Chemical composition, antinociceptive and anti-inflammatory effects in rodents of the essential oil of Peperomia serpens (Sw.) Loud

J Ethnopharmacol. 2011 Nov 18;138(2):479-86. doi: 10.1016/j.jep.2011.09.037. Epub 2011 Sep 29.


Ethnopharmacological relevance: Peperomia serpens (Piperaceae), popularly known as "carrapatinho", is an epiphyte herbaceous liana grown wild on different host trees in the Amazon rainforest. Its leaves are largely used in Brazilian folk medicine to treat inflammation, pain and asthma.

Aim of the study: This study investigated the effects of essential oil of Peperomia serpens (EOPs) in standard rodent models of pain and inflammation.

Materials and methods: The antinociceptive activity was evaluated using chemical (acetic acid and formalin) and thermal (hot plate) models of nociception in mice whereas the anti-inflammatory activity was evaluated by carrageenan- and dextran-induced paw edema tests in rats croton oil-induced ear edema, as well as cell migration, rolling and adhesion induced by carrageenan in mice. Additionally, phytochemical analysis of the EOPs has been also performed.

Results: Chemical composition of the EOPs was analyzed by gas chromatography and mass spectrometry (GC/MS). Twenty-four compounds, representing 89.6% of total oil, were identified. (E)-Nerolidol (38.0%), ledol (27.1%), α-humulene (11.5%), (E)-caryophyllene (4.0%) and α-eudesmol (2.7%) were found to be the major constituents of the oil. Oral pretreatment with EOPs (62.5-500 mg/kg) significantly reduced the writhing number evoked by acetic acid injection, with an ED(50) value of 188.8 mg/kg that was used thereafter in all tests. EOPs had no significant effect on hot plate test but reduced the licking time in both phases of the formalin test, an effect that was not significantly altered by naloxone (0.4 mg/kg, s.c.). EOPs inhibited the edema formation induced by carrageenan and dextran in rats. In mice, EOPs inhibited the edema formation by croton oil as well as the leukocyte and neutrophil migration, the rolling and the adhesion of leukocytes.

Conclusions: These data show for the first time that EOPs has a significant and peripheral antinociceptive effect that seems unrelated to interaction with the opioid system. EOPs also displays a significant anti-inflammatory effect in acute inflammation models. This effect seems to be related to components which inhibit the production of several inflammatory mediators. These results support the widespread use of Peperomia serpens in popular medicine to treat inflammation and pain.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Analgesics / chemistry
  • Analgesics / pharmacology*
  • Animals
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents / chemistry
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents / pharmacology*
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Oils, Volatile / chemistry
  • Oils, Volatile / pharmacology*
  • Peperomia / chemistry*
  • Rats
  • Rats, Wistar


  • Analgesics
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents
  • Oils, Volatile