Katakataka is an erect, more or less branched, smooth, succulent herb, 0.4 to 1.4 meters in height. Leaves are simple or pinnately compound, with the leaflets elliptic, usually about 10 centimeters long, thick, succulent, and scalloped margins. Plantlets grow along
the notches of the leaf margins which can develop while still
attached to the plant or when detached, a fascinating characteristic
that earns its name. Flowers are cylindric, and pendulous in a large, terminal panicle. Calyx is tubular, cylindric, inflated, brownish or purplish, 3.5 to 4 centimeters long. Corolla is tubular, about 5 centimeters long, inflated at the base, and then constricted, the exserted parts being reddish or purplish and the lobes tapering to a point. Fruit is a follicle with many seeds.
- In open settled areas, thickets, dry second-growth forests, sometimes planted, and locally abundant.
- Prehistoric introduction from tropical Asia or Malaya.
- Also cultivated, flowering from December to March.
• Phytochemical screenings have yielded alkaloids, triterpenes, glycosides, flavonoids, steroids, butadienolides, lipids, and organic acids.
• Yields arachidic acid, astragalin, behenic acid, beta amyrin, benzenoids, bersaldegenin, beta-sitosterol, bryophollenone, bryophollone, bryophyllin, caffeci acid, ferulic acid, quercetin, steroids, and taraxerol.
• Phytochemical evalutation
of leaf extract yielded bryophyllum A, B and C, a potent cytotoxic bufadienolide
• Bufadienolide has been reported to be poisonous with digitalis-toxicity
type cardiac effects (slowing of heart rate, heart blocks and potentially
fatal ventricular arryhthmias.
• Bryophillin A, a bufadienolide compound, has shown anti-tumor
• Leaves yield malic acid.
• Leaves considered astringent, antiseptic, hemostatic, refrigerant, emollient, counterirritant, mucilaginous, vulnerary, depurative, anti-inflammatory, disinfectant, and tonic.
• Pharmacologic studies have showed pharmacologic properties: immunomodulatory, CNS depressant, analgesic, anti-inflammatory, anti-allergic, antianaphylactic, antileishmanial, antitumorous, antiulcer, antibacterial, antifungal, antiviral, febrifuge, gastroprotective, immunosuppressive, insecticidal, sedative, muscle relaxant.
Entire plant. May be collected
year round; preferably used fresh.
- Leaves used as astringent, antiseptic, and counterirritant against poisonous insect bites.
Pounded fresh material
is applied as a poultice for a variety of conditions: Sprains, eczema,
infections, burns, carbuncle and erysipelas.
- Leaves, made pliable by hold over fire, are applied to wounds, bruises, boils; also, used as poultice or power in bad ulcers.
- Juice is mixed with lard and used for diarrhea, dysentery, cholera, and phthisis.
- Pounded leaves are applied as poultices to the soles of the feet to stop hemorrhages.
- Leaves are used as topicals in dislocation, ecchymoses, callosities.
- Leaves, pounded and mixed with salt, used as plaster and applied to stomach to relieve eneurosis.
For boils, the whole leaf is pressed by hand, to and fro, until it becomes
moist with the leaf extract. A small opening is made in the middle of
the leaf which is then placed on the boil with hole over the pointing
of the abscess.
- For asthma, leaves of leaves places in hot water for 15 minutes, then juice squeezed out of the leaves, and drunk.
- Juice of leaves used in biliuos diarrhea and lithiasis.
- In Ayurveda, useful in vitiated fondfitions of vata and pitta, cuts, wounds, hemorrhoids, menorrhagia, boils, sloughing ulcers, burns and scalds, diarrhea, dysentery, headaches, vomiting, bronchitis.
In Puerto Rico, leaf juice used as diuretic.
- Leaves are rubbed or tied on the head for headaches.
- Leaf juice used for earache and ophthalmia.
- In Sierre Leon, cough medicine is made from the roots.
