Hijjal (Barringtonia acutangular) Information, Medicinal Uses, Side effects and More

Know what are health benefits and medicinal uses of Hijjal in Ayurveda. Learn some remedies of Hijjal to treat your health problems.

Hijjal, Samandarphal, Samudarphal, Samutrapullam, Kadapum, Kadamik, Kanapa, Pivar, Sathphal, Ingli are the few common Indian names of tree Barringtonia acutangula. In Sanskrit, it is known as Nichula, Hijja, Hijjala, Ijjala, Vidula and Ambuj.

hijjal tree

Barringtonia acutangula is used to cure and treat many ailments like hemolytic disease (various diseases of blood), abdominal colic, lumbar pain, syphilis, blennorrhoea, febrifuge, malarial and diabetes. The leaf, fruit, and seed are used for therapeutic purpose in Ayurveda, Siddha and Unani system of medicine.

The fruit (Samudraphal, Dhatriphal) is bitter, acrid, anthelmintic, haemolytic and wound healing. The seed powder is used to induce vomiting. In lesser dose, they are given as an expectorant. The bark contains about 15% tannins, ellagic acid and has astringent action and therefore used to treat diarrhea with mucus.

General Information

Barringtonia acutangula is a moderate sized, evergreen, glabrous tree, reaching upto 8–15 meters. It has thick, smooth and oval shaped leaves, petioles are reddish and 0.5–1.0 cm long. The raceme is drooping up to 50 cm long, with numerous flowers. The fruit is a drupe, yellowish-brown, oblong, bluntly quadrangular, broadest in the middle, slightly narrow and truncate at each end and fibrous. In India, it is found in Sub-Himalayan tracts from the Ganges eastwards to Assam and Madhya Pradesh.

Plant Description:

Leaf: Simple, alternate, stipulate, 7.5—12.5 cm long, obovate to oblong-oval, tapering to base, subacute at apex, crenate-serrate, bright green, not shining, venation reticulate pellucid, petioles 0.6—1.2 cm long.

Flowers: Regular, bisexual, about 2.5 cm diam. with petals cream colored and stamens dark bright crimson, on short spreading pedicels along terminal, pendulous racemes 22.5—30 cm long; sepals 4, fused into a calyx-tube adnate to the ovary, very short, segments regular, broadly oval, rounded, finely ciliate; petals 4, small, 0.6 cm long, imbricate, distinct; stamens very numerous in several rows, epigynous, filaments about 1.8 cm long, connate at base into a thick tube; ovary inferior, 2—4 locular with several pendulous ovules in each loculus, style long, simple.

Fruit: Indehiscent, fibrous, 1-chambered drupe, 3.1—3.7 cm long, oblong ovoid, somewhat narrowed at base, truncate at both ends, bluntly quadrangular, capped with small, persistent calyx segments.

  • Part(s) used for medicinal purpose: Fruits, Roots and leaves
  • Plant type / Growth Habit: Evergreen tree
  • Duration: Perennial
  • Distribution: Sub Himalayan tracts Bihar, Orissa, Bengal, Assam, Central and South India. Also in Southern Asia, Afghanistan, Philippines, Australia
  • Habitat: Coastal wetlands, moist condition but not in mangrove forests
  • Flowering: From June to August

Vernacular names / Synonyms

  1. Scientific name: Barringtonia acutangula
  2. English: freshwater mangrove, itchytree and mango-pine, Indian Oak, Fish-killer tree, Fish poison wood, Fresh water mangrove
  3. Sanskrit: Hijjala, Vidula, Abdhiphala, Ambudhiphala, Ambiya, Dhatriphala, Ijjala, Nichula, Nishula, Samudraphala (as it occurs along the streams in the coastal area), Shosha, Sindhuphala
  4. Assamese: Hindole
  5. Bengali: Hijjala
  6. Gujrati: Samudraphala
  7. Hindi: Hijjala, Samudraphala
  8. Kannada: Nerruganegalu, Holegonvamara
  9. Malayalam: Manjal Kadamba, Manjal Kadam
  10. Marathi: Samudraphala
  11. Oriya: Kijolo
  12. Punjabi: Samuderphal
  13. Tamil: Samudrapullarni, Samutrapalam
  14. Telugu: Kanapu, Kadaps
  15. Urdu: Hijjal

Scientific Classification

All plants are scientifically classified into main 7 levels. These levels are Kingdom, Division, Class, Order, Family, Genus and Species. A genus comprise of many species and botanical name consists of Genus (uppercase) followed by Species (lowercase). Genus consists of many species which are closely related and have lots of similarities. Species is the lowest level and represents the group of same plants.

