Strausbaugh, Perry D. Department of Botany, West Virginia University, Morgantown, West Virginia.
Core, Earl L. Department of Biology, West Virginia University, Morgantown, West Virginia.
Last reviewed:December 2019
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The dried, nearly ripe fruit (berries) of a climbing vine, Piper cubeba, of the pepper family (Piperaceae). The cubeb species is native to eastern India and Indo-Malaysia. The crushed berries of the cubeb are smoked and the inhaled smoke produces a soothing effect in certain respiratory ailments. Cubebs (see illustration), which are also known as tailed or Java peppers, are used in medicine as a stimulant, expectorant and diuretic. Medicinal properties of the cubeb are the result of the presence of a volatile oil, which formerly was thought to stimulate healing of mucous membranes. Oil of cubeb is a colorless, pale green, or yellow liquid with a peppery odor. Its chief components are sesquiterpenes, cadinene and dipentene. In Indonesia, cubeb is also used in foods to add a bitter flavor. See also: Essential oils; Piperales; Spice and flavoring
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