Piper cubeba L.f.

Last updated: 04 May 2016

Scientific Name

Piper cubeba L.f.


Cubeba cubeba H.Karst., Cubeba officinalis Raf., Cubeba pipereta Raf. [1]

Vernacular Name

Malaysia Kekumus, kemukus, lada berekor, [2] lada ekor, cabai berekor, cabai ekor [3]
English Cubeb pepper, cubebs, Java pepper, tailed cubebs, West African black pepper, [2] cubeb, tailed pepper [3]
China Bi cheng qie, pi cheng chi’eh [2]
India Ainnilam, alankaram, aranukam, arenu, arenu-gam, arenukam, aripalugam, aripalukam, atturati, autaci-yamilaku, avattam, baala menasu, balamenasu, balmenasu, calani, calavamiriyalu, calini, caluvamiriyamu, catavikam, catavikamilaku, catuttam, cavika, cevviyam, chalava-miri-yalu, chaluva-miriyalu, chaluvamiriyaalu, chanakbab, china-munchi, chinimulaku, cikkam, cinamilaku, cinamnnci, cinamulagu, cinatiksna, cinaviram, ciniamulaku, cinorana, cubab chinie, cur, curam, curamilaku, curmilaku, elava-lukam, gandha-menasu, gandha menasu, gandhamenasu, habb-ul-arus, hima simire, ilatai, ilepam, illi, kaapoorcheenee, kabab chini, kabab-chini, macati, maceti, malukam, nalvaci, pimpli, pipli, ponkam, renuka, sheetal-shini, shital-chini, sital-chini, takkolam, takkolamilaku, thandi chini, vaal milagu, vaalmilagu, val milagu [2]
Indonesia Kemukus, rinu, [2] temukus (Java); rinu katenchar, rinu charuluk (Sunda) [3]
Tibet Kakola [2]
Madagascar Sakaiala, tsimalatsaka [2]
Arabic Kababa hindiya, kababa tchini, kababah, kebbaba, kubaba [2].

Geographical Distributions

Piper cuceba came into trade from Malay Archipelago in about the seventh century, and was used then in Europe as a spice. The supplies then came from wild plants but it has been cultivated from time to time in Peninsular Malaysia though not in a persistent way. [3]

Botanical Description

P. cubeba is a member of Piperaceae family. [1] It is a climbing shrub that grows to a height of 1 m. [4]

The stems are glabrous, articulate and succulent. [4]

The leaves are simple and alternate. It petiole is measure about 1.5-1.7 cm in length, velvety, and channelled. The blade is broadly elliptic, velvety underneath, very thin, and measure of 11 cm x 6.4-8.5 cm x 4.8 cm. The apex of blade is acuminate, while the base is asymmetrical and cordate. The margin is wavy with 5-7 pairs of secondary nerves which are appeared on both surfaces. [4]

The inflorencences are 4 cm x 3 mm spikes. [4]


No documentation.

Chemical Constituent

The dried P. cubeba fruits contain terpenes, sesquiterpenes and lignans (e.g. dibenzylbutyrolactone lignin (-)-cubebin. [4]

A lignan profile of P. cubeba from Indonesia has revealed 13 lignans found in the fruits, 15 in the leaves and only five lignans in the stalk. The structures of the lignans are very biodiversed comprising of furanofuran lignans commonly found in the genus Piper such as cubebin, hinokinin, yatein, isoyatein, and neolignans with an unusual structure such as kadsurin A and piperenone. Other lignans reported elsewhere are: cubebininolide, cubebinone, thujaplicatin trimethylether, cubebinin, clusin, 5-methoxyclusin, 5’-methoxyhinokinin, 2-(3’’,4’’-methylenedioxybenzyl)-3(3’,4’-dimethoxybenzyl) butyrolactone, ascantin, sesamin, dihydrocubebin, hemiarensin, dihydroclusin, β-O-ethylcubebin, α-O-ethylcubebin, heterotropan, magnosalin and 4-hy droxycubebinone. [5]

P. cubeba seeds extract has been reported to contain (-)-cubebin derivative compounds namely (e.g. (-)-O-Acetyl cubebin, (-)-O-benzyl cubebin, (-)-O-(N,N-dimethylaminoethyl)-cubebin, (-)-hinokinin,   (-)-6,6’-dinitrohinokinin, and (-)-6,6’-diaminohinokinin. [6][7]

Five methylenedioxyphenyl lignans, (-)-clusin, (-)-dihydroclusin, (-)-yatein, (-)-hinokinin, and (-)-dihydrocubebin, were isolated from dried fruits of P. cubeba as potent and selective inhibitors against cytochrome CYP3A4. [8]

Plant Part Used

Entire plant and fruits [3]

Traditional Use

P. cubeba is used in mixtures given as a tonic during confinement. Other, P. cubeba is used as an aphrodisiac. Due to its stimulant, antiseptic and diuretic actions on the mucous membrane of the genitourinary organs, it has been used for a long time to treat gonorrhoea. It is also prescribed to relieve fever, asthma, sunstroke, vomiting, rheumatism, malaria, leucorrhoea and peripheral neuritis. This plant is used in Taiwan to treat gonorrhoea and diabetes. This plant is used to stimulate the appetite and to aid digestion. However, prolonged use may cause diarrhoea. In Indonesia, P. cubeba is present in native medicines to treat venereal disease, dysentery and other intestinal disorders. [3]

