Family • Menispermaceae - Tinospora rumphii Boerl. - HEAVENLY ELIXIR - Fa leng teng

Scientific names

Tinospora crispa (L.) Hook. f. & Thomson
Tinospora cordifolia F.-Vill.
Tinospora nudiflora Kurz.
Tinospora rumphii Boerl.
Cocculus cordifolius F.-Vill.
Menispermum crispum Linn.

Other vernacular names

CHINESE: Bo ye qing niu dan.
FRENCH: Liane-quinine.
THAI: Bora phet, Chung ching, Kuakhohoo (Don Daeng).

Common names

Makabuhai (Tag., Bis., Ilk.)
Makabuhay (Tag., Ilk.)
Paliaban (Bis.)
Paliahan (Bis.)
Panauan (Bis.)
Pañgiauan (Bis.)
Pañgiauban (Bis.)
Sañgaunau (Bag,)
Taganagtagua (Bis.)
Taganagtagwag (Tag., Bis.)
Tagua (Bis.)
Giloya (Ind.)
Heavenly elixir (Engl)
Fa leng teng (Chin.)

Makabuhay is a climbing, dioecious vine reaching a height of 4 to 10 meters. Stems are up to 1 centimeter thick and somewhat fleshy, with scattered protuberances. Leaves are thin, ovate, 6 to 12 centimeters long, and 7 to 12 centimeters wide, with pointed and truncate or somewhat heart-shaped based, smooth and shining. Petioles are 3.5 to 6 centimeters long. Racemes are solitary or in pairs arising from axils of fallen leaves, pale green, slender, 10 to 20 centimeters long. Flowers are pale green and short pedicelled. Fruit 8 millimeters long, in long clusters.


Additional info 
– Classified in Ayurvedic medicine as a rasayana herb, meaning “circulation of the nutrient” in Sanskrit, considered to enhance longevity, promote intelligence and prevent disease.(
– Propagated by stem cuttings or seeds. Support needed for climbing.

– In and nearby towns in thickets, in most or all islands of the Philippines.
– Perhaps an introduced species.
– Occurs in Malaya.


Chemical constituents 
• Plant contains a bitter principle, colombine (2.22%); traces of an alkaloid; and a glucoside. Also contains a amorphous bitter principle, picroretine and traces of berberine.
• A study showed that the bitter extract of the stem does not contain an alkaloid.
• Leaves yielded picroretine, traces of an alkaloid, and a substance similar to glyzirrhizin.
• Bitter principle is glucosidal in nature.
• Study reported two alkaloids, tinosporine and tinosporidine. (Later studies failed to confirm these.)
• Study yielded two new diterpenes along with known compounds tinotufolin D and vitexilactone.


Additional Sources and Suggested Readings


(1) Insecticidal use of Tinospora rhumhii

(2) New antimicrobial diterpenes from Tinospora rumphii. 

(3) Furanoid diterpene glucosides from Tinospora rumphii / Teresita Martin et al / Phytochemistry
Volume 42, Issue 1, May 1996, Pages 153-158 / doi:10.1016/0031-9422(95)00902-7

(4) Clerodane Diterpenes from Tinospora rumphii / C Y Ragasa et al / J. Nat. Prod., 2000, 63 (4), pp 509–511 DOI: 10.1021/np9902946

(5) The modulation of ovarian 3B-Hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase activity in rats during treatment with Tinospora rumphii Boerl / Else Dapat / 1999 / DOST SciNET-Phil

(6) Hypoglycaemic and hypolipidaemic action of alcohol extract of Tinospora cordifolia roots in chemical induced diabetes in rats / Stanely Mainzen Prince, Menon VP / Phytother Res. 2003 Apr;17(4):410-3.

(7) New antimicrobial diterpenes from Tinospora rumphii / Cruz, Ma. Cecelyn S. / Thesis / 2000 / De La Salle University

(8) Sorting Tinospora names / Authorised by Prof. Snow Barlow / Maintained by: Michel H. Porcher / MULTILINGUAL MULTISCRIPT PLANT NAME DATABASE / Copyright © 1997 – 2000 The University of Melbourne.

(9) The hypoglycaemic and insulinotropic activity of Tinospora crispa: studies with human and rat islets and HIT-T15 B cells. / Noor H, Hammonds P, Sutton R, Ashcroft SJ. / Diabetologia. 1989 Jun;32(6):354-9.

