Piri-Piri purtortedly is an anti-emetic, stomachic, carmative, nervine and an anticonvulsantPIRI-PIRI

Family: Cyperaceae

Taxon: Cyperus articulatus L.

Synonyms: Cyperus corymbosus Rottb., Chlorocyperus articulatus Rikli., Cyperus diphyllus Retz., Cyperus niloticus Forssk., Cyperus nodosus Humb. & Bonpl. ex Willd., Cyperus subnodosus Nees & Meyen.

Common names: adrue, andek, chintul, guinea rush, hadrue, huaste, ibenki, ibenkiki, jointed flat sedge, kajiji, kamaleji, karihi, mandassi, masho huaste, nihue huaste, nuni, piriprioca, piri-piri, piri piri, piripiri, priprioca, piripiri de sangre, piripiri de vibora, savane tremblante, shakó, waste, yahuar piripiri, zacoo

Price: £22.50 – 1lb / 454 gm Bag [wp_eStore_add_to_cart id=130]

Parts Used: Rhizome

Main Actions Other Actions Standard Dosage
  • stops vomiting
  • kills bacteria
  • aids digestion
  • kills yeast
Infusion: 1 cup twice daily
  • eases diarrhea
  • contraceptive
Extract: 2 ml 2-3 times daily
  • relieves gas
Capsules: 1-2 g twice daily
  • calms & sedates
  • reduces seizures
  • expels worms
  • prevents convulsions

Piri-piri is a type of reed-like tropical grass called a “sedge-grass.” It can attain the height of 6 feet and grows in damp, marshy and flooded areas along the rivers and streams (where it can help control soil erosion) in the Amazon basin. It grows in clumps from dividing rhizomes which are about 2 cm long and 1.5 cm in diameter. The tall green stems are fibrous, round, and hollow and can be up to 3/4 in. wide at the base. Piri-piri stems have sometimes been used like reeds in basket-making and other crafts by the locals in the Amazon. It produces small, white, wheat-like flowers at the very top of its long stems.

Piri-piri is in the Cyperaceae plant family which include approximately 36 genera and about 128 species of Cyperus. Although native to the Amazon, piri-piri can be found in many other tropical areas and countries, including the southern United States, Africa, Asia, Australia, and across the South American continent. It can be found growing alongside the Nile River in Africa just as it grows alongside the Amazon River in South America.


The indigenous Indian tribes of the Amazon region ascribe magical properties to piri-piri. The tall stems and/or the rhizomes are dried and powdered, or are prepared as a tea and used as a good luck charm or a love potion (called a pusanga). Women will cultivate the plant and bathe their children with it to prevent sickness and injury, and give it to their husbands to bring good luck in hunting and fishing. Piri-piri is also well used as a medicine by the indigenous people and the rhizome is the part of the plant which is used.

The Shipibo-Conibo Indians of the Peruvian Amazon grind up the fresh rhizomes to extract the juice and use it for a nerve tonic in cases of stress and nervous and mental disorders (including epilepsy), to treat and prevent a wide range of digestive and gastrointestinal disorders, to facilitate child birth or to induce an abortion, as a contraceptive, and for throat cancer. It is also put on the head as a hair tonic and to treat or prevent baldness, and used externally to heal wounds and treat snake bite. The Secoya Indians in Ecuador mix the ground rhizome with water and use it to treat fever, flu, and to allay fright and nervousness. The Ese’eja Indians use it for diarrhea and dysentery.

In the Amazon region of the Guyanas (Surinam, Guyana, and French Guiana) ayapana is considered a febrifuge (reduces fever), alexiteric (anti-infective), sudorific (causes sweating), digestive, and laxative. A leaf infusion is employed for headaches, colds and flu, mouth sores and ulcers, and hypertension. The whole plant is decocted to relieve nausea and vomiting caused from malaria by the Palikur of French Guiana and this same decoction is used in Surinam for chronic diarrhea.

