Kankola (Piper cubeba) Medicinal uses and pharmacology

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Kankola- Piper cubeba is a herb mentioned in the ayurvedic pharmacopoeia for the treatment of cough, swelling, dysmenorrhea, erectile dysfunction and indigestion. In Ayurveda, it is used as the legal substitute for Musk. 

Latin name- Piper cubeba
Family- Piperaceae

Names in different languages:
Hindi name- Kababcheeni, Sheetalcheeni
English name- Tail pepper, Cubeb, Java pepper
Arabic name- Kababesini, Kababh, Kibabeh
Bengali name- Kababcheeni
Gujarathi name- Tadamiri
Kannada name- Bala menasu, Gandha menasu
Malayalam name- Valmulaku, Cheenamulaku
Marathi name- Himsimiri
Persian name- Kababcheeni, Kibabeh, Hab-el-arus
Tamil name- Valmulaku
Telugu name- Tokamiriyalu, Chalavamiriyalu


Sanskrit synonyms of Kankol: 
Gandha maricha, Sugandha maricha- Has strong and pleasant smell
Katuka Phala, Kola, Katuphala – spice
Bahuphala – the fruits appear in bunches
Maaricha, Sthoola maricha – slightly larger than the size of pepper
madyachoshita, Krutaphala, Kolaka,
Dveepa Maricha, Koshaphala, Madhavochita, Rudrasammita

Morphology of Piper cubeba:
Kankola is a climber with strong woody stem. The leaf is 5-6 inch long, cardiac shape and dark green colored. The flowers are small, found in clusters and unisexual. The fruits are little round and resemble pepper, strong flavored. The flowers and fruits are seen in the winter season. The fruits are gathered before they are ripe, and carefully dried. The dried pericarp is wrinkled, and its color ranges from grayish brown to black. The seed is hard, white and oily. The plant is seen and cultivated in South India especially in Kerala and Karnataka.


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Kankola medicinal Properties:
Rasa (Taste) – Katu (Pungent), Tikta (Bitter)
Guna (Qualities) – Laghu (Light for digestion), Ruksha (Dry in nature), Teekshna (Strong)
Vipaka – Katu (Undergoes Pungent taste after digestion)
Veerya (Potency) – Ushna (Hot)
Karma (Actions) – Kaphavata shamaka (reduces vitiated kapha and vata dosha)

Part used- Fruit
Powder- 1 to 3 g
Oil- 1 to 3 drops

Chemical composition:
Unripe fruit contains volatile oil (10– 20%) consisting of sesquiterpene hydrocarbons; lignans, mainly cubebine (about2%), with-cubebinin and kinokinin; cubebic acid. The oxygenated cyclohexanes, piperenol A and B, together with crotepoxide and   zeylenol, have been isolated from the fruit. Cubeb oil extracted from the fruit, is slightly greenish, but becomes colourless on rectification. It has the odour of Cubebs, and a warm aromatic comphoraceous taste. In addition fruits contain resinous matter ( gum, colouring matter, fixed oil, starch and nitrogenous substance. The plant also contains Piperine, Sesamin, Cubenin, Hinokinin, Clusin, Dihydrocubebin, Yatein, Cubebinionolide, Cubebinone, Isoyatein, Di-o-methyl thiyalplicatin methylether, two other Dibenzyl butyrolactone ligans and a Heptahydro naphthalene derivative.

Uses of Kankola:

  • The paste of the fruits of Kankola is made into paste and applied over area affected with swelling and pain.
  • The powder of the fruit is mixed with honey and applied over mouth ulcer and inflammation of the gums.
  • The powder of the fruit of Kankola is mixed with honey and consumed in a dose of 4 to 5 g to treat cough and sinusitis.
  • 3-5 drops of oil extracted from the plant of Kankola is mixed with a glass of warm water and consumed to treat indigestion and improve the appetite.
  • Intake of the fruit powder mixed with sugar candy and milk is beneficial to treat erectile dysfunction.
  • Cold infusion prepared from the fruit of Piper cubeba is consumed in a dose of 30-40 ml to treat dysmenorrhea and difficulty in micturition.
  • The powder of the fruit of Kankola is mixed with water and made into paste. This paste is applied over the male genital organ (penis) to promote sexual pleasure during coitus.
  • It is used as the Pratinidhi dravya – legal, traditional substitute for musk (Kasturi) – Reference: Bhavaprakasha.
  • Jatipushpa – Jasmine flower is the legal substitute for Kankola.


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Kankola – qualities and uses as per Ayurveda:
Laghu – light to digest

Teekshna – strong, piercing
Hrudya – acts as cardiac tonic, congenial for heart
Ruchiprada – improves taste perception
Deepana – improves digestion strength
Pachana – Digestive, relieves Ama Dosha

Indicated in –
Asyadaurgandhya – Halitosis, bad breath

Hrudroga – cardiac disorders
Krumi – worm infestation
Agnimandya – low digestion strength

Adverse effects of cubeb: Excess intake of Kankola can cause hyperacidity and regurgitation. It may increase Pitta Dosha.

