Plant Profiler

Bayberry (Myrica cerifera)


Myrica cerifera
Synonyms / Common Names / Related Terms
Anthocyanins, antioxidant, arbre à cire (French), arbre à suif (French), arrayán (Spanish), arrayán brabántico (Spanish), Asian bayberry, bay-rum tree, bog-myrtle, bois-sent-bon (French), box berry, box myrtle, Brabantimirtusz (Hungarian), C-methylated dihydrochalcone, candleberry, cera vegetal (Spanish), chalcone, Chinese-arbutus, Chinese bayberry, Chinese strawberry tree, cirier (French), Elvepost (Norwegian), Fenyérmirtusz (Hungarian), flavanone, flavonoid, flavonol, Gagel (Dutch, German), Gagelstrauch (German), galé odorant (French), glashout (Afrikaans), Harilik porss (Estonian), ilethi (Zulu), Illatos viaszbogyó (Hungarian), Japanese bayberry, kaphal (Nepali), Kynning (Norwegian), Lopperis (Norwegian), louro-bravo (Portuguese), Lusgras (Norwegian), meadow-fern, Mjaðarlyng (Icelandic), Moor-Gagelstrauch (German), Mose Pors (Danish), Morella (alternate genus), Morella cerifera L. Small, Morella cordifolia (L.) Killick, Morella esculenta (Buch.-Ham. ex D. Don) I. M. Turner, Morella nana (A. Chev.) J. Herb.), Morella rubra Lour., mountain peach, Myrica cerifera, Myrica cordifolia, Myrica esculenta, Myrica gale, Myrica integrifolia, Myrica nagi, Myrica nana, Myrica quercifolia, Myrica rubra, Myrica salicifolia, Myrica sapida, Myrica serrata, myricetin, myrique (French), myrique baumier (French), Nageia nagi (Thunb.) Kuntze, piment royal (French), Pors (Danish, nagi (Japanese), Norwegian, Swedish), Porsch (German), Pørse (Norwegian), Porst (German), Poss (Norwegian), Post (Norwegian), Postris (Norwegian), quercetin, red bayberry, Rosmarin (Norwegian), southern bayberry, southern wax-myrtle, Sumpfmyrte (German), Suomyrtit (Finnish), Suomyrtti (Finnish), sweet gale, tallow shrub, tannin, Vahaporss (Estonian), Viaszbogyó (Hungarian), Viaszcserje (Hungarian), Voks-Pors (Danish), Vokspors (Norwegian), Voskovník japonský (Czech), Voskovník obecný (Czech), Voskovník pensylvánský (Czech), Wachsbeerbaum (German), Wachsgagle (German), Wachsmyrte (German), wasbessie (Afrikaans), wasbessiebos (Afrikaans), wasbossie (Afrikaans), Wasgagel (Dutch), wax, wax myrtle, wax-myrtle, wax shrub, waxberry, Woskownica (Polish), yamamomo (Japanese), yangmei (Cantonese, Chinese), yun nan yang mei (Chinese).

Note: Due to the paucity of primary research and the extensive and often interchangeable use of different varieties of bayberry, this monograph addresses the available data on a number of commonly used species of the genus Myrica.


Mechanism of Action

Pharmacology:

  • Constituents: (-)-R- myricanol 5-O-beta-D-(6'-O-galloyl)-glucopyanoside35, (+)-S- myricanol35,36, (+)-S-myricanol 5-0-beta-D-glucopyranoside36, 1,8-cineole16,32, 11-O-beta-D-xylopyranosylmyricanol37, 12-hydroxymyricanone38, 2', 6'-dihydroxy-4'-methoxy-3'-methyldihydrochalcone18, 2',4'-dihydroxy-6'-methoxy-3',5'-dimethylchalcone18, 2',6'-dihydroxy-4'-methoxy-3',5'-dimethyldihydrochalcone18, 27-O-caffeoyl myricerone (50-235) 14, 2'-hydroxy-4',6'-dimethoxy-3'-methyldihydrochalcone18, 4-terpineol and thujenol32, 5-O-beta-D-glucopyranosylmyricanol37, acerogenin39, aceroside39, actinidione38, alnusonol38, alpha-phellandrene31,16,4, alpha-pinene16,31,40, alpha-terpineol32, anthocyanins7,41, arabinose41, aurentiacin A18, beta-caryophyllene4, biphenyl-type diarylheptanoid glycosides 42, biphenyl-type diarylheptanoids43, calcium41, caryophyllene oxide4, caryophyllene40, catechin44, chalcones18, C-methylated dihydrochalcones45,11,12,19,46, C-methylated flavonoids47, copper41, cryptostrobin18, cyanidin41, cyanidin-3-O-glucoside7, cyclic diarylheptanoids38, demethoxymatteucinol18, diarylheptanoid