Food and Nutrition Sciences
Vol. 3  No. 8 (2012) , Article ID: 21566 , 18 pages DOI:10.4236/fns.2012.38146

Jamun (Syzygium cumini (L.)): A Review of Its Food and Medicinal Uses

Shrikant Baslingappa Swami1*, Nayan Singh J. Thakor1, Meghatai M. Patil2, Parag M. Haldankar3

1Department of Agricultural Process Engineering, College of Agricultural Engineering and Technology, Dr. Balasaheb Sawant Konkan Krishi Vidyapeeth, Dapoli, Ratnagiri, India; 2NAIP-Kokum, Karonda, Jamun and Jackfruit, Department of Agricultural Process Engineering, College of Agricultural Engineering and Technology, Dr. Balasaheb Sawant Konkan Krishi Vidyapeeth, Dapoli, Ratnagiri, India; 3Department of Horticulture, College of Agriculture, Dr. Balasaheb Sawant Konkan Krishi Vidyapeeth, Dapoli, Ratnagiri, India.

Email: *,,,

Received April 23rd, 2012; revised July 3rd, 2012; accepted July 10th, 2012

Keywords: Jamun-Syzygium cumini; Chemopreventive; Radioprotective; Antineoplastic Activities


Eugenia jambolana Lam., commonly known as black plum or “jamun” is an important medicinal plant in various traditional systems of medicine. It is effective in the treatment of diabetes mellitus, inflammation, ulcers and diarrhea and preclinical studies have also shown it to possess chemopreventive, radioprotective and antineoplastic properties. The plant is rich in compounds containing anthocyanins, glucoside, ellagic acid, isoquercetin, kaemferol and myrecetin. The seeds are claimed to contain alkaloid, jambosine, and glycoside jambolin or antimellin, which halts the diastatic conversion of starch into sugar. The present review has been primed to describe the existing data on the information on traditional and medicinal use.

1. Introduction

Syzygium cumini (Family Myrtaceae) is also known as Syzygium jambolanum and Eugenia cumini. Other common names are Jambul, Black Plum, Java Plum, Indian Blackberry, Jamblang, Jamun etc. Today these trees are found growing throughout the Asian subcontinent, Eastern Africa, South America, Madagascar and have also naturalized to Florida and Hawaii in the United States of America [1]. The tree fruits once in a year and the berries are sweetish sour to taste. The ripe fruits are used for health drinks, making preserves, squashes, jellies and wine [1]. In association to its dietary use, all parts of the tree and, importantly the seeds are used to treat a range of ailments, the most important being diabetes mellitus [2]. Different parts of the jambolan were also reported for its antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, neuropsycho-pharmacological, anti-microbial, anti-bacterial, anti-HIV, antileishmanial and antifugal, nitric oxide scavenging, free radical scavenging, anti-diarrheal, antifertility, anorexigenic, gastroprotective and anti-ulcerogenic and redioprotective activities [2]. (Figure 1) shows the Jamun fruit.

2. Composition of Fruit

Analyses of the fruit in the Philippines were reported in 1924 as follows: Waste, 25%; edible portion: water, 80.80%; ash, 0.70; protein, 0.81; sugar, 12.70 (fructose and glucose; no sucrose); acidity (as sulphuric), 0.63%; (as malic) 0.88% [3]. The following composition per 100 grams of edible portion was reported for fruits freshly picked at the Lancetilla Experimental Garden, Honduras, in 1948: Moisture, 85.8 gm; ether extract, 0.15 gm; crude fiber, 0.3 gm; nitrogen, 0.129 gm; ash, 0.32 gm; calcium, 8.3 mg; phosphorus, 16.2 mg; iron, 1.62 mg; carotene, 0.004 mg; thiamine, 0.008 mg; riboflavin, 0.009 mg; niacin, 0.290 mg; total ascorbic acid, 5.7 mg [4]. Virmani gives the following analysis: specific gravity, 1.0184; total acidity (as acetic acid), 5.33 per 100 cc; volatile acidity (as acetic acid), 5.072 per 100 cc; fixed acidity, 0.275% as citric; total solids, 4.12 per 100 cc; ash, 0.42; alkalinity of ash, 32.5 (N/10 alkali); nitrogen, 0.66131; total sugars, 0.995; reducing sugars, 0.995; non-volatile reducing sugars, 0.995; alcohol, 0.159% by weight; oxidation value (KMnO4, 186.4); iodine value, 183.7; ester value, 40.42. Other reported constituents of the seeds are: protein (6.3 to 8.5%), fat (1.18%), crude fiber (16.9%),

