The tree is best known as the source of annatto, a natural orange-red condiment (also called achiote or bijol) obtained from the waxy arils that cover its seeds. The ground seeds are widely used in traditional dishes in Central and South America, Mexico, and the Caribbean, such as Cochinita Pibil, Chicken in Achiote and Daldo de olla. Annatto and its extracts are also used as an industrial food colouring to add yellow or orange colour to many products such as butter, cheese, margarine, ice creams, meats, and condiments.
North, Central, and South American natives originally used the seeds to make red body paint and lipstick, as well as a spice. For this reason, the Bixa Orellana is sometimes called the lipstick tree.
Extensive research studies carried out in the last few decades have shown isolation of several different classes of Phytoconstituents including Carotenoids, Apocarotenoids, Sterols, Aliphatic compounds, Monoterpenes and Sesquiterpenes, Triterpenoids, volatile oils and other miscellaneous compounds from all parts of this plant. These Phytochemicals exhibit a wide range of pharmacological abilities that are antibacterial, anti-fungal, anti-oxidant, anti-inflammatory, anti-cancer, enhance gastrointestinal motility, is used as a neuropharmacological, an anticonvulsant, analgesic, and as an antidiarrheal. Seeds are characterised by a substantial amount of carotenoid compounds - mainly Apocarotenoid Bixin, Nor-Bixin and other less important elements such as Cryptoxanthin, Lutein, Zeaxanthin, and Methylbixin.
We employ the fresh annatto seeds from the local market to produce beautiful light to dark orange shades on cotton, wool, silk and all natural textile substrates through a standardised dyeing process using different combinations of other mordants on fibers, fabric and garments with excellent fastness properties.