Sembukan (Paederia foetida) is one of the traditional medicinal and vegetable plant in Indonesia. The leaves can be eaten raw or usually cooked first. Their stems and leaves emit an unpleasant odor. The smell we can feel when we stand near to the plant. And it will increase sharply when we squeeze the leaves. When it becomes food, an unpleasant odor will be felt on the breath and when farting.

The benefits of Sembukan (Paederia foetida) as medicinal and vegetable plant

In Central Java, Sembukan leaves are popular as vegetables. Usually, it is cooked by a mix of the leaves with grated young coconut, tempeh, and spices, then wrapped in banana leaves. The recipe name is Gembrot Sembukan

The Botok recipe from East Java is almost similar. Botok is Made by mixing the Sembukan leaves with grated young coconut, anchovies, and spices then wrapped in banana leaves and steamed. But now, these two kinds of foods are hard to find.

Medicinal and vegetable plant

In some areas, there are people who use Sembukan leaves as a basic ingredient for juice. They drink the juice to relieve symptoms of diarrhea for the children.  Apart from being food, Sembukan is also famous as a medicinal plant. There are many scientific publications studying Sembukan.   Sembukan contains useful metabolite compounds for medical purposes.  Some of Sembukan plant utilization in Indonesia are:  

Relieve herpes Symptoms

Sembukan leaves are effective for relieving herpes symptoms. Just mashing the leaves until smooth. add a little water to it. Then affixed to the part of the body which affected by herpes.

Relieve diarrhea 

In some regions, peoples make Sembukan leave juice.  They use the juice to relieve diarrhea.

Nausea and cold

The chemical content in Semburan leaves is useful for relieving stomach ulcers, nausea and colds. The trick is, roast the Sembukan leaves until wilted and then stick them on the stomach.

Medicinal and vegetable plant as natural diuretic

Sembukan is rich in beneficial compounds. Some metabolites and essential oils in Sembukan leaves are efficacious as natural diuretics. You can boil the Sembukan leaves and drink it, you will have your natural diuretic drink.

Relieves eczema and neurodermatitis

Some Sembukan metabolites are effective in relieving itchy skin, eczema, and neurodermatitis. Just finely mash the stems and leaves, grind until smooth, then paste on the itchy or sore body part.

Relieve puffy eyes

Sembukan leaves are also effective in overcoming swollen eyes due to irritation. It is possibly caused by one of the chemical content which is effective in relieving the irritation. Just boil the leaves. Cool it for a while. Once it is warm, then hold your eyes close to the steam. 

Relieves cough and bronchitis

Several metabolite compounds in Sembukan leaves are anti-tussive and mucolytic. These properties make it efficacious to relieve coughs and bronchitis. So, the decoction of the sembukan leaves can serve as a phlegm laxative drink.

Relieves rheumatism and sprains

Actually, Indonesian traditional medicine culture also often uses Sembukan leaves. Peoples use it to support the healing process of sprains and rheumatism. This seems to be due to some of its compounds which have anti-inflammatory activity. Usualy the boil the Sembukan leaves. Drink the water and paste the leaves on the body part of the body part.

Can help to cure thrush

The benefits of Sembukan leaves are also often used by people in traditional medicine to cure sores. People drink the boiled water from Sembukan leaves or gargle to relieve the pain.

Relieves symptoms of food poisoning

Sembukan leaves are useful to treat a number of cases of organic poisoning, including food poisoning.

Medicinal and vegetable plant to relieves Icteric hepatitis symptoms

The benefits of Sembukan leaves are also popular as a traditional medicine to treat icteric hepatitis.

Overcoming seizures

Sembukan is also popular to treat seizures. Pound the Sembukan leaves until smooth, add a few salts, then pour the water. Squeeze it and drink it. 

Some local names for Sembukan as medicinal and vegetable plant

There are some local names in some provinces for Sembukan. Daun kentut (melayu), Kahitutan (West java), Sembukan (Central and East Java), Bintaos (Madura), Gumi Siki (Tertate) Skunk vine, Stink vine (English) 

The chemical compounds of Sembukan as medicinal and vegetable plant

Paederia foetida is popular as a stinky vegetable. If you eat raw or cooked, the smell is still there. The aroma actually exists when the leaves or stems are squeezed. This is actually due to the high content of dimethyl sulfide 3 in the leaves and stems. 

Sembukan is famous as a medicinal plant because of containing many beneficial compounds. Some of the main compounds are iridoid glucosides compounds, such as Asperuloside, Scandoside, and Paederoside. 

These Glucoside compounds have antitumor activity.  Paedoroside has high anti-tumor activity. The chemical is commercially produced as an antiviral agent. In the anti microorganism activity test, Paedoroside has a similar inhibitory effect with other compounds such as asperuloside and daecetyl-asperulosidic acid. 

Meanwhile, Asperuloside and Scandoside compounds act as anti-inflammatory and have laxative activity.  Asperuloside is also popular as a compound that has analeptic, analgesic, sedative, antihypertensive, and diuretic properties.  Some scientific reports also mention that Asperuloside has the benefit to stimulate the metabolic system.


Muryanto Paiman

always love to learn from nature.  Passionate on studying plants in some aspects: the DNA, Identification, propagation, and their uses

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