Figure 1. Jamun fruit in a bunch.

ash (21.72%), calcium (0.41%), phosphorus (0.17%), fatty acids (palmitic, stearic, oleic and linoleic), starch (41%), dextrin (6.1%), a trace of phytosterol, and 6 to 19% tannin [5]. The fruits are avidly eaten by birds and four footed animals (jackals and civets in India). In Australia, they are a favorite food of the large bat called “flying fox”. Analyses of the leaves show: crude protein (9.1%), fat (4.3%), crude fiber (17.0%), ash (6.0%), calcium (1.3%), phosphorus (0.19%) [6]. It consists mainly of monoor sesqui-terpene hydrocarbons which are “very common in essential oils.” Constituents of Syzgium cumini seeds are fatty oils (30 g/kg), including lauric (2.8%), myristic (31.7%), palmitic (4.7%), stearic (6.5%), oleic (32.2%), linoleic (16.1%), malvalic (1.2%), sterculic (1.8%) and vernolic acid (3%) and phytosterols such as β-sitosterol. Further constituents are tannins (6%), predominantly corilagin, ellagitannins, ellagic acid, galloyl-galactoside and gallic acid [7]. The leaf oil consists of 16.91% octadecane, 9.98% nonacosane, 9.38% triacontane, 7.38% octacosane, 4.86% Heptacosane, 4.25% hexadecanoic acid and 4.02% eicosane. The seed oil consists of 33.2% 1-chlorooctadecane, 9.24% tetratetracontane, 8.02% decahydro-8a-ethyl-1,1, 4a,6-tetramethylnapahthalene, 5.29% 4-(2-2-dimethyl-6-6-methylenecyclohexyl) butanol, 5.15% Octadecane, 3.97% octacosane, 1.72% heptacosane and 1.71% eicosane. [8]. Java Plum consist of Energy 251 kJ (60 kcal), Carbohydrates 15.56 g, fat 0.23 g, Protein 0.72 g, water 83.13 g, Vitamin A 3IU, Thiamine (vit B1) 0.006 mg (1%), Riboflavin (vit. B2) 0.012 mg (1%), 0.260 mg (2%) Niacin (vit. B3), 0.160 mg (3%) Pantothenic acid (B5), 0.038 mg (3%) Vitamin B60.038 mg (3%), 14.3 mg (17%) Vitamin C, 19 mg (2%) Calcium, 0.19 mg (1%) Iron, 15 mg (4%) Magnesium, 17 mg (2%) Phosphorus, 79 mg (2%) Potassium, 14 mg (1%) Sodium [9]. The Fruit Contain 83.70 - 85.80 g moisture, 0.70 - 0.13 g protein, 0.15 - 0.30 g fat, 0.30 - 0.90 g crude fibre, 14.00 g carbohydrate, 0.32 - 0.40 h ash, 8.30 - 15.00 mg calcium, 35.00 mg magnesium, 15.00 - 16.20 mg phosphorus, 1.20 - 1.62 mg iron, 26.20 mg sodium, 55.00 mg potassium, 0.23 mg copper, 13.00 mg sulfur, 8.00 mh chlorine, 8. I.U vitamin A, 0.01 - 0.03 mg thiamine, 0.009 - 0.01 mg riboflavin, 0.20 - 0.29 mg niacin, 5.70 - 18.00 mg ascorbic acid, 7.00 mg chlorine and 3.00 mcg folic acid per 100 g of edible portion [10].