Piri-piri also has a long history of use in herbal medicine systems in South America. It is a very common remedy to treat nausea, vomiting, stomachaches, and intestinal gas throughout the continent. In Peru, piri-piri is considered as an abortifacient, anticonvulsant, anti-epileptic, antivenin, carminative, contraceptive, hemostat, nervine, stomachic, tonic and vulnerary. It is used for diarrhea, dysentery, digestive disorders and intestinal infections, intestinal worms, epilepsy, to stop bleeding (internally and externally) and to heal wounds. In Africa, piri-piri is used for malaria, toothaches, headaches, diarrhea, indigestion and coughs.

Piri-piri has also been around for quite a few years in the United States. In the late 1800s and early 1900s a fluid extract of the rhizome was prepared and sold as a herbal drug (called “adrue”) for the treatment of nausea, vomiting (including morning sickness), digestive disorders and intestinal gas. In herbal medicine systems in the U.S. piri-piri is attributed with anthelmintic, anti-emetic, carminative, demulcent, nervine, stomachic, tonic, and sedative actions.


Piri-piri contains flavonoids, polyphenols, saponins, tannins, terpenes and sugars. Many of its biological actions are attributed to various sesquiterpenes called cyperones which are also found in other Cyperus plants in the family. Two of these chemicals, called cyperotundone and alpha-cyperone, have been reported with antimalarial actions, as well as the ability to inhibit nitric oxide synthesis (a pro-oxidant), and prostaglandin synthetase (aspirin and ibuprofen are prostaglandin synthetase inhibitors).

The terpene chemicals documented in piri-piri thus far include: alpha-corymbolol, alpha-cyperone, alpha-pinene, carophyllene oxide, corymbolone, cyperotundone, iso-patchoul-4(5)-en-3-one, mandas- sidione, and mustakone.


Some of the more recent research on piri-piri has focused on its traditional uses to treat epilepsy and convulsions. Researchers in Africa have published several studies which suggest that piri-piri can mediate many of the brain chemical reactions which are required in epilepsy and report that the rhizome has anti-epileptic actions. In addition, other laboratory research with animals reports that piri-piri also has anti-convulsant actions, as well as sedative actions. Piri-piri was also reported with antioxidant actions, antibacterial actions against Staphylococcus and Pseudomonas, and anti-yeast actions against Candida. It passed a preliminary screening test to predict antitumor actions in other research.


Herbal practitioners in both South and North America usually turn to piri-piri to relieve nausea, vomiting, intestinal gas and diarrhea—its main uses in herbal medicine systems on both continents. Its use for epilepsy and convulsions is rather new in comparison to its long history of use for stomach complaints and no human trials exist yet for this purpose. People with epilepsy should not attempt to replace their prescribed drugs for epilepsy with this natural remedy until further research is available.

Main Preparation Method: fluid extract or maceration

Main Actions (in order): anti-emetic (stops vomiting), stomachic (aids digestion), carminative (expels gas), nervine, anticonvulsant

Main Uses:


  1. for vomiting and nausea
  2. for digestive and intestinal disorders
  3. for stress, anxiety, and nervousness
  4. for intestinal worms
  5. for epilepsy and convulsions

Properties/Actions Documented by Research: antibacterial, anticandidal, anticonvulsant, anti-epileptic, antimalarial, antioxidant, sedative

Properties/Actions Documented by Traditional Use: abortifacient, anthelmintic, anticonvulsant, anti-epileptic, antivenin, carminative, contraceptive, demulcent, hemostat, nervine, stomachic, tonic and vulnerary

Cautions: Avoid if seeking to become pregnant.


Traditional Preparation: While locals in the Amazon simply grind up or juice the rhizome in a little water to administer it, piri-piri is usually sold here in the U.S. and in pharmacies and stores in South America as a fluid extract or in capsules. The suggested dosage is 30 drops (2 ml) of a rhizome extract or 1-2 grams in capsules, as needed, to stop vomiting and to aid digestive and intestinal functions. See Traditional Herbal Remedies Preparation Methods page if necessary for definitions.

