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Capers (Capparis spinosa L.)

Alternate Title

  • Capparis spinosa L.

Related Terms

  • Alcaparra (Portuguese), alcaparro (Spanish), caparra (Spanish), caper, caperberry, caperbush, cappariloside, cappero (Italian), capperone (Italian), capres (French), caprier (French), fabagelle (French), glucocapperin, hydroxycinnamic acids, kabarra (Punjabi), kabra (Bengali), kaempferol glycoside, kapernstrauch (German), kapersy (Russian), kappar (Estonian), kapper (German), kappertjes (Dutch), kapricserje (Hungarian), kapris (Swedish and Finnish), kiari (Hindi), kobra (Hindi), lussef (Egyptian), mustard oil (methyl isothiocyanate), quercetin glycoside, rutin, tapana (French), torkav (Estonian).

Background

  • Capers (Capparis spinosa) traditionally has been used for gas, liver function, heart disease, kidney disorders, parasitic worm infections, anemia, arthritis, gout, and as a tonic. Capers has also been used for low blood sugar. In early study, capers has shown antioxidant, liver protective, anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, and sun protective properties.
  • The combination therapy Liv-52® (Himalaya Herbals, India), which contains ferric oxide, capers, and several other herbal ingredients, may be an effective treatment for cirrhosis. The efficacy of capers alone for cirrhosis or other conditions remains unproven.

Evidence Table

    Disclaimer

    These uses have been tested in humans or animals. Safety and effectiveness have not always been proven. Some of these conditions are potentially serious, and should be evaluated by a qualified healthcare provider.

    C C – C


    C C – C

*Key to grades:

Tradition

    Disclaimer

    The below uses are based on tradition, scientific theories, or limited research. They often have not been thoroughly tested in humans, and safety and effectiveness have not always been proven. Some of these conditions are potentially serious, and should be evaluated by a qualified healthcare provider. There may be other proposed uses that are not listed below.

Dosing

    Disclaimer

    The below doses are based on scientific research, publications, traditional use, or expert opinion. Many herbs and supplements have not been thoroughly tested, and safety and effectiveness may not be proven. Brands may be made differently, with variable ingredients, even within the same brand. The below doses may not apply to all products. You should read product labels, and discuss doses with a qualified healthcare provider before starting therapy.

  • Adults (18 years and older)

    • Three tablets per day of Liv-52® (a combination product from Himalaya Herbals, India) have been used for six months for cirrhosis.
  • Children (under 18 years old)

    • There is no proven safe or effective dose for capers, and use in children is not recommended.

Safety

    Disclaimer

    The U.S. Food and Drug Administration does not strictly regulate herbs and supplements. There is no guarantee of strength, purity or safety of products, and effects may vary. You should always read product labels. If you have a medical condition, or are taking other drugs, herbs, or supplements, you should speak with a qualified healthcare provider before starting a new therapy. Consult a healthcare provider immediately if you experience side effects.

  • Allergies

    • Avoid with known allergy or hypersensitivity to capers. Cross-sensitivity with mustard oil may be possible.
  • Side Effects and Warnings

    • There is limited evidence of adverse effects with use of capers. Cross-sensitivity with mustard oil may be possible. Rash has been reported when capers was applied to the skin in a wet compress.
    • Capers may lower blood sugar levels. Caution is advised in patients with diabetes or hypoglycemia, and in those taking drugs, herbs, or supplements that affect blood sugar. Blood glucose levels may need to be monitored by a qualified healthcare professional, including a pharmacist, and medication adjustments may be necessary.
    • Capers may cause low blood pressure. Caution is advised in patients taking herbs or supplements that lower blood pressure.
    • Use with caution in patients taking diuretics. Use with caution in patients who are prone to iron overload as the combination product Liv-52® (Himalaya Herbals, India) contains iron.
  • Pregnancy and Breastfeeding

    • Capers are not recommended in pregnant or breastfeeding women due to a lack of available scientific evidence.

Interactions

    Disclaimer

    Most herbs and supplements have not been thoroughly tested for interactions with other herbs, supplements, drugs, or foods. The interactions listed below are based on reports in scientific publications, laboratory experiments, or traditional use. You should always read product labels. If you have a medical condition, or are taking other drugs, herbs, or supplements, you should speak with a qualified healthcare provider before starting a new therapy.

