with the methanol extract fraction showed lower pathological scores and good healing. The fraction contained a high level of phenolics, and showed antioxidant potential in the DPPH, ABTS, and FRAP assays. (17)

Degenerative Disorders:

An etiologic factor in several degenerative disorders is free radical induced stress, which affect immunomodulatory response and recruit inflammatory cells. In an in-vitro model viz DPPD and hydrogen peroxide assays, a methanolic extract of seeds and leaves demonstrated positive antioxidant activity in a concentration-dependent manner, an activity more pronounced in the leaves. (18)

Reversible Contraceptive Potential / Leaves:

Study evaluated the ethno-contraceptive use of C. dichotoma leaves (LCD) in post-coital albino rats. (2-hydroxypropyl)-β-cyclodextrin (BCD) was used as bioavailability enhancer to form LCD-BCD complex, Leaves extract showed 100% anti-implantation activity. LCD-BCD complex exhibited 100% pregnancy interception and showed strong estrogenic potential with a luteal phase defect. Histological and biochemical estimations showed reversible contraceptive potential after withdrawal. (19)



Click here to find the links of all the source studies mentioned in this article.

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