glycosides36, diarylheptanoids36,43,37,39,43, ellagic acid41,48, ellagitannins41, epicatechin44, epigallocatechin44, epigallocatechin-3-O-gallate44, eth-cadinene16, flavanones18, flavonoids45,10,49, flavonols41,7,36, fructose50, galactose41, galeon39, gallic acid41, gallocatechin-(4 alpha-8)-epicatechin44, gallocatechin-(4 alpha-8)-epigallocatechin44, gallocatechin-(4 alpha-8)-gallocatechin-(4 alpha-8)-gallocatechin44, gallocatechin44, gamma-terpinene40, germacrone16, glucose41,50, humulene40, iron41, limonene40,16,31,4, linalool40, magnesium41, mannose41, monosaccharides41, monoterpenes32,51, myrcene31,40,4, myrica acid52, myricadiol53, myricalactone54, myricananins A-E38, myricanene A36, myricanene A 5-O-alpha-L-arabinofuranosyl(1-->6)-beta-D-glucopyranoside36, myricanene B 5-0-alpha-L-arabinofuranosyl(1-->6)-beta-D-glucopyranoside36, myricanene B36, myricanol 11-O-beta-D-glucopyranoside42, myricanol 5-O-beta-D-(6'-O-galloyl)-glucopyranoside29, myricanol glucoside43, myricanol36,30,37,39, myricanone 5-O-beta-D-glucopyranoside42, myricanone36,30,39,55, myricarborin A2, myricarborin37, myricatomentogenin38, myriceric acid A13, myriceric acid C13, myriceric acid D13, myriceron caffeoyl ester (50-235)15, myricetin 3-O-rhamnoside33, myricetin2,56,36,33,7,30, myricetrione42, myricitrin 53, myrigalone A12, myrigalone B45,10,12, myrigalones12,47, n-butyl-alpha-L-rhamnopyranoside2, n-butyl-beta-D-fructopyranoside35, neomyricanone 5-O-beta-D-glucopyranoside42, oleanane triterpenic acid52, p-cymene16, p-cymene40, polyphenols41, potassium41, proanthocyanidin gallate8, prodelphinidin B-2 3,3'-di-O-gallate8,27,5, protocatechuic acid41, quercetin deoxyhexoside41, quercetin hexoside41, quercetin56,33,41, quercetin-3-O-rutinoside7, rhamnose41, stearic acid57, sucrose50, tannins41,58,44, taraxerane-type triterpene42, taraxerol53, taraxerone53, triterpenoids13.
  • The essential oils of Myrica gale and their constituents were studied by Lawrence et al.59
  • A study of the volatile oil from Myrica gale was conducted by von Shantz et al.60
  • Analgesic effects: Myricetin, a major compound in Myrica rubra, has been reported as exhibiting analgesic effects in in vivo experimentation.2 The results indicate that the analgesic effect is unrelated to sedation or the opioid system, and the authors suggest that it is likely due to myricetin's inhibition of cytochrome c oxidase subunit I (COX-1). Myrica salicifolia (Myricaceae) root extract was found to have analgesic activity in mice.21
  • Antianaphylactic effects: The stem bark of Myrica sapida has been found to exhibit bronchodilating and anti-anaphylactic effects in combined in vitro and in vivo experimentation.22,23 A number of experimental models, including histamine-induced bronchospasm in guinea pigs, bronchoalveolar lavage fluid (BALF) in egg albumin sensitized guinea pigs, histamine release from the lung tissues of sensitized guinea pigs and histopathological studies, were used. Ethanolic extract of M. sapida (75mg/kg, orally) prevented the potentiation of responses and also produced a decrease in pD2 value of histamine and acetylcholine in guinea pig tracheal strip. It was suggested that the observed bronchodilator activity and decrease in bronchial hyperresponsiveness was a result of decreased infiltration of inflammatory mediators like eosinophils, neutrophils in BALF and the inhibition of histamine release from the lungs.
  • Antiandrogenic effects: The aqueous ethanol extract of the bark of Myrica rubra has shown 5-alpha-reductase inhibitory activity in vitro and anti-androgenic activity in vivo in animal study.30 These effects were attributed to three constituents: myricanone, myricanol, and myricetin.
