ziziphora plant


Common Name


Scientific Name

Ziziphora capitata L.


Ziziphora, called “Kahlik-outi” in Azerbaijan, Iran, can be found in mountainous and rugged areas. Apart from the mentioned province, it grows in Khorasan, Iran, too. This plant is an herbal medicine and aromatic spice which its dried and crashed leaves are used as flavor in Dough (a drink made from water and yoghurt).

Health Benefits

1. Regulating Blood Cholesterol Levels

According to the findings of Iranian researchers published in International Journal of Biology, the level of cholesterol and triglycerides decreased in rats after having Ziziphora. The essence of this plant which contains thymol and carvacrol reduces the level of cholesterol via inhibiting the activity of HMG-CoA reductase.

2. Anti-Microbial

Studies have shown that Ziziphora extracts had antioxidant and antibacterial activity in laboratory condition. According to some researchers, thymol, pulegone and piperitone of ziziphora can be responsible for its antioxidant and antimicrobial activity.

3. Alleviating Peptic Ulcer Disease

Investigating the effect of aqueous extract of Ziziphora on peptic ulcer induced by acetic acid in rats, researchers observed the positive effect of this extract on healing the ulcer. They relate this effect of Ziziphora extract to its role in reducing the ratio of cell death to cell division, and also increasing angiogenesis in mucous membrane of the stomach. One of the main constituents of Ziziphora is pulegone whose anti-inflammatory effect has been known thoroughly. Pulegon and 1, 8-sineol, main compounds in the extract of this plant, can reduce the excessive acid secretion in the stomach.

4. Antidepressant Properties

Ziziphora extract had an anti-depressant effect in laboratory animals. Although the mechanism of this effect is not known yet, scientists have reported that the behavioral pattern resulted by the extract is similar to what is seen following taking fluoxetine. The similarity between these two behavior patterns demonstrates that this effect of the extract is due to a possible increase in serotonergic neurotransmission following its consumption. Anti- depressant property of Ziziphora can be related to constituents like pulegone

5. Regulating Blood Glucose Levels

In a research, the effect of hydro-alcoholic extracts of Ziziphora on the number of active Beta cells of pancreas in rats with diabetes due to Streptozocin was investigated, and the result showed that this extract increased number of Beta cells through activating insulin exertion and consequently led to a decrease in serum glucose in animals suffering from diabetes. Other researchers don’t believe that enforcement of insulin exertion from Beta cells is as a result of Ziziphora affecting decrease of glucose, but they believe that it is likely that Ziziphora is effective in insulin independent diabetes and because of an increase in peripheral consumption of glucose, blood glucose level is decreased. 

6. Anticonvulsant

In an experiment anticonvulsant effects of the leaves of the Ziziphora in male rats was assessed and the results showed that injection of hydro alcoholic extracts of this plant causes a delay in the time of beginning of the convulsion. Researches indicate that there are Gabaergic and anti-cholinergic compounds (obstructive of Acetylcholine) in Ziziphora plant. Flavonoids of Ziziphora enforce controller effects of GABA and as a result anticonvulsant effects by affecting GABAA receivers. Also, this plant has aromatic compounds which are effective in decreasing anxiety and mental stress and have lenitive effects on nervous system.

7. Anti-cancer

In an article, published in Food and Agricultural Immunology, the effects of natural essence of Ziziphora on gastric cancer was investigated and according to the results of this study ziziphora extract had toxic effect on gastric cancer AGS cell line.

Bioactive Compounds

 Germacrene, Limonene, Thymol, Carvacrol, Beta- Caryophyllene, Piperitenone, Spathulenol, Sesquiterpenes, Pulegone, p-Mentha-3-en-8-ol, Alpha-Pinene, Beta- Pinene.

Traditional Use

In Iranian traditional medicine, Ziziphora has been used in the form of infusion or decoction as lenitive and expectorant for various health conditions such as improving stomach, heart disorders, common cold, inflammation, depression, diarrhea, coughs, migraine, fever and scars. It is also known as an antiseptic and anti-flatulence.

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