Family • Rutaceae - Zanthoxylum alatum Roxb. - TOOTHACHE TREE - Hua jiao

Scientific names

Zanthoxylum alatum Roxb.
Zanthoxylum armatum DC.
Zanthoxylum planispinum Siebold & Zucc.

Common names

Chi-it (Ig.)
Sibit-paklauit (Ig.)
Chinese pepper (Engl.)
Prickly ash (Engl.)
Toothache tree (Engl.)
Yellow wood (Engl.)
Bamboo-leafed prickly ash (Engl.)
Nepal pepper (Engl.)
Prickly ash (Engl.)
Suterberry (Engl.)
Winged prickly ash (Engl.)
Hua jiao (Chin.)

Other vernacular names

BURMESE: Gawra kha nan nan, Teza bo.
CHINESE: Ci zhu ye hua jiao, Qin jiao, Huan hua zhen, Bai zong guan, Shan hua jiao. Zhu ye jiao.
GERMAN: Nepalpfeffer.
HINDI: Darman, Darmar (as Z. alatum), Tejbal, Tejpal, Tejphal, Tumru.
JAPANESE: Fuyu zanshou.
KANNADA : Dhiva, Jimmi, Tumburudu.
KOREAN: Gae san cho
MALAYALAM: Thumbunalari, Tumpunal, Tumpuni.
NEPALESE: Timbur, Timur.
SANSKRIT: Tejohwa, Tejpal, Tumburu, Tumburuh.
TAMIL: Tumpunalu.
TELUGU: Gandhalu, Konda kasimi.
THAI: Mak kak.

Chi-it is a shrub or small tree, almost entirely smooth, with a strong aromatic smell. Bark is corky, with conspicuous young stems with thick conical prickles raising rising from a corky base. Spines are shining and sharp, growing on branchlets. Leaves are alternate, usually with 2 to 6 pairs of leaflets. Petioles and rachis are narrowly winged. Leaflets are elliptic-lanceolate, 2 to 8 centimeters long and 1 to 1.8 centimeters wide. Flowers are small, yellow, usually unisexual, borne in dense lateral panicles. Fruit is usually a solitary carpel dehiscing ventrally, about 3 millimeters in diameter, tubercled, red, and strongly aromatic.


– Only in the Benguet areas, in thickets about limestone cliffs and boulders, at an altitude of 1,300 to 1,500 meters.
– Also occurs in India to southeastern China.

– Bark yields a bitter crystalline principle, identical to berberine, and a volatile oil and resin. The carpels yield a volatile oil, resin, a yellow acid principle, and a crystalline solidbody, xanthoxylin.
– Carpels of the fruit yield an essential oil which is isomeric with turpentine and like eucalyptus oil in odor and properties.
– The bark contains berberine.
– The essential oil from the seeds consists entirely – over 85% – of the hydrocarbon 1-a-phellandrene and also a small quantity of linalool and an unidentified sesquiterpene.
– Bark yields active compounds: alkaloids (g-fagarine, b-fagarine, magnoflorine, laurifoline, nitidine, chelerythrine, tambetarine and cadicine), coumarins (xanthyletin, zanthoxyletin, alloxanthyletin), and resin, tannin and volatile oil.
– Essential oil study by Gc-Ms yielded 39.21% oxygenated compounds. Monoterpenes and sesquiterpenes were 47.33% and 10.83% respectively, alcohol percentage was 26.76%, and 15-hexadecanoloide, 6.58%, was the only cyclic ester in relatively high percentage.
– Essential oil of leaves yielded fourteen components with the main components identified as linalool (30.58%), 2-decanone (20.85%), β-fenchol (9.43%), 2-tridecanone (8.86%), β-phellandrene (5.99%), Sabinene (4.82%), and α-pinene (4.11%). (See study below)


Additional Sources and Suggested Readings

(1) Toothache Tree / Zanthoxylum alatum / HolisticOnLine

(2) Chemical constituents from the seeds of Zanthoxylum alatum / Nida Akhtar, Mohammad Ali, Mohammad Sarwar Alam / Journal of Asian Natural Products Research, Volume 11, Issue 1 January 2009 , pages 91 – 95 / DOI: 10.1080/10286020802514622

(3) Antifungal and Insect-Repellent Activity of Essential Oil of Zanthoxylum alatum / S Dube, A Kumar and S C Tripathi / Annals of Botany 65: 457-459, 1990

(4) Hepatoprotective activity of leaves of Z armatum DC in CCl4-induced hepatotoxicity in rats / Nitin Verma and R L Khosa / Indian Journ of Biochem & Biophysics, Vol 47, April 2010, pp 124-127

