Embelia ribes

Herbs gallery - Vidanga

Common names

  • Embelia
  • Embella
  • False Black Pepper
  • Vaividang
  • Vavding
  • Vidanga
  • White-Flowered Embelia

The plant species vidanga (Embelia ribes) belongs to the genus Primulaceae. Originally, Dutch botanist Nicolaas Laurens Burman described this plant in his publication, Flora Indica, way back in 1768. This plant is also known as the false black pepper, mainly because the appearance of the plant is similar to that of pepper. A climbing shrub, vidanga has a whitish grey stem having overhanging lentils and brownish-grey roots covered with fine hairs.

Vidanga is an outsized climbing, creeper shrub having a flexible, fragile, elongated and thin stem, while the branches are terete. The bark of the plant has numerous knob-like lenticels. The leaves measure anything between 6 cm and 14 cm in length and 2 cm and 4 cm in width. The entire leaf is glabrous. The leaves are simple, arranged alternately and have an elliptic-lanceolate shape. They are dotted with glands and their upper surface is shiny. The flowers of vidanga are small and whitish-yellow, while the fruits are berry-like, smooth and ovate, measuring anything between 2 mm and 2.4 mm.

The fruit of Embelia ribes is wrinkled or warty, globose and similar to the size of a pepper. The color of these fruits varies from pale red to almost black, often having a small pedicel. Usually, the fruits enclose a solitary seed. The external cover of the fruit is brittle, while the seed inside is spotted. The solitary seed has horn-like projections and their appearance is similar to that of mildew, as they are covered with tiny, crystalline powder and depressed at their base.

Parts used

Berries, roots, bark, seeds.


In Ayurveda, vidanga is considered to be a very potent anti-septic herb and it is used extensively to cure worm infestation in the intestines.

Vidanga (Embelia ribes) is found almost all over India. In the Ayurvedic medicine system, this herb is considered to be extremely useful in treating an assortment of health conditions. This herb is also used widely in homeopathy. In India, vidanga is among the most extensively used as well as popular Ayurvedic herbs.

Vidanga water is administered to new mothers with a view to prevent stomach aches and gas formation. Consumption of vidanga water helps to put off gas formation inside the gastrointestinal (GI) tract and also makes it easier for the body to drive out the gas already formed inside. This herb is also effective for treating tapeworms, but not useful against different other parasites. In many places, it is a normal practice to put a few Embelia ribes berries in the milk drunk by children, as these fruits are said to put off flatulence.

According to ancient Indian physician Sushruta, the vidanga fruit possesses tonic, restorative and anthelmintic properties. In his Sanskrit text, he has recommended the use of the fruit together with liquorice root to prevent the aging effects as well as making the body stronger.

The fruit of vidanga is dried and stored for treating fever. In addition, it is also employed in the form of an antidote for snakebite as well as bites by other venomous insects. The fruit is also effective in treating a variety of skin conditions, including infections and eczema. Moreover, the fruit of vidanga also relieves helminthiasis, for instance tapeworms.

Vidanga also helps to burn excessive body fat, thereby facilitating weight loss. This fruit possesses the ability to eliminate all fat toxins from the body, which circulate in the lymphatic system and plasma. The powder of vidanga is employed for treating piles as well as other disorder related to the ano-rectal region. In addition, this fruit is also helpful in combating obesity and curing benign tumours.

This shrub is also used for treating tooth cavities and it is effective in protecting teeth. At the same time, it is also employed for treating paralysis. Vidanga is also helpful in purifying the blood. The powder of the entire vidanga plant helps to combat convulsion and epilepsy.

A powder prepared by pulverizing dried out vidanga plant is employed to alleviate indigestion. The oil extracted from this plant is employed for treating all types of skin infections or sore skin. The bark of this plant's root can be employed for treating cardiac failure as well as curing insanity. This herb is also known to be effective in treating nervous debility. At the same time, it is a wonderful remedy for flatulence.

Some people are of the view that vidanga (Embelia ribes) is also capable of curing colic and cancer. The powder of this climbing shrub is also effective in treating ailments related to the lungs, including lung infection. Vidanga also helps to alleviate headaches. Rubbing the leaves of this herb on the forehead works wonders.

Vidanga is also known to be a good remedy for mouth ulcers. The bark of this plant's root is also employed for curing piles. In addition, use of this climbing shrub also helps to cure sore throat. The leaves of vidanga are known to be effective in treating leprosy. In fact, the herb is found in the form of an essential constituent in several anti-fungal and anti-microbial medications.

The seeds of vidanga possess rejuvenating properties and are employed to improve the tone of our skin. Moreover, these seeds are also effective in curing gastric disorders and vomiting. They are also employed for treating diabetes and lowering the blood lipid levels. It is worth mentioning here that this climbing shrub is also an effective weight loss remedy.

Aside from the above discussed health benefits of vidanga seeds, they are also useful for treating indigestion as well as various other stomach problems, such as constipation. In the ancient Indian herbal medicine system, Ayurveda, the Embelia ribes plant is considered to be an invasive medication and is employed to provide respite from Kapha and Vata.

The powder of vidanga is considered to be a versatile herbal remedy, as it is used for treating a variety of health problems. This powder is useful for treating an assortment of skin complaints, including ringworm as well as various different fungal infections. It is also believed that vidanga serves as an effective oral contraceptive.

The roots of this climbing shrub possess stomachic and astringent properties and are effective in providing relief from stomach ache, indigestion, gas formation in the gastrointestinal tract and even toothache. Even the leaves of this herb have astringent, cough alleviating and purifying effects. Vidanga leaves are also effective for treating a variety of skin diseases.

Habitat and cultivation

Vidanga (Embelia ribes) plants are found growing in the mountainous regions of India, ranging from the central as well as the lower areas of the Himalayas downwards to Deccan, Konkan, South Indian and the Western Ghats. Generally, this herb is found growing in places located in altitudes of up to 1500 meters above the sea level. Aside from India, this species is also found in countries like Singapore, Sri Lanka, southern regions of China, southwards up to Indonesia as well as some regions in Africa.

Side effects and cautions

The fruits of vidanga have a significant effect on fertility of males. Precisely speaking, consumption of this fruit causes lack of fertility. This fruit impairs spermatogenesis and lowers sperm count to the extent of infertility. However, it has been found that the fruit is not toxic and its anti-fertility action can be reversed.

Aside from the fruit, different parts of vidanga plant exhibit anti-fertility actions in females also. Its effects alter the environment in the uterus, which restricts the implantation process. The plant also has anti-ovulatory and anti-implantation effects, in addition to facilitating childbirth by encouraging the muscles in the uterus to contract.

The seeds of vidanga plants destroy sperms. The berry-like fruits contain a chemical compound known as embelin. This substance has exhibited notable post-coital anti-fertility and anti-implantation activities. An extract from the root is recommended for use as a contraceptive. The root extract has the ability to result in abortions. Moreover, people using this plant as well as any of its parts are likely to experience sexual debility.


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