Phyllanthus niruri L

[From Greek, phullon = leaf and anthos = flower and from Latin, niruri = referring to the diuretic properties of the plant]

Synonymy: Phyllanthus amarus Schum. et Thonn.

Common names: Dukong anak (Malay); bhumy-amali (Sanskrit); yerba de quininic (Puerto-Rico).

Physical description: It is an invasive tropical annual weed which grows to a height of 50 cm. The stems are glabrous and much branched and reddish. Leaves: simple, alternate, light green, stipulate. The stipules are very small and acute. The petiole is indistinct. The blade is 5 mm-9 mm x 3 mm-4 mm, and oblong-elliptic. The apex and the base is round. The margin is entire and glabrous. The male flowers are very small, often found in groups of 2 or 3 in the 1-4 lowest axils, and comprise of 3 stamens. The female flowers are much larger, solitary, in higher axils, and with ovate sepals. The fruits are tiny capsules which are depressed globose, 3-lobed and smooth. The seeds are very small and longitudinally ribbed (Fig. 216).

Pharmaceutical interest: Phyllan-thus niruri L. is interesting because it produces a series of ellagitannins among which are geraniin and repan-dusinic acid A (Foo LY et al., 1995); these are responsible for the medicinal properties of the plant and the anti-inflammatory, cytotoxic and antiviral properties observed so far.

Anti-inflammatory properties: A metha-nolic extract of Phyllanthus niruri L. at 50 mg/Kg, 200 mg/Kg, and 1000 mg/Kg body weight protects rodents against

Fig. 216. Phyllanthus niruri L.

Uses: Phyllanthus niruri L. is the Herba Moeris Alba of Georgius Everhardus Rumphius. From China to Indonesia, a decoction of this herb is drunk to promote urination and dissolve urinary stones. Malays and Indonesians use Phyllanthus niruri L. to promote expectoration, treat fever, promote menses, stop diarrhea, and soothe inflammation. Malays use the leaves to stimulate appetite in children. In India, the plant is used to promote urination, combat fever and treat jaundice.

gastric lesion induced by intragastric administration of absolute ethanol (B ml/kg), thereby confirming the anti-inflammatory property of the plant (Raphael KR et al, 2003).

Cytotoxic properties : An aqueous extract of Phyllanthus niruri L. protects mice against 20-methylcholanthrene (20-MC)-induced sarcoma development and increases the survival of tumor carrying mice; it prolonged the life span of Dalton's lymphoma ascites and Ehrlich ascites carcinoma bearing mice, and reduces the volume of transplanted solid tumors (RajeshkumarNV etal., 2002).

Antiviral properties : Extracts of Phyllanthus niruri L. inhibit the enzymatic activity of hepatitis B virus DNA polymerase in vitro and lower virus levels in vivo (Blumberg BS et al., 1990), substantiating the use of the plant against jaundice. An aqueous extract of Phyllanthus niruri L. inhibits the enzymatic activity of the human immunodeficiency virus type-1 reverse-transcriptase, due to the presence of repandusinic acid A monosodium salt (ID50:0.05 ßM on HIV-1-RT). Repandusinic A, as low as 10.1 ßM, inhibits the cytopathogenity in MT-4 cells caused by the human immunodeficiency virus type-1.4.5 ßM of repandusinic acid A inhibits the formation of giant-cell caused by the human immunodeficiency virus type-1. Repandusinic acid A (2.5 ßM) inhibits, up to 90%, the production of p24 antigen in a clone of H9 lymphocytes (Ogata T et al., 1992). Aqueous and alcohol-based extracts of Phyllanthus amarus inhibit human immunodeficiency virus type 1 replication in HeLaCD4+cells, with EC50 values ranging from 0.9 to 7.B ßg/ml, attributed to the presence of geraniin and corilagin (0.24 ßg/ml). Human immunodeficiency virus type 1 replication is also blocked in CD4+ lymphoid cells with comparable EC50 values (Notka F etal., 1999).

Repandusinic acid A

Repandusinic acid A

Other pharmacological properties: The litholytic property of Phyllanthus niruri L. is confirmed experimentally: An aqueous extract inhibits the internalization of oxalic acid by Madin-Darby canine kidneys cells (Campos AH et al., 1999). Phyllanthin and hypophyllanthin, characterized from a hex-ane extract of Phyllanthus niruri L., protected cultured hepatocytes of rats against carbon tetrachloride and ß-D-galactosamine (Syamasundar KV etal., 1992).

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