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Family Smilacaceae
Smilax bracteata Presl.

Yuan zhui ba qian

Scientific names Common names
Smilax blancoi Kunth Banag (Ilk., Tag., Ig.)
Smilax bonii Gagnep. Banagan (Bis.)
Smilax bracteata Presl. Banal (Ig.)
Smilax divaricata Blanco Barag (Pamp.)
Smilax fistulosa Blanco Kamagsa-obat (Tag.)
Smilax Iyi H.Lév Hampas-tigbalang (Bis.)
Smilax phyllantha Gagnep. Kolot-babui (Tag.)
Smilax stenopetala A.Gray Romas (Pamp.)
Smilax trukensis Hosok. Sarsaparilla vine (Engl.)
Smilax bracteata C.Presl is an accepted name. The Plant List

Other vernacular names
BORNEO: Tongkung.
CHINESE: Yuan zhui ba qian.
VIETNAMESE: Kim cang la hoa, Cam cang hoa chuy.

Gen info
Similax is a genus of about 300 to 500 species, found in temperate, tropics and subtropic zones worldwide.

Banag is a climbing woody vine reaching a height of several meters, occasionally to the canopy of trees it climbs. Stems are armed with few to many stout spines. Leaves are elliptic to oblong-ovate, 8 to 13 centimeters long, the base broadly rounded or slightly cordate, and the apex shortly and abruptly acuminate. Umbels are many flowered, about 2 centimeters in diameter. Flowers are fragrant, greenish-yellow, and about 5 millimeters long. Berries are globose, 5 to 8 millimeters in diameter, black when mature.

- In thickets and secondary forests at low and medium altitudes in Benguet, Pangasinan, Bulacan, Rizal, Bataan, Laguna and Quezon Provinces in Luzon.

- Methanolic extract from rhizomes yielded six new phenolic compounds: (2S,3S)-5-O-β-d-glucopyranosyloxy-6-methyl-3‘-methoxy-3,7,3‘-trihydroxyflavan (1), (2S,3S)-5-O-β-d-glucopyranosyloxy-6-methyl-4‘-methoxy-3,7,4‘-trihydroxyflavan (2), 3β-(3‘,5‘-dihydroxyphenyl) 2α-(4‘‘-hydroxyphenyl)dihydrobenzofuran-5-carbaldehyde (3), (1-p-O-coumaroyl-6-O-feruroyl)-β-d-fructofuranosyl-α-d-glucopyranoside (4), (1-p-O-coumaroyl-3,6-di-O-feruroyl)-β-d-fructofuranosyl-α-d-glucopyranoside (5), and (6-O-feruroyl)-β-d-fructofuranosyl-(6-O-acetyl)-α-d-glucopyranoside (6). (1)
- Ethanolic extract yielded six phenylpropanoid glycosides, smilasides G-L (1-6), along with four known phenylpropanoid compounds, helonioside A, heloioside B, smilaside E, and (1-p-O-coumaroyl-6-O-feruroyl)-beta-d-fructofuranosyl-alpha-d-glucopyranoside, and 14 known phenolic compounds. (see study above) (2)
- Rhizomes yielded five compounds: 5,7-dihydroxy-chromone-3-O-α-L-rhamnopyranoside (1), resveratrol (2), astilbin (3), neoisoastilbin (4), catechin (5). (4)
and - Study yielded major secondary metabolites: one aromatic compound seselin (1) and two steroids ß-sitosterol (2) and stigmasti-4-ene-3-one (3). (see study below) (6)

- Depurative, emmenagogue.
- Studies have shown radical scavenging activity.

Parts used
- Rhizomes, roots.


- In the Visayas, decoction of fresh or dry rhizomes used as emmenagogue.
- Decoction of rhizomes and roots used as depurative.
- Rhizomes used for rheumatism.
- Decoction of roots or bark used by the Higanon tribe in Mindanao to relieve and prevent muscle pains or over fatigue in women, especially after childbirth. (
- Mature stems used as herbal tooth sticks by inhabitants of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands. (
7) Leaves used to treat urinary tract problems. (8)
- Root decoction used as diuretic and for various kidney troubles.