3. Food Uses

Good quality jambolan juice is excellent for sherbet [11, 12], syrup and “squash”. In India the latter is a bottled drink prepared by cooking the crushed fruits for 5 to 10 minutes at 140˚F, pressing out the juice, combining it with sugar and water and adding citric acid and sodium benzoate as a preservative [13]. Jambolans of good size and quality, having a sweet or sub acid flavor and a minimum of astringency, are enjoyable raw and may be made into tarts [14], sauces and jam. Astringent fruits are improved in palatability by soaking them in salt water [14] or pricking them, rubbing them with a little salt, and letting them stand for an hour [15]. All but decidedly in ferior fruits can be utilized for juice which is often comparable to grape juice [16]. When extracting juice from cooked jambolans, it is recommended that it be allowed to drain out without squeezing the fruit and it will thus be less as tringent. The white-fleshed jambolan has adequate pectin and makes a very stiff jelly unless cooking is brief [17]. The more common purplefleshed yields richly colored jelly [18] but is deficient in pectin and requires the addition of a commercial jelling agent or must be combined with pectin-rich fruits such as unripe or sour guavas, or ketembillas [18]. In Goa and the Philippines [19], jambolans are an important source of wine, resembling Port [20]. Brandy and a distilled liquor called “jambava” have also been made from the fermented fruit. Jambolan vinegar, extensively made throughout India, is an attractive, clear purple, with a pleasant aroma and mild flavor.

4. Uses in Traditional Medicine

Traditionally the jambul fruits, leaves, seeds, and bark are all used in ayurvedic medicine. The bark contains tannins and carbohydrates, accounting for its long-term use as an astringent to combat ailments like dysentery [21]. A glycoside in the seed, jamboline, is considered to have antidiabetic properties [22]. Older French research shows that the seeds have a significant hypoglycemic effect in diabetic rabbits [23]. The seeds have also shown anti-inflammatory effects in rats and antioxidant properties in diabetic rat [24]. Older reports from Indian medical journals suggest jambul seed and bark can be beneficial in humans with diabetes [25]. Jamun fruit seeds and pulp have been reported to serve various purposes in diabetic patients, such as lowering blood glucose levels and delaying diabetic complications including neuropathy and cataracts [2,26]. Jamun is most often recognized as an adjuvant therapy in type-2 diabetes. This has been traced not only to its anthocyanin-rich, dark-purple fleshy pulp, but also to its seeds, which have been most studied for their antidiabetic principles. Jamun seeds are reported to be a rich source of ellagitannins (ETs), including corilagin, 3,6-hexa hydroxyl diphenoyl glucose and its isomer 4,6-hexahydroxy diphenoyl glucose, 1- galloylglucose, 3-galloylglucose, gallic acid, and ellagic acid (EA) [26]. This marker compound has anti-diabetic activity. When alloxan induced diabetic rats were fed with Jamun seed extract, the blood glucose, blood urea, serum cholesterol and serum triglyceride levels were found to decrease significantly [27]. Jamun fruit reduces the sugar in the blood and is very good in the control of diabetes. Its seeds contain Glucoside, Jamboline and Ellagic acid, which are reported to have the ability to check the conversion of starch into sugar in case of excess production of glucose [27]. All parts of the jambolan can be used medicinally and it has a long tradition in alternative medicine. The plant has been viewed as an antidiabetic plant since it became commercially available several decades ago.

From all over the word, the fruits have been used for a wide variety of ailments, including cough, diabetes, dysentery, inflammation and ringworm [28]. It is also an ancient medicinal plant with an illustrious medical history and has been the subject of classical reviews for over 100 years. It is widely distributed throughout India and Ayurvedic medicine (Indian folk medicine) mentions its use for the treatment of diabetic mellitus. Various traditional practitioners in India use the different parts of the plant in the treatment of diabetes, blisters in mouth, cancer, colic, and diarrhea, digestive complaints, dysentery, piles, pimples and stomachache [29]. During last four decades, numerous folk medicinal reports on the antidiabetic effects of this plant have been cited in the literature. In Union medicine various parts of Jambolan acts as liver tonic, enrich blood, strengthen teeth and gums and form Good lotion for removing ringworm infection of the head [30].

E. jambolana leaf extract showed hypoglycemic action in diabetic rats [30]. The seed powder of E. jambolana is reported to have hypoglycemic action in streptozotocindiabetic rats [31,32]. Its effect may be persistent, as in one study, homeostasis was maintained in the rats for two weeks after the cessation of treatment [32]. In alloxan-diabetic rabbits the water extract of E. jambolana fruit pulp was more effective than the ethanol extract at reducing fasting blood glucose and improving blood glucose levels in the glucose tolerance test. E. jambolana also increased blood insulin levels in both diabetic and severely diabetic rabbits [33,34]. The inhibition of insulinase activity from liver and kidney by extract of Eugenia jambolana also has been reported, which points out to its extra-pancreatic mechanism [34]. Another study also found that E. jambolana seed extract reduced blood glucose, glycosylated hemoglobin, and increased plasma insulin [35]. E. jambolana fruit combined with bitter melon decreased insulin levels that were raised in diabetic rats fed a fructose diet [36].

