Home Herbal Monograph False Pepper, False Black Pepper

Susruta described the fruit as anthelmintic, alterative and tonic and recommended its use along with liqorice root for the purpose of strengthening the body and preventing the effects of aging. Notes on the drug under the names of Birang-I-kabuli and Biranj-I-kabuli were found in Arabian writing. Dr. Harris (Lancet, July 23, 1887) had directed attention to the value of this drug as a remedy for tapeworm. He stated that he had administered it for several years with good results to natives of India and Europe.


It is found throughout India up to an altitude of 5,000 ft.

Morphology Description (Habit)

E.ribes is a large scandent shrub with slender branches and elliptic-lanceolate and gland-dotted leaves. The fruit is globular and wrinkled, varying in colour from dull red to nearly black; a short pedicel is often present; the pericarp is brittle enclosing a single seed covered with a membrane.

Principal Constituents

The plant contains embelin, quercitol, and fatty ingredients; an alkaloid, christembine, a resinoid, tannins and minute quantities of a volatile oil. Embelin occurs in golden yellow needles insoluble in water and soluble in alcohol, chloroform and benzene. It is reported to be effective against tapeworm but not against roundworm or hookworm. Embelin dyes silk and wool from an alcoholic solution. The dark colored fatty oil is reported to be similar to linseed and rapeseed oil in its properties1.


The compound embelin isolated from the berries has been reported to provoke significant anti-implantation and post-coital antifertility activity. The compound has been reported to induce sterility in mice, rats and dogs. It is a potential male antifertility agent. Spermatogenesis is impaired and sperm count reduced to the level of infertility. The antispermatogenic changes are found to be reversible without any toxic side effects. Significant normalization of all these processes are achieved after cessation of drug treatment2.

Embelin and its 2,5-isobutylmine salts have been reported to possess anti-inflammatory activity in carrageenan-induced paw edema and cotton pellet granuloma formation3.

Clinical Studies

Clinical studies were conducted with the alcoholic and aqueous extracts of the berries of E.ribes, obtained by percolation method, on 40 childern infected by ascarides. The alcoholic extract was found very effective in the treatment of 80 per cent of the cases while the aqueous extract cured 55 per cent cases, rendering the stools free from ova. The worms were expelled from the stools. No purging was required. No evidence of toxicity was observed during and after the treatment. There was a slight improvement in the hemoglobin percentage of the blood 4.


Aflatoxin B1(0.11 µg/g) is reported in the market samples of seeds. The samples should be properly checked for the presence of aflatoxin before being used for the preparation of drugs. Otherwise naturally occurring contamination may cause toxic effects5.


The dried fruit is considered anthelmintic, astringent, carminative, alterative and stimulant. It has been used in India since ancient times as an anthelmintic. It is effective in the treatment of ascariasis. The dried fruits are used in decoctions for fevers and for diseases of the chest and skin. The fruit also shows anti-bacterial activity.

  1. U.S.D., 1441; Krishna & Varma, Indian For . Bull., N.S., No. 102, 1941; Fieser & Chamberlin, J. Amer. chem. Soc., 1948, 70, 71; Kaul et. al., J. Indian chem. Soc., 1929. 6, 577; Mayer & Cook, 103.
  2. Prakash et. al., Phytother Res, 1992,6(1), 29; Gupta & Kanwar, Fitoterapia, 1990, 61, 138, 297; Gupta et. al., ibid, 1991, 62, 419; East Pharm, 199, 36(424), 68.
  3. Handa et. al., Fitoterapia, 1992, 63, 3; Chem Abstr, 1989, 111, 132870.
  4. Guru, L. V. and Mishra, D. N., J. Res. Ind. Med., 1966, 1, 47.
  5. Kumari et. al., Curr Sci, 1989, 58, 512.