Ayurvedic medicines containing Kankola:
Diureston tablet: It is a proprietary Ayurvedic medicine to treat renal calculi, retention of urine etc.

Bangshil tablet: It is a proprietary Ayurvedic medicine to treat genito-urinary tract infections, chronic vaginitis, cystitis and enlarged prostrate.

Kalamegha strong liquid: It is a proprietary Ayurvedic medicine used for liver and intestinal disorders. It is also used as an anti-pyretic, anthelmintic, blood purifier and liver tonic.

Femlin tablet: It is a proprietary Ayurvedic medicine to treat vaginitis, Leucorrhoea, Senile vaginitis, pelvic girdle pain, Trichomonas vaginitis, Gonococcal infection and other associated vaginal discharges.

Reprost capsule: It is a proprietary Ayurvedic medicine to treat Benign prostate hypertrophy, uraemia, anuria.

Haritakyadi rasayanam: It is an ayurvedic formulation in leha form used for the treatment of constipation, asthma and respiratory conditions. It is also known as Hareetakyadi Rasayanam Lehyam.

Jeerakarishtam: Jeerakarishtam is an effective medicine used in post natal care, indigestion, diarrhea and Irritable bowel syndrome.

Pugakhanda: It is an Ayurvedic medicine in granules form and is useful to treat vomitting, abdominal pain, dyspepsia, gastritis, bleeding diseases, anemia and constipation.

Khadiradi vati: It is a tablet used to treat bad breath, oral ulcers, diseases of teeth etc. It is advised to keep this tablet in mouth and swallow its pieces slowly.

Drakshasava: It is a liquid Ayurvedic Medicine, useful in cardiac disorders, hemorrhoids, fever, piles, fistula, indigestion, bleeding diseases, intestinal worms.

Research articles related to Piper cubeba:
Hepato- protective action: The present study was aimed at investigating the possible potential hepato-protective effects of the Piper cubeba ethanolic extract (PCEE) against CCl4-induced hepatic injuries in male Wistar rats. The dried fruits (500 g) were coarsely powdered and macerated in 3 L of 70% ethanol for 72 h using percolation method. The solvent was then removed at 40°C under reduced pressure in a rotatory evaporator. The Piper cubeba ethanolic extract (PCEE) was then suspended in distilled water just before its administration to the animals. Findings of this study demonstrated that PCEE is effective in prevention of CCl4-induced hepatic damage in rats.

Anti- oxidant activity: The present study was aimed to extract the phytochemical compounds in different solvent system in Piper nigrum and Piper cubeba. In preliminary screening and confirmatory test it was identified as alkaloid. High antioxidant activity was found in Piper cubeba ethanol extract i.e. 77.61±0.02% in comparison to Piper nigrum extracts with 74.61±0.02% with IC50 values10.54±0.12µg/mg and 14.15±0.02 µg/mg respectively.

This present study aims to investigate if P9605, an ethanolic extract of PIPER CUBEBA L, exhibits anti-estrogenic and anti-inflammatory properties. We found that P9605 significantly inhibited growth induced by beta-estradiol in MCF-7, a human breast cancer cell line. It inhibited aromatase activity, which is responsible for transforming androgens into estrogens. Competitive binding assays also indicated P9605 binding to both human recombinant estrogen a and beta receptors. Furthermore, this extract inhibited the activities of cyclo-oxygenases (COX-1 and COX-2) and 5-lipo-oxygenase (5-LOX), also it attenuated the induction of interleukin 6 (IL-6) in differentiated THP-1 cells stimulated by lipopolysaccharide (LPS). Taken together with our previous results, P9605 possesses anti-androgenic, anti-estrogenic and anti-inflammatory properties. These results support the potential use of P9605 in phytotherapy against benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH).


The anti-inflammatory activities of Piper cubeba (fruit), Physalis angulata (flower) and Rosa hybrida (flower) were determined by carrageenan-induced paw edema, arachidonic acid-induced ear edema and formaldehyde-induced arthritis in mice. The anti-allergic and analgesic activities of these plants were also studied by using 2,4-dinitrofluorobenzene (DNFB)-induced contact hypersensitivity reaction (type IV) and hot plate test in mice, respectively. These plant extracts clearly exhibited inhibitory effects against acute and subacute inflammation by oral administration (200 mg/kg). Also, administration (200 mg/kg, p.o.) of plant extracts for 1 week significantly inhibited type IV allergic reaction in mice (P<0.05). Rosa hybrida showed an analgesic effect against hot plate-induced thermal stimulation at a dose of 200 mg/kg. These results provide support for the use of Rosa hybrida in relieving inflammatory pain, and insight into the development of new agents for treating inflammatory diseases.



Classical categorization of Kankola
Bhavaprakasha- Karpooradi varga
Dhanvantari Nighantu- Chandanadi varga
Kaiyyadeva  Nighantu- Oushadhi varga
Raja Nighantu- Chandanadi varga


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