Salacia (Salacia spp., Salacia chinensis, Salacia oblonga, Salacia reticulata)

While some complementary and alternative techniques have been studied scientifically, high-quality data regarding safety, effectiveness, and mechanism of action are limited or controversial for most therapies. Whenever possible, it is recommended that practitioners be licensed by a recognized professional organization that adheres to clearly published standards. In addition, before starting a new technique or engaging a practitioner, it is recommended that patients speak with their primary healthcare provider(s). Potential benefits, risks (including financial costs), and alternatives should be carefully considered. The below monograph is designed to provide historical background and an overview of clinically-oriented research, and neither advocates for or against the use of a particular therapy.

Related Terms

  • Abruslactone, beta-daucosterol, beta-sitosterol, catechins, Celastraceae (family), celastrol, chundan, dihydroxyfriedelin, diterpenes, egallic acid, ekanayaka, epicatechin, ethyl gallate, foliasalacin, foliasalacioside, friedelane, friedelin, friedelinol, friedooleanan, gallic acid, hentriacontan, hentriacontanol, Hippocrateaceae (family), hydroxyfriedelan, hydroxyfriedelin, hydroxyisoiguesterin, hydroxymaytenin, ilogen-excel, isoiguesterin, isoiguesterinol, isoiguesterol, isorhamnetin, kaempferol, kathala hibutu, kotalagenin, kotalanol, lupeol, mangiferin, maytenin, mbondi, methylepigallocatechin, netzahualcoyene, netzahualcoyonol, normoretane, oleanane, oxoisoiguesterin, ponkoranol, ponkoranti, pristimerin, proanthocyanidins, quercetin, quinonemethide triterpenoids, regeol, Salacia chinensis, Salacia fimbrisepala, Salacia hainanensis, Salacia mamba, Salacia miegei, Salacia oblonga, Salacia petenensis, Salacia pynaertii, Salacia reticulata, salacin, salacinol, salaquinone, salasol, salasone, saptrangi, sulfonated kotalanol, tingenine, tingenone, tirucalladien, triptocalline, triterpenes, ursolic acid, ursolid acid.

Background

  • Salacia plant species are found in India, Sri Lanka, China, and other Southeast Asian countries. Salacia species have been used in traditional systems of medicine, such as Ayurveda and Unani, to treat diabetes, obesity, gonorrhea, rheumatism, itching, and asthma. Extracts from Salacia species (including Salacia chinensis, Salacia reticulata, and Salacia oblonga) are consumed in Japan, Korea, the United States, and India as a food supplement to prevent and manage obesity and diabetes.

  • There is limited research on the use of Salacia for the treatment of patients with type 2 diabetes. More high-quality studies are needed.

Scientific Evidence

Uses

These uses have been tested in humans or animals. Safety and effectiveness have not always been proven. Some of these conditions are potentially serious, and should be evaluated by a qualified healthcare provider.

Diabetes

There is limited research on the treatment of patients with type 2 diabetes with either Salacia reticulata tea or Salacia oblonga extract. Further research is needed before conclusions can be drawn.

*Key to grades:

Tradition

The below uses are based on tradition or scientific theories. They often have not been thoroughly tested in humans, and safety and effectiveness have not always been proven. Some of these conditions are potentially serious and should be evaluated by a qualified health care professional.

  • Amenorrhea, antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, antimalarial, antioxidant, antiparasitic, asthma, athletic endurance, bodybuilding, cancer, dysmenorrhea (painful menstruation), gonorrhea, heart disease (diabetes-related), high cholesterol, itching, leukemia, metabolic disorders, muscle and joint disorders (cervical dystonia), obesity/weight loss, rheumatism, skin diseases, swelling, thirst.

Dosing

The below doses are based on scientific research, publications, traditional use, or expert opinion. Many herbs and supplements have not been thoroughly tested, and safety and effectiveness may not be proven. Brands may be made differently, with variable ingredients, even within the same brand. The below doses may not apply to all products. You should read product labels, and discuss doses with a qualified healthcare provider before starting therapy.

