Abuta (Cissampelos pariera)


Abuta Summary

Abuta is commonly known as the midwives herb.

This is because one of the most common uses of the plant is during pregnancy to keep symptoms like cramping and high blood pressure down.

It's also popular with women who aren't pregnant for regulating dysfunctional menstrual cycles and reducing the pain from cramping during menstruation.

Abuta grows in Southeast Asia, as well as parts of North America, and South America, but most of its traditional uses were documented from the perspective of Ayurvedic medicine in India. Here, it's known as Patha.

Its high antioxidant content makes it useful as a general tonic and is useful as a hepatoprotective agent (liver protecting), and pain reliever.

The uses of abuta are many and depending on which part of the world you're in, the uses may vary slightly but maintain the same general uses.

Most of the research on this herb has been on the neurological system, with only a small amount of research having been done on its most common traditional uses.


+ Indications

  • Anemia
  • Arthritis
  • As a childbirth aid
  • As a diuretic
  • Bacterial infection
  • Cancer
  • Excessive bleeding
  • Fibroid tumors
  • General women's ailments
  • Heart tonic
  • High blood pressure
  • Menstrual Cramping
  • Menstrual Pain
  • Premenstrual syndrome
  • Rheumatism
  • Snake bite
  • To prevent abortion

+ Contraindications

  • Despite traditional uses, caution advised while pregnant.

Herbal Actions:

  • Analgesic
  • Anti-Abortive
  • Antibacterial
  • Anticonvulsant
  • Antihistamine
  • Antinflammatory
  • Antilithic
  • Antioxidant
  • Antipyretic
  • Hormonal Modulator
  • Diuretic
  • Hepatoprotective
  • Mucolytic

What Is Abuta Used For?

Abuta is mainly used during pregnancy to increase the chances of going full term. It's also used during menstruation to ease pain and cramping.


Herb Details: Abuta

Weekly Dose

Part Used

  • Whole vine, Seed Bark, Leaf, Root

Family Name

  • Menispermaceae


  • South America
    Southeast Asia

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Constituents of Interest

  • Isoquinoliine alkaloids
  • Berberine
  • Cissampeline
  • Tetrandine

Common Names

  • Abuta
  • Barbasco
  • Patha
  • Xi Sheng Teng
  • Abutata
  • Imchich Masha
  • Butua
  • False Pareira
  • Aristoloche Lobee
  • Bejuco Da Raton
  • Feuille Coeur
  • Liane Patte Cheval
  • Gasing-Gasing
  • Bhatindupat
  • Langhu Patha
  • Cipa
  • Velvet Tea


  • Unknown

Duration of Use

  • Suitable for long term use.

Western Herbal Medicine

Abuta is also used to aid poor digestion, drowsiness after meals, and constipation [1].

North American herbal practitioners use abuta for many of the same conditions as well as for testicular inflammation, and minor kidney problems [1].

Traditional Chinese Medicine

In Chinese medicine, the root is used as medicine. It is referred to as Xi Sheng Teng.

Ayurvedic Medicine

In India, the herb is called langhu patha. Its ethnomedical uses in this area include urinary problems, skin problems, cancer, bacterial infection, malaria, as a diuretic, convulsions [2].

One tribal use of abuta in India is to prevent pregnancy [3-5]. It is commonly included in Ayurvedic formulas intended for conditions like rheumatism, ulcers, and fevers [9].

Traditional South American Medicine

Indigenous cultures throughout the Amazon have used virtually every part of this plant as medicine. It has been used for a few thousand years for a wide range of illnesses, and conditions and is still a popular choice in herbal medicine today. [1].

Abuta is commonly referred to as the midwives herb throughout South America because of its long history, and high value for all types of women's ailments. It has been used traditionally to prevent miscarriage, and stop uterine hemorrhages after childbirth. In the Amazon, it is still fairly common to find midwives carrying this herb for menstrual cramps and both pre, and postnatal pains, excessive menstrual bleeding, and uterine hemorrhaging [1].

Some Tribe-Specific Uses of Abuta:

  • In Guyana, Palikur Indians use abuta leaves in the form of a poultice to reduce pain topically.
  • The Wayãpi Indians make a decoction of the leaf and stem as an oral analgesic.
  • Kettchwa tribes of Ecuador use a decoction of the leaves to treat eye infections and snakebites.
  • Creoles in Guyana soak the leaves, bark, and roots in rum and use it as an aphrodisiac.
  • Other Indigenous tribes throughout Peru use the seeds for snakebites, fevers, STIs, internal/external bleeding, as a diuretic, rheumatism, irregular heartbeat, and as an expectorant. [1].

More modern day uses in Brazil includes its use as a general tonic, diuretic, reduce fevers, menstrual cramps, painful menstruation, excessive bleeding, uterine hemorrhages, fibroid tumors, prenatal and postnatal pain, colic, constipation, digestive difficulty, dyspepsia and to reduce pain. [1].

In Mexico, Abuta is commonly used for very similar conditions including muscle inflammation, snakebite, rheumatism, diarrhea, dysentery, and menstrual problems [1].

