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Stemona tuberosa


Roxburghia gloriosoides Roxb.; Roxburghia viridiflora Sm.; Roxburghia gloriosa Pers.; Roxburghia stemona Steud.; Stemona gloriosoides Voigt; Stemona acuta C.H. Wright; Ubium polypoides Rumph. [1]

Vernacular Names:

Malaysia: Galak Tua, Janggut Adam, Kemili Hutan, Ubi Kemili
Thailand:  Non Tai Yak
China:  Da Bai Bu
Korea:  Majunanpaekpu
Telagu:  Kaniputeega [1]

General Information


Stemona tuberosa is an elegant plant of the family Stemonaceae. The root is compounded of many, smooth, cylindric, fleshy tubers from 15-30 cm long tapering equally towards each end. The stems are twining, smooth and running over trees. Branches like the stem are round, smooth and slender. The leaves are sometimes alternate and sometimes opposite, petioled, nearly depending, cordate, fine-pointed, entire, smooth, shining, in substance soft and delicate, generally eleven-nerved, with beautifully very fine transverse veins running between the nerves; measures from 10-15 cm long and 7.5-10 cm wide. The petioles are slightly channeled, smooth measures 3-5 cm long. The peduncles axillary in shape, single,erect and the length of the petioles are generally two-flowered. The pedicels are clubbed and short. The bractes are one with lanceolate, at the abse of the pedicels. The flowers are large and beautiful but foetid. The calyx has four-leaves; leaflets lanceolate, membranaceous, striated, coloured, revolute and placed immediately below the petals. The corolla has four petals, nearly erect, lanceolate which the lower half is rather broader than the upper, and along its inside runs a deep, sharp, slightly waved keel, which forms on each side of it a deep groove, or hollow. These four keels converge and in some measure adhere together, which brings the side of the petals close so as to resemble a tube while the upper part of the petals is narrow, first bending out a little, then converging at their points. The nectary composed of four, lanceolate, yellow bodies, each sitting sessile on the apex of the keel of the petals, converging into one conical dome. There are no filaments. There are eight anthers, linear lodged in the grooves formed by the keel of the petals, adhering their whole length, but their chief insertion is near the base. The germ is superior, cordate, compressed, one-celled with many ovula attached to the bottom of the cell, cordate. There are no style.. The stigmas are pointed. The capsule is ovate in shape, compressed, one-celled, two-valved, opening from the apex; measures about 3 cm long and 2 cm broad. The seeds from five to eight inserted by pedicels into the bottom of the capsule, cylindric, striated; the pedicels are surrounded with numerous, small, pellucid vesicles. [1] 

Plant Part Used

Roots. The Chinese herb Bai bu (Radix Stemonae) is the dried root of Stemona sessilifolia , Stemona japonica or S. tuberose. [2]

Chemical Constituents

Stilbostemin B; Stilbostemin D; Stilbostemin B 3’-b-D-glucopyranoside; Stilbostemin H 3’-b-D-glucopyranoside; Stilbostemin I 3’-b-D-glucopyranoside; 3-hydroxy-2’,5-dimethoxy-2-methylbenzyl; neotuberostemonine; tuberostemonine; tuberostemonine H; tuberostemonine J; stemoenonine; 9a-O-methylstemoenonine; oxystemoenonine; 1,9a-seco-stemoenonine; oxystemoninine; stemoninoamide; stemoninine; stilbostemins N-Y; stemanthraquinone ; bisdehydrostemoninine; isobisdehydrostemoninine; bisdehydroneostemoninine; and bisdehydrostemoninines A and B; tuberostemonine K; tuberospironine; tuberostemonine; neotuberostemonine; croomine; and stemoninine; Alpha-1-C-hydroxymethylfagomine (7), 3-O-beta-D-glucopyranosyl-DMDP (12), and 2,5-dideoxy-2,5-imino-D-glucitol; tuberostemonine J ( 2), tuberostemonine H ( 3), epi-bisdehydrotuberostemonine J ( 4) and neostenine; 3,5-dihydroxy-4-methylbibenzyl, 3,5-dihydroxy-2'-methoxy-4-methylbibenzyl and 3-hydroxy-2',5-dimethoxy-2-methylbibenzyl. Tuberostemonine, stenine, oxotuberostemonine, stemonine, stemotinine and isostemotinine [4]

Traditional Used:

In Malaysia the roots are being used to treat cough and chest pains. [1] The Chinese recently recognized the anti-tussive activity and used it to treat cough related to acute or chronic bronchitis and bronchial asthma. [2] 

The paster of the roots of S. tuberosa in wine is applied on the scalp to treat infestations with lice. [2] 

The roots of S. tuberosa is believed to be effective against enterobiasis. The decoction of the roots is given in the form of enema to treat enterobiasis. 

