The herb has been used in Ayurveda for over 2000 years and has a wide range of traditional uses, both internally and externally. There is some botanical confusion between P. niruri and P. amarus,which is also referred to as Bhui- amla or Kheezanelli, and the Ayurvedic formulary of India accepts either. P. sellowianus is also closely related and often confused with these, so relevant information on all is given.
It is a common weed indigenous to central and southern India but now found widely throughout the tropics in fields, gardens and on waste ground.
An erect annual herb reaching up to 60 cm in height (Plate 43). The leaves are small, green, closely arranged, with a short petiole and an obtuse or retuse apex. The flowers are numerous, inconspicuous, unisexual, monoecious, yellowish -green and borne in pairs in the axils of the leaves. The fruit is a globose capsule, slightly depressed at the top.
Herb, leaf, roots.
The plant is used mainly to treat all kinds of jaundice as a single remedy and as a choleretic and liver protectant, as well as for diabetes, dyspepsia, diarrhoea, inflammation, fever and frequent menstruation. In Brazil it is used for kidney and gall stones (hence the name 'stone breaker') and in the Bahamas as an aperient and laxative. It has also been used for urogenital conditions such as gonorrhoea and for worm infestation and viral diseases.
The whole plant, root, leaves and latex are used in abscess of the neck, sprained hoof, haematuria, night blindness, colic, jaundice and stoppage of urination.
Phyllanthin, phyllanthinol, phyllanthinone, phyllnirurin, hypophyllanthin, hikokinin, nirurin, ninuretin, niranthin, nirphyllin, 4-hydroxysesamin, corylagin and others.
Astragalin, fisetin glucoside, phyllocrysin, quercetin, quercitrin, isoquercitrin, rutin.
Catechin, ellagic acid, eryiodictiol, gallic acid, geraniin, epicatechin, epigallocatechin, epigallocatechin-3-0-gallate, brevifolin (xanthoxylin), brevifolin carboxylic acid and others.
Lupeol, sitosterol and others.
Nor-securinine and 4-methoxysecurinine (phyllanthine) are present in the leaves.
Oestradiol, triacontanol, repandusinic acid, cymene, linalool, limonene and others.
Diuretic adivity: Nine mildly hypertensive patients, four of them with diabetes mellitus, were treated with a preparation of P. niruri. A significant increase in the 24-hour urine volume and serum Na levels was observed.
Hypotensive adivity: A significant reduction in systolic blood pressure in non-diabetic hypertensives and females was observed in the aforesaid study. Geraniin, one of the constituents, has been shown to inhibit angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE).
Hypoglycaemic adivity: A significant reduction in blood glucose has been observed,2 with no harmful side effects. Administration of ethanolic extract of the leaves of P. niruri orally at a dose of 250 mglkg produced a marked decrease in the blood glucose level of alloxan-induced diabetic rats. Two flavonoids, isolated from the water fraction of ethanolic extract of P. fraternus, exhibited hypoglycaemic action on oral administration in alloxan-treated albino rats.
Antihepatotoxic adivity: It has been shown in a small study that P. niruri extract, when administered to children with acute hepatitis, was able to normalise the liver function within 5 days. The hexane extract elicited an in vitro hepatoprotective action in CCl,-induced cytotoxicity, using primary cultured rat hepatocytes. Phyllanthin and hypophyllanthin exhibited significant inhibitory action in preventing CCl.-produced hepatic lesions and triacontanal, along with those compounds, was effective in preventing galactosamine-induced cytotoxicity. The ethanolic extract of the roots and leaves of P. niruri showed hepatoprotective effect in alcohol-induced liver cell damage in non-hepatectomised and partially hepatectomised rats. The root extract was found to be more active.
Antimicrobial adivity: The aqueous extract of P. niruri inhibited the human immunodeficiency virus type-l, reverse transcriptase (HIV-l-RT). The monosodium salt of repandusinic acid was identified as the active principle. The 1050 of this compound on HIV-I-RT and DNA polymerase-a (from HeLa cells) was 0.05 and 0.6 flM, respectively. The compound is a competitive inhibitor with respect to template-primer but non-competitive with respect to substrate.9 The ethanolic and water extracts of P niruri have been found to inhibit bacterial and fungal growth at concentrations of 100 and 400 flg/m1. The aqueous extract inhibited endogenous DNA polymerase of hepatitis B virus and Woodchuck hepatitis virus (WHY) DNA, binding to the surface antigen of both viruses in vitro.
Antimalarial activity: P niruri extract produced an inhibition of Plasmodium falciparum growth (>60%) at a test concentration of 6 flg/m1. The ethanolic, dichloromethane and lyophilised aqueous extracts have also been evaluated for antimalarial activity in vivo, in a 4-day assay against P berghei in mice. At a dose of 200 mg/kg PO, both the ethanolic and dichloromethane extracts produced significant chemosuppression, reducing parasitaemia by 73% and 72% respectively, but the lyophilised aqueous extract was less active.
Nematocidal activity: A decoction of bark at 1 mg/ml was active against Toxocara canis.
Aldose reductase inhibitory activity: Ellagic acid, isolated from the 70% ethanolic extract of P niruri, exhibited significant activity (six times more potent than quercitrin, a well-known inhibitor of aldose reductase). Brevifolin carboxylic acid was found to have a lesser order of activity.
Antinociceptive activity: The hydroalcoholic extract of P niruri exhibited a significant, dose-related inhibition of capsaicin-induced pain, with an IDso of 6.1 mg/kg when given IP, and 35 mg/kg when given orally.
Antiurolithiasis activity: The antispasmodic action of an alkaloid isolated from P sellowianus was tested on isolated strips of guinea pig ileum, rat uterus and rat aorta. The alkaloid was more potent on ileum strips (comparable to papaverine) than the other tissues. Studies suggested a similar mode of action for both, a competitive antagonism of calcium entry into the cell. These results support its use for the treatment of kidney and bladder stones, since smooth muscle relaxation within the urinary or biliary tract would facilitate the passing of kidney or bladder calculi.
Anticlastogenic and anticytotoxic activity: Oral administration of an aqueous extract of the leaves of P niruri to mice resulted in a significant reduction in the cytotoxic action of lead nitrate and aluminium sulphate and a reduction in the clastogenic effects of both." It also counteracted the clastogenic effects of nickel chloride in mouse bone marrow cells." Antioxidant activity: The plant has been shown to exhibit antioxidant action in rats.
The herb is considered safe when given under clinical guidance. The maximum tolerated dose of the whole plant was 1000 mg/kg body weight in adult rats.
Yakrit Plihantak Churna is a herbal mixture of rare herbs to improve liver function. It helps the liver in clearing away the toxins. It regenerates the liver cells and prevents liver failure. It is useful in liver cirrhosis, jaundice, liver damage due to alcohol, toxins and infection. The herb Katuki increases the bile production whereas Makoye, Bhringraj and Kalmegh improve liver function. Punarnava and Bhumi amla regenerate liver cells and are useful in liver enlargement and inflammation. Giloy is immunomodulator and corrects liver metabolism. The combination of herbs is a wonderful remedy for all liver problems.* Read More.