Ulat kambal is a large, spreading shrub or small tree sometimes growing up to 10 metres tall, but more generally 1 - 4 metres when in cultivation. The plant provides a high quality fibre that is mainly used locally. It also has local medicinal uses. Often harvested from the wild, it is also sometimes cultivated in tropical areas as a fibre crop and is sometimes grown as an ornamental.
Ulat kambal is also called Pishacha Karpasa, which is used in Ayurveda for gynecological disorders, infertility treatment and amenorrhoea. It is called as Devli’s cotton. This herb is commonly used in Homeopathy.
Main uses: Gynecological disorders, Induces menstruation, Arthritis, Bronchitis, Fever
Prefers hot and humid climate. Mature seeds are collected during December-January The seeds are sown in well-prepared nursery beds or polybags during February to mid-March. For better germination seeds may be given treatment with dilute sulfuric acid for 6 minutes and then thoroughly washed. Germination occurs in 12-15 days.
The species is of Indo-Malayan origin and occurs throughout tropical forests of India, particularly in North-East and East cost. Also found in tropical Asia, South and eastern Africa, and Australia. The species is often planted for its showy deep scarlet flowers.
Abroma augusta Linn f. is a shrubs or a small tree cultivation very in height from 1.8 to 3.6 m, but when wild, they often reach a height of 9 m; for economic cultivation the taller ones should be preferred. However, because of the nettle-like hair may cause dermatitis in susceptible persons. It grows in open areas in nature.  The shrub requires deep, fertile alluvial soil with good drainage. It suffers from frost and is a light-demander. Well-distributed rainfall is more important that its quantity. Propagation can be done either from seeds or stem- cutting; sometimes root suckers may be used for propagation. Since the seeds lose viability fairly quickly and their germination power is poor, fresh seeds soaked in water for 15 min at 28.c should be sown. Insecticidal treatment also improves the germination. The optimum temperature for germination is 32.c. About 24kg of seed is required to plant one hectare. Sowings are done before the rainy season. The field should be ploughed properly alone with farm manure to a fine tilth. Mucuna spp., vigna sinensis Endl., etc., are good green manures and may be ploughed in. the seed can be sown either in nurseries for transplanting, or directly in the field. A depth of 5 cm is reported to be optimum for germination, and close spacing has been recommended.
The stems yield a fiber, and are harvested during flowering between July and dec, 100-120 days after sowing, or after the growth of the new stems following the previous harvest. For coarse fiber, the harvesting may be done as late as 6-7 months. The stems are cut 25cm above the ground for new flush. Although up to four harvests can be taken in the year, normally only two harvests are taken or sometime only one. The fibers are retting the stem for 7-15 days, is washed and beaten to make it supple and to separate the individual strands. Over-drying makes the fiber brittle. The yield of fiber varies depending upon the climatic, edaphic, and several other factors. An average yield of 735-990kg/ha been recorded
The root contains abromine (betaine), friedelin, abromasterol, abromasterol A, choline, beta-sitosterol, stigmasterol and octacosanol. Leaves, reported to be useful in treating uterine disorders, contain taraxerol, its acetate and lupeol.
Primarily the plants consist of alkaloids. The root
bark of the plant has the following constituents mixed
oils, resins, alkaloids and in minute quantities water
soluble base. The roots contain abromine, friedelin,
abromasterol, choline, betaine, β-sitoterol,stigmasterol, a basic compound and a fixed oil.
Maslinic acid and α-amyrin have been isolated from
root bark. Protocalechuic, vanillic, caffeic acid and
polysaccharide fraction containing rhamanose,
arabinose, xylose, mannose, galactose, glucose,
galacturonic acid and glucuronic acid and acidic polysaccharide containing rhamnose, galacturonic
acid, glucuronic acid have been reported from root bark and partially characterized
The leaves of A. augusta contain taraxerol and its
acetate, β-sitosterol acetate, lupeol, an aliphatic
alcohol, octacosanal and probably a mixture of long
chain fatty diols (Rastogi et al., 2003, Dasgupta et
al., 1970). The stem bark of the plant contains βsitosterol and friedelin. The presence of β-sitosterol
and octacosne-1,28-diol is reported in the heatwood.
The seeds of the Devil’s cotton contain a fixed oil
which is rich in linoleic acid having an important
dietary role in the control of arteriosclerosis because
of its ability to lower the cholesterol level in blood
(Gupta et al., 2011). The fatty acids known to occur
in A. augusta are shown in table 1.