Amongst the inhabitants of Langkawi, the tuberous roots of S. tuberosa is taken to revitalize the body and provide sexual stimulant effects. [3] 

Pre-Clinical Data


Antitussive & expectorative activity 

S. tuberosa roots has been extensively used in East Asia as a cough remedy. Recent researches done on the herb has lead to the isolation of a number of alkaloids that showed antitussive activities. Isolation of 5 stenine-type alkaloids from the roots of S. tuberosa where out of the five tuberstemonine and neostenine were found to have significant antitussive activity. It is also found that the saturated tricyclic pyrrolo[3,2,1- jk] benzazepine nucleus is the primary key structure contributing to the antitussive activity and all cis configurations at the three ring junctions are the optimal structure for the antitussive activity of stenine-type Stemona alkaloids. [4] Another study isolated 5 other stemonine type alkaloids and reported that bisdehydrostemonine had significant antitussive activity. [5] Further studies isolated another 5 minor alkaloids from the roots of S. tuberosa an found another two alkaloids with strong antitussive activity i.e. stemoninoamide compound and stemonine. [6] Apart from the stenine-type alkaloids, non-stenine type alkaloids too have significant antitussive activites and cited croomine and stemoninine. [7] 

Antimicrobial activity 

Dihydrostilbene 8 isolated from the roots of S. tuberosa exhibited strong antibacterial activity against Bacillus pumilus

Anticancer activity 

Amongst the reported traditional uses of S. tuberosa is its use in the treatment of cancerous growth. Investigation of the cytotoxic activity of the various extracts of the roots of S. tuberosa against medullary thyroid carcinoma cell lines. Results reported that the dichloromethan fraction showed strong apoptotic effects on human medullary thyroid carcinoma providing hope for patients suffering from this poorly chemotherapeutic responsice tumour. [8] 


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



Avoid an overdosage because of the slightly toxic effect of the herb. Oral administration of this herbal decoction in large amounts or an overdose causes heartburn, dryness of the mouth, nose, and pharynx, dizziness, chest discomfort, shortness of breath, anorexia, and paralysis of the respiratory center. [2] 

Case Reports

No documentation

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  1)  Botanical Info


  1. I. Norhayati, I. Zharil, A.M. Muzlifah. Malaysian Medicinal Plant Index. Kuala Selangor: Victus Semulajadi; 1999.61.
  2. P.H. Joseph, J. Youyu. The healing power of Chinese herbs and medicinal recipes. New York: Howorth Press; 2005.370–372.
  3. Dr. Abdul Ghani Hussain – Unpublished research paper 2001.
  4. H.S. Chung, P.M. Hon, G. Lin, P.P. But, H. Dong. Antitussive activity of Stemona alkaloids from Stemona tuberosa. Planta Med. Oct2003;69(10):914-920.
  5. L.G. Lin, Q.X. Zhong, T.Y. Cheng, C.P. Tang, C.Q. Ke, G. Lin, Y. Ye. Stemoninines from the roots of Stemona tuberosa. J Nat Prod. Jul2006;69(7):1051-1054.
  6. L.G. Lin, K.M. Li, C.P. Tang, C.Q. Ke, J.A. Rudd, G. Lin, Y. Ye. Antitussive stemoninine alkaloids from the roots of Stemona tuberosa. J Nat Prod. Jun2008;71(6):1107-1110.
  7. Y.T. Xu, P.M. Hon, R.W. Jiang, L. Cheng, S.H. Li, Y.P. Chan, H.X. Xu, P.C. Shaw, P.P. But. Antitussive effects of Stemona tuberosa with different chemical profiles. J Ethnopharmacol. 3Nov2006;108(1):46-53.
  8. Z. Li, S. Sturm, H. Stuppner, E. Schraml, V.A. Moser, V. Siegl, R. Pfragner. The dichloromethane fraction of Stemona tuberosa Lour inhibits tumor cell growth and induces apoptosis of human medullary thyroid carcinoma cells. Biologics. Dec2007;1(4):455-463. 

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