Adults (18 years and older)

  • For diabetes, one dose of 240 milligrams or 480 milligrams of Salacia oblonga extract has been taken by mouth with a meal.

Children (under 18 years old)

  • There is no proven safe or effective dose for Salacia in children.

Safety

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration does not strictly regulate herbs and supplements. There is no guarantee of strength, purity or safety of products, and effects may vary. You should always read product labels. If you have a medical condition, or are taking other drugs, herbs, or supplements, you should speak with a qualified healthcare provider before starting a new therapy. Consult a healthcare provider immediately if you experience side effects.

Allergies

  • Avoid with known allergy or hypersensitivity to Salacia species, their constituents, or members of the Celastraceae family.

Side Effects and Warnings

  • Salacia may cause flu or sinus symptoms, enlarged liver, gastrointestinal problems (such as indigestion, loose stools, gas, belching, pain in the abdomen, nausea, and diarrhea), pain or injury to the back or extremities, product aftertaste, or vertigo (dizziness).

  • Salacia may lower blood sugar levels. Caution is advised in patients with diabetes or hypoglycemia, and in those taking drugs, herbs, or supplements that affect blood sugar. Blood glucose levels may need to be monitored by a qualified healthcare professional, including a pharmacist. Medication adjustments may be necessary.

  • Use cautiously in patients with liver disease, gastrointestinal distress, neurological disorders, or in combination with lipid-lowering agents.

  • Avoid in patients that are pregnant, due to the risk of spontaneous abortion.

  • Avoid in patients that are breastfeeding, due to insufficient evidence in this area.

  • Avoid in patients that are scheduled for surgery within two weeks.

  • Avoid in patients with known allergy or hypersensitivity to Salacia species, their constituents, or members of the Celastraceae family.

Pregnancy and Breastfeeding

  • Avoid in patients that are pregnant, due to the risk of spontaneous abortion, according to animal research. Avoid in patients that are breastfeeding, due to a lack of clinical data.

Interactions

Most herbs and supplements have not been thoroughly tested for interactions with other herbs, supplements, drugs, or foods. The interactions listed below are based on reports in scientific publications, laboratory experiments, or traditional use. You should always read product labels. If you have a medical condition, or are taking other drugs, herbs, or supplements, you should speak with a qualified healthcare provider before starting a new therapy.

Interactions with Drugs

  • Salacia may lower blood sugar levels. Caution is advised when using medications that may also lower blood sugar. Patients taking insulin or drugs for diabetes by mouth should be monitored closely by a qualified healthcare professional, including a pharmacist. Medication adjustments may be necessary.

  • Salacia may also interact with agents used for the heart, antibiotics, anticancer agents, anti-inflammatory agents, antimalarials, antiparasitics, lipid-lowering agents, and weight loss agents.

Interactions with Herbs and Dietary Supplements

  • Salacia may lower blood sugar levels. Caution is advised when using herbs or supplements that may also lower blood sugar. Blood glucose levels may require monitoring, and doses may need adjustment.

  • Salacia may also interact with antibacterials, anticancer herbs and supplements, anti-inflammatory herbs and supplements, antimalarials, antioxidants, antiparasitics, herbs and supplements used for the heart, lipid-lowering herbs and supplements, and weight loss herbs and supplements.

Author Information

  • This information is based on a systematic review of scientific literature edited and peer-reviewed by contributors to the Natural Standard Research Collaboration (www.naturalstandard.com).

References

Natural Standard developed the above evidence-based information based on a thorough systematic review of the available scientific articles. For comprehensive information about alternative and complementary therapies on the professional level, go to www.naturalstandard.com. Selected references are listed below.

