Ethno Pharmacological Uses of Artocarpus altilis– A Review


Vidya Raju*, Jasmine Joy Bell, Merlin. N. J, Shaiju S Dharan

Department of Pharmacology, Ezhuthachan College of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Marayamuttom, Neyyattinkara, Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala.

*Corresponding Author E-mail:



In recent years, medicinal plants play an important role in allopathic medicine, herbal medicine, homoeopathy and aromatherapy, as being the sources of many imperative drugs in the modern world. Use of potent herbal medicines like Breadfruit (Artocarpus altilis) belongs to Moraceae family against various ailments to reduce the adverse effects of various orthodoxallopathic medicines. The detrimental side effects of conventional antibiotics can be easily overcome by the use of these medicinal plants as analternative treatment of diseases by producing a variety of compounds of known therapeutic properties. Many research works are ongoing with Artocarpus altilis and paid more attention to its bioactive constituents for the development of newer medicines in the pharmaceutical field.


KEY WORDS: Artocarpus altilis, Antibiotics, herbal medicines, Allopathic medicines, Homoeopathy, Aromatherapy, Bread fruit.




Medicinal plants are major resources of new drugs. The random use of synthetic drugs leads to multi drug resistance which is an important barrier to treat infectious diseases. This may leads to high demand for the alternative drugs in the treatment of infectious diseases from the medicinal plants.1


Artocarpus altilis (Parkinson) Fosberg belongs to Moraceae family is an important medicinal plant. It is commonly referred to as bread fruit which is similar to freshly baked bread. Breadfruit is a traditional starch rich crop. The genus Artocarpus (Moraceae) comprises approximately 50 species and is widely distributed in tropical and subtropical regions.1 The picture of Artocarpus  altilis are shown in the figure 1.


Fig 1: Picture of Artocarpus altilis



Konkan– Jeevi Halasu,

Karnataka-Ber Halasu,

Kerala-Kada Chakka,


Goa- Neerphanas,


Dutch –Brood boom,

Chinese –Mianbaoguo


The taxonomical classification of Artocarpus altilis are summarized in the figure 21-2



Fig 2 : Taxonomical profile of Artocarpus  altilis



Breadfruit is found in Indonesia, Malaysia, coral island and saline soils. It is grown throughout Southeast Asia and most Pacific Ocean islands. In Africa bread fruits are found in Senegal, Ghana and Liberia. In India it is mainly grown in the coastal regions of Karnataka and Kerala.3


Bread fruit grows in the region of hot, humid and tropical lowlands. It is cultivated below elevations of 2,130 ft, but also found at elevations of 5,090 ft. Productivity of the plant varies between wet and dry areas. Rain stimulates extension growth and flowering. Ideal rainfall


requirement is 1,500–3,000 millimeters per year. The soil conditions requires are sand, sandy loam or loam.This plant grows best at temperature of about 21- 32°C. Soil required is neutral to alkaline pH of 7.4-6.1 3



Artocarpus altilis is one of the highest yielding food plants, 200 or more fruits per season. The trees yield 50 to 150 fruits per year in the south pacific while150 to 200 fruits annually insouthern parts of India.3-4


·      Size:

Trees can reachat a heights of about21 m (70 ft) or more at maturity around 12–15 m (40–50 ft). The trunk may be large as 2 m (6.6 ft) in diameter, occasionally growing to a height of 4 m or more (13 ft) before branching. A white milky latex is present in all parts of the tree.3-4


·      Form:

Single-trunked tree with evergreen canopy.3-4


·      Flowers:

Monoecious with male and female flowers on the same tree and the male inflorescence appears first. Male flowers are club-shaped, up to 5 cm in diameter and 45 cm long. Thousands of tiny flowers with two anthers are attached to a central, spongy core. Female inflorescences consists of 1500–2000 reduced flowers attached to a spongy core. The flowers fuse together and develops into fleshy, edible portion of the fruit. It is cross-pollinated, but pollination is not required for the development of fruit.3-4


·      Leaves:

Leaves are alternate, broadly obovate to broadly ovate, almost entire, with only slight lobing to deeply pinnately lobed, with sinuses up to 2/3 or more of the distance from margin to midrib, with up to six pairs of lobes and a large apical tip.3-4 Blade is generally smooth, glossy, dark greenwith green or yellow-green veins, and with white to reddish-white hairs on the midrib and veins. Leaves on new shoots and root suckers are generally larger. Size is variable depending upon the variety, ranging from 15–60 cm long.3-4