(5) Insecticidal activity of essential oil from Zanthoxylum armatum fructification against two mosquito species / Zhang Yun, Peng Ying-Hui, Zeng Dong-Qin et al / DOI: CNKI:SUN:GXZW.0.2010-02-026 / College of Life Science and Technology,Central South University of Forestry and Technology,Changsha 410004,China

(6) Chemical composition and larvicidal activities of the essential oil of Zanthoxylum armatum DC (Rutaceae) against three mosquito vectors / Mohini Tiwary, S N Naik, Dhananjay Kumar et al / J Vect Borne Dis 44, September 2007, pp. 198-204

(7) Pharmacological basis for the medicinal use of Zanthoxylum armatum in gut, airways and cardiovascular disorders / Syed Naeemuddin Gilani, Arif-ullah Khan, Anwarul Hassan Gilani et al / Phytotherapy Research
Volume 24, Issue 4, pages 553-558, April 2010 / DOI: 10.1002/ptr.2979

(8) Sorting Zanthoxylum names / Maintained by: Michel H. Porcher / MULTILINGUAL MULTISCRIPT PLANT NAME DATABASE / A Work in Progress. School of Agriculture and Food Systems. Faculty of Land & Food Resources. The University of Melbourne. Australia / Copyright © 1997 – 2000 The University of Melbourne.

(9) Studies on the Components of Essential Oil of Zanthoxylum Armatum by Gc-Ms / Amran Waheed, Shahid Mahmud, Mubeen Akhtar, Tanzeela Nazir / AJAC, Vol.2 No.2, May 2011, PP. 258-261 /

(10) Volatile Constituents from the Leaves of Zanthoxylum armatum DC., a New Source of 2-Undecanone /
Prashant Singh , Manindra Mohan and Sanjay Gupta / Plant Sciences Research, 2013, No 5, No1, pp 1-3 /
DOI: 10.3923/psres.2013.1.3

(11) ANTIPYRETIC AND CENTRAL NERVOUS SYSTEM ACTIVITY OF THE ROOTS OF ZANTHOXYLUM ARMATUM DC / Khim Singh Bora, Alok pratap singh, Suresh Singh Fartyal, Ankit Vajpayee / Journal of Pharmaceutical Research and Opinion, Vol 1, No 7 (2011)

(12) In-vitro anthelmintic activity of seeds of Zanthoxylum armatum DC. against Pheretima Posthuma / Dinesh Kumar Mehta, Rina Das, Anil Bhandari / International Journal of Green Pharmacy, 2012, Vol 6, No1, pp 26-28.

(13) Antioxidant and Antimicrobial Properties of the Essential Oil and Extracts of Zanthoxylum alatum Grown in North-Western Himalaya / Sanjay Guleria, A. K. Tiku, Apurva Koul, Sahil Gupta, Gurjinder Singh, and V. K. Razdan / The Scientific World Journal, Bol 2013 (2013) /

(14) EVALUATION OF SEED OIL OF ZANTHOXYLUM ARMATUMFOR ANTIMICROBIAL ACTIVITY / Ankit Saini / Journal of drug discovery and therapeutics, Vol 1, No 5, 2013.


(16) Clinical study on the efficacy and tolerability of a cream for local use in the treatment of psoriasis / HARAK H., FROSI A., BIAVA P.M. /

(17) Essential oil composition of Zanthoxylum alatum seeds from Northern India / Jain, Neetu ; Srivastava, S. K. ; Aggarwal, K. K. ; Ramesh, S. ; Sushil Kumar / Flavour and Fragrance Journal, 2001, 16 (6). pp. 408-410

(18) Therapeutic Effects of Zanthoxylum Alatum Leaves and Eugenia Caryophyllata buds (Fruits) Against Trypanosoma Evansi / Shaba P., Pandey N. N., Sharma O. P., Rao J. R. and Singh R. K. / Journal of Veterinary Advances, 1 February 2012, Vol. 2, Issue 2, Pp 91-97

– Fruit considered antiseptic, carminative, disinfectant, deodorant, stomachic.
– Leaves and fruit as carminative, sudorific, emmenagogue and astringent.

Parts used
Bark, seeds, fruits, leaves.

In China, India and Pakistan, fruit used as condiment.

– Decoction or infusion of bark and seeds used as an aromatic tonic in fevers, dyspepsia, and cholera.
– Fruit, as well as the branches and thorns, used as a remedy for toothache; also, as carminative and stomachic.
– Elsewhere, used for asthma, bronchitis, cholera, fever, indigestion, toothaches, varicose veins and rheumatism.
– Sino-Annamites use the leaves and fruits as carminative, sudorific, emmenagogue, and astringent..
– In Indian system of medicine, used as stomachic, carminative, and anthelmintic. Fruits and seeds used as aromatic tonic in fever, dyspepsia and cholera.

