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Basella alba L.



Basella cordifolia Linn, Basella lucida Linn.

Vernacular Names:

Malaysia: Remayong, Gendola, Gandola.[1]

Ceylon Spinach, Indian Spinach, Malabar Nightshade, Malabar Spinach, Vine Spinach.[1]


La Kui, Yan Zhi Dou, Teng Cai, Hong Teng Cai, Hua Cai, Ruan Jin cai.[1]


Jingga, genjerot, gendolak, gendurek, uchi-uchi.[1]

Sundanese: Lembayung.[1]
Thai: Pak prang.[1]

Grana, Libato.[2]

General Information


This herb grows wild in Africa and Asia. Its occurrence in forests and shady places is rather rare, and it is mainly confined to the drier regions. It is cultivated in Malaysia.[1] 

This is a fast growing perennial climber, growing up to 9m in length and belongs to the Basellaceae family. It is a valuable vegetable that can be cultivated from either seeds or cuttings. The stem is green and leaves are fleshy, ovate or heart-shaped, 5-12cm long, stalked, tapering to a pointed tip with a cordate base. The inconspicuous, bisexual white flowers are borne on axillary spikes or branching peduncles, The fruits are fleshy, stalkless, ovoid or spherical in shape, 5-6mm long, purple when mature.[2] The juice is sometimes used as a dye for official seals, as a rouge on the facial skin and as a food colouring.[3][4]

Plant Part Used

Leaves, young stems, matured fruits, roots.[2][5]

Chemical Constituents

Analysis of the dried leaves revealed the following composition (per 100 g of dried leaves): Protein (20%), Fat (3.5%), Carbohydrate (54%), Fibre (9%) and Ash (19%). 

The leaves contain a high level of calcium (3000mg) and are rich in vitamins A (50mg), Thiamine (B1) (0.7mg), Riboflavin (B2) (1.8mg), Niacin (7.5mg) and C (1200mg);[6] betacyanins, oxalic acid, flavonoids such as acacetin,7,4-dimethoxy kaempferol and 4’-methoxy isovitexin and phenolic acids like vanilla, syringic and ferulic acids.[4] 

The fruits contain betacyanins, gomphrenin I, II & III.[4]

Traditional Used:

The plant has been known to be a demulcent, a diuretic and an emollient and is thus used to treat wounds. The entire plant is used in Chinese medicine where it has been claimed to reduce fever and neutralise poison.[1] 

The pulped or bruised leaves are used as a poultice for ulcers and to hasten the maturation of abscesses. A decoction of the leaves is believed to have laxative properties, and is used to treat constipation in pregnant women and children. The extract mixed with Hibiscus rosa-sinensis is given to pregnant women as a safe aperient. The decoction is believed to alleviate labour pains.[1] 

In Java, the extract of the fruit is used to treat conjunctivitis, and, in the Philippines, the roots are used for its rubefacient properties. The roots are also used as a poultice to reduce swellings.[1] 

An ethnomedicine survey in southern India revealed that Basella alba is one of the plants used for the treatment of apthae. This is considered a new claim for the treatment of oral ailments not previously reported in the ethnomedicinal literature of India.[7]

Pre-Clinical Data


Androgenic activity

A group of researchers studied the androgenic effects of methanol extracts of the leaves of Hibiscus macranthus (Malvaceae) and Basella alba (Basellaceae) on adult rat and bull Leydig cells. The in vitro cell culture results showed that only the methanol extract of Basella alba caused a significant increase in production of testosterone after 12 h exposure to rat Leydig cells. Phytochemical analysis demonstrated the presence of terpenoid or steroid compounds in the methanol fractions which has to be further studied to elucidate the structure of compounds responsible for androgenic activity.[6][8]

Nutritional activity

A study to assess quantitative changes in total body stores of vitamin A by using the paired deuterated-retinol dilution (DRD) technique before and after 60 days of supplementation with an orange tuber (sweet potatoes), a green leafy vegetable [(Basella alba); local name: pui sak], or an equivalent amount of synthetic vitamin A, which was provided as either retinyl palmitate or b-carotene in oil, to determine the relative efficacy of plant sources of vitamin A for improving vitamin A status in Bangladeshi men.[9] 

To optimise the bioavailability of b-carotene, the sweet potatoes and Basella alba were prepared by following standardised recipes. The results of the study showed that estimates of vitamin A equivalency factors based on relative changes in plasma b-carotene concentration between the synthetic b-carotene group and the vegetable groups were similar to those based on relative changes in vitamin A pool size between the retinyl palmitate group and the vegetable groups. This suggests that absorption and bioconversion of b-carotene to retinol are directly related within the range of pool sizes in populations with low to adequate initial vitamin A pool sizes; however, this requires further investigation. The study concluded that daily consumption of cooked, pureed green leafy vegetables or sweet potatoes has a positive effect on vitamin A stores in population at risk of vitamin A deficiency. Further research is needed to assess the effects of food preparation techniques, intestinal parasites, and initial vitamin A status on the efficacy of plant sources of vitamin A for improving vitamin A status.[9]


No documentation

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

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  1) Botanical Info


  1. Herbal Medicine Research Centre, Institute for Medical Research, Kuala Lumpur. Compendium of Medicinal Plants Used in Malaysia. 2002; 1:103-104.
  2. Philippine Medicinal Plants. Accessed on 19 May 2007.
  3. Tropilab Inc. Accessed on 5 Sep 2007.
  4. Daniel, M. Medicinal Plants: Chemistry and Properties. Science Publishers, New Hampshire, USA. 2006; pp 198.
  5. Plants For A Future Accessed on 21 Nov 2007.
  6. Moundipa, P.F. et al. Effects of Basella alba and Hibiscus macranthus extracts on testosterone production of adult rat and bull Leydig cells. Asian J. Androl. 2005; 7(4): 411-417.
  7. Hebbar, S.S., Harsha, V.H., Shripathi, V. and Hegde, G.R. Ethnomedicine of Dharwad district in Karnataka, India—plants used in oral health care. J. Pharmacol. 2004; 94(2-3): 261-266.
  8. Moundipa, P.F. et al. Effects of extracts from Hibiscus macranthus and Basella alba mixture on testosterone production in vitro in adult rat testes slices.[My paper] Asian J. Androl. 2006; 8(1):111-114.
  9. Haskell, M.J. et al. Daily consumption of Indian spinach (Basella alba) or sweet potatoes has a positive effect on total-body vitamin A stores in Bangladeshi men. Am J. Clin. Nutr. 2004; 80:705–714.

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