·      Fruits:

Fruits are variable in shape, size, and surface texture. They are usually round, oval, or oblong ranging from 9 to 20 cm wide, more than 30 cm long and about 0.25–6 kg .The skin texture varies from smoothly to slightly bumpy or spiny. The color is light green, yellowish-green, or yellow when mature. The skin is usually stained with dried latex exudations at maturity.3-4 The flesh is creamy white or pale yellow and contains none or manyseeds. Fruits are typically mature and ready to harvest and eat as a starchy staple in 15–19 weeks. Ripe fruits have a yellowor yellow-brown skin and soft, sweet, creamy flesh that can be eaten raw.3-4


·      Seeds:

Seeds are thin-walled, subglobose or obovoid, irregularly compressed, 1–2 cmthick, and embedded in the pulp. The outer seed coat is usually shiny dark brown with a light brown inner seed coat. Seeds have little or no endosperm and no period of dormancy; they germinate immediately and are unable to withstand desiccation.


Parts Used:

Latex is taken internally to treat diarrhea, stomach ache, dysentery and to treat ear infections. The root is astringent, purgative and is also used as poultice for skin ailments. The bark is reported to be used to treat headaches and to reduce high blood pressure. Leaf is used to control diabetes, to treat liver disease, kidney failures, fevers, to heal wounds and to reduce cholesterol. Flower extract is used in treating ear edema. Roots exhibited antimicrobial activity. Heart wood also exhibited anti cancer activity.3-4


Plants belonging to this species produce a variety of isoprenylated flavonoids with a unique feature of an isoprenylside chain at C-3, and 2’, 4’-dioxygenation or 2’, 4’, 5’trioxigenation patterns in ring B of the flavone skeleton. Steroids, phytosterols, gums and resins have been reported in methanolic, ethyl acetate and petroleum ether leaf.5 The other constituents reported are amino acids, fatty acids, carbohydrates and starch which are 72.5%, 68.2%, 81.4% respectively6 Some of the structure of phytoconstituents and their chemical names are shown in the figure 3




Artobiloxanthone                                                                                       Cycloartobiloxanthone



Artonin E                                                                                                     Cycloaltilisin


Fig 3: Chemical structure of  phytoconstituents


Phytoconstituents that are present in plant parts of Artocarpus altilis

·      Leaves:

Geranyl Flavonoids are reported from its leaves contains mainly geranyl dihydrochalcones,1-(2,4-dihydroxyphenyl)-3-[3,4-dihydro-3,8-dihydroxy-2-methyl-2-(4-methyl-3-pentenyl)-2H-1-benzopyran-5-yl]-1-propanone,2-[6-hydroxy-3,7-dimethylocta-2(E),7-dienyl]-2',3,4,4'-tetrahydroxydihydrochalcone,1-(2,4-dihydroxyphenyl)-3-[8-hydroxy-2-methyl-2-(3,4-epoxy-4-methyl-1-pentenyl)-2H-1-benzopyran-5-yl]-1-propanone.7-8



·      Fruits:

The compounds isolated and reported are 1,2 cyclohexanediol, 1-methyl butyl acetate, 1-octen-3-ol, 2-butanone, 2, cyclohexenol, Moracin M, 2-heptanol, 3-hexene-2,5- diol ,2- methyl butyric acid,5-ethyl2(5H)- furanone, vanillin, Norartocarpetin, Norartocarpanone, 2-geranyl-2’,3,4,4’-hydroxydihydrochalcone,Trans-2-hexenal, Sitosterol from the fruits.7-8


·      Inflorescence:

The compounds isolated and reported are AC-3-1, AC-3-2, AC-3-3,AC-5-1, AC-5-2 from the  inflorescence.7-8



·      Roots:

Artomunoflavonone, Artomunoisoxanthone, cyclocomunomethonol are isolated from root cortex. Artocarpaurone, Cycloartocarpin, and Chaplashin were isolated from root stems. Morusin, Artonin, Cudraflavone, Cudraflavone, Cycloartobiloxanthone, Artobiloxanthone, Dihydrocycloartomunin, Dihydroisocycloartomunin, Cycloartomunoxanthone, cyclocommunol were isolated from root barks.7-8