Jamun is most often recognized as an adjuvant therapy in type-2 diabetes. This has been traced not only to its anthocyanin-rich, dark-purple fleshy pulp, but also to its seeds, which have been most studied for their antidiabetic principles. Other reports from Indian medical journals suggest jambul seed and bark can be beneficial in humans with diabetes [37]. When alloxan induced diabetic rats were fed with Jamun seed extract, the blood glucose, blood urea, serum cholesterol and serum triglyceride levels were found to decrease significantly [27]. Jamun fruit reduces the sugar in the blood and is very good in the control of diabetes.

Ayurvedic texts suggest that 1 - 3 g of seed powder per day is an average dose 44 additionally, Juice of ripe fruits in the amount of 0.5 - 2 tsp (2.5 - 10 ml) at least three times daily have been recommended for the treatment of diabetes. Administration of 100 and 200 mg/kg body weight of aqueous extract of Syzygium cumini pulp significantly decreased the blood glucose level in the experimental rats suggesting that it has hypoglycemic properties. The decreased body weight in diabetic rats is due to excessive breakdown of tissue proteins. Treatment with Syzygium cumini improved body weight significantly in a dose dependent manner, indicating prevention of muscle wasting due to hyperglycemic condition.

5. Medicinal Properties

The jambolan has received far more recognition in folk medicine and in the pharmaceutical trade than in any other field. Medicinally, the fruit is stated to be astringent, stomachic, carminative, antiscorbutic and diuretic [37]. Additionally, a fruit extract showed antimicrobial and cytotoxic activities and may potentially be used on topical antimicrobial products. In comparison to other nontraditional fruits jambolao showed considerable high antioxidant activity, which can constituent such as anthocyanins, tannins and flavonols [38]. The anthocyanin composition was characterised by the presence of 3,5- diglucosides of five out of six aglycones commonly found in foods [39]. Fruits contain many different kinds of anti-oxidant compounds, including flavonoids, phenolics, carotenoids and vitamins, which are all considered beneficial to human health, for decreasing the risk of degenerative diseases by reduction of oxidative stress, and for the inhibition of macromolecular oxidation [40]. There is a very high anthocyanin content in S. cumini fruits which attributes to its antioxidant and free radical scavenging activity. These pigments can be a good source of natural food colourants for the food processing industries [41].

Fruit bark decoction for antiplasmodial activity was performed, leading to the isolation of three known ellagic acid derivatives (ellagic acid, ellagic acid 4-O-alpha-L- 2”-acetylrhamnopyranoside, 3-O-methylellagic acid 3’-Oalpha-L-rhamnopyranoside), as well as the new derivative 3-O-methylellagic acid 3’-O-beta-D-glucopyranoside [42]. 3-hydroxy androstane [16,17-C] (6’methyl, 2’-1- hydroxyl-isopropene-1-yl) 4,5,6 H pyran present in Syzygium cumini seed is one of the important marker compound [43]. Phytochemical investigation of the stem bark of Syzygium cumini (L.) Skeels (Myrtaceae) yielded four new lignan derivatives characterised as (7α,8α,2’α)-3,4, 5-trimethoxy-7,3’,1’,9’-diepoxylignan (cuminiresinol), (7α, 7’α,8α,8’α)-3,4-dioxymethylene-3’,4’-dimethoxy-7,9’,7’,9-diepoxylignan-5’-ol (5’-hydroxy-methyl-piperitol), (7α, 7’α,8α,8’α)-3’-methoxy-9-oxo-7,9’,7’,9-diepoxylignan-3,4, 4’-triol or 3-demethyl-9-oxo-pinoresinol (syzygiresinol A), (7α,7’α,8α,8’α)-9-oxo-7,9’,7’,9-diepoxylignan-3,4,3’,4’, 5’-pentaol or 3,3’-didemethyl-9-oxo-pinoresinol along with the known lignans di-demethyl-5-hydroxypinoresinol, dimethylpinoresinol, didemethoxypinoresinol, pinoresinol and 4’-methyl-5’-hydroxypinoresinol [44]. The anthocyanins occur as 3,5-, but not 3-diglucosides, of delphinidin, cyanidin, petunidin, peonidin, and malvidin. This is the report to use a combination of spectrometric and spectroscopic methods to identify unequivocally the structures of E. jambolana fruit anthocyanins [45]. For instance, flavonoids have been referred to as nature’s biological response modifiers, because of their inherent ability to modify the body’s reaction to allergies and virus and they showed their anti-allergic, anti-inflammatory, anti-microbial and anti-cancer activities. Plant steroids are known to be important for their cardiotonic activities and also possess insecticidal and antimicrobial properties. They are also used in nutrition, herbal medicine and cosmetics [46]. Seed extracts of S. cumini, the part most often used in Ayurvedic medicine, were previously shown to have high levels of total phenolics and good activity in the trolox equivalent antioxidant capacity (TEAC) and ferric reducing antioxidant power (FRAP) antioxidant assays [47].

