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Capers (Capparis spinosa L.)
Natural Standard Bottom Line Monograph, Copyright © 2011 (www.naturalstandard.com). Commercial distribution prohibited. This monograph is intended for informational purposes only, and should not be interpreted as specific medical advice. You should consult with a qualified healthcare provider before making decisions about therapies and/or health conditions.
While some complementary and alternative techniques have been studied scientifically, high-quality data regarding safety, effectiveness, and mechanism of action are limited or controversial for most therapies. Whenever possible, it is recommended that practitioners be licensed by a recognized professional organization that adheres to clearly published standards. In addition, before starting a new technique or engaging a practitioner, it is recommended that patients speak with their primary healthcare provider(s). Potential benefits, risks (including financial costs), and alternatives should be carefully considered. The below monograph is designed to provide historical background and an overview of clinically-oriented research, and neither advocates for or against the use of a particular therapy.
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).
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.
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.
There is limited evidence of the effect of capers alone on cirrhosis. Additional studies are needed.
*Key to grades:
A: Strong scientific evidence for this use;
B: Good scientific evidence for this use;
C: Unclear scientific evidence for this use;
D: Fair scientific evidence against this use (it may not work);
F: Strong scientific evidence against this use (it likely does not work).
The below uses are based on tradition or scientific theories. 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 health care professional.
- Anemia, antioxidant, anti-spasm, antiviral, diabetes, diuretic, dropsy, gas, gout, heart disease, herpes simplex virus, high blood pressure, immune system regulation, inflammatory conditions, kidney disease (kidney disinfectant), painful urination, parasitic worm infections, rheumatism, sun protection, tonic.
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.
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.
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.
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.
This information is based on a systematic review of scientific literature edited and peer-reviewed by contributors to the Natural Standard Research Collaboration (www.naturalstandard.com).
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 www.naturalstandard.com. 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. View Abstract
- 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
Copyright © 2011 Natural Standard (www.naturalstandard.com)
The information in this monograph is intended for informational purposes only, and is meant to help users better understand health concerns. Information is based on review of scientific research data, historical practice patterns, and clinical experience. This information should not be interpreted as specific medical advice. Users should consult with a qualified healthcare provider for specific questions regarding therapies, diagnosis and/or health conditions, prior to making therapeutic decisions.