  • Antibacterial effects: Red bayberry extract has been shown to inhibit the growth and virulence gene expression of Vibrio cholerae.20 The dichloromethane extract of the leaves of Myrica serrata have also been shown to inhibit the growth of Bacillus subtilis and Escherichia coli in vitro.18 Though the precise mechanisms of action remain to be fully elucidated, the bacteriostatic activity of C-methylated dihydrochalcones, constituents of Myrica, has also been demonstrated.19
  • Anticoagulant effects: In vivo experimentation has shown that myricetin, a major compound in Myrica rubra, may exhibit anticoagulant activity.2 It has been suggested that this anticoagulant effect is likely due to myricetin's inhibition of cytochrome c oxidase subunit I (COX-1). A chromogenic bioassay of Myrica cerifera also demonstrated a high level (>80%) of antithrombin activity.24
  • Antidepressant effects: Animal study has shown that the ethanol extract of Myrica nagi does not exhibit antidepressant properties.28
  • Antifungal effects: The essential oils of the fruit of Myrica gale have been shown to exhibit antifungal activity against the foodborne fungus Cladosporium cladosporioides, but not Aspergillus flavus or Penicillium expansum.16 The oil distilled from the leaves of Myrica gale have also been shown to have antifungal properties.17 The dichloromethane extract of the leaves of Myrica serrata has also been shown to inhibit the growth of Cladosporium cucumerinum.18 Though the precise mechanisms of action remain to be fully elucidated, the fungistatic activity of C-methylated dihydrochalcones, constituents of Myrica, has also been demonstrated.19
  • Antihypertensive effects: In vitro evidence suggests bayberry may lower blood pressure and triterpenoid myriceric acid A, a constituent of Myrica cerifera, has been shown to act as an endothelin receptor antagonist in vitro.13,14,15
  • Anti-inflammatory effects: In animal study, Myrica salicifolia root extract was found to have no anti-inflammatory activity.21
  • Antilipemic effects: In combined in vivo and in vitro study, the methanol extract of Myrica bark has been shown to inhibit the activity of lipase in isolated mouse plasma in vitro, as well as depress the elevation of blood triglyceride level in olive oil-fed mice.25 The investigators suggest that Myricetin and gallic acid were likely the constituents responsible for these effects in vitro; however, they note that the contents of myricetin and gallic acid in the methanol extract seemed to be insufficient for the appearance of the depressive activity in vivo. Consequently, they propose that myricitrin may function as a prodrug, becoming active following its conversion to myricetin by gastrointestinal flora.
  • Antineoplastic effects: The diarylheptanoid, (11 xi)-3,5-dimethoxy-11,17-dihydroxy-4,19-diketo-[7,0]-metacyclophane (named rubanol 1), isolated from the bark of Myrica rubra, has been shown to exhibit cytotoxicity against the Lun-06, Neu-04, and Bre-04 human cancer cell lines with GI50 values of 16.03-32.58 microg/mL.3 The oil of Myrica gale, extracted by hydrodistillation and collected after 30 and 60 minutes, was also shown to inhibit the growth of the human lung carcinoma A-549 and human colon adenocarcinoma DLD-1 cell lines.4 The 60-min fraction showed higher anticancer activity against both tumor cell lines with an IC50 value of 88±1 mcg/mL, while the 30-min fraction had an IC50 value of 184±4 mcg/mL for A-549 and 160±3 mcg/mL for DLD-1. The report of these findings suggests that the higher cell growth inhibition induced by the 60-min fraction, as compared to the 30-min fraction, could be due to sesquiterpene enrichment. Another constituent isolated from Myrica rubra, prodelphinidin B-2 3, 3'-di-O-gallate (PB233'OG), was also demonstrated as inhibiting proliferation of A-549 via the prevention of cell cycle progression in the G0/G1 phase and the induction of apoptosis.5 It was suggested that an enhancement in Fas/APO-1 and its two form ligands, membrane-bound Fas ligand (mFasL) and soluble Fas ligand (sFasL), might be responsible for the observed apoptotic effect induced by PB233'OG. Myrica rubra extract has further been shown to inhibit the viability of HeLA and P-388 cells in an in vitro assay, as well as in vivo, in a P-388 tumor-bearing CDF(1) mouse model.1 The percent increase in life span in response to treatment was observed to be greater than 125%. (-)-Epigallocatechin 3-O-gallate and prodelphinidin A-2,3'-O-gallate were identified as the principle antitumor constituents. Both compounds were shown to inhibit the growth of HeLa cells, though the former had lower cytotoxic effects in normal cervical fibroblasts than did the latter. Moreover, pretreatment with a caspase-3 specific inhibitor prevented induced poly(ADP-ribose) polymerase cleavage by both compounds, indicating that the activation of caspase-3 may provide the mechanistic explanation for their cytotoxic effects. Prodelphinidin B-2 3,3'-di-O-gallate (PB233'OG), a proanthocyanidin gallate that has been reported to exhibit antioxidant activity, also isolated from the bark of Myrica rubra, has been shown to induce apoptosis of MCF-7 human breast adenocarcinoma cells without mediation of p53 and p21/WAF1.8 It has been suggested that the Fas/Fas ligand apoptotic system is a probable main pathway. The anticancer activity of Myrica cerifera has also been evaluated in a liver tumors-comparative profile.6