The juice of the ripe fruit, or a decoction of the fruit, or jambolan vinegar, may be administered in India in cases of enlargement of the spleen, chronic diarrhea and urine retention [16,38]. Water-diluted juice is used as a gargle for sore throat and as a lotion for ringworm of the scalp [16,38]. Jambolan juice and mango juice, half and half, quench thirst in diabetics [38]. The seeds (marketed in-inch lengths) and the bark are official in the Dutch [16]. They are much used in tropical medicine and are shipped from India, Malaya and Polynesia, and to a small extent from the West Indies [48], to pharmaceutical supply houses in Europe and England [49].

Studies in the past one decade have also shown that Jamun possess antineoplastic [50]. Radioprotective [51- 54] and chemopreventive effects [55] all of which are useful in the prevention and treatment of cancer. The reasons for the myriad pharmacological effects are due to the presence of diverse phytochemicals like flavonoids, anthocyanins, terpenes [2] and are enlisted in Table 1.

Extracts of both, but especially the seeds, in liquid or powdered form [61], are freely given orally, two or three times a day to patients with diabetes mellitus or glycosuria [38]. In many cases, the blood sugar level reportedly is quickly reduced and there are no ill effects [38]. Fresh seeds are considered superior to dried seeds [62]. Reduction of blood sugar was obtained in alloxan diabetes in rabbits [62]. In experiments at the Central Drug Research Institute, Lucknow, the dried alcoholic extract

Table 1. Phytochemicals present in the jamun plant.

of jambolan seeds, given orally, reduced blood sugar and glycosuria in patients [62]. Dr. Mukerji, in 1961, called the results promising, though the action of the seed extract is milder than that of the synthetic anti-diabetics. He holds that the bark extract affects the glycogenolysis and glycogen storage in animals [38]. On the other hand, Bhatnagar and co-workers, while screening the jambolan with 174 other popular Indian medicinal plants, found no physiological activity in the bark, which they collected in the month of September [63]. Other reported constituents of the seeds are: tannin, [16] to 19%; gallic acid, 1% to 2%; chlorophyll [55]; fatty acids (palmitic, stearic, oleic, and linoleic) [16]; starch, 41% [15], dextrin, 6.1%; protein, 6.3% [15]; and a trace of phytosterol [16].The seeds are claimed by some to contain a glycoside, jambolin [16,55] or antimellin [62], which halts the diastatic conversion of starch in to sugar [16]; also a resin yielding phenolic substances named jambidol [15,16] and ellagic acid [55], and an alkaloid, jambosine [61]. The bark contains 8% to 19% tannin [15,55], gallic acid, 1.67% [16], resin [64], small amounts of ellagic acid and myricetin [65]. A decoction of the bark is taken internally for dyspepsia, dysentery and diarrhea and also serves as an enema [16]. The dried and powdered seeds and root-bark are similarly employed [16]. Powdered bark mixed with curds is given in menorrhagia. Powdered jambolan and mango seeds, with curds, are used, like the fruit juice, in treating enlarged spleen and retained urine [38]. In India, the seed powder is administered as an antidote for strychnine poisoning [15]. The leaf juice is effective in the treatment of dysentery [16], either alone or in combination with the juice of mango or emblic leaves [38]. The leaves, steeped in alcohol, are prescribed in diabetes [55]. Jambolan leaves may be helpful as poultices for skin diseases [15,16]. The leaves yield 12% to 13% tannin (by dry weight) (IS), also an essential oil containing limeonene and dipentene (20% to 30%), about 40% of sesquiterpene (cadeninic type) and a little azulenic sesquiterpene [62]. Bark decoctions are taken for asthma and bron chitis [5] and are gargled or used as mouth wash for the astringent effect on mouth ulcerations, spongy gums [16] and for stomatitis [38]. Ashes of the bark, mixed with water, are spread over local inflamations; or, blended with oil, applied to burns [38].

