Chavya – Piper retrofractum Uses, Research, Side Effects

Chavya – Piper retrofractum is one among Panchakola group of spices. Its root and fruit are useful in treating indigestion, abdominal colic, poisoning, anorexia etc. 

Botanical name- Piper chaba (Hunter), Piper retrofractum Vahl.
Family- Piperaceae

Vernacular names

Names in different languages: 
English name – Java Long pepper root, Balinese pepper
Hindi name – Chaba, chavya, Chabha
Telugu name – Chavakam, Sevamu, Chaikani, chavyamu
Bengali name – Chayi, choyi, chear
Marathi name – Chavaka, kamkala, chabachini
Gujarati name – Chavaka
Tamil name – Chavyam

Sanskrit Synonyms

Root – Gaja Pippali moola, Chavika mula
Fruit – Gajapippali, Shreyasi, Hasti Magadha
Gaja Krushna – Fruit is big and black in colour
Kari Kana
Chavya, Chavika – Fruit is chewed
Hasti pippali – Shape is similar to that of pippali but size is large

Chavika - Piper retrofractum leaf with fruits

Major chemical constituent

Stem- Piperine, Sitosterol piplartine( alkaloid). New amides – retractamidde A,B,C,D isolated from aerial parts.
(Reference: Illustrated Dravyaguna VIjnana, Vol. II, by Dr JLN Shastry)
Piperidine alkaloids protects against high-fat diet-induced obesity by regulating lipid metabolism and activating AMP-activated protein kinase.

Javanese long pepper

Classical categorisation

Truptighna – Satiation relieving group of herbs
Arshoghna – Group of herbs useful in relieving haemorrhoids
Deepaneeya – Digestion improving group of herbs
Shoola Prashamana – Abdominal colic relieving group of herbs
Sushruta and Vagbhata – Pippalyadi
Kaiyadeva Nighantu – Oshadhi Varga
Dhanvantari Nighantu – Shatapushpadi Varga
Bhavaprakasha – Haritakyadi Varga

Chavya - Piper retrofractum root

Medicinal properties

Chavya – Medicinal Properties:
Guna (qualities) – Laghu (lightness), Rooksha (Dryness)
Rasa (taste) – Katu (Pungent)
Vipaka- Katu – Undergoes pungent taste conversion after digestion
Veerya- Ushna – Hot potency
Effect on Tridosha: KaphaVatahara – Balances Kapha and Vata Dosha. Increases Pitta Dosha.
Pharmacological action – Appetizer, Digestive, Carminative, Expectorant, stomachic

Part used, dosage

Part used: Root
Dosage: Powder 1-2 g

Sanskrit verse

Chavya beneifts

Chavya root uses

Chavika – Piper retrofractum Root uses:
Chavya is useful in following disorders –

Aruchi – anorexia
Bhedana – relieves constipation
Pachana – Digestive, relieves Ama Dosha
Deepana – improves digestion strength
Krumi – worm infestation
Kaphahara – balances Kapha, useful in productive cough, asthma
Vatahara – useful in treating disorders of Vata Dosha imbalance  such as neuralgia, paralysis, constipation, bloating, etc
Gulma – Tumors of the abdomen
Shoola – abdominal pain
Anaha – bloating, fullness
Udara – ascites, enlargement of the abdomen
The Chavya flower is useful in Gara Visha – chronic poisoning.
As per Bhavaprakasha, its roots have similar qualities of Long pepper root

Gajapippali uses

Gajapippali benefits

Gajapippali – Piper Retrofractum fruit benefits:
It is indicated in following disorders –
Kaphahara – balances Kapha, useful in productive cough, asthma
Atisarahara – Relieves diarrhoea
Grahi – absorbent, useful in diarrhoea, IBS
Shwasa –  asthma and chronic respiratory disorders
Kanthamaya – Throat disorders
Krumi – worm infestation

Gaja Pippali


  • In toothache, ripe fruit powder is inserted into tooth cavity.
  • Root decoction is used to treat flatulence.
  • Diarrhea – Ripe fruit decoction is used
  • Stomatitis – leaves decoction is used to gargle (a)


Evaluation of constituents

Distribution, Morphology

It is found throughout India.

Piper retrofractum is a climbing shrub growing up to 2 – 4 meters in height. Leaves are green, oblong-ovate or elliptic-lanceolate in shape. Fruit – berries.
The seeds are subglobose to obovoid-globose, 2 to 2.5 mm.

Side effects

Balinese long pepper side effects:
People with Pitta imbalance will find it hard to tolerate this spicy root.
It may cause or worsen gastritis, burning sensation in stomach, throat, palm and feet.
It is best to avoid long term usage of this herb.
Can be used during pregnancy and lactation with consultation of doctor but
Better to avoid this during pregnancy.

Interaction with medicines, supplements

Can this be used while taking Homeopathic medicine?
Yes. This product does not react with homeopathic medicine.

Can this medicine be continued while taking supplements like multivitamin tablets, Omega 3 fatty acids etc?
Yes. Generally, this product goes well with most of the dietary supplements. However, if you are taking more than one product per day, please consult your doctor for an opinion.

With western medicines
Seek your doctor’s advice if you are taking this product along with other western (allopathic / modern) medicines. Some Ayurvedic herbs can interact with modern medicine.
If both Ayurvedic and allopathic medicines are advised together, then it is best to take Allopathic medicine first, wait for 30 minutes and then take the Ayurvedic medicine.

Ayurvedic medicines

Ayurveda medicines with Chavya ingredient:
Chavikasavam –
Used in UTI, cough, cold, gout etc 
Saptavinshati Guggulu – 
used in quick healing of wounds, sinuses, skin diseases, etc.
Panchakola Ghrita – Used in cold, cough, Asthma, fiver, spleen disorders, indigestion, anaemia.
Mandoora Vatakam – used in anaemia, jaundice, hepatitis.
Eranda Paka – used in the treatment of Vata diseases, abdominal colic pain, bloating, rheumatoid arthritis etc.

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