  • Antioxidant effects: Free radical scavenging assays (DPPH* and ABTS*(+) cation assays) have indicated that the black varieties of Chinese bayberry (Myrica rubra) demonstrate much higher radical scavenging activities than the lighter colored (pink and yellow) varieties.7 It has been suggested that this disparity may be attributed to much higher levels of anthocyanins, flavonoids, and total phenolics in the black varieties. Black varieties were reported to have 6.49 and 6.52mM Trolox equivalent antioxidant capacity (TEAC) per 100g of fresh weight, whereas the pink and yellow bayberries had 1.32 and 1.31mM TEAC/100g. Myrica rubra is also well known as a rich source of tannins. Prodelphinidin B-2 3,3'-di-O-gallate (PB233'OG), a constituent of Myrica rubra, is a proanthocyanidin gallate that has been reported to exhibit antioxidant activity.8 Another species of Myrica, Myrica nagi has been shown to have a dose-dependent chemopreventive effect on cumene hydroperoxide-induced cutaneous oxidative stress and toxicity in mice Alam, 2000 34 /id.9 Specifically, the enhanced susceptibility of cutaneous microsomal membrane for lipid peroxidation induced by iron ascorbate and xanthine oxidase activities was significantly reduced. Additionally, levels of glutathione and observed activity of other endogenous antioxidants and phase II metabolizing enzymes recovered in response to treatment. Myrigalone B (2',6'-dihydroxy-4'-methoxy-3',5'-dimethyldihydrochalcone), a C-methylated dihydrochalcone and flavanoid from the fruit exudates of Myrica gale, has also been shown to have a dose-dependent inhibitory effect on Cu(2+)-induced oxidation of low density lipoprotein from cholesterol-fed rabbits.10 This effect was evidenced by an increased lag time for the formation of conjugated dienes. No influence on the maximal amount of dienes formed was observed. Myrigalone B was also found to show good antioxidant activity in inhibiting lipid peroxidation induced by tert-butyl hydroperoxide or bromotrichloromethane in isolated rat hepatocytes and by Fe2+ ions in a cell-free system with linolenic acid as substrate, scavenging against the diphenylpicrylhydrazyl radical, and inhibiting enzymatic lipid peroxidation in linoleic acid by soybean 15-lipoxy-genase.11 Myrica-isolated myrigalone A (3-(1-oxo-3-phenylpropyl)-1,1,5-trimethylcyclohexane-2,4,6-trione), showed similar efficacy in the latter context as well. It has been suggested that the observed antioxidant properties are likely due to these compounds' radical scavenging activity, and may be related to their conformation. Further investigation of these compounds, similarly isolated, have corroborated these findings, with myrigalone B significantly inhibiting lipid peroxidation in rat hepatocytes and mitochondria incubated with tertbutyl hydroperoxide (IC50 of 23 ± 1 mcmol and 5.2 ± 0.1 mcmol, respectively).12 It was further observed that both myrigalone B and the whole fruit extract caused scavenging of the diphenylpicrylhydrazyl (DPPH) radical with IC50 values of 32 ± 1 mcmol and 14 ± 1 mcmol, respectively. Peroxidation in linoleic acid catalyzed by soybean 15-lipoxygenase was also inhibited by myrigalone B and the fruit extract; however, it was suggested by the authors that the extract content of myrigalone A, a known potent inhibitor of 15-lipoxygenase, may have contributed significantly.
  • Antiplasmodial effects: Methanol extract of Myrica salicifolia has been shown to have mild anti-plasmodial activity on chloroquine-sensitive and chloroquine-resistant strains of Plasmodium falciparum (NF54 and ENT30) in vitro .26
  • Antipyretic effects: Myrica salicifolia root extract has been found to have an antipyretic effect in rats.21
  • Antiviral effects: Myrica rubra leaf ethanol extract has been shown to exhibit anti-influenza virus activity, irrespective of the hemagglutinin antigen type, in the influenza virus type A (H1N1), its subtype (H3N2), and virus type B, cultured Madino-Darby canine kidney (MDCK) cells.34 Prodelphinidin B-2 3,3'-di-O-gallate (PB233'OG), a constituent of Myrica rubra, is a proanthocyanidin gallate that has been reported to exhibit antiviral activity.8 PB233'OG isolated from the bark of Myrica rubra was shown to exhibit non-cytotoxic, anti-herpes simplex virus type 2 (HSV-2) activity with multiplicity of infection-increasing IC50 values of 5.3 ± 0.1 and 0.4 ± 0.04 mcmol for XTT and plaque reduction assays, respectively.27 Further investigation suggests that PB233'OG, which affected the late stage(s) of the HSV-2 infection cycle and reduced viral infectivity at high concentrations, may prevent infection by inhibiting HSV-2 attachment to and penetration of the host cell.
