Alugbati is a succulent, branched,
smooth, twining herbaceous vine, several meters in length. Stems are
purplish or green. Leaves are somewhat fleshy, ovate or heart-shaped, 5 to 12
centimeters long, stalked, tapering to a pointed tip with a cordate base. Spikes
are axillary, solitary, 5 to 29 centimeters long. Flowers are pink, about 4 millimeters long. Fruit is fleshy, stalkless, ovoid
or nearly spherical, 5 to 6 millimeters long, and purple when mature.
- Found in settled areas, in hedges, old cultivated areas, etc., throughout the Philippines.
- Often cultivated.
- Prehistoric introduction.
- Also occurs in tropical Asia, Africa, and Malaya.
• Phytochemical screening of various extracts yielded cardiac glycosides, saponins, tannins, flavonoids, terpenoids, carbohydrates, and reducing sugars.
• Study isolated Basellasaponins A, B, C, and D, oleanane-type triterpenes
oligoglycosides, together with betavulgaroside 1, spinacoside C, and momordins IIb and IIc, from fresh aerial parts.
• Leaves yield saponin, vitamin A and B.
• Fruit yields mucilage and iron.
• Study of wild Basella rubra showed it to be abundant in carotene, middle in vitamin C, and low in nitrate. Nitrate in planted B. rubra is about twice that of the wild variety.
• Aperient, demulcent, diuretic, emollient,
• Mucilaginous when cooked.
• Studies exhibited androgenic, antidiabetic, anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, antioxidant, antiulcer, antiviral, CNS depressant, hepatoprotective, and wound healing activities.
Edibility / Nutrition
- Common market product,
a popular leafy and stew vegetable, and a good substitute for spinach.
- The green and purple cultivated varieties are preferable to the wild
- Both the young shoots and stems are eaten.
- Excellent source of calcium and iron; good source of vitamins A, B,
and C, with a high roughage value.
- Roots are employed as
- Poultice of leaves used to reduce local swelling.
- Sap is applied to acne eruptions to reduce inflammation.
- Decoction of leaves used for its mild laxative effects.
- Pulped leaves applied to boils and ulcers to hasten suppuration.
- Sugared juice of leaves useful for catarrhal afflictions in children.
- Leaf-juice, mixed with butter, is soothing and cooling when applied
to burns and scalds.
- In India, used in hemorrhagic diseases and as tonic. Also used for burns and pruritic skin lesions. In Orissa, India, paste of root in rice water taken in the morning on an empty stomach for a month to cure irregular periods.
- In Nigeria, leaves used for hypertension. In Cameroonian folk medicine, used for malaria.
- Mucilaginous liquid obtained from the leaves and tender stalks used for habitual headaches.
- In Ayurveda, used for
hemorrhages, skin diseases, sexual weakness, ulcers and as laxative
in children. Leaves applied on the head for half a hour before bathing to help bring about a good refreshing sleep. Sap is applied to acne eruptions to reduce inflammation. Decoction of leaves used for a mild laxative effect. Pulped leaves applied to boils and ulcers to hasten suppuration. Leaf juice mixed with butter applied to burns and scalds for a soothing and cooling effect. Leaves and stems have been used as anticancer for melanoma, leukemia, and oral cancer.
- Roots and leaves used for the removal of after birth, stomach pains, and increase milk production.
- Used orally for anal prolapse and hernia.
- In Nigeria, used for hypertension. (37) Also used for fertility
enhancement in women.
- In Nepal, leaf juice is used to treat dysentery, catarrh, and applied externally to boils.
- In Thai traditional medicine, the mucilage is used as application for bruises, ringworm, and laboring. Stem and leaves used as mild laxative, diuretic and antipyretic.
- In Cameroon used for malaria. (37) Herbal healers use plant extracts to enhance libido and as remedy for infertility.
- In Antilles leaves considered good maturative as cataplasm.
- In Thai traditional medicine, mucilage is used as topical medicine for skin irritation, bruises, ringworm, and laboring. (37)
Cosmetic: Fruit used by women as rouge for cheeks and lips; also as a dye.
Dye: With the anthocyanin content, it makes for a natural food colorant.
Fruit provides a dark violet color as food colorant.
Veterinary: Ground leaves rubbed on the human hand to introduce the preparation into the animal vagina every morning for the treatment of sterility.
Pharmaceuticals: Plant mucilage has been proposed for applications in medicine and cosmetics. The mucilage has also been proposed as thickener, water-retention agent, gelling agent, suspending agent and film former.
