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Phyllanthus amarus

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Latin Names Sanskrit Names Hindi Names

Phyllanthus amarus
Schum & Th. (Euphorbiaceae)



Phyllanthus AmarusHistory
Hindu physicians considered the plant deobstruent, diuretic, astringent and cooling. They prescribed the dry powder or fresh juice for jaundice. The plant was also used in skin diseases like scabby affections, offensive sores and bruises. In western parts of India it was used as a diuretic in gonorrhoea and acidity of the urine. The root with rice water was a remedy for menorrhagia. In chronic dysentery, the plant along with fenugreek was given.


It grows widely in the tropical parts of all countries except Australia. It is found mainly as a weed in waste lands, agricultural lands and riverbanks. In waste lands it grows abundabtly during the rainy season.

Morphology Description (Habit)
It is an annual, glabrous herb grows up to 15-60 cm high. Has an errect stem, naked below and slender and spreading leaf branches above. Leaves are numerous, subsessile, pale green, often distichously imbricating, glaucous below, elliptic to oblong, obtuse, and stipules subulate. Flowers arise in leaf axis, very numerous, males 1-3 and females solitary. Sepels of male orbicular and obovate to oblong in females. Stamens 3, anthers sessile and in a short column. Disc of male minute glands and of females annular and lobed. Capsules depressed globose, smooth and hardly 3 lobed. Seeds are 3-gonous, rounded and with longitudinal regular parallel ribes on the back.

Principal Constituents
Phyllanthin (bitter constituent) and hypophyllanthin (non-bitter compound) are isolated from the leaves. From the aerial parts phyllanthine (4-methoxy-securinine) and 4- methoxy-norsecurinine are identified1. From the roots glycoflavones were isolated2. Lintetralin was also isolated from the plant3. Amariin, a novel hydrolysable tannin together with geraniin, corilagin, 1,6-digalloyl-glucopyranoside as well as a rutin and quercetin- 3-O-lucopyranoside have been isolated from the polar fraction. An unusual hydrolysable tannin, phyllanthusiin D has also been isolated from the biologically active polar fraction4.

The alcoholic extract of the whole plant has anti-cancer activity against Freund virus Leukaemia (solid) in the mouse and antispasmodic activity on isolated guinea pig ileum5. Aqueous extract of whole plant has hypoglycaemic action in normal and alloxan-diabetic rabbits and leaves to be higher than that of tolbutamide6.

Clinical Studies
It is effective in treatment of infective hepatitis without any adverse effect7. It shown to be effective with other Siddha drugs in the treatment of jaundice due to infective hepatitis8.

There is no adverse effect was reported on using the plant.

The plant is bitter, astringent, stomachic, diuretic, febrifuge and antiseptic. Whole plant is used in dropsy, gonorrhoea, menorrhagia and other genital affections. It is useful ingartropathy, dropsy, jaundice, diarrhoea, dysentery, intermittent fevers, ophthalmopathy, scabies, ulcers and wounds. Young shoots and leaves are given in dysentery and ulcers. Fresh root is an excellent remedy for jaundice. The decoction of the plant is a remedy for intermittent fevers and intermittents with infracts of the spleen and liver. Also as a good tonic and diuretic.

  1. Planta Medica, 5, 104, 1984.
  2. Planta Medica, 32, 217, 1977; J Indian Chem Soc, 56, 326, 1979.
  3. Tetrahedron Lett, 32, 3043, 1979.
  4. Foo, Phytochemistry, 1993, 33, 487; Foo & Wong, ibid, 1992,31, 711.
  5. Indian J Expt Biol, 6, 232, 1968.
  6. Indian J Pharmaceut Sci, 44, 10, 1982.
  7. J Natl Integ Med Assoc, 25(8), 269, 1983.
  8. Punjab Med J, 10, 667, 1982; J Res Indian Med Yoga Homoep, 12(2), 1, 1977.

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