Peperomia obtusifolia is an evergreen, fleshy, erect, succulent
herb growing up to 25 centimeters tall. Leaves are alternate, fleshy, spatulate-obovate, waxy green, up
to 6 centimeters long, with a rounded or slightly notched apex and a tapering
base with a short brown petiole. Spikes up to 15 centimeters long. Flowers are white, up to 12 centimeters long, growing in a shiny, winding manner.
- A popular ornamental pot
plant or hanging plant and ground cover in the Philippines.
- Propagated by stem cuttings.
• A study isolated
five phenolic compounds with a methyl,
isoprenyl and geranyl group on a benzene ring core.
• Study of leaves and stems yielded a new flavone C-diglycoside isoswertisin-4-methyl-ether-2?-L-rhmanoside along with four known compounds: isoswertisin-2?-L-rhamnoside (2), (+)-diayangambin (3), 2-episesalatin (4) and corchoionoside C (5). (see study below) (8)
• Hydrodistillation and GC-MS study for essential oil yielded 35 constituents, of which 16 volatile compounds contribute 65.0% of total oil constituents. Major constituents were sesquiterpenes such as caryophyllene (17.17%), apiol (16.65%), α-cardinol (2.12%), and α-caryophyllene (1.90%). The monoterpenes such as R-α-pinene (1.00%), camphene (0.84%), borneal (0.32%), and limonene (0.25%) were also identified. Tau-muurolol (0.68%), t-elemene (0.63%) copaene (0.43%) and tau-cadinol (0.27%) were present in minor amounts. (9)
• Studies suggest antifungal, trypanocidal and air-cleaning properties.
- No known folkloric medicinal
use in the Philippines.
- In the Guianas, folkloric use for malaria and arthritis. Decoction of stem and leaves applied as febrifuge. Also, used for albuminuria and malaria.
- The French Guiana Wayapi crush the aerial parts into tampons on hypertrophied lesions caused by malaria.
- The Kubeo Indians of Columbia use the crushed leaves over painful arthritic joints.
- Succulent leaves used as antiscorbutic.
- Kubeo Indians of Columbia use crushed leaves as a rub to reduce arthritic pains.
- In Asian ethnomedicine, used for skin and stomach problems and diarrhea.
• Of the ethnomedicinal plants used in Trinidad and Tobago, Peperomia
obtusifolia was found possibly efficacious for stomach problems, pains
and internal parasites. The paper evaluated 58 ethnomedicinal plants used in Trinidad and Tobago for skin problems, stomach problems and intestinal parasites. (5)
• Phenolic Compounds: A study isolated
fire phenolic compounds with a methyl,
isoprenyl and geranyl group on a benzene ring core. (2)
• Air-Cleaning Plant: In a sealed chamber study of potted plants in carbon filters, Peperomia obtusifolia was shown to reduce formaldehyde by 47 percent. (3)
• Trypanocidal / Leaves and Stems: The trypanocidal activity of extracts from leaves and stems were evaluated in vitro against the epigmastigote forms of Trypanosoma cruzi. Study yielded seven known compounds including three chromanes, two furofuran lignans and two flavone C-diglycosides. The chromanes showed no toxicity at the level of IC50 for trypanocidal activity. (1)
• Isoswertisin Flavones / Weak Antifungal Activity: Study of leaves and stems yielded a new flavone along with four known compounds. On bioautographic assay against Cladosporium cladosporioides and C. sphaerospermum, the flavones showed weak antifungal activity. (see constituents above) (8)
• 8-C-Rhamnosyl Apigenin (8CR) / Anti-Edema / Anti-Venom: Compound 8CR induced a moderate reduction in the enzymatic activity of secretory phospholipase A2 (sPLA2) from Crotalus durissus terrificus and cytosolic phospholipase A2 (cPLA2), and also significantly inhibited the enzymatic activity of the enzyme cyclooxygenase. Study showed the SPLA2 of C. durissus terrificus venom induces massive muscle damage and significant edema. This resulted in decrease of bioactive lipids involved in inflammation and promoted a significant cellular protection against lipid peroxidation. Results showed 8CR to be a potent anti-inflammatory that inhibits COX-2 and may modulate the enzymatic activity of sPLA2 and cPLA2. The polyphenolic compound may be significant in mitigating the pharmacologic effect induced by sPLA2 and other snake venom toxins. (10)
• Anti-Inflammatory / Immunomodulatory / Leaves: Study evaluated the immunomodulatory effects of crude leaf extracts of P. obtusifolia, P gaudichaudianum, P. arboreum, P. umbellata, and P fuligineum. on an in-vitro model of inflammatory response. Results showed the crude leaf extracts amplified the anti-inflammatory response when compared to ketoprofen, the standard anti-inflammatory drug. Peperomia obtusifolia extract downmodulated the production of H2O2, IL-6, IL-8, IL-10 and TNF-α. Results suggest potential for their use in the treatment of inflammatory diseases. (11)
• Reduction of Indoor Ozone: Ozone is an air pollutant commonly found in indoor environments. Office equipment such as copier machines and laser printers can emit ozone. Various materials like natural rubbers, linoleum, carpets and latex pains react with ozone. Study evaluated three common indoor plants for their effect in decreasing ozone levels: Swedish ivy (Plectranthus australis), golden pothos (Epiprenmum aureum) and pepper-face (Peperomia obtusifolia). Results showed all three plant species were effective in decreasing indoor ozone levels and can be used for maintaining a cleaner breathing environment in office settings. (12)
• Can plants control indoor air pollution? Recent reports in the media and promotions by the decorative houseplant industry characterize plants as "nature's clean air machine", claiming that National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) research shows plants remove indoor air pollutants. While it is true that plants remove carbon dioxide from the air, and the ability of plants to remove certain other pollutants from water is the basis for some pollution control methods, the ability of plants to control indoor air pollution is less well established. Most research to date used small chambers without any air exchange which makes extrapolation to real world environments extremely uncertain. The only available study of the use of plants to control indoor air pollutants in an actual building could not determine any benefit from the use of plants69. As a practical means of pollution control, the plant removal mechanisms appear to be inconsequential compared to common ventilation and air exchange rates. In other words, the ability of plants to actually improve indoor air quality is limited in comparison with provision of adequate ventilation.
While decorative foliage plants may be aesthetically pleasing, it should be noted that over damp planter soil conditions may actually promote growth of unhealthy microorganisms. (4)