Philippine Medicinal Herbs:  Aratiles / Muntingia calabura Linn / Cherry tree/Kerson Fruit

Philippine Medicinal Herbs: Aratiles / Muntingia calabura Linn / Cherry tree/Kerson Fruit

Muntingia calabura Linn.


Scientific names Common names
Muntingia calabura Linn. Aratiles (Tag.)
Muntingia calabura var. trinitensis Griseb. Datiles (Tag., Bik.)
Muntingia rosea H.Karst. Latires (Tag.)
Ratiles (Tag.)
Seresa (Ilk.)
Zanitas (Ilk., Ibn.)
Calabur tree (Engl.)
Cherry tree (Engl.)
Panama berry (Engl.)
Strawberry cherry (Engl.)
Silk wood (Engl.)
Muntingia calabura L. is an accepted name The Plant List
Other vernacular names
CAMBODIAN: Krakhob barang.
FRENCH: Bois Ramier
LAOTIAN: Takhob.
MALAY: Kerukup siam.
PORTUGUESE: Calabura, Páo De Seda.
SPANISH: Cacaniqua, Calabura, Calubur, Capulín Blanco, Capulin, Cereza.
THAI: Takhop farang.
VIETNAMESE: Trung ca mat sam.
Aratiles is a fast growing tree, 5 to 10 meters high, with spreading branches. Leaves are hairy, sticky, alternate, distichous, oblong-ovate to broadly oblong-lanceolate, 8 to 13 centimeters long, with toothed margins, pointed apex and inequilateral base, one side rounded and the other acute. Flowers are about 2 centimeters in diameter, white, extra-axillary, solitary or in pairs. Sepals are 5, green, reflexed, lanceolate, about 1 centimeter long. Petals are white, obovate, 1 centimeter long, deciduous and spreading. Fruit is a berry, rounded, about 1.5 centimeter in diameter, red on ripening, smooth, fleshy, sweet and many seeded.

- Naturalized, widely distributed, growing in and about towns.
– Introduced from tropical America.
– Also reported in Thailand and Java.

- Phytochemical analysis of various leaf extracts yieded saponin, tannins, and flavonoid.
– Dichlormethane extract of fruit yielded squalene (1), triglyceride (2), a mixture of linoleic acid (31) palmitic acid (3b) and α-linolenic acid (3c), and a mixture of ß-sitosterol (4a) and stigmasterol (4b). (17)
– Fruit extract yielded phenols, flavonoids, anthocyanins tannins, saponins, etc. A methanolic fruit extract yielded 1.49 g/100g gallic acid of phenolic content, 3 mg/g CE of flavonoid, and 300 µg CGE/100g fresh mass fruit of anthocyanin.

- Antispasmodic and emollient.
– Studies have shown antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, anti-pyretic, analgesicm cardioprotective, antibacterial, and antifungal properties.

Parts utilized
Bark, leaves and flowers.

- The ripe fruit is very popular among Filipino children.
- Flowers are antispasmodic. Decoction of flowers for abdominal cramps.
– Decoction used as emollient.
– Flowers used as antiseptic and to treat spasms.
– Leaves used as antiseptics or antipruritic; also, to treat abdominal cram
– Also used to relieve colds and headaches.
– In the Antiles, used as antispasmodic.
– In Martinique, bark decoction is mucilaginous and used as emollient.
- Bark used for making rope.
– Wood is compact, fine-grained, moderately strong and light in weight and durable, used for carpentry work.
– Fast growing tree that makes for a favorable shade tree.

