Family • Piperaceae - Piper retrofractum Vahl - LONG PEPPER - Jia bi ba

Scientific names

Piper retrofractum Vahl
Chavica retrofracto Miq.
Piper parvifolium  Blanco
Chavica parvifolia  Hassk.
Piper officinarum C, DC.
Chavica officinarum  Miq.
Piper longum Rumph.
Piper longum Blume
Piper longum e philippinis  Rumph.
Pharmacum magnum vulagare  Rumph.
Piper chaba  Hunter
Piper palawanum C. DC

Common names

Amaras (Ilk.)
Boyo-boyo (Tagb.)
Kamara (Ilk.)
Kayuñgo (Tag.)
Litlit (Tag.)
Sabia (Tag.)
Salimara (Tag.)
Soag-matsing (Tag.)
Subon-manok (Tag.)
Long pepper (Engl.)
Jia bi ba (Chin.)

Other vernacular names

BENGALI: Pipool, Choi, Chab.
CHINESE: Jia bi bo, Bi ba, Zhao wa chang guo hu jiao.
CZECH: Pepř Dlouhý.
DUTCH: Javaanse Lange Peper, Langwerpige Peper.
ESTONIAN: Pikk Pipar.
FRENCH: Poivre long de Java.
GERMAN: Balinesischer Pfeffer*, Bengalischer Pfeffer, Jaborandi-Pfeffer, Langer Pfeffer, Stangenpfeffer
GREEK: Makropiperi.
HINDI: Chab, Chavi, Pipal, Pipar, Pipli.
HUNGARIAN: Bali bors, Bengáli Bors.
INDIA: Gajapipali, Chevuyam.
JAPANESE: Indonaga-Kosho, Ishigaki jima.
KHMER: Morech Ansai.
KOREAN: Pil-Bal, Pilbal.
LAO: I Lo, Sa Li Pi
MALAY: Lada panjang, Lada sulah, Cabé jawa (Indonesia), Cabé panjang (Indonesia).
MALAYALAM: Thippali.
MARATHI: Pimpali.
POLISH: Pieprz długi.
PUNJABI: Darfilfil, Magha.
RUSSIAN: Dlinnyj perec, Dlinnyj Perets.
SANSKRIT: Chanchala, Kana, Magandhi, Pippali, Ushana.
SLOVAK: Dlhé Korenie, Piepor Dlhý.
SLOVENIAN: Podolgovati Poper.
SWEDISH: Långpeppar.
TAMIL: Tippali, Vanapippili.
THAI: Dee Plee, Dipli, Dipli-chuak*, Dok dipli, Phrik-hang.
TURKISH: Dar Fulful†, Dari Fülfül†, Uzun Biber.
URDU: Pipul.

Gen info
There is an estimated total of 1200 species of Piper in the pantropical and neotropical regions. Works on Philippine wild Piperaceae have been extensive. Candole (1910) reported 133 species of Piper and 26 of Peperomia; Merill (1923), 115 Piper, 25 Peperomia, and Quisumbing (1930), documented 87 Piper and 21 Peperomia.


Litlit is a deciduous vine, growing to a height of 2 to 4 meters. Leaves are short-petioled, pale when dry, oblong, oblong-ovate, or elliptic lanceolate, 6 to 7.5 cm long, 3 to 8 cm wide, papery; the base sublateral or inequilateral, pointed or slightly heart-shaped and the apex pointed; penninerved, the lateral nerves 7 to 11 on each side of the midrib, ascending. Male spikes are 3.8 to 8.5 cm long, 2.5 to 4.5 mm in diameter; the bracts somewhat stalked, and peltate. Stamens are 2 to 3, stalkless. Female spikes are oblong when mature, red, fleshy and cylindrical, 3 to 6.5 cm long, 6.5 to 11 mm in diameter. Rachis is smooth and the bracts are stalkless and peltate. Fruit is more or less united, partly or wholly embedded in and concrescent with the rachis. Stigmas are three and short. Seeds are subglobose to obovoid-globose, 2 to 2.5 mm long.


Additional Sources and Suggested Readings

(1) Chemical Constituents of Peppers (Piper spp.) and application to Food Preservation: Naturally Occuring Antioxidative Compounds 

(2) Evaluation of the Antimycobacterial Activity of Extracts from Plants Used as Self-Medication by AIDS Patients in Thailand / S Phongpaichit et al / Summary Pharmaceutical Biology • 2006, Vol. 44, No. 1, Pages 71-75 / DOI 10.1080/13880200500531060

(3) Anti-IL-6 Production of Piper on HGFs and Macrophages cell line / N Aroonberk, S Kumpun et al / The Preliminary Program for IADR General Session (July 14-17, 2010)

(4) Antimicrobial Activity of Piper Fruits / Mohib Khan and Mustafa Siddiqui / Natural Product Radiance, Vol 6(2), 2007, pp 111-113.