·      Stem:

Morusin, Isocyclomorusin, Isocyclomuberrin were isolated from stem barks. Phenolic group, flavonoids, glycoside, steroids and tannins were reported from the extract of the twigs. The minerals reported were Calcium, iron, sodium and iron. This species also contains broussochalcone, kazinol, broussoaurone, Cycloartocarpin, cycloheterophyllin and broussoflavonol.7-8



Traditionally the plant has been employed for the treatment of sedation, dysentery, cardiac problem, parasite, constipation, haemorrhage, bacterial infection etc. The ethnomedicinal uses of A. altilis are summarized in the figure 4



Fig 4 : Ethnomedicinal uses of A. altilis


This plant has been reported to possess a number of pharmacological activities like strong inhibition of arachidonic acid (AA)-induced platelet aggregation,flavonoids isolated from the heart wood posses antioxidant activity, anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial activity.31 The leaf extracts of Artocarpus altilis also exhibited antidiabeticactivity. The different plant parts have been reported to be useful in the treatment of urinary problems, cancer, benign prostate hyperplasia and prostate cancer.9-10 Ethyl acetate extract of the leaves has been reported to posses’ cytotoxic effects on some human cancer cell lines which includes human lung adenocarcinoma, human colon carcinoma and human hepatocellular carcinoma and human breast cancer.9-10 The methanol extract from bud covers has been reported to have activity in a cathepsin K inhibition. It has been reported that cathepsin K inhibitors are very effective in preventing bone resorption, and hence this plant is mainly used in the treatment of osteoporosis.9-10 This plant also posses hypotensive activity  ,anti tubercular and anti plasmodial activity Artocarpin, a prenylated flavonoid compound has been reported to have inhibition of 5-reductase, melanin biosynthesis in melanoma cells and melanogenesis inhibitory activity.9-10


Table 1 : Traditional medicinal uses of Artocarpus altilis

Plant parts




Mix equal amount of latex from Ficus adenosperm and Artocarpus altilis and drink



Rubbed into skin

Broken bones and sciatica


Diluted and taken internally

Diarrhea, dysentry and stomach aches

Latex or crushed leaves

Latex or juice from crushed leaves

Ear infections


Juice from the crushed leaf petiole is dripped into the affected eyes

Injured eyes


Macerated and used as a poultice

Skin ailments


Tea made from yellowing leaves

High blood pressure and diabetes.

Male inflorescence

Roasted powdered and rubbed on gums

Aural pain relief


Infusion from the scraped bark or roots

Urinary tract problems



It is traditionally used in the treatment of various disorders.9-10The traditional uses of Artocarpus altilis are summarized in the table 1.



Most of the parts of Artocarpus altilis have several interesting activities to treat various disorders. They are the richest source of flavonoids, tannins, steroids, glycosides , alkaloids and fatty acids. It is clearly seen that this plant is very important for its large number of phytoconstituents with medicinal value. This review may acts as a guide to further investigations of its phytoconstituents and screening of other activities of the plant which are yet to be explored.



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6.     Erwin. Diversity of secondary metabolites of Artocarpus altilis. International conference of chemistry. 2015: 53-65.

7.     Jones AMP, Ragone D, Tavana NG. Beyond the bounty: Bread fruit (Artocarpus altilis ) for food security and novel foods in the 21st century. Ethanobotany Research and Applications. 2011; 9: 129-1479.

8.     Sudha S, Asna U. Safety evaluation of Artocarpus altilis as pharmaceutical agents. Journal of Toxicology.2014: 1-8.

9.     Pradhan C, Mohanty M, Rout APhytochemical screening and comparative bioefficacy assessment of Artocarpus altilis leaf extracts for antimicrobial activity. Frontiers in Life Science.2012 ;  6 (3–4): 71–76.

10.   Donsing P, Limpeanchob N, Viyoch J. Evaluation of the effect of Thai breadfruit's heartwood extract on melanogenesis-inhibitory and antioxidation activities. J Cosmetic Sci 2008; 59 (1): 41-58.





Received on 15.09.2017       Accepted on 18.10.2017     

© Asian Pharma Press All Right Reserved

Asian J. Pharm. Res. 2017; 7(4): 239-243.

DOI:   10.5958/2231-5691.2017.00037.5