Lycopersicon esculentum

scientific name: 
Lycopersicon esculentum Mill.
Botanical family: 

Botanical description

Annual, erect or decumbent herb up to 2 m tall with glandular hairs with characteristic strong odour.  Leaves petiolate, spirally arranged, pinnate, leaflets ovate, ovate-lanceolate, margins serrate-dentate, tip acute.  Inflorescence cymose; flowers actinomorphic, calyx deeply divided, segments lanceolate, pilose-glandulose, corolla yellow, 10 to 16 mm wide; fruit a globose berry, red when ripe, 1-15 cm in diameter.



sapito (mouth candidiasis):

  green fruit and leaf, rubbed in mouth1-2


  leaf, mashed, cataplasm3

The ripe fruit of Lycopersicon esculentum is widely used for human consumption.

For candidiasis in the mouth and toothache:

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

For burns:

Wash injury with cooled boiled water and soap, apply 8-10 grams of leaf, previously washed, on the affected area.  Cover the injury with dressing or clean cloth and replace every 12 hours.

According to published and other information:

Use for candidiasis (thrush) in mouth, toothache and burns is classified as REC, based on the significant traditional use (OMS/WHO)4 documented in the TRAMIL surveys.

Traditional use should be limited only to superficial burns (skin injuries) that are not extensive (covering less than 10% of body surface) and are located away from high-risk areas such as face, hands, feet and genitals.

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

The leaf should be properly washed and cleaned, and its external indumentum (the covering of hairs on the leaf) should be removed, as it may cause dermatomucosal irritation and reactions of hypersensitivity.

TRAMIL Research25

The extract from the whole green fruit (100%) administered orally and intraperitoneally to mouse had in both cases an LD50 greater than 25 g/kg.

The hydroalcoholic extract (50%) of the entire dried plant, when administered intraperitoneally to mice, displayed an LD50 = 825 mg/kg26.

It has been reported that contact with the fresh leaf can cause dermatitis27.

The stem and leaf can be toxic due to their solanine content, which persists even after they have been cooked.  This alkaloid can cause signs of poisoning, such as loss of appetite, stomach pain, haematuria (blood in urine) and prostration (exhaustion)28.

The green fruit can induce a toxicity state similar to that of raw green potato, due to its glucoalkaloid content28.

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

The leaf has been widely studied and contains, among other components: phytoalexins5, steroidal alkaloids: tomatidine, soladulcidine6, lycoperosides7.

The fruit contains lignanes8; alkaloids: tomatine9, narcotine; biogenic amines: tryptamine and serotonine; organic acids: malic, citric and chlorogenic acids (with a much higher content in the green fruit than in the ripe fruit); volatile compounds:  acetaldehyde, benzaldehyde, acetone, ethanol, flavonoids and vitamin C10-13.

Proximate analysis of 100 g of green fruit14: calories: 24; water: 93%; proteins: 1.2%; fat: 0.2%; carbohydrates: 5.1%; fiber: 0.5%; ash: 0.5%; calcium: 13 mg; phosphorus: 27 mg; iron: 0.5 mg; sodium: 3 mg; potassium: 244 mg; carotene: 162 µg; thiamine: 0.06 mg; riboflavin: 0.04 mg; niacin: 0.5 mg; ascorbic acid: 20 mg.

Proximate analysis of 100 g of leaf14: calories: 40; water: 86.8%; proteins: 2.8%; fat: 0.6%; carbohydrates: 7.9%; fiber: 0.1%; ash: 1.9%; calcium: 433 mg; phosphorus: 86 mg; iron: 1.3 mg; thiamine: 0.08 mg; riboflavin: 0.47 mg; ascorbic acid: 175 mg.

The dried seed extract in vitro (32 µg/mL) inhibited protein synthesis15.

The ripe fruit showed no activity in vitro against bacteria that cause adverse skin conditions in humans16.

The aqueous extract from the fruit has been reported to have anti-mutagenic activity17.

The undiluted fruit juice was weakly active in vitro against Poliovirus I18.

The aqueous extract from the fresh leaf (1:1) in vitro showed antifungal activity againstFusarium oxysporum f. sp. lentis19, and against Ustilago maydis and U. nuda20.

The ethanolic extract (95%) from the aerial parts (50%) was active as a fungicide against Neurospora crassa, while the acetone and aqueous extracts were inactive21.

The dried stem was active in vitro as a fungicide against Sphacelia segetum22.

The ethanolic extract (95%) from the dried leaf (1%) applied externally was active as an antimicrobial agent (except against Herpes simplex), and can be used as a cosmetic for adults23.

The leaf has been reported to have insecticidal activity24.