(10) The Effect of Tinospora crispa on Serum Glucose and Insulin Levels in Patients with Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus / Theerawut Klangjareonchai and Chulaporn Roongpisuthipong / Journal of Biomedicine and Biotechnology
Volume 2012 / doi:10.1155/2012/808762

(11) Inhibitory Properties of Tinospora crispa Extracts on TNF-α Induced Inflammation on Human Umbilical Vein Endothelial Cells (HUVECS) / Ihsan Safwan Kamarazaman, Zulkhairi Hj. Amom , Rasadah Mat Ali , Abdah Md Akim , Khairunnuur Fairuz Azman , Daryl Jesus Arapoc , Mohd Kamal Nik Hassan , Mohd Shahidan Mohd Arshad , Zamree Md Shah and Khairul Kamilah Abdul Kadir / International Journal of Tropical Medicine, 7: 24-29. / DOI: 10.3923/ijtmed.2012.24.29

(12) Toxicological study of crude extract of Tinospora crispa Mier ex Hook F.& Thoms / Pranee Chavalittumrong,
Aimmanus Attawish, Anchalee Chuthaputti, Pranee Chuntapet / Thai Journal of Pharmaceutical Sciences 1997; 21(4): 199-210

(13) Antimicrobial, Cytotoxicity and Antioxidant Activity of Tinospora crispa / Haque Aminul Md., Islam Ashraful S. M. and Shahriar Mohammad / JPBMS, 2011, 13 (12)

(14) Borapetoside C from Tinospora crispa improves insulin sensitivity in diabetic mice. / doi:10.1016/j.phymed.2012.03.009 / The Free Library by Farlex


(16) Effect of Tinospora crispa on thioacetamide-induced liver cirrhosis in rats / Farkaad A Kadir, Faizah Othman, Mahmood Ameen Abdulla, Farida Hussan, Pouya Hassandarvish / Indian Journ of Pharmacology, 2011, Vol 43, No 1, pp 64-68 / DOI: 10.4103/0253-7613.75673

(17) Study on cardiac contractility of cycloeucalenol and cycloeucalenone isolated from Tinospora crispa / Kongkathip N, Dhumma-upakorn P, Kongkathip B, Chawananoraset K, Sangchomkaeo P, Hatthakitpanichakul S. / J Ethnopharmacol. 2002 Nov;83(1-2):95-9.

– Considered febrifuge, vulnerary, tonic, antimalarial, parasiticide, and insecticidal.
– Studies suggest cardiotonic, antioxidant, antidiarrheal, antimicrobial, antidiabetic, antiproliferative, hypolipidemic properties.

Parts utilized
Stems and leaves.

• The basis of a popular preparation used as cordial, tonic, or ingredient in cocktails.

• Decoction of leaves and stems used for malaria and fever and as a tonic (40 gms to pint of boiling water).
• Scabies: Crush fresh stem and apply juice over the affected.
• Tropical ulcers and wound healing: Decoction of the stem as wash, or crush stem, soak in oil for 12 hours and apply oil extract on affected areas.
• Pounded stem, mixed with coconut oil, has been used for a variety of rheumatic and arthritic complaints; also for abdominal colic.
• Used for athlete’s foot.
• Used for fertility regulation.
• Preparation with coconut oil use as cure for rheumatism; also for flatulence (kabag) in children.
• Decoction or powder form of plant used as febrifuge. Decoction of stem used as vulnerary for itches, ordinary and cancerous wounds.
• Aqueous extract used for treatment of stomach trouble, indigestion, and diarrhea.
• Rheumatism and flatulence: mixture of the vine with oil. Cut 100 gms of the vine in small pieces, mix with 3 ounces of coconut oil. Place in bottle and “cook” under the sun for 5-7 days.
• For stomach ulcers: stem is pounded inside a plastic bag, water is added, strained, and drank once daily. Also, stems are dried, thinly sliced, decocted, then drank.
• Used by nursing mothers to assist in weaning infants off breast-feeding. The bitter juice of the stem is applied to the nipple area causing the infant’s aversion to breastfeeding and facilitating transfer to breast feeding.
• Internally, used as tonic and antimalarial; externally, as parasiticide.
• In Malaysia, extract taken orally to treat hyperglycemia.

• As pesticide (rice blackbugs, rice green leafhoppers, rice stem borers) using pounded chopped vines stirred in one liter of water and sprayed on seedlings before transplanting or soaking the seedlings overnight before transplanting.
• Makabuhay, with madre de cacao and hot red pepper extract in water sprayed on rice plants at weekly intervals.
New applications
Being studied for it possible stimulant effect on the immune system. Anecdotal benefits for a variety of HIV-related complaints.
Caution: Should not be used by pregnant women, patients with cardiac disorders.
Recent uses and preparations
• Used Preparation of ointment: Wash and chop 1/2 glass of stem. Sauté chopped stem on low fire for about five minutes in one glass of coconut oil. Remove the stems then add half a glass of grated white candlewax. When the wax is melted, pour
into clean bottle and label. Use the ointment over the whole body, save the face area, for three consecutive nights.

