Recent Advances in Pharmacological and Phytochemistry Studies on Phyllanthus amarus

Mansi Gupta*, J S Vaghela

Bhupal Nobles‘ College of Pharmacy, Udaipur-313001, Rajasthan, India

Received: 05-Nov-2018 , Accepted: 12-Jan-2019

Keywords: Phyllanthus amarus, Pharmacological, Phytochemistry



Full-Text PDF      


Google Scholar  

How To Cite       


The use of medicinal plants for the treatment of various diseases has been increased due to minimum side effect compared to synthetic drug. Further the herbal products are considered as safe drugs. Phyllanthus amarus claimed tribal people for remedy of different diseases namely diarrhoea, dysentery, dropsy, jaundice, intermittent fevers, kidney problems, urinary bladder disturbances, pain, gonorrhea, diabetes, urogenital disorders, chronic dysentery, skin ulcers, sores, swelling, itchiness, tubercular ulcers, ringworm, scabies and wounds. Phyllanthus amarus contains isobubbialine, epibubbialine, securinine, nor-securinine, dihydrosecurinine, geraniin, corilagin, 1,6-digalloylglucopyranoside rutin , quercetin3-O-glucopyranoside, amarulone, niranthin, nirtetralin, phyltetralin, hypophyllanthin, phyllanthin, hypo-phyllanthin, demethylenedioxy-niranthin, kaempferol, astragalin, etc chemical constituents in its different parts. The extract of Phyllanthus amarus retains multiple pharmacological activities such as Anticarcinogenic, Antiproliferative, Gastroprotective, Cardioprotective, Antileptospiral, Antibacterial, Antidiabetic, Antiviral, Antivenom,Antiinflammatory etc. We planned to illustrate the recent studies appeared in Phytochemisty and Pharmacological activities of Phyllanthus amarus in order to highlight its multi-activity properties.

1 Introduction

Medicinal plants may be defined as those plants that are commonly used in treating and preventing specific ailments and that are generally considered to be harmful to humans. From thousands of year plants have been an important source of medicine and plays a key role in world health. It is estimated that approximately one quarter of prescribed drugs are plant extracts or active ingredients obtained from plant sources. World Health Organization estimates that about 80% of these people rely almost exclusively on traditional medicine for their primary healthcare needs. Medicinal plants are the “backbone” of traditional medicine, which means more than 3.3 billion people in the less developed countries utilize medicinal plants on a regular basis1.

Medicinal plants not used only for the treatment of diseases but also as potential material for maintaining good health and conditions.  The reasons for this is because of their better cultural acceptability, better compatibility and adaptability with the human body and pose lesser side effects. Medicinal plant contains chemical compounds that dictate their therapeutic potency. Researchers have shown that different plants contain different bioactive components at different concentrations. The higher the amount of the important phytochemical in medicinal plants, the greater therapeutic potency or medicinal importance of the plants1,2

Phyllanthus is one of the ancient medicinal plants cultivated for its highly priced fruits and other parts. The genus Phyllanthus belongs to family Euphorbiaceae, is one of the largest genera of flowering plants consists of about 800 species which are distributed in a wide range of habitats exhibiting relatively wider range of habits such as annual or biennial herbs, shrubs and trees throughout the tropical and subtropical regions of both the hemispheres.

The name ‘Phyllanthus’ means “leaf and flower” and named so because of its appearance where flower, fruit and leaf appears fused3. Different species of Phyllanthus are considered to be very effective and rich in biochemical compounds used in health care, food and cosmetic industry. Numerous phytochemical and bioactivity studies have been carried out on Phyllanthus species, resulting in the isolation and identification of various compounds (alkaloids, coumarins, flavonoids, lignans, and terpenes). The major lignans of the genus namely, phyllanthin and hypophyllanthin, have been shown to be antihepatotoxic against carbon tetrachloride and galactosamine induced hepatotoxicity.

Phyllanthus amarus commonly known as Bhumi amla, is upright or prostrate herbs or shrubs, often with milky acrid juice. In Unani literature, it is described by the name of ‘Bhuti’ which means Bhum Amlak - Amla of Land. Phyllanthus amarus  has been found throughout the tropics and sub- tropics such as West Africa (including Nigeria and Ghana), Europe, Asia (including China, Pakistan, India and Malaysia Indian ocean), central and south America.

In India, it is widely distributed as a weed in cultivated and waste lands. It is an annual herb grows to a height 6 inches to15 inches. Stem is angular with numerous distichous, elliptic oblong leaves. Flowers are yellowish, whitish or greenish, auxillary, males flowers in groups of 1-3 whereas females are solitary. Fruits are depressed-globose like smooth capsules present underneath the branches and seeds are trigonous, pale brown with longitudinal parallel ribs on the back4-6.

