Cardiospermum halicacabum

scientific name: 
Cardiospermum halicacabum L.
Corindum halicacabum (L.) Medik.
Botanical family: 

Botanical description

Climbing shrub 3 (-6 m) high.  Leaves alternate up to 12 cm long, compound, blade pellucid-dotted, leaflets 5 cm x 2.5 cm, ovate-elliptical, acute-tipped; inflorescence corymbose; flowers white, 4-petals, 4-6 mm long; fruit sub-globose, 3-angled much inflated capsule, 2.5-3 cm in length and width; seeds black, 4-5 mm long with white aril.



Dermatose avec prurit ("gratel" en créol):

  leaf, crushed, bath/rubbed1

For gratel (itching and dermatitis):

Wash leaves thoroughly, crush them, and apply 10 grams of vegetal material and apply on affected skin twice daily.  Alternatively, add 10 grams of crushed leaves per liter of water, allow to stand for 12 hours and apply as a bath.

According to published and other information:

The use for gratel (itching and dermatitis) is classified as REC, based on the significant traditional use documented in the TRAMIL surveys, on toxicity studies and on other available published scientific information.

Should there be a notable worsening of the patient’s condition, or should the dermatitis last more than 5 days, seek medical attention.

For topical application, strict hygiene measures should be observed in order to avoid contamination or additional infection.

TRAMIL Research12

The moistened crushed leaf applied topically to rabbit (20-30 g/animal), in a skin irritability model using the Draize method did not cause irritation.

The hydroalcoholic extract from the aerial parts by intraperitoneal administration to mouse showed an LD50 = 800 mg/kg15.

The aqueous extract from the aerial parts (5 mg/plate) was active as antimutagenic against Salmonella typhimurium TA98, in vitro18.

The hydroalcoholic extract (95%) from the fresh aerial parts in external application did not induce allergenic activity in human beings17.

There is no available information documenting the safety of medicinal use in children or in pregnant or lactating women.

TRAMIL Research2

The aqueous maceration of the leaf was shown to contain tannins but alkaloids, saponins, cardio-active glycosides, cyanogenic glycosides and anthraquinones were not detected.

The leaf contains the steroids daucosterol and b-sitosterol, and among miscellaneous compounds, oxalic acid3.

The inflorescence and the stem contain the carbohydrate quebrachitol4, 10.

The whole plant contains flavonoids: apigenin5, apigenin-7-O-glucoside, luteolin-7-O-glucoside6; lipids: arachidic acid4; steroids: b-sitosterol galactoside5.

The seed contains the flavonoid: apigenin7; lipids: saturated and unsaturated fatty acids8, arachidic6-7, caprylic, eicosenoic, linoleic, linolenic, myristic, oleic, palmitic, palmitoleic and stearic; steroids: campesterol, campesterol acetate, b-sitosterol, stigmasterol, stigmasterol acetate, b-sitosterol galactoside; alkanes: n-dotriacontane, n-octacosane; triterpenes: squalane6.

The seed oil contains the miscellaneous compounds: methyl ester of 4-4-dimethoxy-3-(methoxy-methyl) butyric acid9.

The root contains steroids: b-sitosterol and tannins11.

TRAMIL Research2

The aqueous extract of crushed leaf was inactive as antimicrobial in vitro (1000 µg/mL), against Staphylococcus aureus, Escherichia coli, Salmonella gallinarum, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Klebsiella pneumoniae, Mycobacterium smegmatis and Candida albicans.

TRAMIL Research12

The fluid extract from the leaf (1 g/mL) did not show significant anti-histaminic activity in isolated rat ileum, although it showed a tendency to inhibit histaminic activity in smooth muscle.

The aqueous and hydroalcoholic extracts (95%) from the whole plant evidenced anti-inflammatory activity and induced the stabilization of the lysosome membrane, in vitro13.

The hydroalcoholic extract (50%) from the whole plan in isolated guinea pig ileum exhibited antispasmodic activity of the non-specific type, against spasm induced by acetic acid and histamine14.

The hydroalcoholic extract (95%) from the leaf by intraperitoneal administration (100 mg/kg) caused analgesic and anti-inflammatory activity in rat, but no anticonvulsant activity.  By intravenous administration (2 mg/animal), it induced cardiac depression in frog and hypotension in dog (50 mg/animal)15.

The hydroalcoholic extract (95%) from the dried aerial parts, administered orally (100, 250 and 500 mg/kg), showed dose-dependent anti-inflammatory activity in the carrageenan-induced paw edema model in rats.  In the granuloma induced by cotton implant test, it suppressed the transductive, exudative and proliferative components of chronic inflammation.  Additionally, there was a diminishment in the lipidic peroxide content and of g-glutamyl transpeptidase and of the phospholipase A2 activity in the granuloma exudate16.

