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Ubi Jaga

Plant Part Used

Leaves, fruits and rhizomes

Active Constituents

Stigmasterol, sitosterol, campesterol. (1)

Introduction

Smilax myosotiflora is a herbaceous climber; the stem is slender but very tough and rigid, branching loosely, light green and very smooth. The plant has a presence of nodes and internodes about 2-15 cm long. Occasionally rooting occurs at the nodes and adheres to the ground. The leaves are lanceolate or broadly elliptic. The base of the leaf is broad and gradually cuneated or suddenly acuminated apex, 8-17 cm long, 2-15 cm broad, grass green on the adaxial side while paler green on the abaxial side of the leaf, densely veined, marginal nerves slightly thickened; petiol 7-25 mm long. The tendrils 6-13 cm long, slender, often becoming brownish. It’s inflorescence umbels and axillary together with tendrils, peduncles 1-4 cm long, pistilate umbels 8-14 flowered, staminate perianth yellow-green 3.5-4.2 mm long, 4-5 mm wide, connate, lobed to 2.5 from top; outer lobes oblong, 1.5 mm wide, inner lobe is half as long as the outer ones. (2) The plant is found in Siam, the Malay peninsular and Jawa, and has a great reputation as an aphrodisiac among the Malays and the jungle tribes alike, and by natural extension, it is regarded as a treatment for syphilis. The rhizome is eaten as an aphrodisiac, and the leaves and the fruits which are used internally for syphilis. (3)

Dosage Info

Dosage Range

No information is available.

Most Common Dosage

No information is available.

Standardization

No standard marker reported. Other standard profiles have been documented in the Malaysian Herbal Monograph. (4)

Toxicities & Precautions

General

No information is available.

Side Effects

No information is available.

Pregnancy/ Breast Feeding

Safety in pregnant and nursing women has not been established. The use of this herb should be avoided in pregnant and nursing women unless consulted with physician.

Age Limitations

Safety in young people and the elderly has not been established.

Pharmacology

Extracts from this plant possess significant activity against enterobacterial infections in humans. (5) Also, this plant was able to counteract the inhibitory effects of glycyrrhizic acid (active ingredient of liquorice) (6) and the deleterious effect of corticosterone (glucocorticoid) (7) on testicular 11â-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase oxidative activity, as well as plasma testosterone levels in intact rats. Further studies also show that this plant and deoxycorticosterone (corticosteroid) competitively blocked each other at the glucocorticoid receptor affecting the above oxidative activity and as such, administration of this plant counteracted the effects of deoxycorticosterone on plasma testosterone levels in normal rats. (8) In addition, this plant counteracted the effects of dexamethasone (glucocorticoid) on plasma testosterone and estradiol levels in normal rats. (9)

Reported Uses:

Uses reported in folk medicine, but not supported by clinical data:
The rhizome is consumed for aphrodisiac purposes while the leaves and the fruits are used for syphilis. (10)

References

  1. Hasnah O, Shaida SF. Sterols from the rhizomes of Malaysian Smilax myosotiflora ADC. Abstract of the International Conference on Traditional/Complementary Medicine, 13-15 November, Legend Hotel. Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. 2000:44.
  2. Zhari I, Norhayati I, Jaafar L. Malaysian Herbal Monograph. Volume 1, Malaysian Monograph Committee. Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. 1999.
  3. Burkhill IH. A Dictionary of the Economic Products of the Malay Peninsula. Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives. Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. 1966.
  4. Zhari I, Norhayati I, Jaafar L. Malaysian Herbal Monograph. Volume 1, Malaysian Monograph Committee. Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. 1999.
  5. Hasnah O, Sam TW, Norhayati I, Pazilah I. Antibacterial acitivity screening of a Smilax species used in traditional medicine. Abstract of the 15th Natural Product Seminar, 2-3 November, Universiti Sains Malaysia. 1999;24-25.
  6. Damayanthi D, Nwe KHH, Hamid A, Aminuddin AHK, Azman MAB. The effects of Ubi Jaga (Smilax myosotiflora) on rat testicular 11â-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase activity and plasma testosterone levels in the presence of glycyrrhizic acid. Abstract of the International Conference on Traditional/Complementary Medicine, 13-15 November, Legend Hotel. Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. 2000:36.
  7. Damayanthi D, Nwe KHH, Hamid A, Aminuddin AHK, Azman MAB. Abstract of the 11th International Congress of Endocrinology (ICE 2000), 29 October – 2 November, Sydney, Australia. 2000:16.
  8. Damayanthi D, Nwe KHH, Hamid A, Aminuddin AHK, Azman MAB. The effects of Ubi Jaga (Smilax myosotiflora) on rat testicular 11â-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase oxidative activity and plasma testosterone levels in the presence of deoxycorticosterone. Abstract of the 16th Scientific Meeting of the Malaysian Society of Pharmacology and Physiology, 25-26 June, International Medical University. Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. 2001:8.
  9. Damayanthi D, Azman MAB, Aminuddin AHK, Hamid A, New KHH. The effects of Smilax myosotiflora and dexamethasone on testicular 11â-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase oxidative activity and plasma hormonal levels in normal rats. Abstract of the 18th Malaysian Society of Pharmacology and Physiology Scientific Meeting, 28-29 April, Hospital UKM. Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. 2003:75-76.
  10. Perry LM. Medicinal Plants of East and Southeast Asia: Attributed Properties and Uses. Cambridge, Massachusetts and London, England: MIT Press; 1980.

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