Ethnopharmacological uses of Sempervivum tectorum L. in southern Serbia: Scientific confirmation for the use against otitis linked bacteria

J Ethnopharmacol. 2015 Dec 24;176:297-304. doi: 10.1016/j.jep.2015.11.014. Epub 2015 Nov 10.


Ethnopharmacological relevance: Sempervivum tectorum L. (Crassulaceae), known as houseleek, is used in traditional medicine in the treatment of ear inflammation. It can be spread as a pack on wounds, sores, burns, and abscesses and also on painful areas attacked by gout as a refrigerant and astringent. Drinking tea prepared from leaves of S. tectorum is recommended for ulcer treatment. The present study was designed to investigate ethopharmacological use of S. tectorum in the southern Serbia and to further scientifically justify and confirm effectiveness of the leaf juice used in ethnomedicine for ear inflammation, against otitis linked bacteria.

Material and methods: Ethnopharmacological survey on the use of S. tectorum in southern Serbia was performed using semi structured questionnaires via a face-to-face interview. Chemical composition of the leaf juice regarding phenolic compounds and organic acids was analyzed. Antimicrobial activity was tested on bacteria isolated from ear swabs of the patients suffering from the ear pain (otitis). Anti-quorum-sensing activities of the juice were further investigated on Pseudomonas aeruginosa.

Results: Ethnopharmacological survey revealed the use of S. tectorum in southern Serbia for the treatment of ear pain, warts, cancer, stomachache, ulcer and high blood sugar level with the highest fidelity level (FL) for the ear pain. The phenolic composition of the S. tectorum leaf juice consisted of flavonol glycosides, with kaempferol-3-O-rhamnosyl-glucoside-7-O-rhamnoside as the majority compound. Organic acids composition revealed malic acid as the most dominant one. Antimicrobial and anti-quorum-sensing activities of the juice showed to be promising.

Conclusion: Ethnopharmacological use of S. tectorum juice for treating ear pain is justified, since the juice possessed antimicrobial activity towards clinical isolates of bacteria linked to otitis.

Keywords: Antimicrobial activity; Ethnopharmacological survey; Organic acids; Otitis; Phenolic compounds; Sempervivum tectorum L..

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / pharmacology*
  • Crassulaceae*
  • Ethnopharmacology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Otitis / drug therapy
  • Otitis / microbiology
  • Phenols / analysis
  • Phenols / pharmacology
  • Phytotherapy
  • Plant Extracts / pharmacology*
  • Plant Leaves
  • Pseudomonas aeruginosa / drug effects*
  • Pseudomonas aeruginosa / metabolism
  • Pseudomonas aeruginosa / physiology
  • Pyocyanine / metabolism
  • Quorum Sensing / drug effects
  • Serbia
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Young Adult


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents
  • Phenols
  • Plant Extracts
  • Pyocyanine