Description: Natural Order, Piperaceae. This plant is a native of Java and other East India islands. Stem perennial, smooth, climbing, jointed. Leaves petiolate, ovate-oblong, acuminate, entire, leathery, smooth, nerved. Flowers without calyx or corolla, dioecious, in long and cylindrical spikes, two stamens to each flower on sterile plants, and three pistils on the fertile. Fruit a round, grayish-brown berry, about the size of a small pea, wrinkled, hard, one-seeded.
The berry of this plant is the portion used in medicine. It is pleasantly aromatic, and of a warming but not disagreeable taste, slightly bitter and camphorous. Considerable quantities of a transparent and greenish-yellow volatile oil are obtained from it; and also resin, and a white, odorless, and nearly tasteless crystallizable substance called cubebin. Age impairs the berries through loss of the volatile oil, and their powder deteriorates rapidly.
Properties and Uses: These berries are promptly and diffusibly stimulant, especially influencing the kidneys and bladder; but also acting upon mucous membranes in general, and moderately upon the circulation. Formerly they were used as a spice, but are no longer employed in this way. They are principally employed in gleet and sub-acute gonorrhea; but should never be used in the inflammatory stage of these or any other maladies. From their warming action, they have been used in atonic dyspepsia, but mostly as a stomachic with true tonics; and their use in gonorrhea is as valuable for covering the disagreeable taste of copaiva, as for their action on the kidneys. Large doses are said to produce headache and dizziness, probably from the augmented cerebral circulation. Their continued use is not advisable; and from having been praised inordinately, they have fallen into comparative neglect. M. Debout (Bulletin de Therapeutique, 1862,) claims their action and uses to be as follows: First, locally stimulant on gastric mucous membranes, increasing the gastric secretion; hence useful in flatulent dyspepsia arising from atony. Second, in small doses sedative (?) to the cerebro-spinal system; hence useful in dizziness and weakness of memory, and in congestion and chronic inflammation of the neck of the bladder and the urethra. Dose, in dyspepsia, five to ten grains three times a day; in gonorrhea, twenty grains or more. The oil is used for the same general purposes, in doses ranging from three to ten drops, in sugar or mucilage; but now is mostly employed as an aromatic adjuvant to copaiva emulsion.
A tincture of cubebs may be prepared by macerating (or percolating) four ounces of the berries with a quart of diluted alcohol, of which half a fluid drachm or more may be used as a dose.
A fluid extract is sometimes prepared by treating a pound of cubeb powder in a close percolator with ether till a quart has passed, distilling off a pint and a half of the ether, and spontaneously evaporating the remainder. A brownish or greenish oleo-resin remains, of which from five to fifteen drops may be given on sugar.
The Physiomedical Dispensatory, 1869, was written by William Cook, M.D.
It was scanned by Paul Bergner at http://medherb.com