Anti-inflammatory and analgesic components from “hierba santa,” a traditional medicine in Peru

  • Marii Kawano
  • Mayumi Otsuka
  • Kazuhiro Umeyama
  • Mikio Yamazaki
  • Tetsuo Shiota
  • Motoyoshi Satake
  • Emi OkuyamaEmail author
Original Paper


“Hierba santa,” a Peruvian herbal medicine, is used to alleviate many symptoms, including headache, hemorrhoids, fever, and rheumatism. Several Cestrum species are said to be the origin of hierba santa. Three lots of hierba santa: Cestrum auriculatum (herb 1 and herb 2) and C. hediundinum (herb 3), which were purchased from Peruvian markets at Cuzco (Andes area) and Equitos (Amazon area), respectively, were examined for their pharmacological activities and active components. Herbs 1–3 showed anti-inflammatory and analgesic activities in the in vivo writhing inhibition test in mouse and inhibited prostaglandin E1-, E2-, or ACh-induced contractions of guinea pig ileum in the Magnus method. Activity-based separation of each extract yielded cestrumines A and B, cestrusides A and B, a mixture of (+)- and (−)-pinoresinol glucosides, nicotiflorin, rutin, sinapoyl glucose, ursolic acid, β-sitosteryl glucoside, and 2-sec-butyl-4,6-dihydroxyphenyl-β-d-glucopyranoside. Among them, cestrumine A and cestrusides A and B are new compounds. All three lots of hierba santa do not contain exactly the same active components.


Hierba santa Cestrum Anti-inflammation Analgesic β-Carboline Spirostanol 



We would like to thank Professor A. Tupayachi Herrera of UNSAAC; Professor F. Ayara Flores and Mr. J. Ruiz of Herbario Ethnobotánico Amazónico; and Professor S. Sekita of Tokushima Bunri University for kind assistance and advice. We would like to thank also the Chemical Analysis Center of Chiba University for FAB-MS measurement. This project was financially supported by a Grant-in-Aid for Scientific Research from the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science, and Technology of Japan, and a grant from Hayashi Memorial Foundation for Female Natural Scientists.


