Velvet leaf – proven medicinal benefits, uses

Velvet leaf

The scientific name of the velvet leaf is Cissampelos pareira Linn.

Scientific names Common names
Cissampelos argentea Kunth Abobo (C. Bis.)
Cissampelos auriculata Miers Bangbañgau (Ilk.)
Cissampelos discolor DC. Batang-batang (Tag.)
Cissampelos cumingiana Turcz. Gulagulamanan (Tag.)
Cissampelos pareira Linn. Hampapare (Bis.)
Cissampelos pareiroides DC. Himpapara (Bis.)
Kalaad (Ilk.)
Kalakalamayan (Tag.)
Kalkalaad (Ilk.)
Kauas (Sub.)
Kuskusipa (Ilk.)
Makabo-o (Tag.)
Malaruto (Ibn.)
Samang (Bon.)
Sampare (Bis.)
Sansau (Tag.)
Sinchao-sinchauan (Tag.)
Sinsau-sinsauan (Tag.)
Pareira root (Engl.)
China jute (Engl.)
Indian mallow (Engl.)
Velvet leaf (Engl.)
Other vernacular names
AYURVEDA: Laghupatha.
CHINESE: Xi sheng teng.
MALAYSIA: Gasing-gasing, Gegasing, Mempenang.
HINDI: Padh.

Velvet leaf is a slender, more or less hairy or nearly smooth, woody twiner. Leaves are oval or heart-shaped, 2 to 7 centimeters long, with a pointed or usually apiculate apex, cordate or subtruncate broad base, usually slightly peltate. Male panicles are slender, 3 to 6 centimeters long, hairy, usually diffuse, with very small, greenish flowers. Female racemes are 2 to 6 centimeters long, with green, kidney-shaped, 1- to 1.5-centimeters long bracts. Fruit is fleshy, nearly spherical, red, 5 to 7 millimeters in diameter, and somewhat hairy. Endocarp is transversely ridged, and tuberculate. Seeds are horse-shoe shaped.


– In thickets at low and medium altitudes.

– Pantropic.

– Found throughout tropical and subtropical regions of India, East Africa,and the American tropics.


– Main chemical constituents are alkaloids, arachidic acid, bebeerine, berberine, bulbocapnine, cissamine, cissampareine among many others.

– Roots yield pelosin or cissampeline (identical to berberine), and another alkaloid, serperine.

– Plant yields isoquinoline alkaloids; tetrandrine, the most documented of 38 alkaloids.

– A yellow, bitter matter is considered the active principle.

– Phytochemical screening yielded the presence of flavonoids, saponins, triterpenoids, alkaloids, proteins, gums, fatty oils, mucilage, carbohydrates, resins and tannins.

– Phytochemical screening of root extracts yielded terpenoids, alkaloids, tannins, amino acid proteins, and carbohydrates. (17)


– Roots considered diuretic, emmenagogue, emetic, febrifugal, lithotriptic, pectoral and purgative.

– Leaves are considered cooling, stomachic.

– Tetrandrine considered analgesic, anti-inflammatory and febrifuge.

– Berberine considered antifungal, hypotensive and antimicrobial.

Parts used

Whole vine, leaves, roots, seeds, bark.

Folkloric medicinal uses of the velvet leaf

– Pounded leaves used for snake bites, abscesses, and wounds.

– Leaves and roots used for treatment of ulcers.

– Leaves used for scabies.

– In India, used as stomachic. Tribal people use the plant to prevent pregnancy.

– Roots used as diuretic.

– Decoction or extract of the root is used for acute and chronic cystitis.

– In Mexico, infusion of roots used for nephritic colic and vesicular calculus.

– Root used as emmenagogue; for treatment of urinary and venereal diseases.

– Used for snake bites and scorpion stings.

– Used as tonic.

– In Reunion and Madagascar, used to dissolve stones.

– In some places in India, commonly used as antifertility agent.

– In South America, called Midwives’ herb, with its long history of use for women’s ailments.

– In the Amazon, used for menstrual cramps, menorrhagia, pre- and post-natal pains.

– In Guyana, poultice of leaves used topically for pain relief.

– The Creoles in Guyana soak the leaves, bark and roots in rum for use as aphrodisiac.

– In Peru, seeds used for snakebites, fevers, venereal diseases; as diuretic and expectorant. Also, leaf tea used for rheumatism and a wood-bark tea used for irregular heartbeats and excessive menstrual bleeding.

Other uses

– Rope: Bast fibers of the bark are made into rope.

– Fish poison: Roots are used as fish poison.

Scientific proven benefits and  uses of  velvet leaf

Antioxidant / Immunomodulatory:

Study of the alkaloidal fraction of roots of C. pareira showed immunosuppressive and antioxidant activities. The antioxidant activity may be due to the presence of both tetrandrine and berberine.

Gastrointestinal Effects / Antidiarrheal:

Study of the ethanolic extract of roots of CP exhibited a dose-dependent inhibition of castor-oil induced diarrhea while also significantly and dose-dependently reducing intestinal fluid accumulation and gastrointestinal transit.


Study of the leaf extract in female albino mice showed an antifertility effect, altering the pattern and prolonging the length of the estrous cycle with a significant increase in the duration of diestrus stage and significant reduction of number of litters. Hormone analysis showed altered gonadotropin release (LH, FSH and prolactin) and estradiol secretion.

Chemopreventive / Anti-Gastric Cancer:

Study of the hydroalcoholic extract of roots of CP forestomach cancer and carcinogen metabolizing enzymes showed the enhanced GSH level and enzyme activities involved in xenobiotic metabolism and maintenance of antioxidant status of the cells suggest a chemopreventive efficacy of CP against chemotoxicity, including carcinogenicity.

