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Family Apocynaceae
Voacanga globosa (Blanco) Merr.

Scientific names Common names
Tabernaemontana globosa Blanco Bayag usa (Tag.)
Voacanga cumingiana Rolfe Lapit-usa (Bulusan, Sorsogon)
Voacanga dolichocalyx Quisumb. & Merr. Tambagisa (Lanao del Norte)
Voacanga globosa (Blanco) Merr. Testicle tree (Engl.)
Voacanga latifolia Quisumb. & Merr.  
Voacanga globosa (Blanco) Merr. is an accepted name The Plant List

Bayag-usa is a tree reaching a height of up to 3 meters. Leaves are simple, opposite, oblong-elliptic; dark green in the upper surface and pale beneath. Flowers are creamy white and showy. Fruit comes in pairs, brownish, 3 to 5 centimeters in diameter. Seeds are embedded in the pulp.

- Endemic to the Philippines.
- In secondary forests and thickets at lower elevations.
- Sometimes ornamentally cultivated for its flowers.

- Preliminary phytochemical screening of leaves yielded alkaloids, saponins, 2-deoxysugars, and hydrolyzable tannins. (see study below) (10)
- A bioassay-guided purification yielded Globospiramine (1), a new spirobisindole alkaloid possessing an Aspidosperma-Aspidosperma skeleton, together with deoxyvobtusine (2), deoxyvobtusine lactone (3), vobtusine lactone (4) and lupeol (5).
(see study below) (11)

- Studies have suggested anti-tumor, antimycobacterial, and anticholinesterase properties.

- In Bataan, used in the treatment of ulcers, wounds, and tumors. (9)
- Fruit used as antidote for food poisoning. (8)
- The Ati tribe of Iloilo apply the paste of fresh leaves to the forehead to treat fever and spasmodic pains.
For relapse (pasma): leaves are heated over low flame and patient is made to sit on some of the leaves while other leaves are pasted on the stomach. (16)
- Pounded fruits used to stupefy eels. (6)

A study reports nine of 35 tree species tested had positive anticancer activity. Voacanga globosa was added to the list of trees with anticancer substances based on a report on actual remission and inhibition of induced cell division.
Alkaloids / Tabernaemontanine:
Studies on the alkaloids of Voacanga globosa (Blanco) Merrill Isolated and characterized tabernaemontanin.

Anticancer: Study of medicinal plants in the Philippines lists nine of 35 tree species to possess anticancer activity, including Voacanga globosa, with anticancer substances based on remission and inhibition of induced cell division.
Anti-Colon Cancer / Apoptosis: Study evaluated the cytotoxic and pro-apoptotic activity of fractions of leaves on HCT116 human colon carcinoma and A549 human lung carcinoma cell lines. Results showed the MP3 fraction exerted cytotoxic activity on HCT116 cells via induction of apoptosis triggered by loss of mitochondrial membrane potential crucial for cell survival. (9)
Antibacterial / Antifungal / Antiprotozoal / Leaves: Study evaluated ethanol extracts of leaves of Voacanga globosa for cytotoxicity and for activity against bacteria, fungus, and protozoa. Results showed antibacterial activity against Staph aureus, Bacillus cereus, P. aeruginosa, Micrococcus luteus, and Salmonella typhimurium; antifungal assay showed inhibition of Candida albicans; antiprotozoal assay showed activity against Trichomonas vaginalis and Entamoeba histolytica. (10)
Antimycobacterial / Anticholinesterase: Bioassay-guided purification yielded globospiramine, a new spirobisindole alkaloid, together with deoxyvobtusine, deoxyvobtusine lactone, vobtusine lactone, and lupeol. Globospiramine exhibited potent antituberculosis activity against Mycobacterium tuberculosis H(37)Rv. The bisondole alkaloids also showed promising anticholinesterase activity. (11)
Cytotoxicity Screening of Alkaloids / Leaves: Study evaluated the cytotoxic activity of alkaloids from T. pandacaqui and Voacanga globosa leaves using Brine Shrimp Lethality Assay. The alkaloid content of the extracts were quantified as milligrams of Vincristine Sulfate Equivalent (mg VSE) using Bromocresol Green Assay. VG yielded an alkaloid content of 105.3 mg VSE translating to a yield of 0.527%, with a LC50 value of 40.8 ppm. Results warramt further investigation for cytotoxic action with potential use in cancer chemotherapy. (12)
• Biphasic Inflammatory Response / Leaves: Study evaluated four concentrations of ethanolic leaf extracts administered intraperitoneally in mice. The ethanolic leaf extract exhibited biphasic inflammatory effects—immunostimulatory at low concentrations and immunosuppressive at high concentrations. (14)
• Cytotoxic and Antimitotic Alkaloids / Leaves: Study evaluated the cytotoxic and antimitotic effects of the semi-purification of alkaloids from V. globosa leaves extract. Percent survival ± standard deviation of Brine Shrimp Lethality Assay showed 1000 ppm concentration has highest cytotoxic effect with the computed LC50 of 187.1429. On Alium Test, the 1000 ppm showed the highest antimitotic effect with computed EC50 of 555.6667. Therefore, the higher the concentration, the higher the activity. (15)


