Phyllanthus amarus: ethnomedicinal uses, phytochemistry and pharmacology: a review

J Ethnopharmacol. 2011 Nov 18;138(2):286-313. doi: 10.1016/j.jep.2011.09.040. Epub 2011 Sep 29.


Ethnopharmacological relevance: Phyllanthus amarus Schum. & Thonn. belongs to the family Euphorbiaceae is a small herb well known for its medicinal properties and widely used worldwide. P. amarus is an important plant of Indian Ayurvedic system of medicine which is used in the problems of stomach, genitourinary system, liver, kidney and spleen. It is bitter, astringent, stomachic, diuretic, febrifuge and antiseptic. The whole plant is used in gonorrhea, menorrhagia and other genital affections. It is useful in gastropathy, diarrhoea, dysentery, intermittent fevers, ophthalmopathy, scabies, ulcers and wounds.

Materials and methods: The present review covers a literature across from 1980 to 2011. Some information collected from traditional Ayurvedic texts and published literature on ethanomedicinal uses of Phyllanthus amarus in different countries worldwide.

Results: Phytochemical studies have shown the presence of many valuable compounds such as lignans, flavonoids, hydrolysable tannins (ellagitannins), polyphenols, triterpenes, sterols and alkaloids. The extracts and the compounds isolated from P. amarus show a wide spectrum of pharmacological activities including antiviral, antibacterial, antiplasmodial, anti-inflammatory, antimalarial, antimicrobial, anticancer, antidiabetic, hypolipidemic, antioxidant, hepatoprotective nephroprotective and diurectic properties.

Conclusion: The present review summarizes information concerning the morphology, ecology, ethnopharmacology, phytochemistry, biological activities, clinical applications and toxicological reports of P. amarus. This review aims at gathering the research work undertaken till date on this plant in order to provide sufficient baseline information for future works and commercial exploitation.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Medicine, Ayurvedic*
  • Phyllanthus / chemistry*