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Parthenium hysterophorus: Traditional Medicinal Uses

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

Copyright © 2001. All Rights Reserved. Quotation from this document should cite and acknowledge the contributor.

Parthenium hysterophorus L. [syn. Tanacetum parthenium (L.) Sch. Bip.; Chrysanthemum parthenium (L.) Bernh.; Matricaria parthenium L, M. parthenoides Hort., M. carpensis Hort., M. eximia Hort., M. odorata Lam; Pyrethrum parthenium Smith] Compositae, is known as congress weed, carrot weed, star weed, feverfew, white top, chatak chandani, bitter weed, ramphool, garghas. It is believed to have entered India accidentally in the mid 1950s, and is now considered is one of the most feared noxious weed species (Rao 1956). Adverse effects of on humans and on animal health have been well documented. It is known to cause asthma, bronchits, dermatitis, and hay fever in man and livestock. The chemical analysis has indicated that all the plants parts including trichomes and pollen contain toxins called sesquiterpene lactones. The major components of toxic being parthenin and other phenolic acids such as caffeic acid, vanillic acid, ansic acid, p-anisic acid, chlorogenic acid, and parahydroxy benzoic acid are lethal to human beings and animals (Mahadevappa 1997; Oudhia 1998). Despite the fact that Parthenium is considered a toxic plant industrial uses are reported in the literatures (Sastri and Kavathekar 1990). A related species, Parthenium argentatum Gray (guayule) yields rubber which can substitute for Hevea rubber.

The word parthenium is derived from the Latin parthenice suggesting medicinal uses (Bailey 1960). John Lindley (1838) in Flora Medica describes the plant as follows: "The whole plant is bitter and strong-scented, reckoned tonic, stimulating and anti-hysteric. It was once a popular remedy in ague. Its odour is said to be peculiarly disagree to bees and that insects may be easily kept at a distance by carrying a handful of the flower heads." In Homoeopathy system, allergies caused by Parthenium can be treated by a drug prepared from Parthenium. In Finland an infusion of Partenium is used in for consumption.

In the Dictionary of Economic Plants in India Parthenium hysterophourus is described as a weed found in Poona and is reported to be used as tonic, febrifuge, and emmenagogue. Root decoction is useful in dysentery (Singh et al. 1996). Mew et al. (1982) demonstrated that sublethal doses of parthenin exhibited antitumor activity in mice and that the drug could either cure mice completely or increase their survival time after they had been injected with cancer cells. Parthenium is also reported as promising remedy against hepatic amoebiasis (Sharma and Bhutani,1988). South American Indian uses a decoction of roots to cure amoebic dysentery (Uphof 1959) whereas parthenin, a toxin of Parthenium, is found pharmacologically active against neuralgia and certain types of rheumatism). In Compendium of Indian Medicinal Plants by Rastogi and Mehrotra (1991) parthenin induced dose-dependent damage to human leucocyte chromosomes in vitro and micronuclei formation in polychromatic erythrocytes of mice is reported (Dominguez and Sierra, 1970).

Parthenium is used as folk remedy in the Caribbean and Central America (Nabie et al. 1996). It is applied externally on skin disorders and decoction of the plant is often taken internally as a remedy for a wide variety of ailments (Dominguez and Sierra 1970; Morton 1981). In Jamaica the decoction is used as a flea-repellent both for dogs and other animals (Morton 1981).


Bailey L.H. 1960. Manual of cultivated plants, Macmillan, New York.

Dominguez, X.A. and A. Sierra. 1970. Isolation of a new diterpene alcohol and parthenin from Parthenium hysterophorus. Plant Medica 18:275-277.

Ferrington, E.A. 1980. Clinical Materia Medica (4th ed). B. Jain Pvt. Ltd., New Delhi.

Hamilton, E. 1852. The flora Homoeopathica (Reprint Edition 1997). B. Jain Pvt. Ltd., New Delhi, p. 147-149.

Lindley, John. 1838. Flora medica. (Indian Reprint, 1985). Ajay Book Service, New Delhi, p. 462.

Mahadevappa, M. 1997. Ecology, distribution, menace and management of Parthenium. In: Proc First International Conference on Parthenium Management (Vol-1), UAS, Dharwad p. 1-12.

Morton, J.F. 1981. The puzzling whitetop. Parthenium hysterophorus: Noxious weed, health hazard, folk-remedy, flea repellent. Unpublished report, Univ. of Miami, Florida.

Mew, D., F. Balza, G.H.N. Towers, and I.G. Levy. 1982. Antitumour effects of the sesquiterpene lactone parthenin. Planta Medica 45: 23-27.

Navie, S.C., R.E. Mcfadyen, F.D. Panetta, and S.W. Adkins. 1996. The Biology of Australian Weeds 27. Parthenium hysterophorus L. Plant Protection Quaterly 11(2):76-88

Oudhia, P. 1998. Parthenium:A curse for the biodiversity of Chhattisgarh Plains. Abstract. National Research Seminar on Bio-chemical Changes. An Impact on Environment, R.D. Govt. P.G. College, Mandlaa (M.P.) 30-31 July p. 26.

Oudhia, P. 1999a. Medicinal weeds in groundnut fields of Chhattisgarh (India). Int. Arachis Newslett. 19:62-64.

Oudhia, P. 1999b. Studies on allelopathy ad medicinal weeds in chickpea fields. International Chickpea and Pigeonpea Newslett. 6: 29-33.

Oudhia, P. 1999c. Medicinal weeds in rice fields of Chhattisgarh, India. Int. Rice Research Notes 24(1):40.

Oudhia, P., S.S. Kolhe, and R.S. Tripathi. 1997a. Allelopathic effect of white top (Parthenium hysterophorus L.) on chickpea. Legume Res. 20(2):117-120.

Oudhia, P., S.S. Kolhe, and R.S. Tripathi, 1997b. Allelopathic effect of Parthenium hysterophorus L. on germination of Linseed. Indian J. Plant Physiol. 2(4):327-329.

Oudhia, P. and R.S. Tripathi. 1998a. Allelopathic effects of Parthenium hysterophorus L. on kodo, mustard and problematic weeds. p. 136-139. In: Proc. First Int. Conference on Parthenium Management, (Vol-II). UAS, Dharwad.

Oudhia, P. and R.S. Tripathi. 1998b. The possibilities of preparing homoeopathic drugs from the obnoxious weeds of Chhattisgarh. Bhartiya Krishi Anusandhan Patrika 13(1/2)53-57.

Rastogi, Ram. P. and B.N. Mehrotra. 1991. Compendium of Indian medicinal plants (Vol.-II 1970-79). Central Drug Research Inst. Liuckno and Publication and Information Directorate, New Delhi.

Rao, R.S. 1956. Parthenium: A new record for India. J. Bombay Nat. Hist. Soc. 54:218-220.

Sastry, Tenjarla, C.S. and K.Y. Kavathekar, 1990. Plants for reclamation of wastelands. Pbl. Publications and Information Directorate, CSIR, New Delhi.

Sharma, G.L. and K.K Bhutani. 1988. Plant based antiamoebic drugs. Part II. Amoebicidal activity of parthenin isolated from Parthenium hysterophorus. Planta Medica. 54:20-22.

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

Unphof, J.C. 1959. Dictionary of economic plants, Englemann Weinheim.

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