Traditional uses: Devil’s cotton has a long
history of medicinal use in Ayurvedic system. It is
highly beneficial in gynecological disorders. It
regulates the menstrual flow and also used as
abortiticient and anti-fertility agent. In India, it is
used in dysmenorrhea but in Indonesia as antiinflammatory and analgesics in the treatment of dermatitis. The leaves and stems of A. augusta are
used by the traditional healers of Bogra district but
the bark of roots are known to be used by the
traditional healers of Jessore district in Bangladesh.
Researchers have shown the scientific support for theuse of Devil’s cotton in the traditional system of
medicine for the treatment of type-2 diabetes and it
has the inhibitory activity of glucose absorption in
Almost all parts of A. augusta is used in the treatment of various diseases. The root and root bark are reported to be useful as an emmenagogue and uterine tonic for the treatment of congestive and nervous dysmenorrhea prescribed during irregular menses (Nandkarni et al., 2002). The leaves are reported to be useful in treating uterine disorders, diabetes, rheumatic pains of joints, and headache with sinusitis. Other uses of the plant are in stomachache, diabetes, dermatitis, and also in whitish discharge in urine in men (Rahamtullah et al., 2010).
Antidiabetic activity: Different parts like roots, leaves and barks of the plant of A. augusta are used in the treatment of diabetes. The methanolic extract and decoction of the leaves of Devil’s cotton are used in the treatment of alloxan-induced diabetic rats at a dose of 300 mg/kg body weight when administered for seven days (Mishra et al., 2010; Nahar et al., 2010; Chhetri et al., 2005).
It is also effective in combined dosage form with other naturally occurring drugs like Curcuma longa and Coccinia indica for the treatment of streptozotocin (STZ) induced diabetic rats. The combined aqueous extract of A. augusta and C. longa are used in the treatment of streptozotocin (60 mg/kg) induced diabetic rats at a dose of 300 mg/kg of body weight. It is also used in combination with C. indica for the treatment of diabetes (Eshrat et al., 2003, Eshrat et al., 2002).
The combined aqueous extract of the leaves of A. augusta and Azadirachta indica (1:1) is used to treat alloxan-induced diabetic rats when administered for 8 weeks (Eshrat et al., 2003).
Antioxidant activity: The extracts were investigated for its antioxidant activity by using hydrogen donation assay method. The methanolic extract of A. augusta showed strongest antioxidant activity with IC50 value of 51.9785 mg/ml. The combination of A. august and C. longa also possess antioxidant activity by inhibiting thiobarbituric acid reactive substances (TBARS) and increase in reduced glutathaione (GSH), superoxide dismustase (SOD) and catalase (CAT) (Eshrat et al., 2002; Nahar et al., 2009).
Anti-inflammatory activity: The methanolic extract of different parts of A. augusta showed potent anti-inflammatory activity as compared to with the standard drug, diclofenac sodium perhaps due to the presence alkaloids and flavonoids present in the plant (Das et al., 2012).
Wound healing activity: Devil’s cotton has been traditionally used for the treatment of sores. The wound healing profile of alcoholic extract of Devil’s cotton and its effect on dexamethasone suppressed wound healing has been evaluated in wistar rats. (Hanif et al., 2010; Khan et al., 2003).
Hypolipidemic activity: From the experimental studies carried out by the workers showed marked decrease in lipid level in sterptozotocin-induced diabetic rats. Aqueous extract of curcumine obtained from C. longa and partially purified product from Devil’s cotton. On blood glucose, lipid per oxidation (LPO) was studied for 8 weeks in Sterptozotocininduced diabetic rats. Result in total decrease in body weight, cholesterol and creatinine (Eshrat et al., 2002).