Tomatine is claimed to have antifungal properties; in vitro it fully inhibited the growth of Candida albicans13.  When administered intravenously, it is described as a cardiotonic, antidiuretic, antihistaminic and anti-inflammatory agent, and it is believed to decrease cholesterol absorption13.




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

2 WENIGER B, 1987-88 Encuesta TRAMIL. enda-caribe, Santo Domingo, Rep. Dominicana.

3 GIRON L, 1988 Encuesta TRAMIL (Costa atlántica). Centro Mesoamericano de Tecnología CEMAT, Guatemala, Guatemala.

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

5 HOSTETTMANN K, LEA PJ, (Eds.), 1996 Biologically active natural products. Annual proceedings of the phytochemical society of Europe. Oxford, England: Oxford University Press.

6 SCHREIBER K, AURICH O, 1966 Isolation of several alkaloids and 3-beta-hydroxy-5-alpha-pregn-16-en-20-one from Lycopersicon pimpinellifolium Mill. Phytochemistry 5:707-712.

7 YAHARA S, UDA N, NOHARA T, 1996 Lycoperosides A-C, three stereoisomeric 23-acetoxyspirosolan-3-beta-ol beta-lycotetraosides from Lycopersicon esculentum. Phytochemistry 42(1):169-172.

8 RESCHKE A, HERRMANN K, 1982 Occurrence of 1-o-hydroxycinnamyl-beta-d-glucoses in vegetables I. Phenolic acid compounds of vegetables. Z Lebensm-Unters Forsch 174(1):5-8.

9 VERHOEFF K, LIEM JI, 1975 Toxicity of tomatine to Botrytis cinerea in relation to latency. Phytopathol Z 82:333-338.

10 WILLAMAN J, SCHUBERT B, 1961 Alkaloid-bearing plants and their contained alkaloids. Washington, USA: Tech. Bull. 1234, U.S. Dep. of Agric.

11 HEGNAUER R, 1973 Chemotaxonomy der Pflanzen. Basel & Stuttgart: Birkhauser Verlag.

12 FLEURIET A, MACHEIT J, 1981 Quinyl esters and glucose derivatives of hydroxycinnamic acids during growth and ripening of tomato fruit. Phytochemistry 20(4):667-671.

13 CAVALIN G, 1983 Tomate et tomatine (Thèse Doctorat Pharmacie). Toulouse, France.

14 DUKE JA, ATCHLEY AA, 1986 Handbook of proximate analysis tables of higher plants. Boca Raton, USA: CRC Press. p102.

15 GASPERI-CAMPANI A, BARBIERI L, BATTELLI M, STIRPE F, 1985 On the distribution of ribosome-inactivating proteins amongst plants. J Nat Prod 48(3):446-454.

16 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.

17 SHINOHARA K, KUROKI S, MIWA M, KONG ZL, HOSODA H, 1988 Antimutagenicity of dialyzates of vegetables and fruits. Agr Biol Chem 52(6):1369-1375.

18 KONOWALCHUK J, SPEIRS J, 1978 Antiviral effect of commercial juices and beverages. Appl Environ Microbiol 35:1219-1220.

19 SINGH J, DUBEY A, TRIPATHI N, 1994 Antifungal activity of Mentha spicata. Int J Pharmacog 32(4):314-319.

20 SINGH K, PATHAK R, 1984 Effect of leaves extracts of some higher plants on spore germination of Ustilago maydes and U. nuda. Fitoterapia 55(5):318-320.

21 KUBAS J, 1972 Investigations on known or potential antitumoral plants by means of microbiological tests. Part III. Biological activity of some cultivated plant species in Neurospora crassa test. Acta Biol Cracov Ser Bot 15:87-100.

22 CELAYETA F, 1960 Action of the tissues of various plants on the growth of Sphacelia segetum. Farmacognosia (Madrid) 20:91-101.

23 ANON, 1987 Pharmaceutical and cosmetic compositions containing tomato plant extracts for the treatment of skin diseases. Patent-Israëli 78,820.

24 DUFFEY S, ISMAN M, 1981 Inhibition of insect larval growth by phenolics in glandular trichomes of tomato leaves. Experientia 37(6):574-576.

25 HERRERA J, 1990 Determinación de actividades biológicas de vegetales utilizados en medicina tradicional. Informe TRAMIL. Dep. de Farmacología, Facultad de Salud, Universidad del Valle, Cali, Colombia.

26 ASWAL B, BHAKUNI D, GOEL A, KAR K, MAHROTRA B, MUKHERJEE K, 1984 Screening of Indian plants for biological activity: Part X. Indian J Exp Biol 22(6):312-332.

27 DUKE JA, 1988 Handbook of medicinal herbs. Boca Raton, USA: CRC Press.

28 CONTRERAS A, ZOLLA C, 1982 Plantas tóxicas de México. México, México: Instituto Mexicano del Seguro Social.


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.