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Family Lythrceae
Cuphea hyssopifolia Kunth

Scientific names Common names
Cuphea hyssopifolia   Kunth Kupea (Tag.)
Parsonia hyssopifolia (Kunth) Standl. Elphin plant (Engl.)
  False heather (Engl.)
Cuphea hyssopifolia Kunth is an accepted name. The Plant List

Other vernacular names
BANGLADESH: Rani phool.
FRENCH: Jean gaiac, Corail.
CREOLE: Radie raide.
SPANISH: Romerito.

- The genus epithet "Cuphea" comes from the Greek word kypnos, meaning curved, referring to the shape of the seed capsules; while the species name "hyssopifolia" refers to the shape of the leaves like the herb Hyssop. (11)
- It is not a true heather, its common name "false heather" comes from its leaves resemblance to those of Scotch heather (Calluna vulgaris). (11)

Kupea is a small evergreen much-branched subshrub growing to 1.5 meters. Stems are semi-woody, slender and crooked. Leaves are green, opposite, stalkless and numerous on the branches, narrow-lanceolate, up to 1.5 centimeters long. Flowers are small, purplish violet to light purple with green calyx.

- Recently introduced to the Philippines.
- Popular as a hedge plant.
- Propagated by stem cuttings.

• Study isolated two new ellagitannin dimers, cuphiins D1 and D2, with six known compounds including oenothein B and woodfordin C from the aerial part of Cuphea hyssopifolia.
• Contains flavone pigments.
• Study isolated four macrocyclic hydrolyzable tannin dimers: cuphiin D1, cuphiin D2, oenothein B and woodfordin C. (see study below) (5)
• Aerial parts yielded diterpenes and flavonoids: friedelan-3β-ol (1), ursolic acid (2), methyl gallate (3), quercetin (4), quercetin-3-O-α-rhamnopyranoside (5), 1,2,3,4,6-penta-O-galloyl-β-D- glucose (6) and manitol (7).
• Methanol extract of aerial parts yielded valoneic acid dilactone (1), 1,3−O−digalloyl-4,6- hexahydroxydiphenoyl- β-D−4C1-glucopyarnose (2), gallic acid (3), genistein-7-O-β-D-4C1 glucopyranoside (4), myricetin−3 − O− β-D−4C1-glucopyarnoside (5), 3, 4, 5-trimethoxy benzoic acid (6), vanilice acid (7) and quercetin (8). (see study below)
• Study of aerial parts yielded two new ellagitannin dimers, cuphiins D1 and D2, six known compounds viz., 1,2,3,6-tetra-O-galloyl-β-D-glucose, 1,2,3,4,6-penta-O-galloyl-β-D-glucose, tellimagrandin II, oenothein B and woodfordin C and myricitrin. (11)
• Studies have suggested hypolipidemic, antitumor, antioxidant, cytotoxic, immunomodulatory properties.

- No recorded folkloric medicinal use in the Philippines.
- In Brazil, used to treat high cholesterol and triglycerides.
- In French Guiana, stem and leaf macerated in rum and rubbed onto sprains. Leaf infusion used for colds and chills.
- In Bangladesh, used as tonic and insect repellent; also used for dermatitis, fever, and cough.