The botanical name of Samudraphal is Barringtonia acutangula. It belongs to plant family Lecythidaceae. Below is given taxonomical classification of plant.

  • Kingdom: Plantae (comprising all living or extinct plants)
  • Subkingdom: Tracheobionta (have lignified tissues or xylem for conducting water and minerals)
  • Superdivision: Spermatophyta (produce seeds)
  • Division: Magnoliophyta (flowering plants)
  • Class: Magnoliopsida (flowering plant producing an embryo with paired cotyledons)
  • Subclass: Dilleniidae
  • Order: Ericales
  • Family: Lecythidaceae / Barringtoniaceae. – Brazil-nut family
  • Genus: Barringtonia
  • Species: Barringtonia acutangula


  1. Eugenia acutangula L.
  2. Stravadium acutangulum Miers.
  3. Stravadium rubrum Wall.
  4. Stravadium obtusangulum Miers.
  5. Barringtonia luzonensis Rolfe.
  6. Barringtonia reticulata.Miq.

Barringtonia racemosa (L.) Roxb., a different but related species, found in Assam, eastern and western coasts of India and the Andaman Islands, is also equated with Samudraphala and Hijjala. It has similar medicinal properties and uses.

Constituents of Barringtonia acutangular

Seeds contain starch, saponin, cellulose, and fat. The acid hydrolysis of saponins, yielded three triterpenoid sapogenins, barringtogenol B,C and D, and two triterpenoid acid sapogenins.

The fruit saponins possess haemolytic properties.

The bark contains caoutchouc, alkaline salts and an active principle.

Leaves contain Barringtogenic acid, stigmasterol-3-beta-O-Dglucoside, beta-sitosterol, beta-amyrin, oleanolic acid, tangulic and acutangulic acids.

Ayurvedic Properties and Action

The fruit/seed of Vidula / Vidula / Nichula / Nichula / Samudra Phala Tree, is sweet, sour and bitter in taste, hot in potency and pungent after digestion (Katu Vipak). It balances Kapha, and destroys poison.

  • Rasa (taste on tongue): Madhura (Sweet), Tikta (Bitter), Amla (Sour)
  • Guna (Pharmacological Action): Laghu (Light), Tikshna (Sharp), Ruksha (Dry)
  • Virya (Action): Ushna (Heating)
  • Vipaka (transformed state after digestion): Katu (Pungent)

It is an Ushna Virya herb. Ushna Virya or hot potency herb, subdues Vata (Wind) and Kapha (Mucus) and increases Pitta (Bile).

It is a Katu Vipak herb. Vipak refers to post-digestive (effect after digestion / cooking of Rasa) effect of tastes after its mixing with digestive juices. It is the long-term effect of herb. Katu Vipak herbs, increases dryness in body.

Ayurvedic Action

  1. Jwarghna: Alleviates fever.
  2. Kasahar: Gives relief in cough.
  3. Rakshoghna: Anti-bacterial
  4. Raktadoshahar: blood purifying
  5. Sangrahi: Assimilating
  6. Vamak: Emesis of bile, mucus and other contents of the stomach.
  7. Vatahar: Pacifies Vata.
  8. Virechana: Removes from the anal canal aggravated Doshas.

Indications of Vidula fruit

  1. Bleeding disorders, hemorrhagic diseases / Raktapitta
  2. Discharge from eyes / Chakshusrava
  3. Dysentery / Amaatisara
  4. Goitre / Galganda
  5. Infertilty / Garbhabadha
  6. Psychologocal diorders / Bhuta Badha
  7. Urinary disorders / prameha


Antitumour: The ethanolic leaf extract of Barringtonia acutangula has anticancer activity as it inhibited the HepG2 cell growth.