  • Anxiolytic effects: Animal study has shown that the ethanol extract of Myrica nagi may have anxiolytic properties.28
  • ATP synthesis inhibitory effects: Myrigalone A, B and G (MyA, MyB and MyG), C-methylated falvonoids isolated from the fruit of Myrica gale, have been shown to uncouple oxidative phosphorylation in rat liver mitochondria and were associated with inhibition of ATP synthesis.47 MyA was reported as the most potent at 45mcmol, causing an increase of 87±8 natoms O/min/mg in the state 4 respiration rate. MyB and MyG were somewhat less effective at uncoupling (MyB moreso than MyG). Other isolates, such as myrigalone D and H, were classified as weak uncouplers, while myrigalone E and angoletin were found to be inactive. The ATP synthesis inhibition caused by MyA at 45μM was observed to be about 70%. While MyA, MyB showed constant inhibition, the effect of MyG had all but disappeared at 15 minutes. It has been observed that the uncoupling activity of the myrigalones and their antioxidative properties do not appear to be related.
  • Bronchodilating effects: The stem bark of Myrica sapida has been found to exhibit bronchodilative and anti-anaphylactic effects in combined in vitro and in vivo experimentation.22,23 A number of experimental models, including histamine-induced bronchospasm in guinea pigs, bronchoalveolar lavage fluid (BALF) in egg albumin sensitized guinea pigs, histamine release from the lung tissues of sensitized guinea pigs and histopathological studies, were used. Ethanolic extract of M. sapida (75mg/kg, orally) prevented the potentiation of responses and also produced a decrease in pD2 value of histamine and acetylcholine in guinea pig tracheal strip. It was suggested that the observed bronchodilator activity and decrease in bronchial hyperresponsiveness was a result of decreased infiltration of inflammatory mediators like eosinophils, neutrophils in BALF and the inhibition of histamine release from the lungs.
  • Hepatoprotective effects: The methanol extract of the bark of Myrica rubra has been shown to possess protective effects on liver injuries and cholestasis induced by carbon tetrachloride (CCl4) and alpha-naphthylisothiocyanate (ANIT) in rats.29 The constituent myricanol 5-O-beta-D-(6'-O-galloyl)-glucopyranoside was posited as the active principle.
  • Insect repelling effects: In laboratory tests, ethyl acetate extracts of Myrica gale were shown to repel mosquitoes (Aedes aegypti)31 as well as host-seeking nymphs of Ixodes ricinus 32. These effects were attributed to volatiles with known insecticidal, acaricidal, and/or insect repellent properties.
  • Melanin synthesis inhibitory effects: In vitro examination of the ethanolic extract of the dried leaves and bark of Myrica rubra, revealed inhibitory effects on melanin biosynthesis via blocking of tyrosinase activity, which converts dopa to dopachrome, as well as through autoxidation.33 Quercetin, myricetin and myricetin 3-O-rhamnoside were identified as likely contributors due to demonstrated anti-tyrosinase activity.
  • Nitric oxide effects: Constituents isolated from the roots of Myrica nana (the diarylheptanoids, myricananins A and C, an artifact of myricananin B, 12-hydroxymyricanone, and alnusonol) have all been show to inhibit nitric oxide production in lipopolysaccharide-activated macrophages.38 IC(50) values of 45.32, 63.51, 52.81, 30.19 and 46.18mcmol, respectively, were reported. Furthermore, myricananin A was also found to inhibit the expression of inducible nitric oxide synthase. Other isolated components (the biphenyl type diarylheptanoid glycosides myricanol 11-O-beta-D-glucopyranoside, myricanone 5-O-beta-D-glucopyranoside, neomyricanone 5-O-beta-D-glucopyranoside and their polyphenols) showed similar effects on nitric oxide production in lipopolysaccharide-activated macrophages.42 Additionally, the diarylheptanoids myricanol and myricanone were found to inhibit induction of inducible nitric oxide synthase.

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