In the year 2008, 12.7 million new cancer cases and 7.6 million cancer deaths occurred [66]. More worryingly, predictions are that by the year 2020, the global incidence of the cancer will increase by threefold, with a disproportionate rise in cases from the developing world countries that have limited resources to tackle the problem [67]. The conventional treatment modalities used in treating cancer, the surgery, radiotherapy, hormone therapy and chemotherapy remain prohibitively expensive to the large number of population in the developing countries. With an expected rise in cancer incidence, the mortality and associated morbidity will be enormous due to the compromised financial condition of the patients [66, 67]. Since the dawn of civilization, herbal drugs have been used in the ancient civilizations and their use in the treatment of cancer is on a rise especially in the developing and underdeveloped countries primarily due to its easy affordability, non toxic nature, easy acceptability, less toxic or no toxic effects and easy availability. Plants have been the main ingredients of various medications of the traditional Indian system of medicine, the Ayurveda and one such plant of immense importance is Eugenia jambolana Lam (Syn. Syzygium cumini Skeels or Syzygium jambolana Dc or Eugenia cuminii Druce) (Figure 1), colloquially known as Java plum, Portuguese plum, Malabar plum, black plum, Indian blackberry, jaman, jambu, jambul and jambool [68].

5.1. Chemopreventive Effects

Chemoprevention, a science that has emerged during the three last decade, presents an alternative approach to reducing mortality from cancer. Chemopreventive interventions may be applied at any time during carcinogenesis, from the initial molecular defect through the accumulated molecular, cellular and histopathologic aberrations that characterize disease progression before an invasive and potentially metastatic stage [69]. It aims at blocking, reversing, or delaying carcinogenesis before the development of invasive disease by targeting key molecular derangements using pharmacological or nutritional agents [69]. Very recently [70] have also observed that administration of the jamun extract (25 mg/kg body weight/day) was effective in preventing benzo-a-pyreneinduced forestomach carcinogenesis. Recently, [71] have reported that jamun possess cancer chemopreventive properties in the DMBA-induced croton oil promoted two stage skin carcinogenesis in Swiss albino mice. Feeding of 125 mg/kg body weight/animal/day of the extract either during the perinitiation (i.e. 7 days before and 7 days after the application of DMBA) or post-initiation (i.e. from the day of start of croton oil treatment and continued till the end of the experiment) phases reduced the cumulative numbers of papillomas, the tumor incidence and increased the average latency period when compared with the control group (carcinogen alone) [71].

Jamun reduced the tumor incidence, tumor burden and cumulative number of gastric carcinomas. Reports also suggest that gallic acid, ellagic acid, flavonoids and anthocyanins (Figure 2) present in Jamun are reported to prevent experimental carcinogenesis in various organs (Table 2) and may have contributed to the anti-carcinogenesis. Additionally, recent observations also suggest that ellagitannin, a constituent of Jamun and its colonic

Table 2. Phytochemicals of Jamun with reported chemopreventive effects.


Figure 2. Structures of phytochemicals in Jamun reported to be of use in the treatment of Cancer. (a) Myricetin; (b) Kaempherol; (c) Quercetin; (d) Betulinic; (e) Anthocyanin; (f) Delphinidin; (g) Malvidian; (h) Petunidin; (i) Ellagic Acid; (j) Gallic Acid.

metabolite, urolithin A inhibit want signaling crucial in the process of colon carcinogenesis [106].