Contraindications: This plant has been traditionally used as a contraceptive aid. While no clinical studies exist to support this traditional use, women seeking to get pregnant should probably avoid the use of this plant.

Drug Interactions: None reported.

Africa as a fumigant; for diarrhea, coughs, headaches, indigestion, malaria, and toothaches
Brazil for dysentery, fevers, headaches
Colombia as an antivenin; for snakebite
Guyana for stomachaches
Jamaica for diarrhea, pain in the bowels, and vomiting
Peru as an abortifacient, anticonvulsant, anti-epileptic, antivenin, carminative, contraceptive, hemostat, nervine, stomachic, tonic and vulnerary; for baldness, childbirth, conjunctivitis, convulsions, coughs, diarrhea, digestive disorders, dysentery, dyspepsia, epilepsy, fevers, flu, gastrointestinal disorders, good luck, hemorrhages, intestinal infections, love-charm, mental disorders, nausea, nervous disorders, rheumatic pain, snakebite, spasms, stress, throat cancer, tumors, vomiting, wounds
United States as an anthelmintic, anti-emetic, carminative, demulcent, nervine, stomachic, tonic and sedative; for aches, breast pain, digestive disorders, epilepsy, headaches, intestinal gas, menstrual irregularity, morning sickness, nausea, ophthalmia, stomach pain, urinary disorders, vaginal discharge, vomiting

The above text has been authored by Leslie Taylor, ND and copyrighted © 2006. All rights reserved. No part of this document may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage or retrieval system, including websites, without written permission.

† The statements contained herein have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. The information contained in this plant database file is intended for education, entertainment and information purposes only. This information is not intended to be used to diagnose, prescribe or replace proper medical care. The plant described herein is not intended to treat, cure, diagnose, mitigate or prevent any disease. Please refer to our Conditions of Use for using this plant database file and web site.

Published Third-Party Research on Piri-Piri

All available third-party research on piri-piri can be found at PubMed. A partial listing of the published research on piri-piri is shown below: Anticonvulsant & Anti-epileptic Actions:

Bum, E. N., et al. “Ions and amino acid analysis of Cyperus articulatus L. (Cyperaceae) extracts and the effects of the latter on oocytes expressing some receptors.” J. Ethnopharmacol. 2004 Dec; 95(2-3): 303-9.

Bum, E. N., et al. “Extracts from rhizomes of Cyperus articulatus (Cyperaceae) displace [3H]CGP39653 and [3H]glycine binding from cortical membranes and selectively inhibit NMDA receptor-mediated neurotransmission.” J. Ethnopharmacol. 1996 Nov; 54(2-3): 103-11.

Bum, E. N., et al. “Effects of Cyperus articulatus compared to effects of anticonvulsant compounds on the cortical wedge.” J. Ethnopharmacol. 2003 Jul; 87(1): 27-34.

Bum, E. N., et al. “Anticonvulsant properties of the methanolic extract of Cyperus articulatus (Cyperaceae).” J. Ethnopharmacol. 2001 Jul; 76(2): 145-50.

Bum, E. N., et al. “Effect of the decoction of rhizomes of Cyperus articulatus on bicuculline-, n-methyl-d-aspartate- and strychnine-induced behavioural excitation and convulsions in mice.” J. Cameroon Acad. Sci. 2002; 2: 91-95.

Bum, E. N., et al. “Organic and water extracts of Cyperus articulatus (Cyperaceae)inhibited chemically and electrically-induced convulsions in mice.” J. Cameroon Acad. Sci. 2002; 2: 96-106.

Sedative Actions:

Rakotonirina, V. S., et al. “Sedative properties of the decoction of the rhizome of Cyperus articulatus.” Fitoterapia. 2001; 72(1): 22-9.

