10 Surprisingly Health Benefits of Aratiles (Kerson Fruit)

The Muntingia calabura plant is known under many names. In the west, it is best known as the Jamaican cherry or the Kerson fruit. Whereas, in Asia, particularly in Malaysia, it is locally known as “kerukup siam” and in the Philippines, it is known as “aratiles”. It has been reported that Muntingia calabura posseses medicinal value and healing abilities. Let us delve deeper into these health benefits. (N.D. Mahmood, 2014)

Here are 10 health benefits of the Muntingia calabura plant. 

It is a tree that grows very rapidly, similar to that of a cherry. It has a broad, spreading crown and can grow from 3 to 12 meters. The fruit in most times is red, and small, similar to that of cherries. There are also yellow-colored Muntingia calabura fruits. While it can be cultivated to harness its edible fruits, it is mostly used as an ornamental plant and is planted and taken care of for shade. (Muntingia calabura, n.d.)

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1. Muntingia calabura has natural antibacterial properties

The fruit of the Muntingia calabura has been proven to possess natural antibacterial properties after phytochemical tests done on the fruit. (Labrien, n.d.)

In the current era, strains of bacteria that are resistant to antibiotics have started emerging. This is due to the overuse and misuse of antibiotics, which are supposedly only to be used when the body’s own immune system cannot ward off the pathogens within the body. (Nutshell, 2016)

Muntingia calabura has natural antibacterial properties that has been concluded to be comparable to that of standard antibiotics. In fact, the presence of a stronger and more potent antibiotic in Muntingia calabura has also been detected. (Zakaria, 2006)

It has the capabilities to fight off staph infections, intestinal bacteria, sepsis, and diphtheria. It’s potential to destroy other pathogens has yet to be explored. (Labrien, n.d.)


2. Muntingia calabura is rich in Vitamin C

One hundred grams of the Muntingia calabura fruit contains 150 milligrams of Vitamin C. In order to maintain an even distribution of Vitamin C throughout different parts of the body, men should take 40 milligrams of Vitamin C every day, while women should take 30 milligrams. (Olson JA, 1987)

Vitamin C is essential in keeping the immune system strong and healthy. A sufficient amount of Vitamin C ensures that you do not catch the common cold or other viruses easily. It also plays a vital role in the growth and repair of tissues all over the body. It is also an important protein used to form, skin, tendons and ligaments. (Vitamin C)


3. Muntingia calabura provides gout relief

Gout is a common and complex form of arthritis. It refers to sudden and severe attacks of swelling, redness and tenderness in the joints. The most common area that is attacked by gout is the joint at the base of the big toe. (Gout – symptoms and causes, 2019)

While Muntingia calabura cannot cure gout, as gout eventually goes away on its own, consuming the berries three times a day, in groups of 9 to 12 pieces each time will help relieve te pain away. Which is arguably, the worst part of gout itself. (Labrien, n.d.)


4. Muntingia calabura is good for diabetics

The Muntingia calabura plant is effective in lowering the blood sugar levels. This is especially important to those who are suffering from diabetes, in which, constant medication and injection of outside regulators (such as insulin) can be avoid if the blood sugar levels are low. Countless of studies have found out that the Muntingia calabura plant has in vitro anti-diabetic properties. (Zakaria, Antinociceptive effect of semi-purified petroleum ether partition of Muntingia calabura leaves, 2016)

5. Muntingia calabura is good for relieving headaches

In folkloric medicine, the Muntingia calabura was used to relieve headaches and cold. But while it may have served a superstitious purpose in the past, it has been proven that this has scientific roots as well. Headaches are generally caused by the constriction of blood flow to the head. The Muntingia calabura plant dilates and relaxes the blood vessels, causing the blood to flow more evenly in the head, thus, treating headaches. (Aratiles / Muntingia calabura Linn)


6. Muntingia calabura has strong antioxidant properties

Oxidative stress is a natural process that comes with aging. It is characterized by the imbalance of free radicals and antioxidants in the body, causing a damage to the cells and tissues. One of the leading causes of the activation of cancer cells in the body is oxidative stress. (Sampson, 2019)

Muntingia calabura is packed with antioxidants that kill free radicals. There are 24 flavonoids and phenolic compounds in the Kerson fruit. Various studies have shown that the Muntingia calabura plant has antioxidant properties because of the presence of the phenolic compounds. (Zakaria, In vitro antimicrobial activity of Muntingia calabura extracts and fractions, 2010)