© Godofredo U. Stuart Jr., M.D.

Updated March 2018 / February 2018 / January 2016

Photos © Godofredo Stuart / StuartXchange

Additional Sources and Suggested Readings
Medicinal Uses Of Selected Fruit Trees And Woody Perennials / Saturnina Halos / University of the Philippines, National Science Research Institute, Diliman, Quezon City
Alkaloid from Voacanga globosa with potent antituberculosis activity / Research Center for the Natural Sciences,, University of Santo Tomas and Institute of Tuberculosis Research, University of Illinois at Chicago

Medicinal Uses Of Selected Fruit Trees And Woody Perennials / Saturnina Halos / University of the Philippines, National Science Research Institute, Diliman, Quezon City / Journal of Tropical Medicinal Plants/ Volume 5 No. 2
Voacanga globosa (Blanco) Merr. / Synonyms / The Plant List
Voacanga globosa / CRC World Dictionary of Medicinal and Poisonous Plants / Umberto Quattrocchi / BooksGoogle
Lapit-usa: Testicle Tree / Bulusan, Flora and fauna, Nature / Bulusan Rural Vagabond
Tambagisa / Voacanga globosa (Blanco) Merr. / Philippine Traditional Knowledge Digital Library on Health
Apoptosis-inducing activity of HPLC fraction from Voacanga globosa (Blanco) Merr. on the human colon carcinoma cell, HCT116 / Acebedo AR, Amor EC, Jacinto SD. / Asian Pac J Cancer Prev. 2014;15(2):617-22 / DOI: 10.7314/APJCP.2014.15.2.617
Antimicrobial activity, cytotoxicity, and phytochemical screening of Voacanga globosa (Blanco) Merr. leaf extract (Apocynaceae). / Vital PG, Rivera WL. / Asian Pac J Trop Med. 2011 Oct;4(10):824-8. doi: 10.1016/S1995-7645(11)60202-2.
Mycobacterium tuberculosis and cholinesterase inhibitors from Voacanga globosa.
/ Macabeo AP, Vidar WS, Chen X, Decker M, Heilmann J, Wan B, Franzblau SG, Galvez EV, Aguinaldo MA, Cordell GA. / Eur J Med Chem. 2011 Jul;46(7):3118-23. doi: 10.1016/j.ejmech.2011.04.025. Epub 2011 Apr 19
Toxicity screening of alkaloids from tabernaemontana pandacaqui POIR (Pandakaki-puti) and voacanga globosa (Blanco) MERR.(Bayag-Usa) leaf extracts using brine shrimp assay. / Andaya, Genesis Faye and Hulipas, Gladys Dianne / Undergraduate thesis, De La Salle University-Dasmarinas. 2012
Voacanga globosa / Synonyms / The Plant List
Biphasic inflammatory effects of Voacanga globosa ethanolic leaf extract in ICR mice / Ruth Marian S. Guzman*, Reynand Jay C. Canoy, Daile Meek C. Salvador  and Elena S. Catap / Journal of Medicinal Plants Research, Vol.7(38), pp. 2879-2884 , October 2013 / https://doi.org/10.5897/JMPR2013.5204
Ethnopharmacological Study of the Ati Tribe in Nagpana, Barotac Viejo, Iloilo / D A Madulid, F J M Gaerlan, E M Romero and E M C Agoov / Acta Manilana 38 (1989): pp 25-40

It is not uncommon for links on studies/sources to change. Copying and pasting the information on the search window or using the DOI (if available) will often redirect to the new link page.

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