(5) Piperidine alkaloids from Piper retrofractum Vahl. protect against high-fat diet-induced obesity by regulating lipid metabolism and activating AMP-activated protein kinase. / Kim KJ, Lee MS, Jo K, Hwang JK. / Biochem Biophys Res Commun. 2011 Jul 22;411(1):219-25. doi: 10.1016/j.bbrc.2011.06.153. Epub 2011 Jun 29.

(6) PIPER RETROFRACTUM Vahl. / Medicinal Plants of Bangladesh

(7) Effect of Thai Medicinal Plant Extracts against Dengue Virus in vitro / N. Klawikkan, V. Nukoolkarn, N. Jirakanjanakit, S. Yoksan, C. Wiwat and K. Thirapanmethee* / Mahidol University Journal of Pharmaceutical Science 2011; 38 (1-2) Pp13-18

(8) Evaluation of Constituents of Piper retrofractum Fruits on Neurotrophic Activity / Miwa Kubo *, Rina Ishii, Yoichi Ishino, Kenichi Harada, Nobuaki Matsui, Masaaki Akagi, Eishin Kato, Shinya Hosoda, and Yoshiyasu Fukuyama * / J. Nat. Prod., 2013, 76 (4), pp 769–773 / DOI: 10.1021/np300911b


(10) A new phenylpropanoid and an alkylglycoside from Piper retrofractum leaves with their antioxidant and α-glucosidase inhibitory activity / Bui Thi Thuy Luyen, Bui Huu Tai, Nguyen Phuong Thao et al / Bioorganic & Medicinal Chemistry Letters 24 (2014) 4120-4124

(11) Effect of herbal shampoo from long pepper fruit extract to control human head louse of the Ladkrabang Childrens, Bangkok, Thailand. / Rassami, W.* and Soonwera, M. / Journal of Agricultural Technology 2011 Vol. 7(2): 331-338

Common in thickets at low altitudes throughout the Philippines.
Also found in Indo-China and the Malay Peninsula to the Moluccas.

• Study yielded retrofractamide-D.
• Study has yielded piperine, piperlonguminine, sylvatine, guineensine, piperlonguimine, filfiline, sitosterol, methyl piperate and a series of piperine-analog retrofractamides.
• Study of leaves isolated two new compounds, piperoside and isoheptanol 2(S)-O-ßD-xylopyranosyl (1-6)-O-ß-D-glucopyranoside, along with 10 known compounds.

• Studies have suggested larvicidal, ant io xi ant, cardioprotective, anti-inflammatory, anti-convulsant, anti-dengue, aphrodisiac properties.

Part utilized
Roots, leaves.

– Leaves and berries of this pepper are edible.
– In some countries, used for green peppercorn spice.
– Fiery and more pungent than black pepper.
– In India, mainly used for pickles.

– Root is chewed and the saliva swallowed, or the decoction of root taken internally as cure for colic, dyspepsia and gastralgia.
– For postpartum fevers and chills, a handful of leaves are salted and oiled, then heated over embers and stroked over the entire body, from head to foot.
– In Ayurveda, traditionally used to promote respiratory and digestive health; an ingredient in compound medicinal teas.
– In China, used for vomiting, hiccups, stomachaches, diarrhea due to coldness in the stomach. For toothaches, applied externally.
– In Bangladesh, plant used to cure rheumatic pain and body pain after childbirth. Fruits used for coughs, colds, asthma, bronchitis, fever, hemorrhoids. Roots used for asthma, bronchitis, and consumption.

