Celastrus paniculatus is a woody, fruit-bearing vine. The seeds contained in the fruit are used in traditional Ayurvedic healing practices. It is a deciduous tree that can grow to become very large. Its base grows to become ten inches in diameter and therefore produces many branches, which cleave and look for support from surrounding plants and trees. The leaves are oval in shape and they grow on single stems producing different colors ranging from light to dark green. C. paniculatus produces beautiful little flowers on the tops of the main stem; the flowers also range in color from white-green to yellow-green. Originally, this plant was found growing in India; however its adaptable nature also allows for it to flourish in other regions such as China, Taiwan, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar and Nepal.
In general, Celastrus paniculatus is used for cognitive impairment and to promote intestinal health. The seeds are also made into an oil, which has been used for massage, to alleviate skin inflammation and has mild sedative effects. The oil is fast gaining popularity in the primary healthcare systems for stimulating the intellect and sharpening the memory. Research shows that it potentially acts as a nervine, a rejuvenator and an anti-depressant. The plant has been found to contain strong antioxidants that facilitate in the scavenging of free radicals that cause inflammation and tissue damage. Studies are showing its benefit as a powerful stimulant for the neuromuscular system, as well as in the treatment of rheumatism, gout and paralysis.
In the Greco-Arabic tradition of medicine, the oil from the seeds was used to treat mental confusion, and fatigue, it also improved the condition of people being treated for asthma, mitigated headaches, and is useful in the treatment of arthritis. In some traditions, the plant has also been known as an aphrodisiac and stimulates sexual desire.
It is believed that the plants work through neurochemical pathways by inhibiting the re-uptake of the neurotransmitters dopamine, serotonin and norepinephrine, leaving higher amounts of these natural neurochemicals in the brain. Along with this, the herb has also been known to induce vivid dreams, as well as the ability to exert the will within the dreams, what some may call lucid dreaming. The onset of effects for this plant are very rapid, and does not require weeks for results. The traditional method for using this plant is to chew upon 7-20 seeds, which will produce noticeable effects in most people. Some of the active chemical constituents include sesquiterpine alkaloids and other alkaloids known as celastrine and paniculatrine, carboxylic acids, fatty acids and sterols.