Family • Menispermaceae - Anamirta cocculus (Linn.) W. and A. - FISH BERRY - Yin du mu fang ji

Scientific names

Anamirta cocculus (Linn.) W. and A.
Anamirta paniculata Colebr.
Cocculus indicus Royle
Menispermum cocculus Linn.

Other vernacular names

HINDI: Kakamari.
MALAYALAM: Polla, Pollakkaya, Kollakkaya, Pettumarunnu.
SANSKRIT: Garalaphala, Kakamari.

Common names

Arai (Bag.) Lanta (Tag., Bis.)
Bañasin (Tag., Bis.) Ligtang (Tag.)
Bayati (Tag.) Liktang (Tag, Bis.)
Bayating (Ilk.) Suma (Tag.)
Labtang (Ilk., Ig.) Coca de Levante (Span.)
Lagtal (Bis.) Fish berry (Engl.)
Lagtang (Bis., Tag., Mbo., Sul.) Levant nut (Engl.)
Lakdang (Bis.) Indian cockle (Engl.)
Laktang (Tag., Bis., Pamp.) Yin du mu fang ji (Chin


Additional Sources and Suggested Readings

(1) Evaluation of the acute toxicity of the seeds of Anamirta cocculus (Linn.) and its piscicidal effect on three species of freshwater fish / N Jothivel et al / The Internet Journal of Toxicology, Vol 5, Issue 1, July 2008

(2) Two picrotoxin derivatives from Anamirta cocculus / Santosh K Agarwal et al / Phytochemistry, Volume 50, Issue 8, 1 April 1999, Pages 1365-1368 / doi:10.1016/S0031-9422(98)00692-X

(3) Inhibition of Heinz body induction in an in vitro model and total antioxidant activity of medicinal Thai plants / Palasuwan A et al / Asian Pac J Cancer Prev. 2005 Oct-Dec;6(4):458-63.

(4) Medical botany: plants affecting human health / Walter Hepworth Lewis, Memory P. F. Elvin-Lewis

(5) The effect of cinnarizine and cocculus indicus on simulator sickness / Lucertini M, Mirante N, Casagrande M, Trivelloni P, Lugli V. / Physiol Behav. 2007 May 16;91(1):180-90. Epub 2007 Mar 2.

(6) PHYTOCHEMICAL SCREENING AND PHYSICOCHEMICAL STANDARDIZATION OF FRUITS OF Anamirta cocculus L. WIGHT & ARN. / Satya V* and Paridhvi M / Pharmacie Globale (IJCP) 2011, 10 (07)

(7) Studies on Indonesian Medicinal Plants. V. The Alkaloids of Anamirta cocculus / R. Verpoorte , J. Siwon , M. E. M. Tieken , A. Baerheim Svendsen / J. Nat. Prod., 1981, 44 (2), pp 221–224 / DOI: 10.1021/np50014a013

(8) Inhibition of Heinz Body Induction in an inVitro Model and Total Antioxidant Activity of Medicinal Thai Plants / Attakorn Palasuwan, Suphan Soogarun, Tamaporn Lertlum, Paweena Pradniwat, Viroj Wiwanitkit / Asian Pacific J Cancer Prev, 6, 458-463

Lagtang is a large woody vine with a corky, gray bark and white wood. Stems are sometimes 10 centimeters thick, longitudinally wadded, porous, with stout, smooth branches. Leaves are ovate or ovately-cordate, 10 to 20 centimeters long, with pointed or tapering apex and rounded or nearly heart-shaped base, smooth above, hairy on the nerve axils beneath, and 3-nerved from the base. Petioles are 5 to 15 centimeters long. Flowers are yellowish, sweet-scented, 6 to 7 millimeters across, crowded on 3- to 4.5 centimeters long, pendulous panicles. Fruit is a drupe, nearly spherical, about 1 centimeter in diameter when dry, smooth and hard.

– Scattered in thickets at low and medium altitudes from northern Luzon to southern Mindanao.
– Also reported in India through Malaya to New Guinea.

