Annatto is a pigment, or dye, produced from the red seeds of the achiote (Bixa orellana) tree. Achiote is native to the tropics of North and South America, the Caribbean, and the East Indies. It is cultivated in South America and Southeast Asia. Annatto has long been a staple of Latin American and Caribbean cuisines as a flavoring and coloring agent. Annatto adds a slightly sweet and peppery taste and yellow or red color.
Achiote is known as the "lipstick tree" because the seeds have been used by Central and South American natives to make lip color, as well as body paint and fabric dye.
Achiote has been used as a traditional remedy for a variety of conditions, including diabetes, jaundice, snakebite, indigestion, heartburn, and hypertension (high blood pressure). All parts of the plant have been used, including the roots, leaves, seeds, and dried pulp of the fruit. Recently, annatto has been included as an ingredient in weight-loss products.

Related Terms

Acetate, acetone, achiot (Spanish - Colombia), achiote (Spanish - Peru), achiote seeds, achiotillo, achiotin, annotta, annatto extract, annatto tree, aploppas, apocarotenoids, arnotta, arnotto (Native American), azo dyes, biche, bija, Bixa acuminata, Bixa americana, Bixa katangensis, Bixa odorata, Bixa orellana, Bixa platycarpa, Bixa purpurea, Bixa tinctoria, Bixa upatensis, Bixa urucurana, Bixaceae (family), bixin, brickdust, butter color, BXN, carotenoids, calcium sulfate, chalk, changuarica (Spanish - Mexico), colcothar, E160b, E number E160b, eroya, essential oil, false damiana, farinaceous matter, fat-soluble color, fatty acid, fiber, flag annotta, gypsum, ishwarane, jafara, kasujmba-kelling, kham thai, k'u-zub (Spanish - Mexico), lipstick tree, natural color, natural food color, norbixin, occidentalol, occidentalol acetate, ochre, onoto (Spanish - Venezuela), orellana, Orellana americana, orellin, orleana, Orleanstrauch (German), orucu-axiote, phosphoric acid, potassa, powdered bricks, pumacua (Mexico), red ochre, rocou (Dutch, French), roucou (French - Dominica and the French West Indies), roucouyer, ruku (Hungarian), sand, sand gypsum, silica, spathulenol, starchy bodies, sulfuric acid, terebinthinous body, tomentosic acid, Ultrabix™, unane, urucu (Portuguese - Brazil), urucum (Portuguese), urucu-üva, uruku, water-soluble color, (Z,E)-farnesyl acetate.

evidence table

These uses have been tested in humans or animals. Safety and effectiveness have not always been proven. Some of these conditions are potentially serious, and should be evaluated by a qualified healthcare provider.
Urinary disorders (benign prostatic hyperplasia) (Grade: D)
Patients with benign prostatic hyperplasia (noncancerous enlarged prostate gland) experienced no improvement following treatment with achiote compared with placebo. Additional high-quality clinical studies are needed before a firm conclusion can be made.