Ethnomedicinal Herbs of Phyllanthus Species


An overview of important ethnomedicinal herbs of Phyllanthus species: present status and future prospects

Sarin B, Verma N, Martín JP, Mohanty A
ScientificWorldJournal. 2014 Feb 3;2014:839172
PubMed Central PMCID: PMC3932249

Bharti Sarin of the University of Delhi and co-authors from the National Bureau of Plant Genetic Resources and Universidad Politecnica de Madrid present an overview of studies on pharmacognostics, phytochemistry, species identification, and genetic diversity of Phyllanthus herbs.

From the introduction:

“The genus Phyllanthus (Phyllanthaceae) consists of approximately 1000 species, spread over the American, African, Australian, and Asian continents. All three major habits [sic], that is, trees, shrubs, and herbs, are seen amongst the Phyllanthus species. Most of the herbs belonging to genus Phyllanthus have been shown to contain different combinations of secondary metabolites which render them with medicinal properties. The major class of bioactive compounds like alkaloids, flavonoids, lignans, phenols, tannins, and terpenes has been isolated from these herbs.”

Phyllanthus urinaria
Phyllanthus urinaria [Source: Raffi Kojian –, Wikimedia Commons]
The team focused on 12 species: P. ajmerianus, P. amarus, P. debilis, P. fraternus, P. kozhikodianus, P. maderaspatensis, P. rheedii, P. rotundifolius, P. scabrifolius, P. tenellus, P. urinaria, and P. virgatus. Except P. ajmerianus, P. rotundifolius, and P. scabrifolius, the 12 have been scientifically investigated and shown to be of pharmacological value. Many of the herbs form an integral part of the Ayurveda system of medicine:

“The ethnic tribes of India and other Asian countries have used the herbs of Phyllanthus species since ancient times, as traditional home remedies. The decoctions of various parts of the herbs are used for treating hepatic, urinary, and sexually transmitted diseases, diabetes, hypertension, cancer, and wounds. Taking cue from the ethnic medications and potential of herbal treatments, the modern society is now eager to resort to green medicines which are without adverse side effects.”

Considering the medicinal properties of the Phyllanthus herbs, the authors recommend that these species should be assessed for pharmacognostics and pharmacological properties, and the assessment of genetic diversity of these species, which will have implications for formulating conservation strategies in the future.

Read the complete article at PubMed Central.

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