Antibacterial Activity: The study concluded that M. calabura possesses a potential antibacterial property that is comparable to the standard antibiotics used. The study also suggests the presence of a more potent polar antibacterial compound. (1)
staphylococcal Activity Study isolated fractions from the methanol extract of MC with anti-staphylococcal activity.
Flavanone Constituents: The study isolated a flavanone as well as 24 known compounds, which were mainly flavanones and flavones.
Antinociceptive / Anti-inflammatory / Antipyretic: The study concludes that M. calabura leaves possessed antinociceptive, 

anti-inflammatory and antipyretic activities, justifying the Peruvian folkloric medicinal use.(3)
Cytotoxic Flavonoids / Anticancer: Study isolated 12 new flavonoids were isolated (7 flavans, 3 flavones, two biflavans). Most of the isolates demonstrated cytotoxic activity and some exhibited selective activities when evaluated with a number of human cancer cell lines.
Cytotoxic / Leaves and Stems : Study of leaves and stems of Muntingia calabura yielded cytotoxic flavonoids: chrysin, 2′,4′-dihydroxychalcone and galangin 3, 7-dimethyl ether. The compounds were active against one or more panels of human and murine cell lines. (5)
Cardioprotective: Pretreatment with M calabura leaf extract efficiently protected the myocardium against isoproterenol-induced myocardial infarction. It brought about a significant decrease in cardiac marker enzyme activities probably due reduction in extent of myocardial damage and restriction of leakage of enzymes from the myocardium.
Antinociceptive / Opioid Receptor Connect: Aqueous extract of Muntingia calibura showed significant antinociceptive activity against chemically and thermally induced noxious stimuli. The bioactive compounds responsible for the activity work partly through the opioid receptor system.
Antioxidant: Study showed high levels of antioxidant activity in the fruit extracts. There was a correlation between antioxidant activity and phenolic flavonoid contents.
(8) Various fruit extracts were evaluated for in vitro antioxidant activity against DPPH radical quenching assay and reducing power. Higher antioxidant potential was seen in DPPH scavenging assay, with a positive correlation between phenoics and flavonoid contents and antioxidant properties of the extracts. (see constituents above) (18)
Anticancer / Antiproliferative / Antoxidant: Study showed M. calabura leaves possess potential antiproliferative and antioxidant activities that could be attributed to high content of phenolic compounds.
Hypotensive Effect: Study evaluated the cardiovascular effect of a methanol extract from the leaf of MC. A fractionated water-soluble extract elicited both a transient and delayed hypotensive effect via production of NO (nitric oxide). Activation of NO/sGC/cGMP signaling pathway may mediate the MC-induced hypotension. (11)
Antinociceptive / Leaves / Mechanisms: Study on a methanol extract of leaves showed antinociceptive activity involving activation of peripheral and central mechanisms, and partly, via modulation of opioid receptors and NO/cGMP pathway. (12)
Analgesic / Antipyretic / Leaves: Study of chloroform extract of M. calabura leaves showed remarkable antinociceptive and antipyretic, but less effective anti-inflammatory activities in various animal models. (16)
Antimicrobial / Leaves: Study evaluated the in vitro antimicrobial activity of Muntingia calabrura leaf extracts against a selected panel of microorganisms. A methanol extract produced inhibition zones against S. aureus, P. aeruginosa, E. coli, K. pneumonia and C. neoformans. Results suggest potent antibacrterial activity and the presence of more potent polar antibacterial compound. (17)
Effect onn Isoproterenol-Induced Myocardial Infarction: Study evaluated the effects of an aqueous extract of MC on isoproterenol-induced myocardial infarction. in Wistar albino rats. Pretreatment with the aqueous extract had a significant effect on the activities of marker enzymes (CK, LDH, and transaminases. (18)
Antihyperglycemic / Antioxidant / Leaves: Study evaluated Muntingia calabura leaves extracts for in vitro antioxidant and antidiabetic property in Streptozotocin-Nicotinamide induced type II diabetic rat model. In four complementary antioxidant assays, the ethanolic extract of leaves showed high phenolic and flavonoid content. Treatment of STZ-N induced type II diabetic rats with the extracts cuased a significant reduction in fasting glucose level in a dose dependent manner. All the extracts showed dose-dependent antioxidant and anti-hyperglycemic activity with potential to protect against free radical medicated damages. (19)
New Cytotoxic Flavonoids / Anti-Cancer / Roots: Study of cytotoxic Et2O-soluble extract of Muntingia calabura roots isolated 12 new flavonoids, viz. seven flavans 207, three flavones 8,10, and 12,and two biflavans 9 and 11. Most of the isolates demonstrated cytotoxic activity against P-388 cells. Some of the flavonoids exhibited somewhat selectivie activities against a number of human cancer cell lines. (20)
Gastroprotective Cytotoxic Flavonoids / Anti-Cancer / Roots: Study evaluated a methanol extract of M. calabura leaves for the mechanism of gastroprotective effect in a pylorus ligated induced gastric ulceration model in rats. The MEMC exerted gastroprotective effect via several mechanisms including anti-secretory, antioxidant, and anti-inflammatory activities. The activities could be attributed to the presence of tannins, saponins, and flavonoids (e.g., rutin, quercitrin, fissetin and dihydroquercetin). (21)


