Piper cubeba Medicinal uses and pharmacology

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Piper cubeba is a herb used for the treatment of cough, swelling, dysmenorrhea, erectile dysfunction and indigestion. In Ayurveda, it is used as the legal substitute for Musk. 

Latin name- Piper cubeba
Family- Piperaceae



Morphology of Piper cubeba:

Piper cubeba is a climber with strong woody stem. The leaf is 5-6 inch long, cardiac shape and dark green colored. The flowers are small, found in clusters and unisexual. The fruits are little round and resemble pepper, strong flavored. The flowers and fruits are seen in the winter season. The fruits are gathered before they are ripe, and carefully dried. The dried pericarp is wrinkled, and its color ranges from grayish brown to black. The seed is hard, white and oily. The plant is seen and cultivated in South India especially in Kerala and Karnataka.


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Part used- Fruit
Powder- 1 to 3 g
Oil- 1 to 3 drops

Chemical composition:
Unripe fruit contains volatile oil (10– 20%) consisting of sesquiterpene hydrocarbons; lignans, mainly cubebine (about2%), with-cubebinin and kinokinin; cubebic acid. The oxygenated cyclohexanes, piperenol A and B, together with crotepoxide and   zeylenol, have been isolated from the fruit. Cubeb oil extracted from the fruit, is slightly greenish, but becomes colourless on rectification. It has the odour of Cubebs, and a warm aromatic comphoraceous taste. In addition fruits contain resinous matter ( gum, colouring matter, fixed oil, starch and nitrogenous substance. The plant also contains Piperine, Sesamin, Cubenin, Hinokinin, Clusin, Dihydrocubebin, Yatein, Cubebinionolide, Cubebinone, Isoyatein, Di-o-methyl thiyalplicatin methylether, two other Dibenzyl butyrolactone ligans and a Heptahydro naphthalene derivative.

Uses of Piper cubeba (Piper cubeba )

  • The paste of the fruits of Piper cubeba is made into paste and applied over area affected with swelling and pain.
  • The powder of the fruit is mixed with honey and applied over mouth ulcer and inflammation of the gums.
  • The powder of the fruit of Piper cubeba is mixed with honey and consumed in a dose of 4 to 5 g to treat cough and sinusitis.
  • 3-5 drops of oil extracted from the plant of Piper cubeba is mixed with a glass of warm water and consumed to treat indigestion and improve the appetite.
  • Intake of the fruit powder mixed with sugar candy and milk is beneficial to treat erectile dysfunction.
  • Cold infusion prepared from the fruit of Piper cubeba is consumed in a dose of 30-40 ml to treat dysmenorrhea and difficulty in micturition.
  • The powder of the fruit of Piper cubeba is mixed with water and made into paste. This paste is applied over the male genital organ (penis) to promote sexual pleasure during coitus.
  • It is used as the Pratinidhi dravya – legal, traditional substitute for musk (Kasturi) 
  • Jatipushpa – Jasmine flower is the legal substitute for Piper cubeba.


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Adverse effects of cubeb: Excess intake of Piper cubeba can cause hyperacidity and regurgitation. 



Research articles related to Piper cubeba:
Hepato- protective action: The present study was aimed at investigating the possible potential hepato-protective effects of the Piper cubeba ethanolic extract (PCEE) against CCl4-induced hepatic injuries in male Wistar rats. The dried fruits (500 g) were coarsely powdered and macerated in 3 L of 70% ethanol for 72 h using percolation method. The solvent was then removed at 40°C under reduced pressure in a rotatory evaporator. The Piper cubeba ethanolic extract (PCEE) was then suspended in distilled water just before its administration to the animals. Findings of this study demonstrated that PCEE is effective in prevention of CCl4-induced hepatic damage in rats.

Anti- oxidant activity: The present study was aimed to extract the phytochemical compounds in different solvent system in Piper nigrum and Piper cubeba. In preliminary screening and confirmatory test it was identified as alkaloid. High antioxidant activity was found in Piper cubeba ethanol extract i.e. 77.61±0.02% in comparison to Piper nigrum extracts with 74.61±0.02% with IC50 values10.54±0.12µg/mg and 14.15±0.02 µg/mg respectively.

This present study aims to investigate if P9605, an ethanolic extract of PIPER CUBEBA L, exhibits anti-estrogenic and anti-inflammatory properties. We found that P9605 significantly inhibited growth induced by beta-estradiol in MCF-7, a human breast cancer cell line. It inhibited aromatase activity, which is responsible for transforming androgens into estrogens. Competitive binding assays also indicated P9605 binding to both human recombinant estrogen a and beta receptors. Furthermore, this extract inhibited the activities of cyclo-oxygenases (COX-1 and COX-2) and 5-lipo-oxygenase (5-LOX), also it attenuated the induction of interleukin 6 (IL-6) in differentiated THP-1 cells stimulated by lipopolysaccharide (LPS). Taken together with our previous results, P9605 possesses anti-androgenic, anti-estrogenic and anti-inflammatory properties. These results support the potential use of P9605 in phytotherapy against benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH).


The anti-inflammatory activities of Piper cubeba (fruit), Physalis angulata (flower) and Rosa hybrida (flower) were determined by carrageenan-induced paw edema, arachidonic acid-induced ear edema and formaldehyde-induced arthritis in mice. The anti-allergic and analgesic activities of these plants were also studied by using 2,4-dinitrofluorobenzene (DNFB)-induced contact hypersensitivity reaction (type IV) and hot plate test in mice, respectively. These plant extracts clearly exhibited inhibitory effects against acute and subacute inflammation by oral administration (200 mg/kg). Also, administration (200 mg/kg, p.o.) of plant extracts for 1 week significantly inhibited type IV allergic reaction in mice (P<0.05). Rosa hybrida showed an analgesic effect against hot plate-induced thermal stimulation at a dose of 200 mg/kg. These results provide support for the use of Rosa hybrida in relieving inflammatory pain, and insight into the development of new agents for treating inflammatory diseases.




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