Balloon vine

Authors: Prof. Dr. med. Peter Altmeyer, Prof. Dr. med. Martina Bacharach-Buhles

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Last updated on: 29.02.2024

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Cardiospermum; halicacaciform sperm; Monk's head plant

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Originally a tropical plant that belongs to the Sapindaceae family (soap tree family; Latin sapo = soap). The saponin-containing fruits, which foam up in water, are traditionally used for washing. The name of the plant (monk's head) is derived from the shape of its seeds, which are reminiscent of a monk's head. The leaves of the balloon vine are mainly used medicinally (see Cardiospermum halicacababum leaves below).

No processing by Commission E, no processing by HMPC, no processing by ESCOP.

Commission D: positive monograph: Homeopathic mother tincture: Allergic reactions, hay fever, dermatitis, eczematous dermatoses, neurodermatitis, psoriasis, insect bites, itching, dandruff

Spectrum of action
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Studies with 60 or 833 patients (Niedner R et al 1996, Gehring W et al 1996) showed a reduction in erythema, oedema, infiltration, vesicle formation, erosions, rhagade formation, scaling and lichenification in subacute and acute atopic dermatitis. In a double-blind, placebo-controlled study from 1995 (Merklinger S et al.), it was shown to be superior to placebo.

Trade names
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Dermaplant® ointment - prescribable and reimbursable for children up to the age of 12 for the following indications:

Atopic eczema, eczema (acute/chronic) of infants and children, seborrhoea capitis, cradle cap, seborrhoeic eczema of children, allergic contact eczema / allergic contact dermatitis, neurodermatitis chronica circumscripta, dyshidrotic eczema, exsiccation eczema, intertriginous eczema (e.g. simple diaper dermatitis), dermatitis solaris acuta.

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In Germany, a white-flowering species is used to obtain the homeopathic mother tincture. Especially the fresh above-ground parts of the flowering plant are needed.

Ointments with balloon vine should not be applied to open or bacterially infected wounds.

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  1. Khunkitti W et al. (2000) In vitro antifilarial activity of extracts of the medicinal plant Cardiospermum halicacabum against Brugia pahangi. J Helminthol 74:241-246
  2. Merklinger S et al (1995) Eczema treatment with Cardiospermum halicacabum. Zschr. for Phythotherapy 16: 263-266
  3. Reuter J et al. (2010) Which plant for which skin disease? Part 1. JDDG 10: 788-796
  4. Wenigmann M. (2017) Phytotherapy medicinal drugs, phytopharmaceuticals, application. Urban & Fischer, pp.76-77
  5. Niedner R et al. (1996) Cardiospermum halicacabum - a new active substance in the non-steroidal treatment of eczema? Dermatology close to the skin 8: 50-55

  6. Gehring W et al. (1989) Cardiospermum--a new herbal agent in dermatology? [Cardiospermum--a new phytogenic drug in dermatology?]. Z Hautkr. 15;64: 274, 277-278. german. PMID: 2660445.