– Phytochemical analysis of powdered fruit yielded alkaloids, steroids, fixed oils, proteins, and carbohydrates.
– Stem and roots yielded quaternary alkaloids berberine, palmatine, magnoflorine, and columbamine.
– Fruit contains bitter principles: picrotoxin (toxic), picrotoxinin, picrotin and cocculin.
– Seeds yield picrotoxin.
– Alkaloids are menispermine and paramenispermine.
– From the pericarp or shell, two tasteless, nonpoisonous alkaloids, menispermine and parameispermine.
– Seeds contain fat. Its acid constituent is stearophanic and anamirtic acid.
– Picrotoxin yields three substances: picrotoxin, picrotin (nonpoisonous) and anamirtin (slightly bitter and non-poisonous).
– Cocculin was isolated from picrotoxin.

– Shell of the seed is bitter and acrid; the seed itself is bitter.


– Picrotoxin from the seeds is the source of the poisonous property.
– Seeds when administered internally stimulate all the motor and inhibitory centers in the medulla, especially the respiratory and vagus centers. They also irritate the motor centers, either in the cerebrum or in the medulla and cord, producing in all vertebrates alternating epileptiform spasms, with periodic stoppage of the diaphragmatic motions and slowing of the pulse. The spasms take from the form of “swimming,” running backwards or around in a circle (manege movements) or rolling of the body on its axis.
– Picrotoxin is probably the best antidote for morphia poisoning, preventing paralysis of the respiratory center, which is morphia\’s fatal event.
– Toxicity report on picrotoxin is described as: an irritant poison, causing vomiting, purging, etc, with extreme giddiness, faintness, dimness of vision followed the delirium, epileptiform convulsions, stupor, and loss of voluntary power.

Parts used

– Seeds used externally to kill hair lice.
– Seeds used as ointment ingredient used for the destruction of hair pediculi.
– Pericarp said to be emetic.
– Seeds used for the night sweats of phthisis.
– Seeds used as parasiticide; picrotoxin as antiepileptic.
– Juice of fresh fruit applied externally to foul ulcers and scabies.
– In India, fruits used for bronchitis, chronic skin disease, foul ulcers, dermatophytosis, vertigo, vitiated vat a and kapha.
– In Thailand, creeping stem used for blood stasis, fever, and to stimulate the central nervous system.

– Fiber: Known more as a bast fiber plant. Bark is made into rope for tying animals and hauling.
– Poison: Well known as a fish poison. Fruit is first heated and roasted, then crushed and powdered.
The toxic properties are not altered by roasting. In India, dried berries are used to stupefy fish. In South American, used as blowgun dart poison.
– \’Homeopathic\’ remedy: A constituent in a homeopathic remedy for vertigo, Vertigoheel: A grisea, A cocculus, C maculatum and P rectificatum. (Study failed to show a benefit for C. indicus for reducing flight simulator sickness. See below)
Antidote: Once used as an effective antidote to barbiturate and morphine overdoses; rarely used today.


Study Findings
• Piscidal Toxicity / Aquaculture Management Potential: Studies indicate raw seeds are more poisonous than cooked one. Toxicity is reduced by frying, and may become more acceptable to fish. Heat-attenuated toxicity could be a desirable factor for fish caught for human consumption. Study showed seeds may be used as a potent aquaculture management tool to eradicate unwanted wild fish from culture ponds before stocking.
• Picrotoxin Derivatives: Study of plant berries yielded picrotin, picrotoxinin, methyl picrotoxate and two new sesquiterpene y-lactones, dihydroxypicrotoxininn and picrotoxic acid.
• Antioxidant: Study screening aqueous extracts from 20 medicinal plants in Thailand demonstrated inhibition of Heinz bodies induction by antioxidants. Anamirta cocculus showed the 4th highest percentage of HB inhibition and 4th highest antioxidant activity. Results suggest the plants could be a valuable source of antioxidants with a potential anti-carcinogenic activity.
• Simulator Sickness / Cinnarizine: In a study evaluating preventive tools at reducing simulator sickness, in contract to placebo and cocculus, cinnarizine showed significant side effects immediately following flight stimulation; no significant differences were observed between placebo and cocculus. None of the pharmacologic tools used in the study reduced simulator sickness.
• Antiulcer: Study evaluated the anti-ulcer activity of an ethanol extract of fruits. Results showed the fruit extract to have potential anti-ulcer activity in three models tested in rats, with increased resistance to necrotizing agents and a direct protective effect on the gastric mucosa.