Antioxidant: The antioxidant study of hydroalcoholic extract of plant Barringtonia acutangula Linn root (EBA) revealed that the hepatic antioxidant enzyme levels (SOD, CAT and GPx) are significantly decreased in STZ induced diabetic rats with high degree of lipid peroxidation at both test doses (250 mg/kg b.w./p.o. and 500mg/kg b.w./p.o.).

Hypoglycemic: Aqueous, methanol and chloroform extracts of B. acutangula fruit was evaluated for hypoglycemic effect in OGTT and streptozotocin induced hyperglycemic rats. The aqueous extract of B. acutangula whole fruit at a dose of 400 mg/kg showed significant antihyperglycemic action.

Central nervous system depressant: The ethanolic extract of B. acutangula leaves causes a maximum inhibition of neuronal activity in the central nervous system leads to its depressant activity.

Hepatoprotective: The methanol extract of B. acutangula leaves exhibited significant hepatoprotective activity at a dose 250 mg/kg in carbon tetrachloride (CCl4) with liquid paraffin (1:1) induced hepatic injury in rats in vivo and in vitro.

Antifungal: The leaf extracts inhibited growth of pathogenic fungi.

Anti-inflammatory: The roots possess significant central and peripheral anti-nociceptive as well as antiinflammatory activity.

Anthelmintic: The leaves possess significant anthelmintic activity.

Antidiarrheal: The ethanolic leaf extract of Barringtonia acutangula showed significant antidiarrheal activity on Castor oil induced diarrheal model in rats.33 Methanol extracts of B. acutangula leaves and seeds possess good antidiarrheal activity.

Important Medicinal Uses

The efficacy of Barringtonia acutangula bark is recognized by German Commission E monograph in following diseases:

  1. Bronchitis
  2. Common cold
  3. Cough
  4. Diarrhoea
  5. Fever
  6. Inflammation of the mouth and pharynx
  7. inflammatory skin diseases (topically)

Medicinal Uses of Barringtonia acutangula

Barringtonia acutangula is a medicinal tree. The seeds of tree look like nutmeg. They are rough, brown, and marked with longitudinal grooves. The seeds taste sweet at first but bitter and nauseous afterwards.  The bark and root are used in treatment of malaria as a febrifuge. The fruit is a remedy for coughs, colds and asthma. Seeds are also used in catarrh, respiratory ailments, colic, headache and diarrhoea. They are given to children to reduce enlarged abdomen. The bark is given as an astringent in diarrhoea and blennorrhagia.

Externally, the bark is applied on stings of insects. The bark is used on wounds and also as a fish poison.

1- Cold in the chest of children, phlegm

The seed is rubbed on a stone with water and applied over the sternum. If there is much dyspnoea a few milligrams of it is given with or without the juice of fresh ginger internally.

2- Diarrhoea with mucus

Fresh Leaf juice 10-12ml + Honey, is given.

3- Gum Problems

A decoction of the bark is used as a mouthwash.

4- Inflammation, swelling

The seed paste is applied topically.

5- Mumps swelling and tonsillitis, lymph node swelling, headache

The seed paste is applied over affected body part and over forehead for headache.

6- Skin diseases

Bark of tree is prepared as a decoction and given in dose of 20-50ml.

7- Sneezing, headache

The powdered seeds are inhaled as snuff to induce sneezing.

8- To reduce the enlarged abdomen of children

It is given in doses of from 125mg – 200 mg with milk.

9- Urine retention

Bark + Mishri, is given in dose of 5-10 grams.

10- Venereal sores (infectious ulcer of the genital region)

The fruit is rubbed and applied topically as an antiseptic ointment.

11- Other Uses

  • The tender fresh leaves are eaten as food in Vietnam.
  • The bark is reputed as fish poison.
  • Seed powder has cleaning property. Crushed seeds are used as detergent for washing clothes.

Dosage of Barringtonia acutangula

  1. The fruit powder is given in dose of 1/2 grams – 1 gram.
  2. The fruit powder is given in dose of 3-6 grams for inducing vomiting.
  3. The fresh leaf juice can be taken in dose of 10-20ml.

Contraindications, Interactions, Side-effects and Warnings Barringtonia acutangula

  1. Always take in recommended doses.
  2. The fruit powder causes vomiting in high dose.
  3. It is hot in potency and drying in nature.
  4. Do not use in pregnancy.

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