Popping pod / fever root – proven benefits, uses

fever root

The scientific name of the popping pod is Ruellia tuberosa Linn. It is also known as Bluebell, Cracker plant, Fever root, Meadow weed, Minnie root, Pink-striped trumpet lily, and Snapdragon root.

Other names include

CHINESE: Lu li cao.
FRENCH: Patate-chandelier, Patate-macaque.
SPANISH: Espanta suegras, Salta perico, Totes, Yuquilla.

Ruellia tuberosa is a low-growing perennial herb with tuberous roots, growing to a height of a foot or more. Leaves are opposite, elliptic, short petioled, abruptly narrowed at the base, with undulate margins and up to 12 centimeters long. Flowers are showy, with funnel-shaped, 5-lobed corolla, up to 5 centimeters across, and mauve or light bluish purple. Fruit is a pod with 7 to 8 seeds, bursting open and hurtling the seeds when it gets wet.


In open waste places in the many parts of the world.


– Leaves contain apigenin and luteolin.

– The seed oil yields myristic, capril and lauric acids.

– Study yielded flavonoids, glycosides, phenols, saponins and essential minerals with good nutritive value and secondary metabolites.

– Study for bioactive components of ethanol extract of tubers yielded 25 compounds viz. lupeol (68.14%), stigmasterol (8.89%), α-sitosterol (3.99%), sucrose (2.24%), cholest-5-ene, 3-bromo-, (3α- (2.24%), octadecane, 2-methyl- (2.10%), nonadecane, 2-methyl- (1.93%), eicosane, 2-methyl- (1.79%) heptacosane (1.43%) and heptacosane (1.29%). (see study)

– Phytochemical screening of various extracts of whole plant yielded steroids, triterpenoids, phenols, flavonoid, tannin, sugars. Physiochemical analysis yielded (%w/w) ash 13.53, acid insoluble ash 2.36, water insoluble ash 24.78, alcohol soluble extractive 7.67.

Medicinal Properties of Fever root

– Studies have suggested anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, antinociceptive, gastroprotective properties.

Parts used

Roots and leaves.

Ruellia root

Folkloric traditional medicine uses, benefits and remedies with fever root

• In Trinidad and Tobago, used as a “cooling” agent, for urinary problems and high cholesterol.

• In Suriname’s traditional medicine, used as anthelmintic; for joint pains and muscle strain. Also used as abortifacient. Root is used against kidney diseases and whooping cough. Infusion used for clenasing the blood.

• Root and leaf used for alleviating urinary retention.

• Used for gonorrhea, syphilis, bladder stones, bronchitis and cancer.

• In the Cayman Islands, used for heart ailments.

• In Grenada, used for common colds, fevers and hypertension.

• In the Dominican Republic, an ingredient in a concoction for a male potency drink.

• In Sri Lankan traditional medicine, used for stomach problems.

• In India leaf juice applied to scorpion bite sites.

Scientific proven health benefits and uses of popping pod

Antinociceptive / reducing sensitivity to painful stimuli/ Antiinflammatory/ reduces pain, inflammation or swelling:

Ethanol extract of Ruellia tuberosa showed antinociceptive and antiinflammatory activities with maximum time response against thermal stimuli similar to that of diclofenac and significant inhibition in serotonin and egg albumin-induced hind paw edema in rats. The antiinflammatory activirty was comparable to that of indomethacin.


Study showed that Rubellia tuberosa possesses potent antioxidant activity. The results provide information on its antioxidant related activity in its use in traditional folk medicine.

Bioactive Flavonoids / Cytotoxicity:

Ethanol extract study showed yielded five flavonoids –cirsimarin, cirsiliol 4′-glucoside, sorbifolin, pedalitin, along with betulin, vanillic acid, and indole-3-carboxaldehyde. Some compounds showed cytotoxicity against KB and HepG2 cell line.

Gastroprotective / Analgesic:

Study of crude aqueous extracts of Ruellia tuberosa roots in a rat alcohol-induced gastric lesion model showed a strong and dose-dependent gastroprotective activity. The extract also showed mild erythropoetic and moderate analgesic activities.

Hypolipidemic / Antioxidant:

Study evaluated a powdered form of an ethanolic extract of Ruellia tuberosa for antilipidemic and antioxidant effects in hypercholesterolemic rats. Results showed addition of the powdered extract as a feed supplement reduces plasma lipid levels (cholesterol, triglycerides, LDL-C, and VLDL) with increased HDL-C and decreased lipid peroxidation.

Antiproliferative / Antioxidant:

Study evaluated the antioxidant and antiproliferative activities of Ruellia tuberosa. An ethyl acetate leaf extract showed the highest radical scavenging activity. A methanol stem extract showed the highest anti-proliferative activity against MCF-7 cancer cells with IC50 of 22µg/ml.

Mosquito Larvicidal / Cx quinquefasciatus:

Study evaluated the mosquito larvicidal activities of crude extracts of four plants viz. Alternanthera sessilis, Tremna orientalis, Gardenia carinata, and Ruellis tuberosa against Culex quinquefasciatus. A. sessilis showed the highest mortality followed by Ruellia tuberosa.

Anti-Carcinogenic / Leaves:

Study evaluated the ati-carcinogenic activity and antioxidant property of R. tuberosa methanol leaf extract on HepG2 cell line and RAW 264.7 murine macrophage cell lysate. Results showed potent apoptogenic activity on HepG2 cell line and notable antioxidant activity on RAW 264.7 cell lysate.


Seeds and herbs in the markets.

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