Anti-inflammatory Actions:

Kiuchi, F., et al. “Inhibition of prostaglandin biosynthesis by the constituents of medicinal plants.” Chem. Pharm. Bull. 1983; 31: 3391-3396.

Antioxidant Actions:

Desmarchelier, C., et al. “Total reactive antioxidant potential (TRAP) and total antioxidant reactivity (TAR) of medicinal plants used in southwest Amazona (Bolivia and Peru). Int. J. Pharmacog. 1997; 35(4): 288-296.

Antimicrobial Actions:

Desmarchelier, C., et al. “Studies on the cytotoxicity, antimicrobial and DNA-binding activities of plants used by the Ese’ejas.” J. Ethnopharmacol. 1996; 50(2): 91-96.

Mongelli, E., et al. “Antimicrobial activity and interaction with DNA of medicinal plants from the Peruvian Amazon region.” Rev. Argent. Microbiol. 1995 Oct-Dec; 27(4): 199-203.

Duarte, M. C., et al. “Anti-candida activity of Brazilian medicinal plants.” J. Ethnopharmacol. 2005; 97(2): 305-11.

Antimalarial Actions:

Weenen, H., et al. Antimalarial compounds containing an alpha,beta-unsaturated carbonyl moiety from Tanzanian medicinal plants. Planta Med. 1990 Aug; 56(4): 371-3

Chemicals Indentified:

Neville, G. A., et al. “Identification of ketones in Cyperus. NMR and mass spectral examination of the 2,4-dinitrophenylhydrazones.” Tetrahedron. 1968: 24 pp. 3891.

Ikino, H., et al. “Sesquiterpenoids. XI. Identification of Ketones in Cyperus.” Tetrahedron 1967; 23 2169-2172.

Nyasse, B., et al. “Mandassindione and other sesquiterpenic ketones from Cyperus articulatus.” Phytochemistry. 1988; 27: 3319-3321.


10. “Cyperus articulatus L. Cyperaceae. “Piripiri de vibora”. Cultivated. For snakebite, they chew the pulp, swallow the juice and poultice the cud onto the bite after it has bled. It is also considered abortive. Native Americans poke crushed stems in their nose to alleviate snoring (GMJ). “Secoyas” mixed ground rhizome with water for fever, flu and fright (SAR). In Piura, the chopped shoots are considered hemostatic and vulnerary (FEO).”

21. “Cyperus articulatus Linnaeus, Sp. PI. (1753) 44. nuni (Secoya); piripiri (Ketchwa)

Amongst the Secoya, the rhizome is ground and mixed with water to cure tuturawi or mal de viento in Spanish (a psychological affliction of fright); it is also taken to treat grippe or fevers.”

24. Adrue Cyperus articulatus


Unproven Uses: Preparations of the root are used for digestive disorders, nausea and flatulence.

Chinese Medicine: Used for pre- and post-natal headaches, epigastric pain, vomiting with bleeding, hematuria, leukorrhea, menstrual irregularities, tension and pain in the breast and amenorrhea.


Health risks or side effects following the proper administration of designated therapeutic dosages are not recorded.


Mode of Administration: Available as a liquid extract for internal use.

Ingredients: 100% pure piri-piri rhizome (Cyperus articulatus). No binders, fillers or additives are used. This plant is non-irradiated and not fumigated, and has grown naturally in the Peruvian Amazon without pesticides or fertilizers.

Suggested Use:* Piri-piri is traditionally prepared in a cold maceration. Simply stir 1 teaspoon of the powder into a cup of water or juice and drink twice daily. It can also be stuffed into capsules or prepared as a tea (1 tsp of powder to a cup of hot water). For more complete instrutions on preparing herbal remedies see the Methods for Preparing Herbal Remedies Page.

Contraindications: This plant has been traditionally used as a contraceptive aid. While no clinical studies exist to support this traditional use, women seeking to get pregnant should probably avoid the use of this plant.

Drug Interactions: None known.

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