Phyllanthus amarus herb has a number of traditional uses such as diarrhoea, dysentery, dropsy, jaundice, intermittent fevers, kidney problems, urinary bladder disturbances, pain, gonorrhea, diabetes, urogenital disorders, chronic dysentery, skin ulcers, sores, swelling, itchiness, tubercular ulcers, ringworm, scabies and wounds. It is also used in cough, asthma, other bronchial infections, kidney related problems, appendix inflammation and prostate problems. Because of its efficacy in the field of gastro-intestinal disorders it is used in the treatment of disorders like dyspepsia, colic, constipation and dysentery. The herb has found to be effective in several female problems such as in leucorrhoea, menorrhagia and mammary abscess and can act as galactagogue7-9.

Hence it will be worthy to review on Phyllanthus amarus and produce data mainly on the pharmacological activities and chemical constituents of the plant to the scientists.

2 Phytochemistry of Phyllanthus amarus

Phyllanthus amarus have numerous phytochemical constituents such asalkaloids, phenols, tannins, and flavonoids, terpenoids, steroids, saponins, carbohydrates etc displayed in table 1 & Fig 1. Also mineral elements such as iron manganese, magnesium, zinc, calcium, potassium, phosphorus, copper and chromium were found in appreciable amount, with calcium present in the highest concentration.

3 Pharmacological activities of Phyllanthus amarus

The Phyllanthus amarus has pharmacological activities such as anti-diabetic, antitumor, immunomodulation, antifungal, antibacterial and anti-inflammation activities and antioxidant effects24 (Table 2).

4 Conclusion

Presently the use of medicinal plants increased considerably globally due to lesser side effects. The studies explored Phyllanthus amarus is one of the utmost needed medicinal plants for the treatment of different diseases. Phyllanthus amarus are rich in secondary metabolite and are the key factors for various pharmacological activities. The present information concerning Phyllanthus amarus may serve as the baseline data to impose to do widespread studies for the innovative of novel active compounds and promote evaluation for their pharmacological activities.    

5 Conflict of interests


6 Author’s contributions

MG and JSV collected the data and drafted the manuscript. Both authors have read and approved the final manuscript. 

