Reviewed on 6/11/2021
Other Name(s):

Achiote, Achiotillo, Annato, Annotta, Arbre Rouge à Lèvre, Arnotta, Bija, Bixa orellana, Latkan, Lipstick Tree, Rocou, Rocouyer, Roucou.


Annatto is a plant. The seed and leaf are used to make medicine.

People take annatto for diabetes, diarrhea, fevers, fluid retention, heartburn, malaria, and hepatitis. They also use it as an antioxidant and bowel cleanser.

Annatto is sometimes put directly on the affected area to treat burns and vaginal infections and to repel insects.

In foods, annatto is used as a coloring agent.

How does work?

There isn't enough information to know how annatto works.


Insufficient Evidence to Rate Effectiveness for...

More evidence is needed to rate the effectiveness of annatto for these uses.


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Side Effects

Annatto is LIKELY SAFE for most people when used in food amounts. It is not known if annatto is safe for use as a medicine.


Pregnancy and breast-feeding: There is not enough reliable information about the safety of taking annatto if you are pregnant or breast-feeding. Stay on the safe side and avoid use.

Diabetes: Annatto might increase or decrease blood sugar levels. Monitor your blood sugar carefully if you have diabetes and use annatto as a medicine. The dose of your diabetes medication may need to be changed.

Surgery: Annatto might affect blood sugar levels. This has raised some concern that it might interfere with blood sugar control during and after surgery. Stop using annatto as a medicine at least 2 weeks before a scheduled surgery.


Medications changed by the liver (Cytochrome P450 1A1 (CYP1A1) substrates)Interaction Rating: Moderate Be cautious with this combination.Talk with your health provider.

Some medications are changed and broken down by the liver. Annatto might increase how quickly the liver breaks down some medications. Taking annatto along with some medications that are broken down by the liver might decrease the effectiveness of some medications. Before taking annatto, talk to your healthcare provider if you are taking any medications that are changed by the liver.

Medications that might be affected include chlorzoxazone, theophylline, and bufuralol.

Medications for diabetes (Antidiabetes drugs)Interaction Rating: Moderate Be cautious with this combination.Talk with your health provider.

Annatto might increase or decrease blood sugar. Diabetes medications are used to lower blood sugar. By increasing or decreasing blood sugar, annatto might decrease the effectiveness of diabetes medications or increase the risk of your blood sugar going too low. Monitor your blood sugar closely. The dose of your diabetes medication might need to be changed.

Some medications used for diabetes include glimepiride (Amaryl), glyburide (DiaBeta, Glynase PresTab, Micronase), insulin, pioglitazone (Actos), rosiglitazone (Avandia), chlorpropamide (Diabinese), glipizide (Glucotrol), tolbutamide (Orinase), and others.


The appropriate dose of annatto depends on several factors such as the user's age, health, and several other conditions. At this time there is not enough scientific information to determine an appropriate range of doses for annatto. Keep in mind that natural products are not always necessarily safe and dosages can be important. Be sure to follow relevant directions on product labels and consult your pharmacist or physician or other healthcare professional before using.

Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database rates effectiveness based on scientific evidence according to the following scale: Effective, Likely Effective, Possibly Effective, Possibly Ineffective, Likely Ineffective, and Insufficient Evidence to Rate (detailed description of each of the ratings).

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