Study Findings 
• Larvicidal: Mosquito larvicidal activity of aqueous extracts of long pepper (Piper retrofractum Vahl) from Thailand: Among nine medicinal plant extracts, PR showed the highest level of activity against mosquito larvae. Extracts of unripe and ripe fruits showed different levels of activity. The ripe fruit extract was more active against Ae. aegypti than Cx. quinquefasciatus.
• Antioxidant: Chemical Constituents of Peppers (Piper spp.) and application to Food Preservation: Naturally Occurring Antioxidative Compounds: All phenolic compounds isolated, seven from P retrofractum, possess significant antioxidant activities.
• Cardioprotective / Antioxidant: Petroleum ether extract of root and piperine from roots of Piper longum pretreatment decreased lipid peroxide level and maintained glutathione to near normal levels in treated rats. Results showed the extract of the plant root and piperine exerted anti-oxidant activity and cardioprotective benefit in the myocardial ischemic condition.
• Antimycobacterial Activity : In a study of various extracts from medicinal plants used as self-medication by AIDS patients in Thailand were tested for their antimycobacterial activity. The chloroform extract of P chaba fruits showed strong inhibitory effects; piperine was its active compound.
• Piperine / CNS Activity / Anticonvulsant: Piperine isolated from study showed a strong potentiating effect on hexobarbital induced hypnosis. Piperine exerted a potent anticonvulsant effect measured by protection against strychnine mortality.
• Anti-Inflammatory / Anti-IL-6 Production: Study of inflammatory effects of extracts from P. retrofractum clearly showed regulation of LPS-induced IL-6 production by pure products from Piper extracts.
• Aphrodisiac / Toxicity Study: Study evaluated the toxicity and aphrodisiac effect of a combination infusion of P. retrofractum, Centella asiatica and Cucurma domestica on Sprague-Dawley strain of male rats. Results showed significant differences in coitus and climbing frequencies between the treated male rat group and the untreated group. Infusion of 1000 mg/200g bw had a safe aphrodisiac effect on male Sprague-Dawley rat libido.
• Antimicrobial: Study of evaluated 28 extracts from the fruits of four species, viz. Piper cubeba, P. retrofractum, P. longum, and P. nigrum against bacterial pathogens Staphylococcus aureus, S. typhi, P. aeuriginosa, E. coli and Bacillus megaterium and one fungus, Aspergillus niger. Compared to Streptomycin all extracts showed good antibacterial activity. Some exhibited antifungal activity.
• Piperidine Alkaloids / Anti-Obesity Effect / Anti-High-Fat Diet-Induced Obesity: Study isolated piperidine alkaloids, including piperine, pipermonaline, and dehydropipermonaline as anti-obesity constituents. Results showed piperidine alkaloids attenuated HFD-induced obesity by activating AMPK (AMP-activated protein kinase) and PPAR, and regulated lipid metabolism, suggesting potential anti-obesity effects.
• Anticancer / Mixture of Zingiber officinale and Piper retrofractum Extracts: Study of evaluated the cytotoxicity activity of a combination of ethanolic extracts of Z. officinale and P. retrofractum on HeLa and T47D cell lines. Z. officinale yielded terpenoids while P. retrofractum yielded alkaloids. The mixture showed cytotoxicity against HeLa and T47D cell lines, probably through ab apoptotic mechanism.
• Dental Plaque Benefits / Inhibition of Streptococcus sanguis: Streptococcus sanguis is a bacteria involved in the formation of dental plaque, calculus, and caries. Study of various extract concentrations showed growth inhibition of Streptococcus sanguis.
• Anti-Dengue Virus: In a study of 10 medicinal plants for anti-dengue type 2 activities in Vero cell by MTT method. At a concentration of 12.5 µg/ml, an ethanol extract showed inhibitory activity against DENV2 with 45.52% inhibition, 32.06% with a dichloromethane extract. At a concentration of of 100 µg/ml, there was 84.93% inactivation of viral particles.
• Neurotrophic Activity / Fruits: Study of fruits yielded three new compounds, 1-3, together with 22 known compounds. Compound 1 was found to enhance the neurite outgrowth of NGF-mediated PC12 cells.
• Antioxidant / Antimalarial: Study showed good antioxidant activity for Piper retrofractum, Zizyphus sativa, Eulophia campestris on DPPH assay method; P. retrofractum was the most potent. The free radical scavenging activity of these plants probably contributes to the effectiveness of the plants in malaria therapy.
• New Phenylpropanoid and Alkylglycoside / Antioxidant / α-Glucosidase Inhibition: Study of leaves isolated two new compounds, piperoside and isoheptanol 2(S)-O-ßD-xylopyranosyl (1-6)-O-ß-D-glucopyranoside, along with 10 known compounds. All the isolated compounds showed modest α-glucosidase inhibitory and antioxidant activities.
• Anti-Lice Shampoo: Study evaluated formulation of herbal shampoo from long pepper fruit (Piper retrofractum) extracts—10% and 3% concentrations—against human head louse (Pediculus capitis) on 60 heavily lice-infested children at Ladkrabang, Bangkok. Both herbal shampoo proved to be highly effective against all stages of human head lice, considered safe in children, with no post-application side effects.

– Wild-crafted.
– Fruit powder in the cybermarket.