The hydroalcoholic extract (95%) from the fresh aerial parts in external application to human skin showed discrete anti-inflammatory activity.  Administered orally, it was anti-inflammatory in rat17.

A tincture of the inflorescence as a cream formulation, in a clinical study with 28 patients (versus placebo) showed significant activity against several forms of eczema4.


1 LONGUEFOSSE JL, NOSSIN E, 1990-95 Enquête TRAMIL. Association pour la valorisation des plantes médicinales de la Caraïbe AVPMC, Fort de France, Martinique.

2SOLIS P, GUPTA M, CORREA M, 1996 Estudio fitoquímico de algunas plantas TRAMIL. Informe TRAMIL. Centro de Investigaciones Farmacognósticas de la Flora Panameña CIFLORPAN, Facultad de Farmacia, Universidad de Panamá, Panamá, Panamá.

3 KUMARESAN A, 1981 Phyto-chemical investigation of the leaves of the plant Cardiospermum halicacabum Linn. Indian J Pharm Sci: D20.

4 MECKLINGER S, MESSEMER C, NIEDERLE S, 1995 Eksembehandlung mit Cardiospermum halicacabum. Zeitschrift für Phytotherapie 16(5):263-266.

5 KHAN M, ARYA M, JAVED K, KHAN M, 1990 Chemical examination of Cardiospermum halicacabum Linn. Indian Drugs 27(4):257-258.

6 SHABANA M, GENENAH A, EL ZALABANI S, ABOU EL-ELA R, YOUSIF M, 1990 Phytochemical investigation and insecticidal activity of Cardiospermum halicacabum L. Cultivated in Egypt. Bull Fac Pharm Cairo Univ 28(2):79-83.

7 KHAN M, ARYA M, JAVAED K, KHAN M, 1990 Chemical examination ofCardiospermum halicacabum Linn. Indian Drugs 27(4):257-258.

8 ABBURRA R, GUZMAN C, 1986 Phytochemical studies of the Argentine Sapindaceae. I. Oil composition in seeds of the genus Cardiospermum. An Asoc Quim Argent 74(5):571-574.

9 HOPKINS C, EWING D, CHISHOLM M, 1968 A short-chain ester from the seed oil of Cardiospermum halicacabum L. Phytochemistry 7:619-624.

10 PLOUVIER V, 1949 New investigation on quebrachitol in the Sapindaceae and Hippocastanaceae, dulcitol in the Celastraceae and sucrose in some other families. C R Acad Sci 228:1886-1888.

11 DESAI K, SETHNA S, 1954 Chemical investigation of the roots of the Indian medicinal plant Cardiospermum halicacabum. J MS Univ Baroda 111:33-39.

12HERRERA J, 1996 Validación farmacológica de plantas medicinales usadas en medicina tradicional popular en la cuenca del Caribe. Informe TRAMIL. Dep. de Farmacología, Facultad de Salud, Universidad del Valle, Cali, Colombia.

13 CHANDRA T, SADIQUE J, 1984 Antiflammatory effect of the medicinal plant Cardiospermum halicacabum Linn. In vitrostudy. Arogya 10(1):57-60.

14 DHAR ML, DHAR MM, DHAWAN BN, MEHROTRA BN, RAY C,1968 Screening of Indian plants for biological activity: Part I. Indian J Exp Biol 6:232-247.

15 GOPALAKRISHNAN C, DHANANJAYAN R, KAMESWARAN L, 1976 Studies on the pharmacological actions of Cardiospermum helicacabum. Indian J Physiol Pharmacol 20:203.

16 SADIQUE J, CHANDRA T, THENMOZHI V, ELANGO V, 1987 Biochemical modes of action of Cassia occidentalis and Cardiospermum halicacabum in inflammation. J Ethnopharmacol 19(2):201-212.

17 HORMANN H, KORTING H, 1994 Evidence for the efficacy and safety of topical herbal drugs in dermatology: Part I: anti-inflammatory agents. Phytomedicine 1(2):161-171.

18 MENG Z, SAKI Y, OSE Y, SATO T, NAGASE H, KITO H, SATO M, MIZUNO M, ONO K, NAKANE H, 1990 Antimutagenic activity by the medicinal plants in traditional Chinese medicines. Shoyakugaku Zasshi 44(3):225-229.


The information provided is for educational purposes only for the benefit of the general public and health professionals. It is not intended to take the place of either the written law or regulations. Since some parts of plants could be toxic, might induce side effects, or might have interactions with certain drugs, anyone intending to use them or their products must first consult with a physician or another qualified health care professional. TRAMIL has no responsibility whatsoever towards the user for any decision, action or omission made in relation to the information contained in this Pharmacopoeia.