  1. 1.
    De Feo V (1992) Medicinal and magical plants in the northern Peruvian Andes. Fitoterapia 63:417–440Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Duke AJ, Martinez VR (1994) Amazonian ethnobotanical dictionary. CRC, Boca RatonGoogle Scholar
  3. 3.
    Bussmann RW, Sharon D (2006) Traditional medicinal plant use in Northern Peru: tracking two thousand years of healing culture. J Ethnobiol Ethnomed 2:47PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. 4.
    Hammond GB, Fernandez ID, Villegas LF, Vaisberg AJ (1998) A survey of traditional medicinal plants from the Callejon de Huaylas, Department of Ancash, Peru. J Ethnopharmacol 61:17–30PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. 5.
    Soukup J (1980–1987) Vocabulario de los nombres vulgares de la flora eruana y catalogo de generos. SDB, Lima, PeruGoogle Scholar
  6. 6.
    Flores FA (1999) Inventario Taxonomico de la Flora de la Amazonia Peruana. Herbario Ethnobotánico Amazónico, Iquitos, PerúGoogle Scholar
  7. 7.
    Chavez NA (1977) La materia Medica en el Incanato. Velasquez Mejia Baca, Lima, PeruGoogle Scholar
  8. 8.
    Faini F, Torres R, Delle Monache F, Marini-Bettolo GB, Castillo M (1980) 1-Acetyl-3-carboxy-beta-carboline, a new acid and other constituents of Vestia lycioides. Planta Med 38:128–132CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. 9.
    Faini F, Castillo M, Torres R (1978) A new beta-carboline alkaloid from Vestia lycioides. Phytochemistry 17:338CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. 10.
    Razmilic I, Castillo M, Lopez JT (1980) New synthesis of 1-acetyl-3-(methoxycarbonyl)-beta-carboline. J Heterocycl Chem 17:595–596CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. 11.
    Haraguchi M, Mimaki Y, Motidome M, Morita H, Takeya K, Itokawa H, Yokosuka A, Sashida Y (2000) Steroidal saponins from the leaves of Cestrum sendtenerianum. Phytochemistry 55:715–720PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. 12.
    Haraguchi M, Motidome M, Morita H, Takeya K, Itokawa H, Mimaki Y, Sashida Y (1999) New polyhydroxylated steroidal sapogenin and saponin from the leaves of Cestrum sendtenerianum. Chem Pharm Bull 47:582–584Google Scholar
  13. 13.
    Deyama T (1983) The constituents of Eucommia ulmoides Oliv. I. Isolation of (+)-medioresinol di-O-beta-d-glucopyranoside. Chem Pharm Bull 31:2993–2997Google Scholar
  14. 14.
    Pauli GF, Junior P (1995) Phenolic glycosides from Adonis aleppica. Phytochemistry 38:1245–1250CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. 15.
    Sahai M, Singh M, Singh AK, Hara N, Fujimoto Y (1994) Cesternosides A and B, novel glucosides from the leaves of Cestrum nocturnum. J Chem Res Synop 22–23Google Scholar
  16. 16.
    Kosuge T, Yokota M, Sugiyama K, Mure T, Yamazawa H, Yamamoto T (1985) Studies on bioactive substances in crude drugs used for arthritic diseases in traditional Chinese medicine. III. Isolation and identification of anti-inflammatory and analgesic principles from the whole herb of Pyrola rotundifolia L. Chem Pharm Bull 33:5355–5357PubMedGoogle Scholar
  17. 17.
    Villasnor IM, Angelada J, Canlas AP, Echegoyen D (2002) Bioactivity studies on b-sitosterol and its glucoside. Phytother Res 16:417–421CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. 18.
    Okuyama E, Suzumura K, Yamazaki M (1995) Pharmacologically active components of Todopon Puok (Fagraea racemosa), a medicinal plant from Borneo. Chem Pharm Bull 43:2200–2204PubMedGoogle Scholar
  19. 19.
    Liu J (1995) Pharmacology of oleanolic acid and ursolic acid. J Ethnopharmacol 49:57–68PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. 20.
    Recio MC, Giner RM, Manez S, Gueho J, Julien HR, Hostettmann K, Rios JL (1995) Investigations on the steroidal anti-inflammatory activity of triterpenoids from Diospyros leucomelas. Planta Med 61:9–12PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. 21.
    Tsuruga T, Chun YT, Ebizuka Y, Sankawa U (1991) Biologically active constituents of Melaleuca leucadendron: inhibitors of induced histamine release from rat mast cells. Chem Pharm Bull 39:3276–3278PubMedGoogle Scholar
  22. 22.
    Ringbom T, Segura L, Noreen Y, Perera P, Bohlin L (1998) Ursolic acid from Plantago major, a selective inhibitor of cyclooxygenase-2 catalyzed prostaglandin biosynthesis. J Nat Prod 61:1212–1215PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. 23.
    Yang M-L, Kuo P-C, Damu AG, Chang R-J, Chiou W-F, Wu T-S (2006) A versatile route to the synthesis of 1-substituted beta-carbolines by a single step Pictet-Spengler cyclization. Tetrahedron 62:10900–10906CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. 24.
    Inouye H, Takeda Y, Nishimura H (1973) On the lignan glucosides of Symplocos lucida. Yakugaku Zasshi 93:44–46PubMedGoogle Scholar
  25. 25.
    Okuyama E, Hasegawa T, Matsushita T, Fujimoto H, Ishibashi M, Yamazaki M (2001) Analgesic components of Saposhnikovia root (Saposhnikovia divaricata). Chem Pharm Bull 49:154–160PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. 26.
    Okuyama E, Umeyama K, Yamazaki M, Kinoshita Y, Yamamoto Y (1995) Usnic acid and diffractaic acid as analgesic and antipyretic components of Usnea diffracta. Planta Med 61:113–115PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. 27.
    Nakamura T, Okuyama E, Yamazaki M (1996) Neurotropic components from star anise (Illicium verum Hook. fil.). Chem Pharm Bull 44:1908–1914PubMedGoogle Scholar
  28. 28.
    Sadhu SK, Okuyama E, Fujimoto H, Ishibashi M (2003) Separation of Leucas aspera, a medicinal plant of Bangladesh, guided by prostaglandin inhibitory and antioxidant activities. Chem Pharm Bull 51:595–598PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© The Japanese Society of Pharmacognosy and Springer 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Marii Kawano
    • 1
  • Mayumi Otsuka
    • 2
  • Kazuhiro Umeyama
    • 2
  • Mikio Yamazaki
    • 2
    • 3
  • Tetsuo Shiota
    • 4
  • Motoyoshi Satake
    • 5
  • Emi Okuyama
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.Laboratory of Pharmacognosy, Faculty of Pharmaceutical SciencesJosai International UniversityToganeJapan
  2. 2.Laboratory of Natural Products Chemistry, Faculty of Pharmaceutical SciencesChiba UniversityChibaJapan
  3. 3.Niigata University of Pharmacy and Applied Life SciencesNiigataJapan
  4. 4.Institute de Agri-Cultura Andina y AmazoniaLimaPeru
  5. 5.Department of Kampo-Pharmaceutics, Institute of Natural MedicineUniversity of ToyamaToyamaJapan

Personalised recommendations