Study Findings
• Phenolic Constituents: Study isolated two new phenolic constituents from the seeds – 3-methoxy-11-hydroxy-6,8-dimethylcarboxylate biphenyl and 3,5,6,7-tetrahydroxy-3′,4′-dimethoxyflavone-5-β-d-xylopyranoside along with five known compounds.
• Antifungal / Insect Repellent: Essential oil of the fruits of ZA showed repellent activity against insect Allacophora foveicollis and fungistatic activity against 24 fungi, including aflatoxin-producing strains of A flavus and A parasiticus.
• Hepatoprotective: Study of the ethanolic extract of leaves of Z armatum on CCl4-induced hepatotoxicity in rats showed significant decrease in liver enzymes and liver inflammation, supported by histopath studies on the liver. Results exhibited significant hepatoprotective activity.
• Insecticidal / Repellent Activity: Study of the essential oil of Zanthoxylum armatum showed high and rapid poison activity on Aedes albopictus and Culex quinquefasciatus, showing a potential as natural insecticides against mosquitoes.
• Essential Oil / Larvicidal: Study of essential oil yielded at least 28 compounds, consisting mainly of oxygenated monoterpenes and monoterpenes. The larvae of three mosquito species – A. aegypti, A. stephensi, and C. quinquefasciatus – were susceptible to the essential oil composition and presents a potential for the development of alternative plant based larvicides.
• Spasmolytic / GI, Respiratory and Cardiovascular Effects: Crude extract of ZA caused concentration-dependent relaxation of spontaneous and high K+ induced contractions in isolated rabbit jejunum. Results showed Zanthoxylum armatum exhibits spasmolytic effects, mediated possibly through Ca++ antagonistic mechanism, which provides pharmacologic base for its medicinal use in the gastrointestinal, respiratory, and cardiovascular disorders.
• Leaves / Essential Oil: Study of the volatile constituents from leaves essential oil yielded twenty-three components (99.5% of the oil). Major classes of compounds consisted of non-terpenic acyclic ketones, with 2-undecanone (65.6%) as the major constituent. 2-undecanone can be commercially exploited for perfumery and flavoring applications.
• Anti-Inflammatory / Fruit: Study evaluated a methanolic fruit extract for anti-inflammatory activity in Wistar rats. Results showed significant inhibition of carrageenan-induced paw edema.
• Antipyretic / CNS Stimulant Effect / Roots: Study of petroleum ether and ethanolic extract of roots showed antipyretic and CNS stimulant effect.
• Alkaloids / Stem Bark / Anti-Inflammatory: Study evaluated an aqueous extract of stem bark in acute and chronic models of inflammation in Wistar rats. An alkaloid fraction was found to be more effective compared to flavonoid in carrageenen-induced inflammation model.
• Anthelmintic / Seeds: Various extracts of Zanthoxylum armatum was tested against adult Indian earthworms Pheretima posthuma as test worms. Results showed the aqueous extracts with greater potency compared to other extracts, taking less time to cause paralysis and deaths of the earthworms.
• Antimicrobial / Antioxidant / Seed Essential Oil: Essential oil and ethanolic extract exhibited potent antifungal activity against A. alternata, A. brassicae, and C. lunata and significant antibacterial activity against B. subtilis, M. luteus, S. aureus, and E. coli. In addition, further testing demonstrated antioxidant compounds.
• Antioxidant / Fruit: Study evaluated the antioxidant activity of Z. alatum whole fruit by various in vitro assays. Results showed ethanolic extracts to contain large amounts of flavonoids and phenolic compounds, exhibiting high antioxidant and free radical scavenging activities. The extracts also chelate iron and showed reducing power. The fruit extract showed a potential natural source of antioxidants.
• Ingredient in Anti-Psoriasis Cream Formulation: A cream formulation for the treatment of psoriasis was composed of Zanthoxylum alatum, Boswellia serrata, 18-beta glycerrhetinic acid, 7-dehydrocholesterol, vitamin E and an extract from fertilized Zebrafish eggs. The extract of Z. alatum was used for its properties against itching due to the active moiety (alkamides: hydroxy-alpha/beta/gamma-sanshools).
• Seed Essential Oil / Source of Linalool: The seeds of Zanthoxylum alatum yielded 1.5% of oil (v/w), and 56 constituents, representing 99.5% of the oil. Major components were linalool (71%), limonene (8.2%), β-phellandrene (5.7%) and (Z)-methylcinnamate (4.9%). Results suggest the seed can be a commercial source for the isolation of linalool.
• Trypanocidal Activity: Methanolic extract of Zanthoxylum alatum leaves and Eugenia caryophyllata fruits were tested against trypanosma evansi for trypanocidal activity. Results showed trypanocidal activity with decrease in trypanosome counts in a concentration- and time-dependent manner.