Antimicrobial activities: The n-hexane extract of the seeds of A. augusta has shown antifungal activity when the extract was evaluated by agar tube dilution method. Antifungal activity of the oil was tested against Trichophytons choenleinii, Pseudallescheri aboydii, Microsporum canis, Trichophyton simii (animal pathogens), Candida albican, Aspergilus niger (human pathogens), Fusarium solani, Macrophomina phaseolina (plant pathogen). Growth in the medium containing the oil was determined by measuring the linear growth (mm) and growth inhibition (%) was calculated with reference to the negative control. The result indicated that the seed oil of ulatkambal possesses moderate activity against human and animal pathogens but no significant activity of the extract was observed against the plant pathogens. The seed oil has the potential to be an antifungal against Trichophyton schoenleinii and Microsporum canis. The oil was also screened against various bacteria like Corynebacterium diphthereae, Escherichia coli, Klebsiella pneumoniae, Proteus morgannim, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Salmonella typhi, Shigella boydii, Staphylococcus aureus and Streptococcus pyogenes for antibacterial activity and for insecticidal activity it has been tested against Tribolium castaneum, Ryzopartha dominica and Trogoderma granarum (Rahmatullah et al., 2010).
Phytotoxic activity: The oil extracted from the seeds of A. augusta exhibited remarkable phytotoxic activity against Lemna aeguinoctailis Welve. It was also explored to possess moderate antifungal activities against Trichophyton schoenleinii (56%) (human pathogen) and Microsporum canis (50%) (animal pathogen) (Khan et al., 2003).
Gynecological disturbance: The ethanolic extracts of leaves and stems of Devil’s cotton are also known to be used in menstrual disorders and diseases of uterus (leucorrhoea). It shows contractile action on the uterus, and is used for the treatment of dysmenorrhea, amenorrhorea, sterility and other menstrual disorders. Powdered roots act as an abortifacient and anti-fertility agent and its petroleum-ether extract at a dose of 50 mg/kg body weight showed anti-inplantation as well as abortifacient action in mice. Significant abortifacient activity was also noticed with alcoholic and chloroform extracts. The alcoholic extract of the roots showed acetyl choline-like action, comparable to that of choline on isolated smooth and skeletal muscles. The aqueous extract of the roots showed oxytocic action. It has also been reported to possess galactotrophic effect on lactating albino rats (Gupta et al., 2011).
Thrombolytic activity: The extract of Devil’s cotton was assessed for thrombolytic activity. Addition of 100-µl Streptokinase, a positive control to the clots along with 90 minutes of incubation at 37ºC, showed 86.2% clot lysis. Clots when treated with 100-µl sterile distilled water (negative control) showed only negligible clot lysis (5.2%). The main difference in percentage of clot lysis between positive and negative control was found to be statistically significant.
After treatment of clots with 100 µl of A. augusta extract 50.1, 42.9 and 41.6% clot lysis were obtained. Among these clot lysis, Devil’s cotton showed significant (50.1%) clot lysis and when compared with the negative control (water) the mean clot lysis % difference was significant. However, further study is necessary to find out the thrombolytic activity of the active compound (Bhuiya et al., 2013). Other activity: The leaves of A. augusta have membrane stabilizing activities (Rahman et al., 2016). Ulatkambal mother tincture, a traditional homeopathic remedy is used clinically to treat people with diabetes. It is reported to have activity in managing the high blood sugar (Reddy et al., 2018).
The protective effect of defatted methanol extract of Devil’s cotton leaves is known against type-2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM) and its associated nephropathy and cardiomyopathy in experimental rats. Devil’s cotton could offer prophylactic role against T2DM and its associated cardio-toxicity (Khanra et al., 2015)
Parts used for medicinal purpose
Bark, Leaves, ,
Leaf juice: 10 ml.
Rootbark powder: 3-6 g.
Ulatkambal is a shrub or small tree about 2 to 3 meters in height (Figure 1). The leaves are alternate, ovate, 10 to 15 centimeters in length and 10 to 12 centimeters in width with pointed tip, heart-shaped base, and toothed margins. The flowers are bisexual, about 5 centimeters across and deep red or yellowish with purple bases. The fruit (capsule) is obpyramidal about 3.5 centimeters in diameter, covered with irritating hairs, and ultimately smooth, with five prominent angles or wings, which are 4 by 7 centimeters across. The seeds are subellipsoid,numerous and finely punctuate (Kuadkaew et al., 2010).
A large shrub or small tree grows up to 4 m. in high. Leaves simple, alternate, acuminate, cordate, coarsely pubescent, entire, glabrescent above and tomentose below, petiolate, petioles 1.25-2.5 cm long, stipules linear, as long as the petiole, deciduous; Flowers violet, flowers axillary, pedunculate, peduncle 3.5 cm long; Fruits pentagonal with five compartments containing albuminous, numerous seeds. Plant blossoms during August and September.