In China, the fruits are known to be a stomachic and a carminative. They are used as a remedy for vomiting, abdominal disorders, indigestion and amoebic dysentery. The fruit is also ingested to treat coughs, bronchitis, sinusitis, sore throats and genitourinary infections. [3]

Preclinical Data


Anti parasitic activity

P. cubeba seed extract has been demonstrated anti parasitic activity against Trypanosoma cruzi infection. The results showed that (-)-hinokinin is the most active compound with an IC50 value of 0.7 mM, similar to that displayed by benznidazole (0.8 mM). The data obtained showed P. cubeba as a very important potential source for obtaining new lead compounds for the treatment of Chagas’ disease. [6]

Analgesic and anti-inflammatory activity

In an attempt to further improve the analgesic and anti-inflammatory activity of cubebin, the derivatives of cubebin were partially synthesized and their possible activities evaluated. The three derivatives; (-)-O-acetyl cubebin, (-)-O-methyl cubebin and (-)-O-dimethylethylamine cubebin (30 mg/kg) isolated from P. cubeba extract, administered orally 30 minutes before the injection of carrageenin, inhibited the formation of oedema by 68%, 65% and 70%, respectively, 3 hours after the injection of the inflammatory stimulus. In conclusion, these compounds showed anti-inflammatory and analgesic activities similar to that observed for the NSAIDs. [9]

In other study, anti-inflammatory activities were determined by carrageenan-induced paw oedema, arachidonic acid-induced ear oedema and formaldehyde-induced arthritis in mice. The result showed that methanolic extract of this herb caused 45% inhibition of oedema as compared to the control group. In the case of the effect of the plant extract on DNFB-induced delayed-type hypersensitivity, P. cubeba showed significant inhibitory effect after oral administration daily for seven days at a dose of 200 mg/kg. [10]


No documentation.

Clinical Data

Clinical findings

No documentation.


No documentation.

Interaction & Depletion

No documentation.

Interaction with drug

P. cuceba interacts with antacids, H2 blockers and proton pump inhibitor. [11]

Interaction with other Herbs

No documentation.


P. cubeba may irritate the gastrointestinal (GI) tract, contraindicated in individuals with infectious or inflammatory GI conditions. [11]

P. cubeba is contraindicated in individuals with nephritis. [11]

Case Report

No documentation.


No documentation.

Poisonous Management

No documentation.

Line drawing

No documentation.


  1. The Plant List. Ver1.1. Piper cubeba L.f. [homepage on the Internet]. c2013 [updated 2012 Mar 23; cited 2016 May 04]. Available from http://www.theplantlist.org/tpl1.1/record/kew-2557647
  2. Quattrocchi U. CRC world dictionary of medicinal and poisonous plants: Common names, scientific names, eponyms, synonyms, and etymology. Volume IV M-Q. Boca Raton, Florida: CRC Press, 2012; p. 587-588.
  3. Herbal Medicine Research Centre, Institute for Medical Research. Compendium of medicinal plants used in Malaysia. Volume 2. Kuala Lumpur: HMRC IMR, 2002; p. 226-227.
  4. Wiart C. Medicinal plants of The Asia-Pacific: Drugs for the future?. Singapore: World Scientific Publishing, 2006; p. 42.
  5. Elfahmi, Ruslan K, Batterman S, et al. Lignan profile of Piper cubeba, an Indonesian medicinal plant. Biochem Sys Ecol. 2007;35(7):397-402.
  6. de Souza VA, da Silva R, Pereira AC, et al. Trypanocidal activity of (-)-cubebin derivatives against free amastigote forms of Trypanosoma cruzi. Bioorg Med Chem Lett. 2005;15(2):303-307.
  7. da Silva R, de Souza GH, da Silva AA, et al. Synthesis and biological activity evaluation of lignin lactones derived from (-)-cubebin. Bioor Med Chem Lett. 2005;15(4):1033-1037.
  8. Usia T, Watabe T, Kadota S, Tezuka Y. Metabolite-cytochrome P450 complex formation by methylenedioxyphenyl lignans of Piper cubeba: Mechanism-based inhibition. Life Sci. 2005;76(20):2381-2391.
  9. Souza GH, da Silva Filho AA, de Souza VA, et al. Analgesic and anti-inflammatory activities evaluation of (-)-O-acetyl, (-)-O-methyl, (-)-O-dimethylethylamine cubebin and their preparation from (-)-cubebin. Farmaco. 2004;59(1):55-61.
  10. Choi Em, Hwang JK. Investigations of anti-inflammatory and antinociceptive activities of Piper cubeba, Physalis angulata and Rosa hybrida. J Ethnopharmacol. 2003;89(1):171-175.
  11. Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database. Piper cubeba. [homepage in the Internet]. c1995-2016 [updated 2016 May 5; cited 2016 May 04]. Available from http://naturaldatabase.therapeuticresearch.com/nd/Search.aspx?cs=&s=ND&pt=9&Product=piper+cubeba&btnSearch.x=10&btnSearch.y=4.