Godofredo U. Stuart Jr., M.D.

Last Update January 2016




13 Wonderful Health Benefits Of Kerson Fruits You May Not Know

Never heard of Kerson Fruit? Well, you’re about to! This amazing berry fruit looks a lot like a cherry and is found on a very fast-growing tree, also like a cherry. It’s not surprising that most Americans have not heard of Kerson Fruit (latin name Muntingia calabura), since it grows primarily in Asia and Latin America — although, if you’ve ever heard of a strawberry tree, that’s an American name for it.

What researchers and nutritionists are now finding, like with so many other “unknown” fruits, is that there are some amazing health benefits packed into this little berry — benefits that act as preventatives and curatives. If you have a strong interest in sustaining a program of nutritional health, you will be interested in this list of 14 important uses of the Kerson Fruit, as well as uses for its leaves and flowers.

Kerson Fruit or Muntingia calabura is a fast growing tree that has a cherry like fruit with multiple health benefits: Such as lowering blood sugar, preventing cancer, promoting cardiovascular health, lowering blood pressure, and blocking pain… just to name a few.

Benefits from the Fruit Itself

1. It has antibacterial properties. 

One of the big concerns of medicine today is that bacteria of all types are becoming resistant to the antibiotics that medical science produces. We have overused antibiotics to the point that bacteria have mutated, growing stronger and more resistant strains. Kerson Fruit is a natural antibioticthat will fight Staph infections,S. Epidermis,P.Vulgaris, K. Rhizophil,  intestinal bacteria, sepsis, diphtheria and other bacteria. Further testing may prove its value in fighting other forms  of invaders as well. This is important when we have so many antibiotic resistant bacteria.

2. It is a huge source of Vitamin C

One hundered grams of the berries is equal to 150 mgs of Vitamin C. We already know that this vitamin helps to prevent flu and colds, has strong antioxidants, and even works to improve some types of cardiovascular disease.

3. It provides gout relief. 

Over the centuries many countries used Kerson Fruit to stop the pain associated with gout. Gout is a painful form of arthritis caused by a buildup of uric acid in your system, usually from consuming too much of certain types of food and too little water. While Kerson Fruit cannot cure gout (it goes away on its own), the berries, eaten 3 times a day in groups of 9-12, will relieve the pain — the worst part of gout.

4. It is great for headache relief. 

People who suffer severe headaches do so because of blood vessel constriction. Kerson berries relax blood vessels, so that blood can flow normally again. Eating the fruit and drinking tea made of the leaves works great for getting rid of headaches.

5. It is helpful for those with diabetes.

Diabetics fight their disease their entire lives. They have to constantly monitor their blood sugar levels and take medication or injections. Kerson Fruit helps to lower blood sugar, and regular consumption can mean less medicine or lower injection doses. As a preventative against diabetes, Kerson Fruit is used regularly in those countries in which it is prevalent.