Phenolic Compounds:
Study of methanol extract of Smilax bracteana rhizomes yielded six new phenolic compounds with five other known compounds. (see study above) (1)
Antioxidant / Radical Scavenging Activity: Ethanolic extract yielded six phenylpropanoid glycosides, smilasides G-L along with four known phenylpropanoid compounds and 14 known phenolic compounds. Compounds 1-6 exhibited moderate scavenging activities against DPPH radicals. (see constituents above) (2)
Aromatic and Steroid Compounds / Known Biologic Activities: Study isolated major secondary metabolites: one aromatic compound seselin (1) and two steroids ß-sitosterol (2) and stigmasti-4-ene-3-one (3). These compounds have been shown to exhibit various biological activities such as anticancer, anti-fungal, and anti-inflammatory. (6)


Updated September 2019 / November 2016
IMAGE SOURCE: Photograph / File:Smilax bracteata.jpg / Shih-Shiuan Kao / 20 March 2010, 13:14:22 / Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic license / click on image to go to source page / WIKIMEDIA COMMONS
IMAGE SOURCE: Photograph: Leaves of Smilax / Smilax bracteata / Click on image to go to source page / ORGANISM DETAILS / courseware.nus.edu.sg

Additional Sources and Suggested Readings
New Phenolic Constituents from Smilax bracteata / Shu Yuan Li, Hiroyuki Fuchino et al / J. Nat. Prod., 2002; 65 (3), pp 262–266 / DOI: 10.1021/np010338m
Antioxidant phenylpropanoid glycosides from Smilax bracteata / Lijie Zhang, Chia-Ching Liao, Hui-Chi Huang, Yao-Haur Kuo /
Phytochemistry, April 2008; Vol 69, Issue 6: pp 1398-1404 / doi:10.1016/j.phytochem.2008.01.002
Smilax bracteata C. Presl / Chinese name / Catalogue of Life, China
Chemical constituents of Smilax bracteata / XIONG Cheng-qi,ZHANG Hong-sheng,KANG Li-ping,Tan Da-wei,ZHAO Yang,MA Bai-ping / Military Medical Sciences, 2011-02
Medicinal Plants Used by the Higaonon Tribe of Rogongon, Iligan City, Mindanao, Philippines / Lilybeth F. Olowa, Mark Anthony J. Torres, Eduardo C. Aranico and Cesar G. Demayo / Advances in Environmental Biology, 6(4): 1442-1449, 2012
Aromatic and Steroid Compounds from Smilax Bracteata C. Presl. (Smilacaceae), a Bornean Medicinal Herb / Julius Kulip*, Takashi Kamada and Charles SV / Nat Prod Chem Res 3:184. / doi:10.4172/2329-6836.1000184
Dental care of Andaman and Nicobar folks: medicinal plants use as tooth stick / Rasingam L, Jeeva S, Kannan D* / Asian Pacific Journal of Tropical Biomedicine (2012)


Climbing plants used to cure some gynaecological disorders by tribal people of Andaman and Nicobar Islands, India / Asutosh Ghosh / Explorer Research Article, 5(5): May, 2014: 3531-3533 / INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF PHARMACY & LIFE SCIENCES (Int. J. of Pharm. Life Sci.)
Ethnopharmacological Study of Ati Tribe in Nagpana, Barotqc Viejo, Iloilo / D.A. Madulid et al / Acta Manilana 38 (1989) pp 25-40 / www.tkdlph.com

It is not uncommon for links on studies/sources to change. Copying and pasting the information on the search window or using the DOI (if available) will often redirect to the new link page. (Citing and Using a (DOI) Digital Object Identifier)

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