7 References

  1. Davidson-Hunt I. Ecological ethnobotany: stumbling toward new practices and paradigms. MASA J. 2000;16:1–13.;
  2. Chopra RN, Nayar SL, Chopra IC. Glossary of Indian Medicinal Plants. National Institute of Science Communication and Information Resources, Council of Scientific and Industrial Research, New Delhi, India. 1956.
  3. Kumar S, Choudhary H, Seniya C. In vitro antibacterial study of aqueous and methanolic extracts of some selected medicinal plants. Journal of Chemical and Pharmaceutical Research. 2011; 3:854.
  4. Irvine FR. Plants of the Gold Coast. Oxford University Press. 1930.
  5. Lewis WH, Elvin-Lewis PF: A Text Book of Medicinal Botany: Plants affecting Man’s Health. A Wiley-Inter Science Publication, John Wiley and Sons, Second Edition. 1977.
  6. Husain S, Alam MA, Ahmed S, Quamri A, Khan MA. Hepatoprotective, anticancer and antiviral effects of Bhui Amla in unani medicine: an overview. Journal of Medicinal Plant studies. 2014; 2: 50-52.
  7. Chandewar A, Dhongade H. Pharmacognostical and Phytochemical studies of Phyllanthus amarus leaves. International Journal of Biomedical and Advance Research 2013; 4:383.
  8. Adegoke AA, Iberi PA, Akinpelu DA, Aiyegoro P. Studies on phytochemical screening and antimicrobial potentials of Phyllanthus amarus against multiple antibiotic resistant bacteria. International Journal of Applied Research in Natural Products. 2010; 3:6.
  9. Patel JR, Tripathi P, Sharma V, Chauhan NS, Dixit VK. Phyllanthus amarus Ethnomedicinal uses phytochemistry and pharmacology: A review. Journal of Ethnopharmacology 2011; 138(2):286–313.
  10. Houghton PJ, Woldemariama TZ, Siobhan OS, Thyagarajan SP. Two securinega type alkaloids from Phyllanthus amarus. Phytochemistry 1996; 43:715–717.
  11. Kassuya CA, Silvestre A, Menezes-de-Lima Jr O, Marotta DM, Rehder VL, Calixto JB: Anti-inflammatory and antiallodynic actions of the lignin niranthin isolated from Phyllanthus amarus: Evidence for interaction with platelet activating factor receptor. European Journal of Pharmacology. 2006; 546: 182-188.
  12. Foo LY. Amariin a di-dehydro hexahydroxy diphenoyl hydrolysable tannin from Phyllanthus amarus. Phytochemistry 1993; 33:487–491.
  13. Leite DF, Kassuya CA, Mazzuco TL, Silvestre A, De-Melo LV, Rehder VL et al. The cytotoxic effect and the multidrug resistance reversing action of lignans from Phyllanthus amarus. Planta Medica 2006; 72:1353–1358.
  14. Maciel MAM, Cunha A, Dantas FTNC, Kaiser CR. NMR characterization of bioactive lignans from Phyllanthus amarus Schum & Thonn. Journal of Magnetic Resonance Imaging 2007; 6:76–82.
  15. Singh B, Agrawal PK, Thakur RS. A new lignin and a new neolignan from Phyllanthus niruri. Journal of Natural Products. 1989b; S2(I):48 -51.
  16. Elfahmi, Batterman S, Koulman A, Hackl T, Bos R, Kayser O, Woerdenbag HJ, Quax WJ. Lignans from Cell Suspension Cultures of Phyllanthus niruri, an Indonesian Medicinal Plant. J. Nat. Prod. 2006; (69):55 -58.
  17. Londhe JS, Devasagayam TP, Foo LY, Ghaskadbi SS. Radioprotective properties of polyphenols from Phyllanthus amarus Linn. Journal of Radiation Research 2009; 50:303– 309.
  18. Moronkola DO, Ogunwande IA, Oyewole IO, Baser KHC, Ozek T, Ozek G. Studies on the volatile oils of Momordica charantia L (Cucurbitaceae), Phyllanthus amarus Sch et Thonn (Euphorbiaceae). Journal of Essential Oil Research 2009; 21:393–399.
  19. Foo LY. Amarulone, a novel cyclic hydrolyzable tannin from Phyllanthus amarus. Natural Product Letters. 1993a; 3: 45-52.
  20. Ahmad B, Alam T. Components from whole plant of Phyllanthus amarus Indian Journal of Chemistry, Section B: Organic Chemistry including Medicinal Chemistry. 2003; 42: 1786-1790.
  21. Foo LY. Amarinic acid and related ellagitannins from Phyllanthus amarus. Phytochemistry. 1995; 39: 217-224.
  22. Ishimaru K, Yoshimatsu K, Yamakawa T, Kamada H, Shimomura K. Phenolic constituents in Tissue Cultures of Phyllanthus niruri. Phytochemistry. 1992; 31(6):2015-2018.
  23. Danladi S, Idris MA, Umar II.  Review on pharmacological activities and phytochemical constituents of Phyllanthus niruri (Amarus). The Journal of Phytopharmacology 2018; 7(3): 341-348.
  24. Meena J, Sharma RA, Rolania R: A review on phytochemical and pharmacological properties of Phyllanthus amarus Schum. and Thonn. Int J Pharm Sci Res. 2018; 9(4): 1377-86.
  25. Rajeshkumar NV, Joy KL, Kuttan G, Ramsewak RS, Nair MG, Kuttan R. Antitumour and anticarcinogenic activity of Phyllanthus amarus extract. Journal of Ethnopharmacology. 2002; 81:17-22
  26. Abhyankar G, Suprasanna P, Pandey BN, Mishra KP, Rao KV, Reddy VD. Hairy root extract of Phyllanthus amarus induces apoptotic cell death in human breast cancer cells. Innovative Food Science and Emerging Technologies. 2010; 11: 526-532.
  27. Guha G, Rajkumar V, Ashok KR, Mathew L. Aqueous extract of Phyllanthus amarus inhibits chromium (VI)-induced toxicity in MDA-MB-435S cells. Food and Chemical Toxicology. 2010; 48: 396-401.
  28. Lee SH, Jaganath IB, Wang SM, Sekaran SD. Antimetastatic effects of phyllanthus on human lung (A549) and breast (MCF-7) cancer cell lines. PLoS One. 2011; 6.
