Peperomia Pellucida

Scientific Name(s): Peperomia pellucida L. HBK. Family: Piperaceae 1 , 2

Common Name(s): Shiny bush , silver bush , coracaozinho , lingua de sapo , erva-de-vidro , erva-de-jaboti , and erva-de-jabuti 2 , 3 , 4


The plant species has a history of ethnomedicinal use. Anti-inflammatory, chemotherapeutic, and analgesic properties have been found in crude extracts of P. pellucida .


None validated by clinical data.


Patients with known hypersensitivity reactions to any of the components of the plant species should avoid use.


Avoid use because of lack of clinical data. The plant species interferes with prostaglandin synthesis.


None well documented.

Adverse Reactions

The plant has a strong mustard-like odor and may cause asthma-like symptoms in patients with known hypersensitivity reactions to the plant species.


No clinical data have been reported on human toxicity. Animals tolerated 14 days of P. pellucida aqueous extract 5 g/kg with no adverse reactions or changes in behavior or weight. 2


The family Piperaceae comprises about 5 genera and 1,400 species. The genus Peperomia represents nearly half of the Piperaceae. P. pellucida L. HBK is a herbaceous plant found in many South American and Asian countries. The plant grows to a height of 15 to 45 cm, and its shiny light-green leaves are succulent, well spaced, and heart shaped. The species develops during rainy periods (often in the spring) and thrives in loose, humid soils under the shade of trees. 1 , 2 , 3 , 4


The plant has a rich history of medicinal use. Ethnomedicinal data in Bolivia from Alteños Indians document the whole plant being crushed, mixed with water, heated, and then orally administered to stop hemorrhage. The same reference documents a root decoction for treatment of fevers and mashed aerial parts applied topically or used as dressing for wounds. 5

P. pellucida has been used for treating abdominal pain, abscesses, acne, boils, colic, fatigue, gout, headache, renal disorders, and rheumatic pain, and to treat breast cancer, impotence, measles, mental disorders, and smallpox. It has been used in salads or as a cooked vegetable to help relieve rheumatic joint pain. 6 , 7

Other medicinal properties vary depending on region. In northeastern Brazil, the plant has been used to lower cholesterol; in Guyana, it has been used as a diuretic and to treat proteinuria; and in the Amazon region, it has been used as a cough suppressant, diuretic, and emollient, and to treat cardiac arrhythmia. 2 , 3 , 4


Numerous chemical investigations, primarily on the essential oils of the plant, are found in medical literature. One study identified 71 compounds from the essential oils of 10 Piperaceae species. Sesquiterpenes appear to be the major chemical constituents in the essential oils. Carotol (13.41%) was the major hydroxylated sesquiterpene in a chemical analysis of P. pellucida . Flavonoids, phytosterols, arylpropanoids (eg, apiols), substituted styrenes, and a dimeric ArC 2 compound or pellucidin A have been isolated. Antifungal activity has been documented for arylpropanoids such as the apiols. Other compounds, like the peperomins, have cytotoxic or anticancer activity in vitro. Isolated flavonoids include acacetin, apigenin, isovitexin, and pellucidatin. Isolated phytosterols include campesterol and stigmasterol. 1 , 4 , 8 , 9 , 10 , 11 , 12 , 13 , 14 , 15

Uses and Pharmacology

Reviews of P. pellucida document in vitro and animal data on the anti-inflammatory, chemotherapeutic, and analgesic properties found in the crude extracts.

Anti-inflammatory activity
Animal data

One study reported that anti-inflammatory activity may vary depending on the plant's development phases. Anti-inflammatory activity was evaluated by using the rat paw edema test induced by carrageenan. Eight Wistar rats received oral indomethacin 10 mg/kg as a control; another group of rats received P. pellucida aqueous extract 400 mg/kg for all 4 distinct phenophases 1 hour before subplantar injection of 1% carrageenan 0.1 mL/paw. Although indomethacin was more effective, greater anti-inflammatory action was documented with extracts from phenophase 1 and 2 during winter and spring, or vegetative and beginning-of-bloom stages, respectively. In a similar experiment, rats orally administered P. pellucida aqueous extract 200 and 400 mg/kg exhibited anti-inflammatory activity in the carrageenin test. The mechanism of action is associated with prostaglandin synthesis interference, as confirmed by results of an arachidonic acid-induced rat paw edema study. 2 , 3

Clinical data


Analgesic activity
Animal data

Most studies assessed analgesic activity by the abdominal writhing test using acetic acid or by the hot-plate test. The results suggest that the analgesic effect of P. pellucida is related to the mechanism of action associated with prostaglandin synthesis. In mice subjected to the acetic acid-induced writhing test, a P. pellucida extract exhibited analgesic activity at 400 mg/kg, inhibiting pain by 50% compared with controls. The same test, when repeated in another study, attained higher inhibition percentages (78%) when a methanolic extract of P. pellucida 210 mg/kg was used. The difference in results may be associated with use of different extracts, climatic conditions, and plant origin. An analgesic effect was observed in the hot-plate test at lower concentrations of 100 and 200 mg/kg, which may indicate extract activity against inflammatory and noninflammatory pain. 2 , 7