6. It has strong antioxidant properties.

Oxidation is a chemical process in your body that releases free radicals. These damaging free radicals form chains and are considered to be culprits in cancer and other diseases. Antioxidants kill free radicals, and Kerson Fruit  and leaves is full of them — 24 different flavonoids and phenolic compounds to be exact like that found in green tea… plus saponin compounds. . Don’t worry too much about exactly what flavonoids and phenolic compounds are — you just need to know that they are the “good guys.”

7. It contains important nutrients.

The fruit itself includes fiber, carbs, protein for strong muscles, calcium and phosphorous for strong bones, iron for anemia, and B-vitamins for vitality and good enhancers. With this type of excellent nutritional benefit, it is no wonder that Kerson Fruit is such a staple in other parts of the world. People eat the fruit raw, make jams and jellies, and use it for baking. Finding Kerson Fruit in the US is a bit challenging. You can, however, buy it online in liquid form or in form of one or a group of supplements, and according to nutritionists, this is just as beneficial as the fruit itself.


Benefits from Kerson Tea

The ancients knew of the benefits of Kerson Fruit and also of its leaves, so they dried those leaves, crushed them up, and made tea. Here are the currently known benefits of the tea.

8. It acts as a pain blocker. 

While the fruit itself is a pain reliever, the tea actually blocks pain receptors. Here’s how that works: You have nerve cells (neurons) all over your body. When they receive pain stimuli (a cut, a bee sting, etc.) they send messages to your spinal cord and brain and you feel pain. The tea blocks those messages from being sent, similar to the way in which an opiate does, but without the bad side effects. Just like eating the fruit, the tea is great for headaches, gout pain, and other arthritic joint pain.

9. It is being researched as a cancer preventative.

Research so far shows promise that the leaves of this tree have properties that act to reduce and prevent cancerous tumor growth. Much more research needs to be done, of course, but don’t you wonder why cancer was not a huge killer in ancient societies? Sure, they didn’t have all of the environmental hazards that we do today (although, they did also smoke, chew tobacco, and drink “firewater”), but those in warm climates used many of these common plants regularly.

10. It has strong anti-inflammatory benefits. 

The most prevalent issues with inflammation come in the form of the swelling of joints and tissues and fevers. Kerson tea reduces such things, and people who live in regions where this tree is prevalent use it for those purposes by consuming the tea.

11. It reduces blood pressure.

High blood pressure is caused by many things in modern society — smoking, salt, diets high in fat, and heredity. When blood vessels constrict due to these things, blood has a harder time moving through the body and puts pressure on your vessels as it does. Thus, the term high blood pressure, a dangerous conditions that can cause heart attacks and strokes. Kerson tea contains large amounts of nitric oxide, a natural chemical which relaxes blood vessels so that blood can flow freely, thus reducing pressure.

12. It has definite cardiovascular benefits.

The leaves for tea has specific antioxidants that prevent types of inflammation that can cause myocardial infarction, or a heart attack. Because parts of your heart muscle can suffer permanent damage due to lack of blood flow during a heart attack, you really want to do all that you can to prevent them.

13. It improves digestion.

You can make a soothing drink from Kerson flowers (they can be boiled up to two times). It is used to calm upset stomachs, gas cramps, and indigestion.

Flowers – The flowers boiled for tea are a good antiseptic agent for skin wounds and also works well for treating abdominal cramps.

Forms and Finding – Kerson Fruit can be found fresh at Asian and Latin Markets(Check the other names for the fruit), in jams and jellies, and in liquid form for medicinal purposes on-line.

Other Uses – The tree is fast growing and can be used for light duty projects… also the bark makes great rope.

Do you know someone with a Kerson Tree? The leaves may be very valuable for making tea… and not many people are marketing the fruit and the leaves.





Take 3 or 4 leaves and steep in a large mug of hot water for 10 to 15 minutes –  no need to boil – then drink.

Fresh leaves are always better – but a person can also dry them to keep for extended periods of time .



What are your thoughts?