Chemopreventive / Anti-Gastric Cancer:

Study on the protective effects of CPE in mice showed a protective effect against induced gastric cancer with reduction of tumor incidence, significant reduction of mean number of tumor and significant reduction of tumor multiplicity.

Antinociceptive / Antiarthritic:

Study of aqueous extract of roots exhibited significant resistance against mechanical pain. It also showed significant dose-dependent protective effect against complete Freund’s adjuvant induced arthritis.


Study data indicate CP roots extract possesses significant anti-inflammatory activity without ulcerogenic activity suggesting a potential as an anti-inflammatory agent for use in inflammatory diseases.

Gastroprotective / Anti-Ulcer:

Study isolated a flavonoid, quercetin, from C. pareira, and showed significant antiulcer property against gastric ulcers in different acute models. C. pareira significantly enhanced the defense factors while significantly reducing the ulcer index in ethanol-induced ulcers.

Analgesic / Anti-Inflammatory:

Extract study showed significant dose-dependent activity in carrageenin testing, based on interference with prostaglandin synthesis, confirmed by arachidonic acid test. LD50 also showed low toxicity.

Tumor Inhibitors / Cytotoxicity:

Study yielded a new alkaloid, cissampareine and four other bisbenzylisoquinoline alkaloids. The alkaloid compounds showed significant and reproducible inhibitory activity against human carcinoma of the nasopharynx carried in cell culture (KB).


In a comparative evaluation of the diuretic potential of the methanolic root extracts of C. pareira, Cyclea peltata and Stephania japonica, all the extracts showed dose-dependent diuretic effects. (C. peltata showed the highest diuretic activity).

Study evaluated the diuretic activity of ethanolic extract of leaves in albino rats. Results showed significant increase in urine output along with increase concentration of sodium, potassium and chloride.


Study evaluated a methanolic extract of root for anti-inflammatory activity on carrageenan-induced paw edema in male albino rats. Results showed significant anti-inflammatory activity similar to ibuprofen and indomethacin.

Hepatoprotective / protects liver/ Carbon-Tetrachloride:

Study of hydroalcoholic extract of roots showed significant dose-dependent hepatoprotective action against CCl4-induced hepatotoxicity. Standard drug was silymarin.

Cissampeloflavone / Anti-Trypanosomal:

Study of aerial parts of Cissampelos pareira L. (Menispermaceae), isolated a chalcone-flavone dimer, 2-(4-hydroxy-3-methoxyphenyl)-7-(4-methoxyphenyl)-6-(2- hydroxy-4,6-dimethoxybenzoyl)-furano[3,2-g]benzopyran-4-one–named cissampeloflavone. The compound showed good activity against Trypanosoma cruzi and T. brucei rhodesiense.


Study of methanolic root extract exhibited dose-dependent antihyperglycemic activity in streptozotocin-induced diabetic rats.


Study of ethanol root extract yielded a large amount of polyphenols. Results showed compelling antioxidant activity in vitro and against stress induced by gastric carcinogen benzo(a)pyrene in vivo.


Study evaluated the methanolic extracts of important sources of the Ayurvedic drug Patha viz. roots of Cissampelos pareira var. hirsuta, Cyclea peltata, and Stephania japonica. The methanol extract of Cissampelos pareira var. hirsuta at dose of 200 mg/kbw showed significant antipyretic activity.

PM52 / Cognitive Benefits / Alzheimer’s Disease:

Study evaluated the protective effect of a combined extract of Cissampelos pareira and Anethum graveolens, against age-related cognitive impairment in animal model of age-related cognitive impairment. All doses of PM52 could attenuate memory impairment and neurodegeneration in the hippocampus, possibly through suppression of AChE and decreased oxidative stress in the hipoccampus. Results suggest a potential as food supplement to protect against age-related cognitive impairment like MCI and Alzheimer’s.


Study evaluated a leaf extract for potential anti-hyperglycemic activity in fructose-alloxan-induced diabetic rats. Results showed significant reduction in serum glucose and percent glycosylated hemoglobin. There was a significantly higher percent ß-cell granulation scores in CLE-treated animals. Enhancement of macrophage phagocytosis suggests a possible role in immuno-modulation.


Study evaluated the anthelmintic activity of the whole plant of Cissampelos pareira against earthworm using alcoholic and aqueous extracts in various concentrations. Both extracts showed significant activity with the aqueous extract being more effective.


Study evaluated the cardioprotective effect of C. pareira root extract on isoproterenol-induced cardiac dysfunction in rats. Results showed attenuation of isoproterenol-nduced cardiac dysfunction possibly through amelioration of carlcineurin activity and free radical formation, and by augmentation of enzyme activities.

Toxicological Screening:

A 50% aqueous ethanolic extract was found safe in acute and subacute toxicity screening.


Study showed Cissampelos pareira has antibacterial activity against both Gram positive and Gram negative bacteria. Phytochemical screening yielded alkaloids, flavonoids, tannins, terpenoids and steroids.

Anticancer / Dalton’s Lymphoma Ascites:

Study demonstrated C. pareira exhibited significant imputablein vitro cytotoxicity and in vivo antitumor activity against Dalton’s Lymphomas Ascites (CLA) cells in Swiss mice. Effect was attributable to increasing endogenous mechanisms of antioxidant property.

Anxiolytic /anxiety control /Leaves:

Study of a 70% hydroethanolic extract of leaves of Cissampelos pareira showed anxiolytic effect using elevated plus maze test, light dark model, and forced swim test models in rats.

Antimalarial / Roots:

Study of root extracts of Cissampelos pareira and stem extracts of Tinospora cordifolia for antimalarial activity showed significant inhibition of propagation of rodent parasite Plasmodium berghei in vivo.



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