Common Names

  • Pereiroá
  • Ubá-açú
  • Triguaaba
  • Camará-de-bilro
  • Pinguaciba

For Patients & Caregivers

How It Works

Animal studies show that Pao pereira has antimalarial and anticancer effects. Human studies have not been conducted.

Pao pereira is a tree native to northern part of South. Both aqueous and alcoholic decoctions, made from the stem bark, are used in folk medicine to treat malaria, digestive disorders, constipation, fever, liver pain and cancer, and as sexual stimulants. Laboratory and animal studies show that the bark extracts have antimalarial and pain relieving properties, may help improve cognition, and also have anticancer effects.

P. pereira is marketed in supplemental form as an alternative anticancer treatment. But its safety and efficacy have not been determined in humans.

Purported Uses

  • Malaria
    Studies done in the lab and in animal models have shown that P. pereira has antimalarial activity.
  • Fever
    Although the herb is used in folk medicine, scientific evidence is lacking.
  • Liver Pain
    P. Pereira extracts were shown to relieve pain in animal models.
  • Stomach disorders
    Although the herb is used in folk medicine, scientific research has not been conducted.
  • Cancer treatment
    Extracts of P. pereira showed anticancer activity in lab and animal studies. They have not been studied in humans.

Do Not Take If

There are no reports of P. pereira-drug interactions.

Side Effects

High doses of P. pereira extracts caused convulsions and death in mice. There are no reports of adverse effects in humans.

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For Healthcare Professionals

Scientific Name

Geissospermum vellosii Fr., Geissospermum leave, Tabernaemontana laevis

Clinical Summary

Pao pereira is a tree native to northern part of South America and belongs to the family Apocyanaceae. Decoctions, both aqueous and alcoholic, prepared from the stem bark are used in folk medicine to treat a variety of ailments including malaria, digestive disorders, constipation, fever, liver pain and cancer, and as sexual stimulants.

Studies done in vitro and in animal models using the bark extracts indicate antimalarial (1) and anti-nociceptive (2) effects, as well as anticholinesterase activity resulting in reversal of cognitive defects (3). This property is being explored as a potential treatment for Alzheimer’s disease (4).

The anticancer potential of P. pereira has also been investigated. In preclinical studies, the bark extracts demonstrated antitumor activity and also enhanced the effects of carboplatin in ovarian cancer cells (5); suppressed the growth of prostate cancer (6) (7); and pancreatic cancer cells along with potentiating the effects of gemcitabine (8). Clinical trials have not yet been conducted.

P. pereira is marketed in supplemental form as an alternative anticancer treatment. However, the safety and efficacy have not been determined.

Purported Uses

  • Malaria
  • Fever
  • Liver Pain
  • Stomach disorders
  • Cancer treatment

Mechanism of Action

The indole alkaloids, the bioactive compounds of P. pereira, showed antiplasmodial activity against a chloroquine-sensitive strain of Plasmodium falciparum, the causative agent of malaria. Of five alkaloids tested, geissolosimine demonstrated the highest activity (1), although the mechanism of action is yet to be determined. In a mice model, the crude extract and the dichloromethane fraction of P. pereira exerted antinociceptive effects against acetic acid and formalin-induced-nociception, via stimulation of the 5-HT 1A receptor, which is involved in neuromodulation by binding serotonin (2). In another study, geissospermine, the most abundant alkaloid, inhibited acetylcholinesterase, resulting in increased levels of acetylcholine, and reduced amnesia induced by scopolamine in mice, in a dose dependent manner (3).

The anticancer effects of P. pereira are exerted by various mechanisms. One study showed that it induces apoptosis in pancreatic cells both in vitro and in vivo as evidenced by cleavage of caspases 3 and 8 and PARP, associated with DNA damage and inhibition of cell cycle (8). In experiments with the prostate cancer cell line LNCaP, P. pereira extract reduced tumor cell growth and induced apoptosis, thought to be via beta-carboline alkaloids that upregulate DNA repair response genes and genes involved in apoptosis pathway (6). Findings of another study suggest that P. pereira extract induces cell growth arrest and apoptosis in LNCaP cells partially via inhibition of the nuclear factor kappa B (NFκB) activation, responsible for cell survival (7).


None known.

Adverse Reactions

  • Extracts of P. pereira have anticholinergic activity. High doses (200 mg/kg) have caused convulsions and death in animals (3).
  • There are no reports of adverse effects in humans in current literature.

Herb-Drug Interactions

None known.

Herb Lab Interactions

None known.

Dosage (OneMSK Only)


  1. Mbeunkui F, Grace MH, Lategan C, et al. In vitro antiplasmodial activity of indole alkaloids from the stem bark of Geissospermum vellosii. J Ethnopharmacol. Jan 31 2012;139(2):471-477.

  2. Werner JA, Oliveira SM, Martins DF, et al. Evidence for a role of 5-HT(1A) receptor on antinociceptive action from Geissospermum vellosii. J Ethnopharmacol. Aug 17 2009;125(1):163-169.

  3. Lima JA, Costa RS, Epifanio RA, et al. Geissospermum vellosii stembark: anticholinesterase activity and improvement of scopolamine-induced memory deficits. Pharmacol Biochem Behav. May 2009;92(3):508-513.

  4. Araujo JQ, Lima JA, Pinto Ada C, de Alencastro RB, Albuquerque MG. Docking of the alkaloid geissospermine into acetylcholinesterase: a natural scaffold targeting the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease. J Mol Model. Jun 2011;17(6):1401-1412.

  5. Bemis DL, Capodice JL, Desai M, Katz AE, Buttyan R. beta-carboline alkaloid-enriched extract from the amazonian rain forest tree pao pereira suppresses prostate cancer cells. J Soc Integr Oncol. Spring 2009;7(2):59-65.

  6. Mbeunkui F, Grace MH, Lila MA. Isolation and structural elucidation of indole alkaloids from Geissospermum vellosii by mass spectrometry. J Chromatogr B Analyt Technol Biomed Life Sci. Feb 15 2012;885-886:83-89.

  7. Hughes NA, Rapaport H. Flavopereirine, an Alkaloid from Geissospevrnurn oellosii. JACS. 1957;80:1604 - 1609.

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