Dioscorea bulbifera

scientific name: 
Dioscorea bulbifera L.
Botanical family: 

Botanical description

Herbaceous, dioecious, climber with glabrous stem, bearing in leaf axils, large, brown, tuberculate bulbils ca 15 cm in diameter; leaves alternate, simple, cordate at base, petioles 6-14 cm long, blades broadly ovate 15-25 cm x 7-20 cm; male flowers borne on clustered spikes up to 20 cm long; female flowers borne on simple spikes 10-15 cm long; fruit a capsule oblong 2.5 cm x1.5 cm.



ganglionar inflammation:

  grated tuber, applied locally1


  grated tuber, applied locally1

For abscess and ganglionar inflammation:

There is no available information establishing a means of preparation and dosage other than that referred to by traditional use.

According to published and other information:

Use for abscess and ganglionar inflammation is classified as REC, based on the significant traditional use (OMS/WHO)4 documented in the TRAMIL surveys.

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


The aqueous extract from the raw drug in vitro showed no cytotoxicity13.

Hepatotoxicity was reported in one patient exposed to therapy using the tuber of this plant14.

There is no available information documenting the safety of medicinal use for children or for women during breast feeding.

The tuber contains diterpenes: diosbulbin A and C to H3, diosbulbinoside D and F4, 8-epi-diosbulbin5; the steroid: stigmasterol6; benzenoids: 4,6-dihydroxy-2-O-(4'-hydroxybutyl)-acetophenone, 4-hydroxy-(2-trans-3'-7'-dimethyl-octa-2'-6'-dienyl)-6-methoxy-acetophenone, demethyl batatasin IV7, batatasin I8.

The starch in the tuber is qualitatively and quantitatively comparable to corn starch9.

Proximate analysis of 100 g of tuber10: calories: 112; water: 71%; proteins: 1.5%; fat: 0.1%; carbohydrates: 26.5%; fiber: 0.9%; ash: 0.9%; calcium: 69 mg; phosphorus: 29 mg.

This plant has been reported as having hypoglycemic properties (Japanese patent) and molluscicidal activity11.

This plant has been used in combination with other plants for treating lymphoma12.




1 WENIGER B, ROUZIER M, 1986 Enquête TRAMIL. Service Oecuménique d'Entraide SOE, Port au Prince, Haïti.

2 WHO, 1991 Guidelines for the assessment of herbal medicines. WHO/TRM/91.4. Programme on Traditional Medicines, WHO, Geneva, Switzerland.

3 IDA Y, KUBO S, FUJITA M, KOMORI T, KAWASAKI T, 1978 Furanoid diterpenes from plants of the Discoreaceae. V. Structure of diosbulbin D, E, F, G & H. Justus Liebigs Ann Chem. p818.

4 IDA Y, NODA W, KUBO S, KOMORI T, KAWASAKI T, 1978 Furanoid norditerpenes from Dioscorea plants. VII. Structures of diosbulbinosides D & F. Chem Pharm Bull 26:435.

5 MURRAY R, JORGE KHAN N, SHAHJAHAN M, QUAISUDDIN M, 1984 Diosbulbin D and 8-epidiosbulbin E acetate, norclerodane diterpenoids from Dioscorea bulbifera tubers. Phytochemistry 23(3):623-625.

6 KHAN N, NUR-E-KAMAL M, SHAHJAHAN M, HASAN C, 1986 Chemical investigation of tubers of Dioscorea bulbifera l. Variety sativa. Khaka Univ Stud Part B 34(1):111-113.

7 GUPTA D, SINGH J, 1989 Hydroxy-acetophenone derivatives from Dioscorea bulbifera. Phytochemistry 28(3):947-949.

8 IRELAND C, SCHWABE W, GOURSEY D, 1981 The occurrence of batatasins in the Dioscoreaceae. Phytochemistry 20:1569-1571.

9 RAGHUNADAN K, JOLLY C, 1987 Starch from Dioscorea bulbifera. Indian J Pharm Sci 49(6):233-236.

10 DUKE JA, ATCHLEY AA, 1986 Handbook of proximate analysis tables of higher plants. Boca Raton, USA: CRC Press. p64.

11 ABDEL-AZIZ A, BRAIN K, BASHIR A, 1990 Screening of Sudanese plants for molluscicidal activity and identification of leaves ofTacca leontopetaloides L. O. Ktze (Taccaceae), as a potential new exploitable resource. Phytother Res 4(2):62-65.

12 CHEN L, 1988 Treatment of 11 cases of malignant lymphoma. Zhejiang J Trad Chin Med 23(8):365-366.

13 SATO A, 1989 Studies on anti-tumor activity of crude drugs. I. The effects of aqueous extracts of some crude drugs in short term screening test. Yakugaku Zasshi 109(6):407-423.

14 YAN Z, 1989 Adverse reactions to Chinese drugs, 384 cases. Chin Pharmaceut J 24(3):166-169.


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.