Study Findings
• Hay Fever / Allergic Rhinitis: A study in the Indira Ghandi Medical College showed it effective in relieving symptoms of hay fever or allergic rhinitis. The study used the supplement Tinofend 300 mg three times a day.
• Anti-scabies: Tinospora rumphii Boerl. (Makabuhay) in the Treatment of Scabies: The study established the acaricidal property of Tinospora rumphii. A concomitant antimicrobial action could not be ruled out.
• Furanoid Diterpenes: Study yielded cleordane type furanoid diterpenes: a new rumphioside I and known borapetodies C and F, plus three other compounds.
• Clerodane Diterpenes: Study yielded two new diterpenes, 1 and 2, from the leaves of Tinospora rumphii, along with known compounds tinotufolin D and vitexilactone.
• Swine Diarrhea Control: Study showed reduction of diarrhea with use of 25% fresh makabuhay decoction from day 15-35 in piglets with diarrhea.
• Antifertility Effect: Study on Sprague-Dawley rats investigated the effect of T rumphii on the activity of 3-B-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase activity in the ovary.
• Hypoglycemic / Hypolipidemic: Study on the extract of Tinospora cordifolia roots for 6 weeks resulted in a significant reduction of blood and urine glucose and lipids in serum and tissues in alloxan diabetic rats.
• Antimicrobial / Diterpenes: Study on chloroform extract of air-dried leaves yielded a new clerodane diterpene, B2, and known diterpenes B1, tinotufolin D (B5) and vitexilactone (B3). B2 was found to have antifungal activity against Aspergillus niger and T. mentagrophytes, and antibacterial activity against P. aeruginosa and Bacillus subtilis.
• Hypoglycemic / Insulinotropic Activity: Study of aqueous extract on alloxan-diabetic rats showed significant reduction of blood glucose and higher levels of serum insulin levels. The insulinotropic effect was also evident in perifused human and rat islets and HIT-T5 B cells. Results suggest the hypoglycemic effect is associated with increased insulin secretion.
• No Diabetic Benefits / Human Study: Study of dry powder capsule of Tinospora crispa in healthy and type 2 diabetic patients showed no effect on serum glucose and insulin levels. The result was inconsistent with other studies in animal model and metabolic syndrome subjects.
• Anti-TNF-a / Prevention of Atherosclerosis-related Cardiovascular Diseases: Study investigated an aqueous and methanol extract on Tumor Necrosis Factor induced inflammation on Human Umbilical Vein Endothelial cells in vitro. Results showed T. crispa extracts have an inhibitory effect in vitro on the levels of inflammation signaling molecules and may have potential in the development of nutraceuticals for the prevention of atherosclerosis-related cardiovascular diseases.
• Toxicity Study / Prolonged Use Concern: Results of chronic toxicity study of ethanolic extract suggest that, due to observed hepatic and renal toxicity potential in rats, prolonged use of high doses of T. crispa in humans should be avoided or discontinued immediately if signs of liver or renal toxicities occur while using T. crispa.
• Antimicrobial / Cytotoxicity / Antioxidant: Various extracts showed very significant cytotoxicity on brine shrimp lethality bioassay. Strong antioxidant activity was seen on DPPH assay. A chloroform soluble fraction of the methanolic extract showed significant activity against tested organisms on antimicrobial screening.
• Borapetoside C / Improved Insulin Sensitivity: Study isolated the hypoglycemic actions of borapetoside C isolated from T. crispa. Results showed borapetoside C can increase glucose utilization, delay the development of insulin resistance and enhance insulin sensitivity.
• Antioxidative / Antiatheroslcerosis: Study investigated the effect of T. crispa stem aqueous extract in hypercholesterolemic-induced rabbits. Results showed improvement in lipid profile (decreased total cholesterol, triglycerides, LDL, and increased HDL). Extract also showed strong antioxidative properties and markedly reduced atheroslcerotic lesion formation. Results suggest a potential for incorporation of T. crispa as part of therapeutic regimens in the prevention of atherosclerosis.
• Hepatotoxin Concerns: Study evaluated the effect of an ethanolic extract of dried stems of T. crispa i a male rat model of hepatic fibrosis caused by the hepatotoxin, thioacetamide. Results showed a significant increase in the activity of liver enzymes. The in vivo study establishes the extract contains hepatotoxins and suggests reliance on data from in vitro methodologies may lead to erroneous conclusions.
• Antioxidative / Antiproliferative: Study evaluated the cytotoxicity potential and antioxidant activity of various extracts. A methanol extract showed the highest flavonoid and phenolic content, with highest scavenging activity in a dose-dependent manner. T. crispa also showed dose-dependent antiproliferative activity against many types of cancer cells.
• Cardiotonic / Cycloeucalenol and Cycloeucalenone: Study isolated two triterpenes from the stems, namely, cycloeucalenol and cycloeucalenone. Results showed mild cardiotonic effects: cycloeucalenol slightly increased right atrial force contractions and reduction in left atria of rat in vitro, while cycloeucalenone showed slight change from control on right and left atrial force.