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Bhuiaonla (Phyllanthus niruri): A Useful Medicinal Weed

Pankaj Oudhia
Convener, Society for
Society for Parthenium Management (SOPAM)
28-A, Geeta Nagar, Raipur - 492001 India

Copyright © 2002. All Rights Reserved. Quotation from this document should cite and acknowledge the contributor.

Phyllanthus niruri L., (Syn. P. fraternus Webster), Euphorbiaceae, is a common kharif (rainy season) weed found in both cultivated fields and wastelands. In different Indian languages it is known as bhuiaonla (Hindi) kiranelligida (Canarese), bhuiavli (Marathi), ajata, amala, bbumyamalaki, sukshmadala, vituntika (Sanskrit). Although considered a problematic wee for farmers it is a valuable medicinal for herbalists (Oudhia and Tripathi 2002) and holds a reputed position in both Ayurvedic and Unani systems of medicine. Recently it has attracted the attention of researchers, because of its hepatoprotective properties. No effective specific therapy is available for viral epatitis but P. niruri has shown clinical efficacy in viral Hepatitis B (Paranjpe 2001).

The genus Phyllanthus includes 500 temperate and tropical species many of which are used medicinally in different countries, viz. P. elegans Wall, P. emblica L., P. iniruri, P. reticulatus, and P. urinaria L. in Indo-China; P. nirui, P. reticulatus Poir, P. urinaria in the Phillippines; P. conami Sw, P. lathyroides H. B. K., P. niruri in Brazil; P. niruri in West Indies; and P. casticum Soy-Will and P. madagascariensis M. A. in Madagascar (Caius 1986).

Phyllanthus niruri is an annual, herb; height varies between 30–60 cm. Stem is angular with numerous distichous, elliptic-oblong leaves. Flowers are yellow and very numerous; monoecious with 1–3 staminate flowers and solitary pistillate flower borne axillary. Fruits capsule, very small, globose, smooth, seeds 3-gonous, longitudinally ribbed on the back. Seed to seed cycle occurs in two or four weeks. The flowering time in Indian conditions is July to August. Keys for identification of different species of Phyllanthus are found in Caius (1986), Agharkar (1991), and Gupta (984).

Its root, leaves, fruits, milky juice, and whole plants are used as medicine. According to Ayurvedic system of medicine it is considered acrid, cooling , alexipharmic and useful in thirst, bronchitis, leprosy, anemia, urinary discharge, anuria, biliousness, asthma, for hiccups, and as a diuretic. According to Unani system of medicine herb is stomachic and good for sores and useful in chronic dysentery. Fruits useful for tubercular ulcers, wounds, sores, scabies and ring worm (Agharkar 1991; Krishnamurty 1993). The fresh root is believed to be an excellent remedy for jaundice. A poultice of the leaves with salt cures scabby affection and without salt applied on bruise and wounds. The milky juice is a good application to offensive sores. The bark yields a bitter principle phyllanthin. The infusion of the root and leaves is a good tonic and diuretic when taken cold in repeated doses. In different parts of India, specially, in Chhattisgarh state, there is a rich traditional medicinal tradition concerning this weed (Caius 1986; Oudhia and Tiwari 2001). In many parts of India, it is commonly used for the treatment of snake bite. The active compounds phyllanthin and hypophyllanthin have been isolated from leaves. Recently, lignansniranthin, nirtetralin, and phyltetralin have been isolated from leaves. (Rastogi and Mehrotra, 1991) It is a major component of many popular liver tonics in India including Liv.-52. Fresh juice and powder of dried plant are used most frequently in Ayurvedic preparations (Sastry and Kavatherkar, 1991). The plant is used as a fish poison. In many parts of India specially in deserts, the roots mixed with Commiphora mukul are given to camels to cure indigestion. The decoction of leaves and stem are used for dyeing cotton black. (Singh et al. 1996).


Agharkar, S.P. 1991. Medicinal plants of Bombay presidency. Scientific Publ, Jodhpur, India.

Caius, J.F. 1986. The medicinal and poisonous plants of India. Scientific Publ., Jodhpur India. p. 220–223.

Gupta, O.P. 1984. Scientific weed management. Today and Tomorrow's Printers and Publ., New Delhi.

Krishnamurty, T. 1993. Minor forest products of India. Oxford and IBH Publ, Co. Pvt. Ltd. New Delhi.

Oudhia, P. and Tiwari, U.K. 2001. Aushadhi Paudho Ki Kheti: Kab aur Kaise. Srishti Herbal Academy and Research Institute (SHARI), Raipur, India.

Oudhia, P. and R.S. Tripathi. 2002, Prospects of cultivation of medicinal plants in Chattisgarh, India. p. 211–236. In: Recent progress in medicinal plants, Vol. 5, Crop improvement, production technology, trade and commerce. Sci Tech Publ, USA.

Paranjape, P. 2001. Indian medicinal plants : Forgotten healers. Chaukhamba Sanskrit Pratisthan, Delhi; p. 48–49.

Rastogi, R.P. and B.N. Mehrotra. 1991. Compendium of Indian medicinal plants Vol. II. Central Drug Research Institute, Lucknow and publications and Information Directorate, New Delhi.

Sastry, T.C.S. and K.R. Kavathekar. 1990. Plants for reclamation of wastelands. Publication and Information Directorate, New Delhi.

Singh, U., A.M. Wadhwani, and B.M. Johri, 1996. Dictionary of economic plants in India. Indian Council of Agricultural Research, New Delhi.

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