5.2. Radioprotective Effects

The affect felt by the normal cells are irreparable damage, leading to the untoward effects forcing the physicians to discontinue or reduce the treatment dose. In such situations, an agent that can render a therapeutic differential between the cancer and normal cell will be highly beneficial. Studies have shown that the intraperitoneal administration of the hydroalcoholic extract of the Jamun seed and the dichloromethane extract of Jamun leaf possess radioprotective effects [107]. Therapeutic differential may be achieved with chemical compounds that may selectively protect the normal cells from the deleterious effects of radiation termed as radio protectors. Since the observations of [108] that the natural amino acid cysteine protected mice against radiation-induced sickness and mortality, many compounds with varied pharmacological properties have been synthesized and evaluated for their radioprotective effects. Pretreatment with hydroalcoholic extract of jamun seeds (5 to 160 mg/kg body weight) for five consecutive days before exposure to supralethal dose of radiation (10 Gy) protected mice against the radiationinduced sickness and mortality. The best effect was observed at 80 mg/kg but only when administered through the intraperitoneal route as 50% of the animals survived when compare to 22% in the oral route and none in the radiation alone cohorts. The intraperitoneal administration of the organic extract (dichloromethane-methane) of leaves (5, 10, 20, 30, 40, 50, 60 and 80 mg/kg b. wt.) for five days before irradiation was also observed to be effective in preventing the radiation-induced sickness and mortality in mice. Histopathological investigations showed that Jamun leaf treatment before radiation elevated the villus height, the number of crypts and reduced the goblet and dead cells when compared with the concurrent irradiation control. The recovery and regeneration was faster in Jamun pretreated animals than the irradiation alone. Jamun extracts also provides protection to the DNA against the radiation-induced DNA damage (explained later). The phytochemicals ellagic acid, gallic acid, quercetin and oleanolic acid (Figure 2) present in Jamun also possess radioprotective effects (addressed in Table 3).

5.3. Antineoplastic Effects of Jamun

Chemotherapy has been an important modality in cancer treatment for more than five decades and is an obligatory treatment modality when metastasis has ensued. Depending on the clinical stage and the patient compliance, chemotherapy is used either alone or in combination with radiation and surgery [118]. Studies suggest that of all the antineoplastic drugs being used nearly 47% of the drugs are from natural sources [119]. With regard to Jamun many compounds exert beneficial influence (Figure 2 and Table 4).

In vitro studies by [177] have shown that whole Jamun extract possess cytotoxic effects on the cultured human cervical cancer cells, the HeLa (HPV-18 positive) and SiHa (HPV-16 positive). The extract caused a concentration dependent cell death with the effect being more pronounced in the HeLa than SiHa cells [177]. Additionally, both crude as well as the methanolic extracts of the pulp caused a time dependent increase in apoptosis when cultured with 80% concentration of the extracts. The crude extract was observed to be better than the methanolic extract in both the cell lines [177]. In a study that has wide clinical implications, recent studies by [57] have shown that the standardized Jamun fruit extract possess antiproliferative and pro-apoptotic effects in the estrogen dependent aromatase positive (MCF-7aro), and estrogen independent (MDA-MB-231) breast cancer cells. The extract was highly effective against MCF-7aro and the IC50 was observed to be 27 μg/ml to that of 40 μg/ml in MDAMB-231. Most importantly, at equivalent

Table 3. Phytochemicals of Jamun with reported radioprotective activities.

Table 4. Phytochemicals in Jamun with reported antineoplastic activities.

concentrations the extract was relatively non toxic as it did not induce cell death and apoptosis in the normal/ nontumorigenic (MCF-10A) breast cell line (IC50 > 100 μg/ml). Together these results clearly indicate that at supra dietary levels the fruit pulp extract possesses selective antineoplastic effects against breast cancer [57].

6. Conclusion

Jambolan is traditionally used for the treatment of various diseases especially diabetes and related complications. Most pharmacological works on diabetes were carried out with seeds but the pharmacological potential of the other parts of the plant is required to explore in detail. With regard to the antineoplastic activities studies suggest that Jamun is selective in its action in breast cancer cells. The effect of Jamun and its phytochemicals should also be investigated for its chemopreventive effects in other models of carcinogens, that includes chemical, radiation and viral carcinogenesis models. Mechanistic studies responsible for the chemopreventive and radioprotective effects are also lacking and need to be studied in detail. Based on these facts, this review highlights the role of jambolan in various treatments and recommend that further phytochemical and clinical research should be done on this traditional medicinal plant for the discovery of safer drugs. Studies should also be on understanding which of the phytochemicals are responsible for the observed beneficially effects and if effective, their mechanism of action.


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