  1. Carvalho, P. R., Silva, D. H., Bolzani, V. S., et al. Antioxidant quinonemethide triterpenes from Salacia campestris. Chem.Biodivers. 2005;2(3):367-372. View Abstract
  2. Flammang, A. M., Erexson, G. L., Mecchi, M. S., et al. Genotoxicity testing of a Salacia oblonga extract. Food Chem.Toxicol. 2006;44(11):1868-1874. View Abstract
  3. Jayakanthan, K., Mohan, S., and Pinto, B. M. Structure proof and synthesis of kotalanol and de-O-sulfonated kotalanol, glycosidase inhibitors isolated from an herbal remedy for the treatment of type-2 diabetes. J Am.Chem.Soc. 4-22-2009;131(15):5621-5626. View Abstract
  4. Jayawardena, M. H., de Alwis, N. M., Hettigoda, V., et al. A double blind randomised placebo controlled cross over study of a herbal preparation containing Salacia reticulata in the treatment of type 2 diabetes. J Ethnopharmacol. 2-28-2005;97(2):215-218. View Abstract
  5. Kajimoto, O., Kawamori, S., and Shimoda, H. Effects of a diet containing Salacia reticulata on mild type 2 diabetes in humans. Journal of the Japanese Society of Nutrition and Food Science 2000;53(5):199.
  6. Kishi, A., Morikawa, T., Matsuda, H., et al. Structures of new friedelane- and norfriedelane-type triterpenes and polyacylated eudesmane-type sesquiterpene from Salacia chinensis LINN. (S. prinoides DC., Hippocrateaceae) and radical scavenging activities of principal constituents. Chem.Pharm Bull.(Tokyo) 2003;51(9):1051-1055. View Abstract
  7. Li, Y., Huang, T. H., and Yamahara, J. Salacia root, a unique Ayurvedic medicine, meets multiple targets in diabetes and obesity. Life Sci 5-23-2008;82(21-22):1045-1049. View Abstract
  8. Padmaa, M., Patil, L., and Thanga, S. Genus Salacia: A comprehensive review. South African Journal of Natural Remedies 2008;8:116-131.
  9. Sekiguchi, Y., Mano, H., Nakatani, S., et al. Effects of the Sri Lankan medicinal plant, Salacia reticulata, in rheumatoid arthritis. Genes Nutr. 2010;5(1):89-96. View Abstract
  10. Shimada, T., Nagai, E., Harasawa, Y., et al. Metabolic disease prevention and suppression of fat accumulation by Salacia reticulata. J Nat.Med 2010;64(3):266-274. View Abstract
  11. Singh, A. and Duggal, S. Salacia spp: hypoglycemic principles and possible role in diabetes management. Integrative Medicine: A Clinician’s Journal 2010;9(4):40-43.
  12. Thiem, D. A., Sneden, A. T., Khan, S. I., et al. Bisnortriterpenes from Salacia madagascariensis. J Nat.Prod. 2005;68(2):251-254. View Abstract
  13. Williams, J. A., Choe, Y. S., Noss, M. J., et al. Extract of Salacia oblonga lowers acute glycemia in patients with type 2 diabetes. Am.J Clin.Nutr. 2007;86(1):124-130. View Abstract
  14. Wolf, B. W. and Weisbrode, S. E. Safety evaluation of an extract from Salacia oblonga. Food Chem.Toxicol. 2003;41(6):867-874. View Abstract
  15. Yoshikawa, M., Pongpiriyadacha, Y., Kishi, A., et al. [Biological activities of Salacia chinensis originating in Thailand: the quality evaluation guided by alpha-glucosidase inhibitory activity]. Yakugaku Zasshi 2003;123(10):871-880. View Abstract

The information in this monograph is intended for informational purposes only, and is meant to help users better understand health concerns. Information is based on review of scientific research data, historical practice patterns, and clinical experience. This information should not be interpreted as specific medical advice. Users should consult with a qualified healthcare provider for specific questions regarding therapies, diagnosis and/or health conditions, prior to making therapeutic decisions.