Hamelia patens

scientific name: 
Hamelia patens Jacq.
Botanical family: 

Botanical description

Shrub or tree 1- 6 m tall.  Leaves in whorls of three, pubescent, obovate to lanceolate, acuminate, 5-15 cm x 2.5-6.5 cm; inflorescence 3-15 cm long; corolla, tubular, 1.5 to 2 cm long, orange or reddish, puberulous.  Fruit subglobose or ellipsoid, 6-10 mm in diameter, red when unripe, and black when ripe.


Rouzier,161,SOE Jiménez,32,JBSD


  leaf, natural, applied on the head1


  leaf, natural, for baths1

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 headache is classified as REC, based on the significant traditional use (OMS/WHO)4 documented in the TRAMIL surveys.

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

TRAMIL Research3-4

The ethanolic extract (95%) from the leaf, by intraperitoneal administration to rats, reported an LD50 = 1540 mg of dried plant/kg.  It was administered intraperitoneally once a day for 10 days and there was no mortality at 1/3 of the LD50; 30% mortality was reported at 1/2 of the LD50, and 50% mortality at 3/4 of the LD50.

The fresh leaf and the leaf juice, in topical application to injuries in which the skin of the sole of the foot had been broken caused neither objective nor subjective evidence of intolerability, nor undesirable effects12.

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

TRAMIL Research3-4

A preliminary phytochemical screening of the leaf revealed the presence of alkaloids, saponins, steroids and tannins.

The entire plant contains indole alkaloids: maruquine, isomaruquine, palmirine, rumberine and speciophylline, pteropodine, isopteropodine5-6; the leaf and young stem contain ephedrine7.

The aerial parts contain phenylpropanoids: rosmarinic acid; flavonoids: narirutin and flavone-tetrahydroxy-rutinoside8-9.

TRAMIL Research10

The ethanolic extract (80%) from the leaf, obtained through percolation and defatting with petroleum ether, administered intraperitoneally (570 mg of dried plant/kg) to mouse in the hot plate model, caused a significant analgesic effect (p < 0.05) at 90 and 120 minute intervals after administration, though not at 60 or 240 minutes after administration.

TRAMIL Research3-4

The ethanolic extract from the leaf, administered intraperitoneally (770 mg/kg or half of LD50) to rat, in the Hippocratic sieve assay, resulted in depression of the central nervous system, a decline in motor activity, analgesia, anesthesia, passivity, paralysis of forelegs, mydriasis and a diminishment of rectal temperature.  The methanol extract from the leaf, by intraperitoneal administration (385 mg of dried leaf/kg), exhibited a diuretic effect, hypothermia and stimulation of spontaneous activity.

The aqueous extract from the leaf and stem, undiluted, was active in vitro against Escherichia coli, Salmonella typhi, Serratia marcescens andShigella flexneri.  The alcoholic extract from the leaf and stem was active against Escherichia coli, Pseudomonas aeruginosa andStaphylococcus aureus.  The alcoholic extract from the stem was active against Salmonella typhi, Shigella flexneri andStaphylococcus albus.  The alcoholic extract from the leaf was active against Salmonella newport and Serratia marcescens.  The acetone extracts from the leaf and stem did not demonstrate activity against any of the strains studied11.

The fresh leaf and the leaf juice, applied topically to injuries on the sole of the foot, have been used as anti-inflammatory and healing agents12.  Use of soap made with the plant, in a clinical study, induced improvement and accelerated the healing of wounds13.

The plant is claimed to have cytostatic activity14.

Rosmarinic acid is claimed to have anti-inflammatory, anti-rheumatic15, antiseptic16 and antioxidant17 activity.




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

2 WHO, 1991 Pautas para la evaluación de medicamentos herbarios WHO/TRM/91.4 (original inglés). Programa de Medicina Tradicional, OMS, Ginebra, Suiza.

3 ESPOSITO-AVELLA M, GUPTA M, 1986 Evaluación fitoquímica y farmacológica deHamelia patens yTerminalia catappa. Centro de Investigaciones Farmacognósticas de la Flora Panameña CIFLORPAN, Facultad de Farmacia, Universidad de Panamá, Panamá, Panamá.

4 ESPOSITO-AVELLA M, BROWN P, TEJEIRA I, BUITRAGO R, BARRIOS L, SANCHEZ C, GUPTA M, CEDENO J, 1985 Pharmacological screening of Panamanian medicinal plants. Part I. Int J Crude Drug Res 23(1):17-25.

5 RIPPERGER H, 1977 Isolation of isopteropodine from Hamelia patens. Pharmazie 32(H7):415-416.

6 BORGES DEL CASTILLO J, MANRESA-FERRERO MT, RODRIGUEZ-LUIS F, 1981 Oxindole alkaloids from Hamelia patens Jacq. Proc 1st Int. Conf. Chem. Biotechnol. Biol. Act Nat. Prod., Sofia, Bulgaria. Bulgarian Acad Sci Sofia 3(1):70-73.

7 CHAUDHURI PK, THAKUR RS, 1991 Hamelia patens, a new source of ephedrine. Planta Med 57(2):199.

8 ADAMS AA, LEE EF, MABRY TJ, 1989 HPLC study of oxindole alkaloids fromHamelia patens. Rev Latinoamer Quim 20(2):71-72.

9 AQUINO R, CIAVATTA L, DE SIMONE F, PIZZA C, 1990 A flavanone glycoside fromHamelia patens. Phytochemistry 29(7):2358-2360.

10 GUPTA M, ESPOSITO-AVELLA M, 1988 Evaluación química y farmacológica de algunas plantas medicinales de TRAMIL. Centro de Investigaciones Farmacognósticas de la Flora Panameña CIFLORPAN, Facultad de Farmacia, Universidad de Panamá, Panamá, Panamá.

11 MISAS C, HERNANDEZ N, ABRAHAM A, 1979 Contribution to the biological evaluation of Cuban plants. I. Rev Cub Med Trop 31(1):5-12.

12 CARBALLO A, 1995 Plantas medicinales del Escambray cubano. Apuntes científicos. Laboratorio provincial de producción de medicamentos, Sancti Spiritus, Cuba.

13 CACERES A, GIRON L, ALVARADO S, TORRES M, 1987 Screening of antimicrobial activity of plants popularly used in Guatemala for the treatment of dermatomucosal diseases. J Ethnopharmacol 20(3):223-237.

14 LOPEZ ABRAHAM A, ROJAS-HERNANDEZ N, JIMENEZ-MISAS C, 1979 Plant extracts with cytostatic properties growing in Cuba. Rev Cubana Med Trop 31(2):105-112.

15 NEGWER M, 1987 Organic chemical drugs and their synonyms (an international survey). 6th ed. Berlin, Germany: Akademie Verlag.

16 DUKE J, 1992 Handbook of biologically active phytochemicals and their bioactivities. Boca Raton, USA: CRC Press.

17 LAMAISON J, PETITJEAN-FREYTET C, CARNAT A, 1990 Rosmarinic acid, total hydroxycinnamic derivative contents and antioxidant activity of medicinal Apiaceae, Boraginaceae & Lamiceae. Ann Pharm Fr 48(2):103-108.


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.