Clinical data


In vitro data

Crude methanolic extracts of P. pellucida had broad spectrum antimicrobial activity using the disk diffusion method. The fractions were more active than the crude extracts. 6 Other studies document similar results for activity against numerous species, including Bacillus subtilis , Escherichia coli , Pseudomonas aeruginosa , and Staphylococcus aureus . 16

In vitro data

Chloroform extracts from dried leaves of P. pellucida , particularly apiol and pachypophyllin, have antifungal activity against Trichophyton mentagrophytes . 10

In vitro and in vivo data

A whole plant extract inhibited growth of the chloroquine-resistant Plasmodium falciparum Indo strain by 95% in vitro at 100 mg/mL, and the rodent malaria Plasmodium vinckei petteri by 78% in vivo at 1,000 mg/kg. Monoterpenoid derivatives from the plant species Peperomia galioides have toxic activity against promastigote forms of Leishmania braziliensis , Leishmania donovani , and Leishmania amazonensis at a concentration of 25 mcg/mL and cause total lysis of the parasites at 100 mcg/mL. 5 , 17

Other pharmacologic activity

Cytotoxicity was observed in crude extracts from P. pellucida against the cancer cell lines HL-60, MCF-7, and HeLa. 8


None validated by clinical data.


Information regarding pregnancy and lactation is lacking. The plant species interferes with prostaglandin synthesis.


No drug interaction data could be found in medical literature. Theoretically, patients taking herbal preparations containing P. pellucida with analgesic or anti-inflammatory drugs should be wary of potential additive and adverse effects such as GI bleeding, constipation, and bruising.

Adverse Reactions

The plant has a strong mustard-like odor and may cause asthma-like symptoms in patients with known hypersensitivity reactions to the plant species.


Animals given P. pellucida aqueous extract 5 g/kg for 14 days showed no adverse reactions or changes in behavior or weight. No clinical data have been reported on human toxicity. 2


1. dos Santos PR , de Limas Moreira D , Guimaraes EF , Kaplan MA . Essential oil analysis of 10 Piperaceae species from the Brazilian Atlantic forest . Phytochemistry . 2001;58:547-551.
2. de Fatima Arrigoni-Blank M , Dmitrieva EG , Franzotti EM , Antoniolli AR , Andrade MR , Marchioro M . Anti-inflammatory and analgesic activity of Peperomia pellucida (L.) HBK (Piperaceae) . J Ethnopharmacol. 2004;91:215-218.
3. Arrigoni-Blank Mde F , Oliveira RL , Mendes SS , et al. Seed germination, phenology, and antiedematogenic activity of Peperomia pellucida (L.) H. B. K. BMC Pharmacol . 2002;2:12-19.
4. Bayma JD , Arruda MS , Müller AH , Arruda AC , Canto WC . A dimeric ArC 2 compound from Peperomia pellucida . Phytochemistry . 2000;55:779-782.
5. Muñoz V , Sauvain M , Bourdy G , et al. A search for natural bioactive compounds in Bolivia through a multidisciplinary approach: Part III. Evaluation of the antimalarial activity of plants used by Alteños Indians . J Ethnopharmacol . 2000;71:123-131.
6. Khan MR , Omoloso AD . Antibacterial activity of Hygrophila stricta and Peperomia pellucida . Fitoterapia . 2002;73:251-254.
7. Aziba PI , Adedeji A , Ekor M , Adeyemi O . Analgesic activity of Peperomia pellucida aerial parts in mice . Fitoterapia . 2001;72:57-58.
8. Xu S , Li N , Ning MM , Zhou CH , Yang QR , Wang MW . Bioactive compounds from Peperomia pellucida . J Nat Prod. 2006;69:247-250.
9. Moreira DL , De Souza PO , Kaplan MA , Guimaraes EF . Essential oil analysis of four Peperomia species (Piperaceae) . Acta Hortic . 1999;500:65-69.
10. Ragasa CY , Dumato M , Rideout JA . Antifungal compounds from Peperomia pellucida . ACGC Chem Res Commun . 1998;7:54-61.
11. Aqil M , Rahman FA , Ahmad MB . A new flavonol glycoside from Peperomia pellucida . Sci Phys Sci . 1994;6:141-143.
12. Aqil M , Khan IZ , Ahmad MB . Flavonoids from Peperomia pellucida . Sci Phys Sci . 1993;5:213-215.
13. Manalo JB , Han BH , Han YN , Park MH , Anzaldo FE . Studies on ether-soluble neutral compounds of Peperomia pellucida . Arch Pharm Res . 1983;6:133-136.
14. Oliveros-Belardo L . Some constituents of volatile oil of Peperomia pellucida . Perfum Essent Oil Rec . 1967;58:359-363.
15. da Silva MH , Zoghbi MG , Andrade EH , Maia JG . The essential oils of Peperomia pellucida Kunth and P. circinnata Link var. circinnata . Flavour Fragrance J . 1999;14:312-314.
16. Bojo AC , Albano-Garcia E , Pocsidio GN . The antibacterial activity of Peperomia pellucida (L.) HBK (Piperaceae) . Asia Life Sci . 1994;3:35-44.
17. Chan-Bacab MJ , Peña-Rodriguez LM . Plant natural products with leishmanicidal activity . Nat Prod Rep . 2001;18:674-688.

Copyright © 2009 Wolters Kluwer Health