- In Brazil leaves, heated over fire and mixed with oil, are used as emollient and refrigerant for facial swelling associated with neuralgia or tooth trouble. Also, used for asthma and bronchitis.
- In Jamaica, leaves used for coughs and colds. Sometimes, it is mixed with salt or honey, for headaches, colds, bronchial affections, and hypertension. Heated leaves used for swellings and abscesses.
- In Africa, used for earaches, eye problems, and as diuretic.
- In China used for rheumatoid arthritis, bruises, burns and ulcers.
- In Nigeria, leaf decoction usually taken to lower blood pressure.
• Cattle Poisoning: A report of 2 adult cattle deaths attributed the fatalities to a large of amount of feeding of B pinnatum plants. The main autopsy findings were acute rumenitis, reduction of bronchiolar lumens and emphysema.
Neuropharmacological Effects of Aqueous Leaf Extract of Bryophyllum
Pinnatum in Mice: Study revealed CNS depressant activity of the aqueous
leaf extract that could be due to the presence of bufadienolide.
• Antinociceptive / Anti-inflammatory
/ Antidiabetic: Leaf extract study of BP on animals
showed it to possess antinociceptive, anti-inflammatory and hypoglycemic
properties probably due to the flavonoid, polyphenol and triterpenoid
• Antiulcer: (1) Results
of methanolic extract study in rats showed that BP possessed potent
antiulcer properties. Leaf extract showed significant reduction in incidence of ulceration in indomethacin-induced gastric ulceration in a dose-dependent manner. (2) Study of methanolic fractionn of extract of BP showed significant anti-ulcer activity in nine different experimental animal models.
• Tocolytic / Pre-term labor:
(1) Study characterized the tocolytic activity of BP in vitro vs the betamimetic, fenoterol. Results confirmed its tocolytic activity and justifies further clinical studies. (2) Intravenous tocolysis with Bryophyllum pinnatum is better tolerated
than beta-agonist application. (3) In vitro results showed B. pinnatum juice inhibits the oxytocin-induced increase of Ca in human myometrial cells in a dose-dependent manner. The inhibition was attributed to a specific effect on the oxytocin signalling pathway.
• Analgesic: The
study concludes that the aqueous extract of BP has strong analgesic
potency comparable in a times- and dose-dependent manner to a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug.
• Antileishmanial: The
antileishmanial activity assessment of unusual flavonoids from Kalanchoe
pinnata: Quercetin from K pinnata has demonstrated to be a potent antileshmanial
flavonoid. Another study yielded unusual flavonoids with antileishmanial
• Cytotoxic: A
study isolated a potent cytotoxic bufadienolide orthoacetate and identified as bersaldegenin 1,3, 5-orthoacetate.
• Antimicrobial: Extract of leaves showed activity against all test organisms except for Candida albicans. Of all the extracts of Bp, themethanol extract was the most active with marked antibacterial activities against control strain of S aureus, E faecalis, B subtilis and P aeruginosa.
• Antihypertensive: Study showed a blood pressure lowering effect. However, since the reduction in blood pressure was only slight, and because of potential hepatotoxic nephrotoxic effects, and cardiotoxicity at high doses, it is not suggested as a blood pressure lowering agent.
•Hepatoprotective / Nephroprotective: In India, juice of fresh leaves used for jaundice. Study showed the juice of leaves to be more effective than an ethanolic extract as evidenced by in vivo and in vitro hepatoprotective studies. Study showed nephroprotective effect on gentamicin-induced nephrotoxicity in rats, possibly through antioxidant and oxidative radical scavenging mechanisms.
• Neurosedative / Muscle Relaxant: Study in mice investigating the neuropharmacological activities of a saline leaf extract of B. pinnatum showed a dose-dependent prolongation of onset and duration of pentobarbitone-induced hypnosis. It also delayed onset to convulsion in strychnine- and picrotoxin-induced seizures with minimal protection against picrotoxicin seizures.