Cholesterol Lowering : Biochemical analysis of animals treated with aqueous extract showed a significant reduction of plasma cholesterol in rats; no effect was noted on glucose and triglyceride levels. (1)
Cuphilin / Anti-Tumor Activity: (1) Study isolated cuphilin D1 (CD1), a new macrocyclic hydrolyzable tannin, has been shown to exert in vivo and in vitro antitumor activity. Further study showed CD1 induced cytotoxicity to HL-60 cells (human promyelocytic leukemia cells. The CD1-induced apoptosis was attributed to inhibition of Bcl-2 expression in HL-60. (2) Cuphiin D1 (CD1) significantly inhibited the growth of human cervical carcinoma, i.e. HeLa cells, with less cytotoxicity to normal primary-cultured cervical fibroblasts. CD1 also inhibited Bcl-2 expression in HeLa cells and may account for the Cd1-induced apoptosis. (2)
Anti-Tumor / Anti-Cancer: Study isolated four macrocylic tannin dimers: cuphiin D1, cuphiin D2, cenothein B and woodfordin C. All significantly inhibited the growth of the human carcinoma cell lines KB, HeLa, DU-145, Hep 3B and the leukemia cell line HL-60. Results suggest the anti-tumor effects of the compounds are not only related to their cytotoxicity on carcinoma cell lines but also on some host-mediated mechanism. (5)
• Cuphiin D1 / Cytotoxic Effect on Human Cervical Carcinoma Cell Line: Cuphiin D1 (CD1), a macrocyclic hydrolyzable tannin isolated from Cuphea hyssopifolia has been shown to exert in vitro and in vivo antitumor effect. CD1 also significantly inhibited the growth of human cervical carcinoma, i.1., HeLa cells. This study investigated the cytotoxic mechanism of CD1 on HeLa cells. CD1 showed dose-dependent cytotoxic effect with IC50 of 14.2 µg/ml for 48 hours. HeLa treated cells exhibited chromatin condensation, indicating the occurrence of apoptosis. Inhibition of Bcl-2 expression in HeLa cells may be responsible for the CD1-induced apoptosis. (6)
Antioxidant / Cytotoxic / Aerial Parts: Study evaluated the antioxidant and cytotoxic activities of a methanolic extract of aerial parts of C. hyssopifolia. The antioxidant activity in DPPH testing was comparable to that of ascorbic acid at 98.35%. It showed moderate cytotoxic activity along tested cell lines viz MCF7 (breast carcinoma cell line), HEP2 (larynx carcinoma cell line), HCT116 (colon carcinoma cell line) and HEPG2 (liver carcinoma cell line. (see constituents above) (8)
• Immunomodulatory Effects / Cuphiin D1: Cuphiin D1 has been shown to exert antitumor activity both in vitro and in vivo. Study investigated CD1 for effects on proliferation and cytokine secretion of human peripheral blood mononucleaar cells. Results showed CD1 could stimulate PBMCs release of IL-1 beta, IL-2, and TNF-alpha and activate T cells. CD1-activated T cells via IL-1 beta in vitro may account for the host mediated mechanism of action. (10)

- Wildcrafted.
- Seeds, plants in the cybermarket.

Updated March 2019 / October 2017 / April 2015

Photos © Godofredo Stuart / StuartXchange
OTHER IMAGE SOURCE: / Photograph / Closeup of flower / Cuphea hyssopifolia (Romerito) / © Vito Buono / click on image to go to source page / AlterVista

Additional Sources and Suggested Readings
Preliminary studies on Campomanesia xanthocarpa (Berg.) and Cuphea carthagenensis (Jacq.) J.F. Macbr. aqueous extract: weight control and biochemical parameters / Journal of Ethnopharmacology Vol 93, Issues 2-3, August 2004, Pages 385-389 / doi:10.1016/j.jep.2004.04.015
Cuphiin D1, the macrocyclic hydrolyzable tannin induced apoptosis in HL-60 cell line / Cancer Letters Vol 149, Issues 1-2, 28 February 2000, Pages 77-83 / doi:10.1016/S0304-3835(99)00344-4
Macrocyclic ellagitannin dimers, cuphiins D1 and D2, and accompanying tannins from Cuphea hyssopifolia / Lih-Geeng Chen et al / Phytochemistry / Volume 50, Issue 2, 26 January 1999, Pages 307-312 / doi:10.1016/S0031-9422(98)00512-3
Medicinal Plants of the Guianas (Guyana, Surinam, French Guiana)

Antitumor activity of four macrocyclic ellagitannins from Cuphea hyssopifolia
/ Ching-Chiung Wang et al / Cancer Letters, 1 June 1999; Volume 140, Issue 1: pp 195-200
Cytotoxic effects of cuphiin D1 on the growth of human cervical carcinoma and normal cells / Wang C C, Chen L G and Yang L L / Anticancer Res. 2002 Sep-Oct; 22(5): pp 2677-2684.
Constituents of Organic Extracts of Cuphea hyssopifolia / José Antonio Morales-Serna, Eréndira García-Ríos, Domingo Madrigal, Jorge Cárdenas, Manuel Salmón / J. Mex. Chem. Soc. 2011; 55(1): pp 62-64
Antioxidant and Cytotoxic Activities of Cuphea hyssopifolia Kunth (Lythraceae) Cultivated in Egypt / Mohamed Elgindi, Nahla Ayoub, Rola Milad*, Reham Mekky / Journal of Pharmacognosy and Phytochemistry, 2012; Vol 1, No 4: pp 67-77
A Survey of Medicinal Plant Usage by Folk Medicinal Practitioners in Two Villages by the Rupsha River in Bagerhat District, Bangladesh / Mohammed Rahmatullah et al / American-Eurasian Journal of Sustainable Agriculture, 2010; 4(3): pp 349-356
In vitro immunomodulatory effects of cuphiin D1 on human mononuclear cells. / Wang CC, Chen LG, Yang LL / Anticancer Research, 01 Nov 2002; 22(6C): pp 4233-4236
Cuphea hyssopifolia / NParks Flora & Fauna Web

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