7. Muntingia calabura can be used as an anti-ulcer

A certain study has shown that the extract of the Muntingia calabura leaves is effective in preventing ulcers. When injected to male Sprague-Dawley rats with ethanol-induced ulcers, it was found out that the Muntingia calabura leaves extract protected the gastric mucosa against the ethanol-induced ulcer, because of the increase of mucus production and a decrease in the acidity of the gastric chamber. (Ibrahim Abdel Aziz Ibrahim)


8. Muntingia calabura has cytotoxic capabilities

Cytotoxicity is the ability of certain chemicals to destroy living cells. While it sounds horrifying, cytotoxicity is actually an important capability that is utilized in destroying cancer cells. (Man, 2012)

A certain study had isolate 12 flavonoids from Muntingia calabura leaves extract and most of the isolates were found out to demonstrate cytotoxic capabilities when evaluated with a number of human cancer cell lines. (Zakaria, Antinociceptive, anti-inflammatory and antipyretic effects of Muntingia calabura aqueous extract in animal models, 2007)


9. Muntingia calabura has antimicrobial properties

A certain study had evaluated extracts of the leaves, bark and fruits of the Muntingia calabura plant and found out that the extracts exhibited antibacterial activity against certain strain of bacteria and even antifungal properties against certain types of fungal. (Zakaria Z. , 2007)


10. Muntingia calabura relieves abdominal cramps

Another folkloric usage of the Kerson fruit is that is used to relieve abdominal cramps. This is because it contains latex, which stimulates the contraction of muscles to relax and lessen the cramping. It can also be used for treating menstrual cramps. (Aratiles / Muntingia calabura Linn)


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Aratiles / Muntingia calabura Linn. (n.d.). Retrieved from Stuart Xchange: http://www.stuartxchange.org/Aratiles

Gout – symptoms and causes. (2019, March 1). Retrieved from Mayo Clinic: https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/gout/symptoms-causes/syc-20372897

Ibrahim Abdel Aziz Ibrahim, M. A.-B. (n.d.). Leaves Extract of Muntingia Calabura Protects Against Gastric Ulcer Induced by Ethanol in Sprague-Dawley Rats. Retrieved from Journal of Clinical and Experimental Pharmacology: https://www.longdom.org/open-access/leaves-extract-of-muntingia-calabura-protects-against-gastric-ulcer-induced-by-ethanol-in-sprague-dawley-rats-2161-1459.S5-004.pdf

Labrien, D. (n.d.). 13 Health Benefits of Kerson Fruit You Might Not Know. Retrieved from Life Hack: https://www.lifehack.org/294083/13-wonderful-health-benefits-kerson-fruits-you-may-not-know

Man, T. P. (2012, November 19). What is cytotoxicity and how to measure it? Retrieved from G Bio Sciences: https://info.gbiosciences.com/blog/bid/164400/what-is-cell-cytotoxicity-and-how-to-measure-it

Muntingia calabura. (n.d.). Retrieved from Useful Tropical Plants: http://tropical.theferns.info/viewtropical.php?id=Muntingia+calabura

N.D. Mahmood, N. N. (2014, July 28). Muntingia calabura: A review of its traditional uses, chemical properties, and pharmacological observations. Retrieved from T and F Online: https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.3109/13880209.2014.908397

Nutshell, K. -I. (Director). (2016). The Rise of the Superbug [Motion Picture].

Olson JA, H. R. (1987, April). Recommended daily intake of vitamin c in humans. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/3565296

Sampson, S. (2019, April 2). How does oxidative stress affect the body? Retrieved from Medical News Today: https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/324863.php

Vitamin C. (n.d.). Retrieved from Medicinal Plus Encyclopedia: https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/002404.htm

Zakaria, Z. (2006). In-vitro antibacterical activity of Muntingia calabura extracts. Sedang, Selangor, Malaysia.

Zakaria, Z. (2007). Analgesic and antipyretic actions of Muntingia calabura leaves chloroform extract in animal models . Retrieved from http://opem.or.kr/bbs/download.php?bo_table=m02_08

Zakaria, Z. (2007, October). Antinociceptive, anti-inflammatory and antipyretic effects of Muntingia calabura aqueous extract in animal models. Retrieved from Journal of Natural medicines: https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2Fs11418-007-0167-2

Zakaria, Z. (2010, February). In vitro antimicrobial activity of Muntingia calabura extracts and fractions. Retrieved from African Journal: https://academicjournals.org/ajmr/PDF/Pdf2010/18%20Feb/Zakaria%20et%20al.pdf

Zakaria, Z. (2016, August). Antinociceptive effect of semi-purified petroleum ether partition of Muntingia calabura leaves. Retrieved from Scielo: http://www.scielo.br/scielo.php?script=sci_arttext&pid=S0102-695X2016000400408

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