Worldwide Traditional Uses

  • Gastrointestinal complaints such as diarrhea, dysentery, ulcers, colic, intestinal worms and digestive complaints, drowsiness after meals, constipation,
  • Urogenital problems such as menstrual problems, venereal diseases, infertility, uterine bleeding, and threatening miscarriage, pre, and postnatal pains, excessive menstrual bleeding, and uterine hemorrhaging, fibroid tumors
  • Cancer
  • Topically to reduce pain and treat sores, boils, scabies, and childhood eczema.
  • As an oral analgesic in the form of a decoction
  • Infections such as eye infections, malaria, bacterial infections
  • Snakebites
  • As an aphrodisiac
  • Fevers
  • internal/external bleeding
  • as a diuretic
  • Rheumatism
  • Muscle inflammation
  • irregular heartbeat
  • as an expectorant for coughs and phlegm
  • Testicular inflammation
  • Minor kidney problems

Botanical Information

Abuta is a woody rainforest vine found throughout the Amazon rainforest in Colombia, Peru, Brazil, and Ecuador. It has long (up to 30 cm) leaves and produces inedible, grape-sized berries.

The vine itself is brownish in color and has a waxy coating. Its flowers are greenish-yellow in color,

The leaves are palate or orbicular-reniform, ovate-sub-reniform with truncate cordate base, glabrous, or hairy [2].

Cissampelos contains about 30-40 species, which are distributed throughout the tropics worldwide.

Confusion Around the Name Abuta

Just like many other botanicals, the common name "abuta" brings with it a lot of confusion.

The common name Abuta is actually shared by another botanical in the region with the botanical name Abuta grandiflora.

This plant is also medicinal but has a whole different set of uses and benefits and should not be substituted for Cissampelos pareira.

Other names for this same herb also bring some confusion. In India, the common name for Cissampelos pariera is Patha.

The common name patha is used to describe several plants including Cissampelos pariera, Cyclea peltata, and Stephania japonica [2].


Habitat, Ecology, Distribution:

Abuta is found growing throughout the Amazon rainforest and is also commonly cultivated in gardens. It can also be found throughout the tropics and subtropics worldwide and is widely considered a weed in tropical climates.


Pharmacology &Medical Research:


A novel tropoloisoquinoline alkaloid named pareirubrine A was reported to have antileukemic activity [7].

Another alkaloid, Cissamperine as well as four bisbenzylisoquinoline alkaloids that were isolated from C. pareira were found to have significant inhibitory activity against human carcinoma (of a nasopharynx cell culture) [8].


Inflammation is the bodies response to damage. It is a highly complex centrally regulated process consisting of such events as dilatation of arterioles, venules, and capillaries with increased vascular permeability, exudation of fluids, including plasma proteins, and leukocyte migration into the inflammatory area [15]. One of the key initiating features of inflammation is through the release of reactive oxygen species (ROS) from activated neutrophils and macrophages at the site of damage [16]. These reactive oxygen species then stimulate the release of cytokines (Commonly TNF, and interleukin-1), which in turn stimulate the release of more neutrophils and macrophages. It is because of this important role of reactive oxygen species (free radicals) in the process of inflammation that makes antioxidant and free radical scavenger therapy so important [17, 18].

In normal circumstances, this process will result in homeostasis reasonably quickly once the damage is repaired.

However chronic inflammation may develop if lifestyle or other conditions continue to invoke this immune response, which over some time can lead to collateral damage to healthy cells, which then results in diseases, including atherosclerosis, bowel disease, rheumatoid arthritis glomerulonephritis, and septic shock [19].

Currently the accepted standard for dealing with inflammation both acute and chronic is with the use of anti-inflammatory agents such as glucocorticoids, and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS). These compounds alleviate the symptoms however fail to address or mitigate the cause of the disease [20]. NSAIDS for example generally work through blocking the cyclooxygenase enzymes involved in prostaglandin production (COX-1 and COX-2) [21]. Prolonged use of such compounds brings with it a myriad of adverse side effects and damaging effects.

Plants are therefore an important source of biologically active medicines and are an important avenue for discovery of new drugs for conditions such as inflammation.

Cissampelos pariera has been found as such to produce a significant anti-inflammatory action on rats [22].


Abuta was found to possess potent antiviral activity on the 4 most prevalent dengue virus serotypes in rats, and as a result, was suggested to be considered for standard treatment for this virus. It was also shown to provide a dose-dependent protective effect in vivo for this virus [12]. As a result of this study, several patents have been approved for this subject [13, 14].


The ability for a substance to be immunomodulating is significant with regards to a wide range of conditions, and in promoting longevity.

Diseases such as cancer, whereby modern treatments effectively cause immuno-compromisation in the affected individual, which may then have a negative impact on both quality of life, and the ability to recover from the cancer, Immunomodulating substances are becoming increasingly popular as an option for alternative cancer therapy, as well as supplementary to chemotherapy and other immunosuppressive treatments for cancer. Immunomodulation is also extremely valuable in the selective immunosuppression is desired as in the case of autoimmune disorders. The idea is that these substances can both promote and stimulate the immune system during conditions in which they are low and inhibit or reduce the expression of an immune response in cases where the immune system is overactive. This is considered a bidirectional activity and is common among adaptogenic, tonic, and Rasayana herbs.