  29. Lim YY, Murtijaya J. Antioxidant properties of Phyllanthus amarus extracts as affected by different drying methods. LWT Food Science and Technology. 2007; 40: 1664-1669.
  30. Shokunbi OS, Odetola AA. Gastroprotective and antioxidant activities of Phyllanthus amarus extracts on absolute ethanol-induced ulcer in albino rats. Journal of Medicinal Plants Research. 2008; 2: 261-267.
  31. Krithika R, Mohankumar R, Verma RJ, Shrivastav PS, Mohamad IL, Gunasekaran P, Narasimhan S. Isolation, characterization and antioxidative effect of phyllanthin against CCl4-induced toxicity in HepG2 cell line. Chemico Biological Interaction. 2009; 181: 351-358.
  32. Sen A,  Batra A. The study of in-vitro and in-vivo antioxidant activity and total phenolic content of Phyllanthus amarus Schum Thonn: A medicinally important plant. International Journal of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences. 2013; 5: 942-947.
  33. Putakala M, Gujjala S, Nukala S, Bongu SBR, Chintakunta N, Desireddy S. Cardioprotective effect of Phyllanthus amarus against high fructose diet induced myocardial and aortic stress in rat model. Biomed Pharmacother. 2017; 95: 1359-1368.
  34. Chandan S, Umesha S, Balamurugan V. Anti Leptospiral Antioxidant and DNA damaging properties of Eclipta alba and Phyllanthus amarus. Open Access Scientific Reports. 2012; 1(4):1-8.
  35. Ukwubile CA, Odugu JA. Evaluation of antibacterial and in vitro antidiabetic activities of Phyllanthus amarus Linn. (phyllanthaceae) leaf ethanol extract. J Bacteriol Mycol. 2018;6(4):254‒256.
  36. Raphael KR, Sabu MC, Kuttan R. Hypoglycemic effect of methanol extract of Phyllanthus amarus Schum and Thonn. on alloxan induced diabetes mellitus in rats and its relation with antioxidant potential. Indian Journal of Experimental Biology. 2002; 40: 905-909.
  37. Shetti AA, Sanakal RD, Kaliwal BB. Antidiabetic effect of ethanolic leaf extract of Phyllanthus amarus in alloxan induced diabetic mice. Asian Journal of Plant Science and Research. 2012; 2: 11-15.
  38. Sahni S, Maurya S, Singh UP, Singh AK, Singh VP, Pandey VB. Antifungal activity of nor-securinine against some phytopathogenic fungi. Mycobiology. 2005; 33: 97-103.
  39. Okwute Simon KI, Okolo Simon C, Okoh-Esene R, Olajide Olutayo O: Biological and chemical evaluation of the extracts of the leaf of Phyllanthus amarus. International Journal of Chem Tech Research. 2015; 7: 2347-2354.
  40. Eldeen IMS, Seow EM, Abdullah R, Sulaiman SF. In vitro antibacterial, antioxidant, total phenolic contents and anti-HIV-1 reverse activities of extracts of seven Phyllanthus. South African Journal of Botany. 2011; 77: 75-79.
  41. Bhattacharyya R, Bhattacharya S. Development of a potent in-vitro source of Phyllanthus amarus roots with pronounced activity against surface antigen of the hepatitis B virus. In-vitro Cellular and Development Biology-Plant. 2004; 40: 504-508.
  42. Balasubramanian G, Sarathi M, Sahu RS, Hameed AS. Screening the antiviral activity of Indian medicinal plants against white spot syndrome virus in shrimp. Aquaculture. 2007; 263: 15-19.
  43. Ravikumar YS, Ray U, Nandhitha M, Perween A, Naika HR, Khanna N, Das S. Inhibition of Hepatitis C virus replication by herbal extract: Phyllanthus amarus as potent natural source. Virus Research. 2011; 158: 89-97.
  44. Sornakumar RSA, Kunthavai PC, Gnaniah S. Isolation, purification and characterization of active compound from Andrographis paniculata and Phyllanthus amarus Linn. and testing the antivenom activity of the di-herbal extract by in-vitro and in-vivo studies. International Research journal of Pharmacy 2014; 5: 207-211.
  45. Obianime AW, Uche FI. The Phytochemical constituents and the effects of methanol extracts of Phyllanthus amarus leaves (kidney stonep lant) on the hormonal parameters of male guinea pigs. Journal of Applied Sciences and Environmental Management. 2009; 13: 5-9.
  46. Rao MV, Alice KM. Contraceptive effects of Phyllanthus amarus in female mice. Phytotherapy Research. 2001; 15: 265-267.
  47. Hemavathy HK, Jantan I, Haque MA, Kumolosasi E.Anti-inflammatory effects of Phyllanthus amarus Schum. & Thonn. through inhibition of NF-κB, MAPK, and PI3K-Akt signaling pathways in LPS-induced human macrophages.BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine. 2018; 18:224.
  48. Kiemer AK, Hartung T, Huber C, Vollmar AM. Phyllanthus amarus has anti-inflammatory potential by inhibition of iNOS, COX-2, and cytokines via the NF-κB pathway. Journal of Hepatology. 2003; 38: 289-297.
  49. Mahat MA, Patil BM. Evaluation of anti-inflammatory activity of methanol extract of Phyllanthus amarus in experimental animal models. 2007; 69: 33-36.
  50. Manikkoth S, Deepa B, Joy AE, Rao S. Anticonvulsant activity of Phyllanthus amarus in experimental animal models. 2011; 4:144-149.
  51. Yao AN, Kamagaté M, Amonkan AK, Chabert P, Kpahé F, Koffi C, Kouamé MN, Auger C, Kati-Coulibaly S, Schini-Kerth V, Die-Kakou H.  The acute diuretic effect of an ethanolic fraction of Phyllanthus amarus (Euphorbiaceae) in rats involves prostaglandins. BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine.2018; 14-7.