Scientific name: Piper cubeba

Common names: Cubebes, Java Pepper, Tailed Pepper

Ayurvedic names: Kankola, Kolaka, Koshaphala

Chinese names: Bi cheng qie,  Cheng qie, Bi cheng qie (medicinal name) 

Bangladesh names: Kabab chini 

Arabic names:    كبابة (qubaabah)

Rain Forest names:

Family: Fabaceae

Approximate number of species known:

Common parts used: fruit


Annual/Perennial: Perennial


Actions:  antisyphilitic, Aromatic, carminative, diuretic, purgative, stomachic

Known Constituents: 10 to 185 volatile oil, amorphous cubebic acid, colorless crystaline cubebin and resins 

Constituents Explained:


Traditional Use:

Used for the bladder, and to increase the flow of urine.

Clinical Studies:

Despite the high prevalence of prostate cancer (PC) in the Western world, there is a dearth of effective medication. Since the androgen-signalling pathway is very much involved in PC growth and development, the potential of Piper cubeba L. extract, P9605, in targeting multiple events simultaneously within this pathway was investigated.

This may be more effective compared to an antiandrogen monotherapy. The results indicated that P9605 inhibited proliferation in androgen-dependent LNCaP human prostate cancer cells by reducing DNA synthesis and inducing apoptosis.

This antigrowth effect was less pronounced in androgen-independent PC-3 prostate cancer cell lines. P9605 potently inhibited 5 alpha-reductase II activity, which is responsible for converting testosterone to its active form, dihydrotestosterone (DHT), in the prostate. 

It also acted as an antagonist at recombinant wild-type androgen receptors (AR). P9605 suppressed cell growth and prostate-specific antigen (PSA) secretion stimulated by physiological concentrations of DHT in LNCaP cells.

Interestingly, it down-regulated AR levels. In conclusion, the findings suggest that P9605 may potentially retard the growth of androgen-dependent PC via several mechanisms.


Yam J, Kreuter M, Drewe J. “Piper Cubeba Targets Multiple Aspects Of The Androgen-Signalling Pathway. A Potential Phytotherapy Against Prostate Cancer Growth?” 2008 January



Herb name: Cubebs

Other names: Tailed Pepper, Java Pepper

Latin name: Piper cubeba 

Family: N.O. Piperaceae

Common part used: The dried, full-grown, unripe fruit.

Cubebs is a climber, a perennial with flowers that are dioecious in nature and located on the plant in spikes. The fruit is rounded and globular, and is a drupe. Cubebs is popularly grown in coffee plantations, as the larger coffee trees confer on it both protection and shade. This plant is avidly tropical, and indigenous to Java and Sumatra, hence the common name, Java Pepper.

The smell of the fruit is spicy and strongly aromatic, and the taste is similar, though bitter. This plant is not traditionally used, and was almost certainly introduced to Europeans from Arabia. It is extensively used in cuisine in Morocco.

The essential oils are extracted from dried Cubeb berries, and contain both monoterpenes and sesquiterpenes, as also oxides and the cubebol, a sort of alcohol. Other constituents are calcium and magnesium, and some resins. The oil is distilled in water. The distilled cubene is roughly of a pale greenish color, and is a thick and viscous liquid. It has a wood-like or camphor-like odour. Ultimately, on crystallization and purification one attains oleoresin.

This substance is a known stimulant, and has been proved to be effacious for gonorrhea. Other uses include the treatment of leucorrhoea, problems with the prostate, piles, bronchitis, cystitis, and many more afflictions.

An interesting fact from history – the Cubeb is actually mentioned in the Arabian Nights, or One Thousand and One Nights as part of a cure for infertility. What’s more, according to the story, the cure was successful.