/ Natural Food Colorant : Study
of pigment extracted from fruits of spinach vine (B. rubra) showed good
stability with a potential as a natural food color. (1)
• Antifungal: Study yielded two
antifungal peptides with potent activity against Botrytis cinerea, Mycosphaerella
arachidicola and Fusarium oxysporum. (4)
• Antimicrobial / Leaves: A study of the aqueous, ethanolic and petroleum ether extracts of the leaves of Basella rubra exhibited antimicrobial activity against all test organisms except P aeruginosa. The ethanolic extract showed maximum effect against E coli. Further studies are needed to isolate the active compound responsible for the antimicrobial effect. (6)
• Hypoglycemic / Leaf Pulp: A study of STZ-induced diabetic rats fed with Basella rubra showed the leaf pulp of B. rubra possesses a strong hypoglycemic effect. (7)
• Volatile Flavor Components: Study identified volatile flavor components. The major components from the volatile oil were: 1-methoxypropane, (Z)-3-hexen-l-ol, 3-methoxyphenyl acetate, acetophenone, 4-vinylguaiacol, isophytol, and phytol. (8)
• Dyestuff / Microbiological Stain: Study showed the anthocyanin extracted from Basella rubra berries produced a stain comparable with synthetic stains like crystal violet and safranin, and can be used as an alternative microbiological stain. (9)
• Antidiabetic / Antioxidant: Study evaluated the action of B. rubra against streptozotocin-induced diabetes in rats. Results showed effective reduction of oxidative stress induced by streptozotocin and potential reduction in blood sugar level. (12)
• Antihyperglycemic / Antioxidant: Study evaluated an aqueous extract of B. rubra for antihyperglycemic activity in STZ-induced diabetic rats. Phytochemical screening showed a rich source of phytonutrients, including enzymic and nonenzymic antioxidants. Results concluded the aqueous extract exhibited significant antihyperglycemic activity. (14)
• Haematologic Effects / Amylase Activity: Study evaluated various extracts for hematologic parameters on Swiss mice and amylase activity on Wistar rats. Results showed an increase in the haematological parameters (RBC, WBC, Hb, and PCV). There was also an increase in amylase content. Results suggest potential use to prevent various complications in diabetes. (15)
• Antiulcer Activity / Antioxidant: Study evaluated the antiulcer activity of an aqueous extract of B. rubra leaves on ethanol and pylorus ligated-induced gastric ulcers in rats. Results showed significant and dose-dependent antiulcer activity and present a potential use in the treatment of gastric ulcers. (16)
• Fruit / Betacyanin / Antioxidant: Betacyanin extracted from the B alba fruit exhibited excellent antioxidant activity, beneficial in scavenging free radicals. (18)
• Antimicrobial / Leaves and Stems: Study evaluated various extracts of leaves and stems for antimicrobial activity against Gram-positive and Gram-negative bacteria and fungi. Methanol and aqueous extracts of stems showed maximum activity against S. typhi and P. vulgaris. Ethanol extracts of leaves and stems showed highest inhibition of B. subtilis and S. typhi. Antifungal activity was shown against A. niger, C. albicans and R. stolonifers. (21)
• Cytotoxic / Antibacterial: Study evaluated the cytotoxic and antibacterial activity of Basella alba whole plant extract. A methanolic extract showed significant growth inhibition on human cancer cell lines and moderate activity against Pseudomonas aeruginosa and Bacillus subtilis. (23)
• Gastroprotective / Leaf Extracts: Study of aqueous and ethanol extracts of leaves were investigated for antiulcer activity on rats in pylorus ligated and ethanol induced ulcer models. Results showed significant dose-dependent gastroprotective effect substantiated by histopathological examination of ulcerated stomachs of the animals. (24)
• Increased Testosterone and Estradiol Production: Study evaluated a methanol extract of Baselia alba (MEBa) for cell viability, steroid production, and level of aromatase mRNA. Results showed no effect on Leydig cell viability. There was significant stimulation of testosterone and estradiol production and enhanced aromatase mRNA level. (25)
• Antiurolithiatic / Calcium Oxalate / Leaves: Study of leaves extract of Basella alba showed admirable dissolving capacity of calcium oxalate crystals in vitro. (27)
• Mucilage Suspending Properties / Leaves: Study evaluated the suitability of mucilage isolated from leaves of Basella alba leaves as suspending agent. Results showed B. alba leaves possess properties to be used as a suspending agent, and superior than both tragacanth and bentonite. (28)
• Burn Wound Healing / Leaves: Study evaluated an aqueous extract of leaves of B. alba formulated as a gel for burn wound healing activity. Results showed significant improvement in burn wound contraction. (29)
• Nephroprotective / Gentamycin Induced Renal Toxicity: Study evaluated an ethanolic extract of B. alba on gentamycin induced nephrotoxicity in Wistar albino rats. Results showed the extract protected GM-induced nephrotoxicity, possibly by enhancing renal antioxidant agent. (30)
• Antimicrobial / Antioxidant / Leaves: Study evaluated dried and powdered leaves of B. alba for antioxidant and antimicrobial activity. Results showed high activity in removing free radicals by DPPH (72.3 ± 5.98) and ABTS (78 ± 4.04). 100 mg/m extract showed high activity against bacterial strains. (32)
• Hypocholesterolemic / Antiatherosclerotic / Leaves: Study evaluated the hypocholesterolemic and antiatherosclerotic effects of B. alba leaf extracts in hypercholesterolemia induced rabbits. Treatment significantly lowered TC, LDL, and triglycerides and increased HDL and antioxidant enzymes SOD and GPx levels. Treatment also significantly suppressed aortic plaque formation. Results suggest a potential alternative therapy for hypercholesterolemia and atherosclerosis. (33)
• Positive Effect on Vitamin A Stores: Daily consumption of cooked, pureed green leafy vegetables or sweet potatoes has a positive effect on vitamin A stores in populations at risk of vitamin A deficiency. (34)
• Hepatoprotective / Lead Induced Hepatotoxicity / Leaves: Study evaluated an ethanolic extract of B. alba leaves on lead-induced hepatotoxicity in male Wistar rats. Results showed significant reduction of alkaline phosphatase, AST, and ALT while glutathione was siginificantly increase. (35)
• Anti-Inflammatory / Leaves: Study evauated the anti-inflammatory activity of B. alba leaf extract in experimentally induced inflammation in rats (carrageenan induced paw edema and cotton pellet granuloma). Results showed significant and effective dose dependent anti-inflammatory activity. (36)
- Cultivated vegetable
- Seeds in the cybermarket.