  • Interactions with Drugs

    • Capers may lower blood sugar levels. Caution is advised when using medications that may also lower blood sugar. Patients taking drugs for diabetes by mouth or injection should be monitored closely by a qualified healthcare professional. Medication adjustment may be necessary.
    • Capers may lower blood pressure. Caution is advised in patients taking medications that lower blood pressure.
    • Capers may have additive effects when used with sun protective, immune system modulating, diuretic, antiviral, anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, antifungal, antioxidant, and iron-containing drugs. Capers may counter the effects of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory agents (NSAIDs) and COX 2 inhibitors.
  • Interactions with Herbs and Dietary Supplements

    • Capers may lower blood sugar levels. Caution is advised when using herbs or supplements that may also lower blood sugar. Blood glucose levels may require monitoring, and doses may need adjustment.
    • Capers may lower blood pressure. Caution is advised in patients taking herbs or supplements that may also lower blood pressure.
    • Capers may have additive effects when used with antifungal, anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, antioxidant, antiviral, diuretic, immune system modulating, sun protective, and iron-containing herbs or supplements.

Attribution

  • This information is based on a systematic review of scientific literature edited and peer-reviewed by contributors to the Natural Standard Research Collaboration ().

Bibliography

    Disclaimer

    Natural Standard developed the above evidence-based information based on a thorough systematic review of the available scientific articles. For comprehensive information about alternative and complementary therapies on the professional level, go to . Selected references are listed below.

  • Angelini G, Vena GA, Filotico R, et al. Allergic contact dermatitis from Capparis spinosa L. applied as wet compresses. Contact Dermatitis 1991;24(5):382-383.
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  • Arena A, Bisignano G, Pavone B, et al. Antiviral and immunomodulatory effect of a lyophilized extract of Capparis spinosa L. buds. Phytother Res 2008;22(3):313-317.
    View Abstract
  • Bonina F, Puglia C, Ventura D, et al. In vitro antioxidant and in vivo photoprotective effects of a lyophilized extract of Capparis spinosa L buds. J Cosmet Sci 2002;53(6):321-335.
    View Abstract
  • Calis I, Kuruuzum A, Ruedi P. 1H-Indole-3 acetonitrile glycosides from Capparis spinosa fruits. Phytochemistry 1997;50(7):1205-1208.
  • Calis I, Kuruuzum-Uz A, Lorenzetto PA, et al. (6S)-Hydroxy-3-oxo-alpha-ionol glucosides from Capparis spinosa fruits. Phytochemistry 2002;59(4):451-457.
  • Huseini HF, Alavian SM, Heshmat R, et al. The efficacy of Liv-52 on liver cirrhotic patients: a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled first approach. Phytomedicine. 2005;12(9):619-624.
    View Abstract
  • Jiang HE, Li X, Ferguson DK, et al. The discovery of Capparis spinosa L. (Capparidaceae) in the Yanghai Tombs (2800 years b.p.), NW China, and its medicinal implications. J Ethnopharmacol. 2007;113(3):409-420.
    View Abstract
  • Mahasneh AM. Screening of some indigenous Qatari medicinal plants for antimicrobial activity. Phytother Res 2002;16(8):751-753.
    View Abstract
  • Matthaus B, Ozcan M. Glucosinolate composition of young shoots and flower buds of capers (Capparis species) growing wild in Turkey. Journal of agricultural and food chemistry 2002;50(25):7323-7325.
  • Lopez-Lopez A, Jimenez-Araujo A, Garcia-Garcia P, et al. Multivariate analysis for the evaluation of fiber, sugars, and organic acids in commercial presentations of table olives. J Agric Food Chem. 2007;55(26):10803-10811.
    View Abstract
  • Panico AM, Cardile V, Garufi F, et al. Protective effect of Capparis spinosa on chondrocytes. Life Sci. 2005;77(20):2479-2488.
    View Abstract
  • Romeo V, Ziino M, Giuffrida D, et al. Flavour profile of capers (Capparis spinosa L.) from the Eolian Archipelago by HS-SPME/GC-MS. Food Chemistry 2007;3:1272-1278.
  • Sharaf M, el Ansari MA, Saleh NA. Quercetin triglycoside from Capparis spinosa. Fitoterapia 2000;71(1):46-49.
    View Abstract
  • Tesoriere L, Butera D, Gentile C, et al. Bioactive components of caper (Capparis spinosa L.) from Sicily and antioxidant effects in a red meat simulated gastric digestion. J Agric Food Chem. 2007;55(21):8465-8471.
    View Abstract
  • Yaniv Z, Dafni A, Friedman J, et al. Plants used for the treatment of diabetes in Israel. J Ethnopharmacol. 1987;19(2):145-151.
    View Abstract