Leaf (Simple alternate)
Leaves 10-20 (-30) x 5-15 (-25) cm; ovate-lanceolate, ovate-oblong, cordate at base, acute or acuminate at apex, repand-denticulate, glabrescent above, tomentose beneath; petioles 1.5-2.5 cm long; stipules linear, as long as the petiole, deciduous.
Flower (Bisexual subterminal or axillary peduncled cymes)
Flowers are 5 cm. in diameter, dark red, purple or yellow in colour occurring on few flowered cymes. Sepals are 2.5 cm. lanceolate, free nearly to the base. Petals scarcely exceeding the Sepals, imbricate in bud, deciduous. And fall soon. Stemens are present on short staminal tube. Five staminoides are present. Capsules are almost 4 cm. long, obpyramidal, membranous finally pubescent, and truncate at the apex. Capsules are thrice as long as the persistent calyx. Each carpel has a triangular wing behind it. Flowering and fruiting occur in the month of December and January. Seeds many, small, blackish, covered with silky hairs. The leaves and fruits are shown in picture 1 and 2 respectively.
Capsule3.5-4 cm longobpyramidal, membranous, 5-angled, truncate at apex, septicidally 5-valved, valves villous at the edge
Rajodosha – Useful in treating female infertility. It induces menstruation. For this purpose, its root powder or fresh juice is administered 3 – 5 days before the expected date of menstruation till bleeding starts.
It is also used in treating arthritis, bronchitis, headache and diabetes
Abroma augusta L. (Malvaceae) leaf is traditionally used to treat diabetes in India and Southern Asia. Therefore, current study was performed to evaluate the protective effect of defatted methanol extract of A. augusta leaves (AA) against type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM) and its associated nephropathy and cardiomyopathy in experimental rats.
Antidiabetic activity of AA extracts (100 and 200 mg/kg, p.o.) was measured in streptozotocin-nicotinamide induced type 2 diabetic (T2D) rat. Fasting blood glucose level (at specific interval) and serum biochemical markers (after sacrifice) were measured. Redox status, transcription levels of signal proteins (NF-κB and PKCs), mitochondria dependent apoptotic pathway (Bad, Bcl-2, caspase cascade) and histological studies were performed in kidneys and hearts of controls and AA treated diabetic rats.
Phytochemical screening of extracts revealed the presence of taraxerol, flavonoids and phenolic compounds in the AA. T2D rats showed significantly (p < 0.01) elevated fasting blood glucose level. Alteration in serum lipid profile and release of membrane bound enzymes like lactate dehydrogenase and creatine kinase, which ensured the participation of hyperlipidemia and cell membrane disintegration in diabetic pathophysiology. T2DM caused alteration in the serum biochemical markers related to diabetic complications. T2DM altered the redox status, decreased the intracellular NAD and ATP concentrations in renal and myocardial tissues of experimental rats. Investigating the molecular mechanism, activation PKC isoforms was observed in the selected tissues. T2D rats also exhibited an up-regulation of NF-κB and increase in the concentrations of pro-inflammatory cytokines (IL-1β, IL-6 and TNF-α) in the renal and cardiac tissues. The activation of mitochondria dependent apoptotic pathway was observed in renal and myocardial tissues of the T2D rats. However, Oral administration of AA at the doses of 100 and 200 mg/kg body weight per day could reduce hyperglycemia, hyperlipidemia, membrane disintegration, oxidative stress, vascular inflammation and prevented the activation of oxidative stress induced signaling cascades leading to cell death. Histological studies also supported the protective characteristics of AA.
Results suggest that AA could offer prophylactic role against T2DM and its associated reno- and cardio- toxicity.
Seek medical advice for its use in children and during lactation.
Use in other system of medicine:
Traditional herbal medicines have been attracting a great attention as alternative and supplemental therapies (Islam et al., 2012). Devil’s cotton is used in diabetes mellitus, as antioxidant, uterine tonic and an emmenagogue, dysmenorrhea, amenorrhoea, sterility and other menstrual disorder, rheumatic pains of joints and headache with sinusitis (Kuadkaew et al., 2010). It is used in the management of diabetes mellitus type-2 (Islam et al., 2012). It is very popular among Thai Muslim people in three southern provinces of Thailand, since Ulatkambal seed oil has been used for treatment of pain (Kuadkaew et al., 2010).