Family • Rutaceae - Lunasia amara Blanco

Scientific names

Lunasia amara Blanco
Lunasia philippinensis F.-Vill.
Lunasia reticulata Elm.
Pilocarpus amara Blanco
Rabelaisa philippinensis Planch.

Common names

Apdong-kahoi (Tag.) Pait (Bik., Tag.)
Bunglai (Bik.) Paitan (Bis., Ilk.)
Dayangdang (Ilk.) Palatañgan (Gad.)
Labau (S. L. Bis.) Papait (Bik.)
Lubi-lubi (C. Bis.) Saltiki (Tag.)
Lunas (Tag.) Santiki (Tag.)


Additional Sources and Suggested Readings

(1) Lunacridine from Lunasia amara is a DNA intercalating topoisomerase II inhibitor / Prescott TA, Sadler IH et al / J Ethnopharmacol. 2007 Jan 19;109(2):289-94. Epub 2006 Aug 1.

(2) Alkaloids as potential anti-tubercular agents / Navneet Kishore, Bhuwan B. Mishra, Vyasji Tripathi, Vinod K. Tiwari / Fitoterapia 80 (2009) 149–163

(3) Cytochrome P450 2D6 inhibitory constituents of Lunasia amara / Subehan Naoto Takahashi, Shigetoshi Kadota, Yasuhiro Tezuka / Phytochemistry Letters, Volume 4, Issue 1, 15 March 2011, Pages 30-33 /

Lunas is an erect shrub, growing to a height of 3 meters. Twigs are smooth; the young tips olivaceous lepidote. Leaves are alternately crowded, obovate-oblong, 20 to 40 cm in length, 7 to 12 cm wide, often pointed at both ends. Male are female flowers are covered with lepidote scales, small and yellow, occurring in considerable numbers in axillary inflorescences which are shorter than the petioles. Fruit consists of three yellowish capsules, each about 1 cm long, marked with ribs, and opens along the veins and upper sutures.

In thickets and forests and low and medium altitudes.

– Bark and leaves yield an alkaloid or two alkaloids.
– Study yielded two alkaloids from the bark and wood, lunasin and lunacrin. Both are quinolin bases, having methoxymethyl-quinolin as one nucleus. Both exhibit similar physiologica actions, lunasin slightly more toxic than lunacrin.
– The alkaloids have a distinct action on muscle, increasing tone and a rapid dimininution of muscle response to stimulation. (Q)
– Study yielded quinoline alkaloids – 4-methoxy-2-phenylquinoline, kokusagine, and graveoline. (see below)

– Both alkaloids have exhibited a postive toxic action on protozoal organisms.

Parts used
Bark, seeds and leaves.

– Bark used for stomach troubles; also, used for snake bites.
– Bark and seeds used for gastralgia and adynamic conditions of the bowels.
– Leaves also used for stomach troubles.
– In Papua, New Guinea, used to treat tropical ulcers.

Study Findings
• Lunacridine / DNA Intercalating Topoisomerase II inhibitors: An ethnobotanical survey of plants in Papua, New Guinea has identified L. amaria as having anti-Staph aureus activity. Study of aqueous bark extract yielded a quinoline alkaloid, lunacridine as the active principle. Study with Strep pneumoniae suggested topoisomerase as the likely target for the drug; also, the compound showed to be a potent inhibitor of the isoform, explaining its activity against human cell lines. Resuts place the drug among the DNA intercalating class of topoisomerase II inhibitors. (Various inhibitors of DNA topoisomerase are being evaluated for antitumor activities.)
• Review / Anti-Tubercular Alkaloids / Quinoline Alkaloids: Lunasia amara has yielded quinoline alkaloids – 4-methoxy-2-phenylquinoline, kokusagine, and graveoline which displayed significant invitro activity against M. tuberculosis.
• Cytochrome P450 2D6 Inhibitory: Methanol extract study yielded 14 acridone alkaloids. Of the alkaloids, 5-hydoroxygraveoline and lunamarine showed moderate inhibition selective for CYP2D6.
• Antifungal / Antimicrobial: Extract yielded alkaloids and terpenoids which showed activity against Trichophyton mentagrophytes, A. flavus, Candida parapsilosis, M. luteus, B. subtilis, S. aureus. The active constituents were lunidonine and lunacrine.