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Piper cubeba, or tailed pepper, is a plant in genus Piper, cultivated for its fruit and essential oil. It is mostly grown in Java and Sumatra, hence sometimes called Java pepper. The dried pericarp is wrinkled; its color ranges from grayish-brown to black. The seed is hard, white and oily.
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Botanical Names
Piper cubeba
Indian Names
Sanskrit Kankol Hindi Kababchini Gujarati Kankol, tadmire Marathi Chavak, Sugandh muricha Bengali Sitalachini,Kabab chini Kannada Gantamenasu Malayalam Vaalmilagu Tamil Val-milaku
Chemical Constituents
The dried cubeb berries contain essential oil consisting monoterpenes (sabinene 50%, α-thujene, and carene) and sesquiterpenes (caryophyllene, copaene, α- and β-cubebene, δ-cadinene, germacrene), the oxides 1,4- and 1,8-cineole and the alcohol cubebol. About 15% of a volatile oil is obtained by distilling cubebs with water. Cubebene, the liquid portion, has the formula C15H24. Cubebin is a crystalline substance present in cubebs. It may be prepared from cubebene, or from the pulp left after the distillation of the oil. The drug, along with gum, fatty oils, and malates of magnesium and calcium, contains also about 1% of cubebic acid, and about 6% of a resin. Two lignans, cubebin and hinokinin, were isolated from the hexane extract of P. cubeba; and one bis-epoxy lignan, (−)-sesamin, and two amides, pellitorine and piplartine, were isolated from the hexane and methanol extracts of P. retrofractum. Cubebin and piplartine showed significant antileishmanial activity in vitro at 100 μM and were further tested in vivo in a hamster model of visceral leishmaniasis. Piplartine showed activity at 30 mgkg dose. This is the first report of antileishmanial activity of these two plants and their isolated constituents (2).
Pesticide Limits
A limit for pesticide is one of the major issues in standardization of medicinal plants and products in view of the worldwide widespread use of pesticides in cultivated plants. The presence of pesticides in extracts increase the health risk by many folds. The pesticides can be extremely irritant on skin as well as in the internal organs hence it is essential to monitor its concentration as a part of GMP. Various analytical methods for the quantitative determination of pesticides by gas chromatography coupled with mass-spectrophotometer are in use. Konark Research Foundation (KRF), a NABL certified lab is well equipped with the latest technology and instruments and monitors the pesticide limit as part of its GMP.
Chromatographic Profile
From the pharmacopoeial perspective, a better quality control of raw material can be achieved by specifying quantitative test procedure for the determination of the range or a minimum content of the active ingredient or marker substances. A chromatographic finger profile represents qualitative quantitative determination of various components present in a complex plant extract, irrespective whether or not their exact identity is known. Thin layer chromatographic technique is the simplest and least expensive method that provides plenty of information on the composition of raw herbs and its preparation. For quantitative analysis of active ingredients or marker substances with simultaneous separation and detection High Pressure liquid chromatography is the best technique. We use the latest model of HPLC for all its analysis.
Limits of Impurities
A test requirement for foreign organic matter would ensure the extent of contamination of extraneous matters such as filth and other parts of botanicals not covered by the definition of the herbal drug. Since sand and soil are predictable contaminants of botanicals, test requirements for ‘total ash’, water soluble ash’, ‘acid soluble ash’, residue on ignition and sulphated ash would be expected to limit such contaminants. Test requirement for heavy metals in botanical raw material are probably more relevant for parts of plants growing under ground than for the aerial parts of the plant. The presence of high levels of minerals interacts with the final product there by affecting its keeping quality.
Microbial Limits
If the raw herbs are to be used directly without boiling in water prior to consumption, restrictive limits on microbial contaminants are required for pathogens such as Salmonella sp. Enterobacter and E. coli which are causative agent for various gastrointestinal diseases. A lower level of yeasts and molds and a limit on total aerobes are considered appropriate in plant material for topical use. The presence of aflatoxins detected by chemical means is generally independent of the number of viable molds that are detected using microbiological methods. Aflatoxins in microgram quantity are capable of giving serious hypersensitivity reactions which can be extremely harmful to human health
Pharmacology
In India, Charaka and Sushruta prescribed a cubeb paste as a mouthwash, and the use of dried cubebs internally for oral and dental diseases, loss of voice, halitosis, fevers, and cough. In traditional Chinese medicine cubeb is used for its alleged warming property. A small percentage of cubeb was commonly included in lozenges designed to alleviate bronchitis, in which the antiseptic and expectoral properties of the drug are useful. The most important therapeutic application of this drug, however, was in treating gonorrhea, where its antiseptic action was of much value. An ethanolic extract of Piper cubeba exhibits anti-estrogenic and anti-inflammatory properties. It significantly inhibited growth induced by β-estradiol in MCF-7, a human breast cancer cell line. Piper cubeba extract possesses anti-androgenic, anti-estrogenic and anti-inflammatory properties. These scientific study reports support the potential use of Piper cubeba extract in phytotherapy against benign prostatic hyperplasia (4) The crude ethanol extract from Piper cubeba seeds, cubebin and its semi-synthetic derivatives had shown good antibacterial activity against oral pathogens. The crude ethanol extract was more active against Streptococcus salivarius. The natural product cubebin and its semi-synthetic derivative hinokinin displayed bacteriostatic activity as well as fungicidal activity against Candida albicans. The O-benzyl cubebin derivative showed fungistatic and fungicidal effects against C. albicans. Also, the other dibenzylbutyrolactone derivatives displayed bacteriostatic and fungistatic effects at the evaluated concentrations (3). The extracts of Piper cubeba were also found to be active in vitro against promastigotes of Leishmania donovani, and exhibited significant in vitro activity at 100 μgml (2)
Health Benefits
The fruits are used as a spice and have also been used for the treatment of abdominal pain, asthma, diarrhea, dysentery, gonorrhea, enteritis and syphilis and have also been reported to have an inhibitory effect on hepatitis C virus protease. Scientist has demonstrated significant anti-inflammatory and analgesic activities of the methanolic extract from fruits of P. cubeba.
Research References
1. Eun-Mi Choi, Jae-Kwan Hwang Investigations of anti-inflammatory and antinociceptive activities of Piper cubeba, Physalis angulata and Rosa hybrida Journal of Ethnopharmacology Volume 89, Issue 1, November 2003, Pages 171-175 2. Hardik S. Bodiwala, Gaganmeet Singh, Ranvir Singh, Chinmoy Sankar Dey, Shyam Sundar Sharma, Kamlesh Kumar Bhutani and Inder Pal Singh Antileishmanial amides and lignans from Piper cubeba and Piper retrofractum Journal of Natural Medicines Volume 61, Number 4, 418-421, DOI 10.1007s11418-007-0159-2 3. M. L. A. Silva, H. S. Coímbra, A. C. Pereira, V. A. Almeida, T. C. Lima, E. S. Costa, A. H. C. Vinhólis, V. A. Royo, R. Silva, A. A. S. Filho, W. R. Cunha, N. A. J. C. Furtado, Carlos H. G. Martins, T. C. Carvalho, and J. K. Bastos. Evaluation of piper cubeba extract, (-)-cubebin and its semi-synthetic derivatives against oral pathogens Phytotherapy Research 21(5)420–422 2007 4. Piper cubeba Demonstrates Anti-Estrogenic and Anti-Inflammatory Properties Jianying Yam1, 2, Alexei Schaab2, Matthias Kreuter2, Juergen Drewe1