Abuta (Cissampelos pariera) root methanol extract has been found to possess immunomodulating effects [10]. An extract of the alkaloidal fraction from Cissampelos pariera root was found to be an effective modulator of both T cell and B cell-mediated immune responses [9].


Alzheimer's, and other age-related cognitive decline is becoming an ever increasing burden on the health and social system in developed countries. As such it's becoming one of the most critical health conditions to be concerned with finding effective treatment and prevention.

Various causes are at play for cognitive decline, including the accumulation of beta-amyloid plaques, oxidative damage throughout the body and brain, and the vulnerability of various neurotransmitter decline due to the stress of toxicity.

One of the current medical treatments for Alzheimer's is through the use of antioxidants, and acetylcholinesterase inhibition. This enzyme is reported to be responsible at least in part for the production and accumulation of amyloid plaques, characteristic in Alzheimer's conditions [SOURCE]. Other treatments include using acetylcholine precursors or other modulation of the choline system. This important neurotransmitter is crucial for such processes as memory and concentration.

A combination formula of Cisampelos pariera and Anethum graveolens is suggested to have synergy towards preventing and treating age-related cognitive decline. A study investigating the effectiveness and safety of this formula by the Khon Kaen University of Thailand discovered that the formula possesses both cognitive-enhancing effects as well as neuroprotective benefits. Its mechanism of action was reported to be through 2 mechanisms: a reduction in acetylcholinesterase, leading to an increase in acetylcholine, as well as through an increased neuronal density in the hippocampus through decreased oxidative damage. These researched hypothesized that this action is due to the polyphenol content, and especially the quercetin content which has known cognitive enhancing and neuroprotective effects [11]. This is significant because the hippocampus is regarded to be particularly vulnerable to oxidative stress from aging, and is an area of the brain essential for cognitive function.



Abuta contains a group of chemicals called isowuinoliine alkaloids.

These alkaloids can be found across the genus Cissampelos and have been the subject of a large amount of research. The alkaloid tetrandrine has so far received the most attention and has been found to produce pain relieving, anti inflammatory, and fever reducing benefits.

It's also been found to possess significant anti-cancer effects, and is beneficial against leukemia.

The problem, however, is that the therapeutic range discovered to be useful against cancer is significantly higher than can be realistically obtained from the natural plant, and therefore must be extracted and concentrated in order to achieve the results found in these studies. [2].

Tenandrine has also been well studied as a cardiotonic and hypotensive agent through numerous pathways in the body [2].

Berberine can also be found in abuta, which is a fairly common alkaloid found in a wide range of plants, including Barberry and goldenseal.

It has known antifungal, hypotensive, and antimicrobial actions and has been used t treat conditions such as an irregular heartbeat, cancer, Candida, diarrhea, and irritable bowel syndrome [2].

Another alkaloid, cissampeline has been used as a skeletal muscle relaxant. [2].

Summary Of Constituents

Abuta contains alkaloids, arachidic acid, bebeerine, berberine, bulbocapnine, cissamine, cissampareine, corytuberine, curine, 4-methylcurine, cyclanoline, cycleanine, dicentrine, dehydrodicentrine, dimethyltetrandrinium, essential oil, grandirubrine, hayatine, hayatinine, insularine, isochondodendrine, isomerubrine, laudanosine, linoleic acid, magnoflorine, menismine, norimeluteine, nor-ruffscine, nuciferine, pareirine, pareirubrine alkaloids, pareitropone, quercitol, stearic acid, and tetrandrine. [2].


Clinical Applications Of Abuta:

The immunomodulatory and antinflammatory actions of abuta, make it useful for many conditions, including cancer.

By far the most well established use of this plant is during pregnancy and to treat pain and dysregulation with the female menstrual cycle.



Never attempt to take this herb during pregnancy without the supervision of someone knowledgeable on the subject.

High doses of Cissampelos pariera were given in some antiviral studies, and no toxicity was discovered.

Rats given abuta at doses at 10g/kg showed no signs of toxicity, making this herb very safe to consume. [1]. Other studies investigating the antiviral potential of Cisampelos partiera using high doses found no sign of toxicity [12].

Although abuta is an excellent woman's herb, due to its ability to relax the uterus, it is recommended not to take this herb while pregnant unless under the supervision of a natural practitioner.



Cisampelos pariera and Anethum graveolens were suggested to be synergistic in preventing and treating age-related cognitive decline.

A combination of the two were found to possess significant neuroprotective effects through multiple factors ultimately leading to an increase in neuronal density of the hippocampus, and through antiacetylcholinesterase activity [11].

Abuta extract appeared to possess an intrinsic antipyretic activity which could synergize with that of paracetamol in regards to dengue virus treatment [12].



Justin Cooke

The Sunlight Experiment

(Updated May 2019)


Recent Blog Posts:


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