The pharmacological potential of Phyllanthus niruri

J Pharm Pharmacol. 2016 Aug;68(8):953-69. doi: 10.1111/jphp.12565. Epub 2016 Jun 10.


Introduction: Phyllanthus niruri is a traditional shrub of the genus Phyllanthaceae with long-standing Ayurvedic, Chinese and Malay ethnomedical records. Preliminary studies from cell and animal model have provided valuable scientific evidence for its use.

Aim: This review aims to summarize selected scientific evidence on the pharmacological properties of P. niruri over the past 35 years while identifying potential areas of further development of this herb as an economical adjunct.

Methods: The review covers literature pertaining to the evidence base therapeutic potential of P. niruri spanning from 1980 to 2015 available on PubMed.

Results: Evidence suggests that the extracts of P. niruri possess hepatoprotective, antiviral, antibacterial, hypolipidaemic, hypoglycaemic, analgesic, anti-inflammatory, cardioprotective, anti-urolithiatic and antihyperuricaemic properties due its novel bioactive compounds.

Conclusion: Scientific evidence suggests that there is strong pharmacological potential in developing P. niruri as a drug to be used in liver disorders and in antiviral therapy. Despites this, large-scale heterogeneity in study protocol and unstandardized reporting standards limit the ability for valuable comparison and may mask the ability to replicate these studies. Thus interpretation of findings should be performed with caution and further studies should be performed in line with best practices. More cheminformatics, toxicological and mechanistic studies would aid the progress to clinical trial studies.

Keywords: Phyllanthus niruri; drug development; therapeutic potential.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Analgesics / pharmacology*
  • Analgesics / therapeutic use
  • Animals
  • Anti-Infective Agents / pharmacology*
  • Anti-Infective Agents / therapeutic use
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents / pharmacology*
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents / therapeutic use
  • Antioxidants / pharmacology*
  • Antioxidants / therapeutic use
  • Humans
  • Hypolipidemic Agents / pharmacology*
  • Hypolipidemic Agents / therapeutic use
  • Liver / drug effects
  • Liver Diseases / drug therapy
  • Phyllanthus* / chemistry
  • Phytotherapy
  • Plant Extracts / pharmacology*
  • Plant Extracts / therapeutic use
  • Virus Diseases / drug therapy


  • Analgesics
  • Anti-Infective Agents
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents
  • Antioxidants
  • Hypolipidemic Agents
  • Plant Extracts