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Uncaria gambir (Hunter) Roxb.


Nauclea gambir Hunter, Nauclea acida Hunter, Ourouparia gambir Baill., Uruparia gambier et Uruparia acida Kuntze [3]

Vernacular Names

Malaysia Gambir
English White Cutch, Gambier
China Er Cha Gou Teng
Indonesia Sontang (Batak); Gambie (Minangkabau); Gabi, Gagabere (Halmahera); Gambe (Ternate); Gambir (Java); Gambhir (Madura)
India Gambir, Pal Catechu (Bengal)
Japan  Asen Yaku
Germany Gambirpflanze
France Gambier [3][5][9]

General Information


Uncaria gambir is a member of the Rubiaceae family. It is a stout, scandent shrub. The leaves are opposite, short-petioled, from ovate-oblong, to ovate-lanceolate with entire margins and acute apex. It is glabrous on both sides and measures 10cm x 5cm. The stipules are oblong, uniting the upper margins of the base of the petioles. The tendrils are axillary, solitary, or in opposite pairs, simple, recurved, and hooked. The peduncles are axillary, solitary jointed and bracted at the middle, supporting a single globular head of green and pink small aggregate corollets. The corollets are tubular and filiform; border of five obtuse divisions, villous on the outside and hairs in the centre of the inside. The filaments are short and the anthers are large, on the mouth of the tube. Germ beneath, turbinate, sub-sessile, sericeous. The style is long as the tube or the corolla and the stigma is cleavate. The capsules are pedicelled, clavate, longitudinally grooved, crowned with the five-cleft permanent calyx, two-celled, two valved. The seeds are numerous, imbricated and winged. [1]

Plant Part Used

Leaf extract [2][4][6][7]

Chemical Constituents

(+)catechin; (-)epicatechin; catechins; catechol; catechutannic acid; catechu red; dihydrogambirtannine; ellagic acid; gallic acid; gambirdine; gambir-fluorescein; gambiriin A1, A2, B1, B2; gambiriin C; gambirine; gambirtannine; oxofambirtannine; procyanidin B1; procyanidin B3; quercetin; uncarine B [4-6][8][9]

Traditional Used:

Gambir is officinal in the British Pharmacopoeia where it is known as pale catechu. It is an astringent very useful in the treatment of inflammatory conditions. Gambir forms part of the ingredient of the betel quid a masticatory enjoyed by villagers east of Arabia [2][4][6][7]

Gastrointestinal diseases

It is an excellent immediate remedy for diarrhoea and dysentery in villages where the culture of betel leaf chewing is still being practised. It is also a stomachic good for dyspeptic complaints especially those accompanied with pyrosis. The drug is best taken just before food for this purpose. It has been used to treat jaundice and aphthous ulcers of the mouth [2][4][6][7]

Other diseases

It is used to arrest epistaxis and bleeding haemorrhoids by applying locally. Some had advocated its use in treating cough, boils, sores, ulcers and sore-throat [2][4][6][7]

Pre-Clinical Data 


Antimicrobial activity

In a screening exercise of 38 medicinal plants for their antibacterial activity, U. gambir was one of those with activity against E. coli O157:H7 [10]


Gambir had been implicated with the formation of oral and oesophageal carcinoma [11]

Teratogenic effects

No documentation

Clinical Data

Clinical Trials

No documentation

Adverse Effects in Human:

No documentation

Used in Certain Conditions

Pregnancy / Breastfeeding

No documentation

Age Limitations

Neonates / Adolescents

No documentation


No documentation

Chronic Disease Conditions

No documentation


Interactions with drugs

No documentation

Interactions with Other Herbs / Herbal Constituents

No documentation



No documentation

Case Reports

No documentation


  1. Roxburgh W. Flora Indica: Description of Indian Plants, Volume 1. Calcutta: 1832; W. Thacker and Co. p. 517 – 519
  2. Hariana HA. Tumbuhan Obat dan Khasiatnya: Seri Pertama. Jakarta: 2004; Niaga Swadaya. p. 144.
  3. Hanelt P, Buttner R. Mansfeld’s Encyclopedia of Agricultural and Horticultural Crops. Berlin: Springer- Verlag; 2001. p. 1768.
  4. Kokate CK, Purohit AP, Gokhale SB. Pharmacognosy. Pune, india: Nirali Prakashan; 2008. p. 9.17.
  5. Zhou J, Xie G, Yan X., Encyclopedia of Traditional Chinese Medicines Volume 5. Berlin: Springer-Verlag; 2011. p. 188.
  6. Khan IA., Abourashed EA. Leung’s Encyclopedia of Common Natural Ingredients: Used in Food, Drugs and Cosmetics. Hoboken: John Wiley & Sons; 2010. p. 38.
  7. Brown OP. Complete Herbalist Volume 1. New Delhi: Logos Press; 2009. p. 93.
  8. Chan KC. Gambirdine and isogambirdine, the alkaloids from Uncaria gambir (Hunt) Roxb. Tetrahedron Lett. 1968 Jun;(30):3403-6.
  9. Taniguchi S, Kuroda K, Doi K, Inada K, Yoshikado N, Yoneda Y, Tanabe M, Shibata T, Yoshida T, Hatano T. Evaluation of gambir quality based on quantitative analysis of polyphenolic constituents. Yakugaku Zasshi. 2007 Aug;127(8):1291-300.
  10. Voravuthikunchai S, Lortheeranuwat A, Jeeju W, Sririrak T, Phongpaichit S, Supawita T. Effective medicinal plants against enterohaemorrhagic Escherichia coli O157:H7. J Ethnopharmacol. 2004 Sep;94(1):49-54.
  11. Morton JF. Widespread tannin intake via stimulants and masticatories, especially guarana,kola nut, betel vine, and accessories. Basic Life Sci. 1992;59:739-65.

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