Medical Herbs Catalogue



Botanical Name: Piper cubeba (LINN.)
Family: N.O. Piperaceae
Synonym: Tailed Pepper.
Part Used: The dried, full-grown, unripe fruit.
Habitat: Java, Penang, and other parts of East Indies.

Description: A climbing perennial plant, with dioecious flowers in spikes. The fruit is a globose, pedicelled drupe. It is extensively grown in the coffee plantations, well shaded and supported by the coffee trees. Odour aromatic and characteristic- taste strongly aromatic and pungent and somewhat bitter. Commercial Cubebs are often adulterated with other fruits containing a volatile oil, but with very different properties. There is no evidence that the plant was known to the ancients, though it was probably brought into Europe by the Arabians, who doubtless employed the fruit as pepper.

Constituents: 10 to 18 per cent of volatile oil, also resins, amorphous cubebic acid and colourless crystalline cubebin. By extraction with ether yields about 22 per cent of oleoresin.

Medicinal Action and Uses: Stimulant, carminative, much used as a remedy for gonorrhoea, after the first active inflammatory symptoms have subsided; also used in leucorrhoea, cystitis, urethritis, abscesses of the prostate gland, piles and chronic bronchitis.

Preparations and Dosages: Infusion: 1 OZ. of Cubebs to 1 pint of water is sometimes used as an injection in discharge from the vagina. In the treatment of gonorrhcea it is usually given in capsule form combined with copaiba, etc. Powdered fruit: dose, 1/2 to 1 drachm. Oil, 5 to 30 drops. Fluid extract, 1/4 to 1 drachm.

Cubebs should be freshly prepared as the oil evaporates; the powder is often adulterated with pimento. The crushed fruit should turn crimson with the addition of sulphuric acid and give a mace-like smell; this experiment will detect any adulteration.