Family - Fabaceae - Tephrosia purpurea (Linn.) Pers. - PURPLE TEPHROSIA - Hui mao dou

Scientific names

Tephrosia diffusa (Roxb.) Wught & Arnott..
Tephrosia purpurea (Linn.) Pers.
Tephrosia piscatoria (Dryand.) Pers.
Cracca purpurea L.

Common names

Balatong-pula (Tag.)
Balbalatong (Tag.)
Fish poison (Engl.)
Purple tephrosia (Engl.)
Wild indigo (Engl.)
Hui mao dou (Chin.)

Other vernacular names

CAMBODIAN: Trom’ khmaoch.
CHINESE: Hui ye, Jia lan dian, Hong hua hui ye, Yun nan hui ye.
FRENCH: Indigo sauvage.
INDONESIAN: Pohon nila hutan.
LAOTIAN: S’a:z kh’a:m moyz.
THAI: Khram-pa.
VIETNAMESE: C[aa]y c[oos]t kh[is] t[is]a, Ve c[as]i, Do[ax]n ki[ees]m d[or].


Balatong-pula is a copiously branched, suberect, slender, herbaceous perennial. Stems are smooth or finely downy, 30 to 60 centimeters in height. Leaves are odd-pinnate, 7.5 to 15 centimeters long, with 13 to 21 leaflets which are narrow and oblanceolate. Racemes are long, all leaf-opposed, and 7.5 to 15 centimeters in length. Lower flowers are fascicled. Calyx is covered with silky hair, has narrow teeth, and is as long as the tube. Corolla is red. Pods are 3.5 to 5 centimeters long and slightly recurved, containing 6 to 10 seeds.

– In open grasslands or waste places at low altitudes.
– In Cavite and Batangas Provinces in Luzon; and in Bukidnon and Misamis Provinces in Mindanao.
– Also occurs in India to southern China through Malaya to tropical Australia.


– Leaves yielded a glucoside, rutin, 2.5 %.
– Study of aerial parts yielded an aromatic ester, a sesquiterpene and a prenylated flavonoid.
– Plant also yields chalcones and rotenoids.
– Seed extracts yielded alkaloids, flavonoids, carbohydrates, proteins, amino acids, tannins, phenolic compounds, saponins, steroids, sterols, triterpenoids and fixed oil.

– Plant is considered cooling, deobstruent, cordial, diuretic, laxative and tonic; internally as blood purifier.
– Root is bitter.
– Considered anti-allergic, anticarcinogenic, anti-lipidperoxidative, immunomodulatory, hepatoprotective, antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory.

Parts used
Roots, seeds, leaves and bark.

– Used for coughs, tightness of the chest, bilious febrile attacks, obstructions of the liver, spleen and kidneys.
– Recommended as blood purifier, for boils and pimples.
– Roots used for dyspepsia and chronic diarrhea. Also used for ulcer and colic pains.
– Infusion of seeds used as cooliing medicine.
– Decoction of pounded leaves used for snake bites.
– In Ceylon, used as anthelmintic for children.
– In Punjab, infusion of seeds considered cooling.
– In Sri Lanka, decoction of roots used as nematicide for treatment of Toxocara canis larvae which causes lung disease. Also used for colic, diarrhea and dyspepsia, and as anthelmintic.
– Fresh root-bark, ground and made into a pill, mixed with a little black pepper, used for obstinate colic.
– In traditional Indian medicine, a common ingredient of formulations for liver ailments. Also, used for bilious febrile attacks, liver and splenic affections, cirrhosis and hepatitis.
– Oil from seeds used for scabies, eczematous itching, and other skin eruptions.
– Used for piles, syphilis and gonorrhea.
– Leaves used as fodder in India and South Africa.
– In India, grown as green manure in paddy fields.
– In India, dry plants collected as fuel.
– Seeds used as substitute for coffee.
– Used as insect repellent.

Additional Sources and Suggested Readings

(1) Tephrosia purpurea Ameliorates Benzoyl Peroxide-induced Cutaneous Toxicity in Mice: Diminution of Oxidative Stress / Mohammad Saleem, Aftab Alam et al / Pharmacy and Pharmacology Communications
Volume 5, Issue 7, pages 455�461, July 1999 / DOI: 10.1211/146080899128735162


(3) Evaluation of hepatoprotective activity of aerial parts of Tephrosia purpurea L. and stem bark of Tecomella undulata / Khatri A, Garg A, Agrawal SS / J Ethnopharmacol. 2009 Feb 25;122(1):1-5. Epub 2008 Nov 18.

(4) Determination of polyphenols and free radical scavenging activity of Tephrosia purpurea linn leaves (Leguminosae) / Avani Patel, Amit Patel, Amit Patel, NM Patel / Pharmacognosy Research, 2010, Vol 2 No 3, Pp 152-158.

(5) Effect of Tephrosia Purpurea Pers on Gentamicin Model of Acute Renal Failure / Avijeet Jain and A. K. Singhai / 13TH INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE ON BIOMEDICAL ENGINEERING
IFMBE Proceedings, 2009, Volume 23, Track 4, 1438-1442, DOI: 10.1007/978-3-540-92841-6_355

(6) Anticarcinogenic and antilipidperoxidative effects of Tephrosia purpurea (Linn.) Pers. in 7, 12-dimethylbenz(a)anthracene (DMBA) induced hamster buccal pouch carcinoma / K Kavitha, S Manoharan / Indian Journ of Pharmacology, 2006, Vol 38, Issue 3, Page : 185-189 / doi:10.4103/0253-7613.25805

(7) ANTIULCER ACTIVITY OF TEPHROSIA PURPUREA IN RATS / S.S. DESHPANDE, G.B. SHAH, N.S. PARMAR / Indian Journal of Pharmacology 2003; 35: 168-172

(8) Chemical constituents of Tephrosia purpurea / Ali K Khalafalah, Afifi H Yousef, Abeer M Esmail et al / Pharmacognosy Res. 2010 Mar-Apr; 2(2): 72�75. / doi: 10.4103/0974-8490.62951

(9) Antihyperglycemic and antihyperlipidemic effects of Tephrosia purpurea leaf extract in streptozotocin induced diabetic rats / P. Pavana, S. Manoharan, G. L. Renju and S. Sethupathy / Journal of Environmental Biology October 2007, 28(4) 833-837 (2007)

(10) Tephrosia purpurea / Vernacular names / GLOBinMED

(11) Prospective use of Tephrosia Purpurea in Remedial Treatment of PCOS: Study in Wistar Rat / Patel Anuradha Jitendra* and Thakor Akanksha Pravin / ISCA Journal of Biological Sciences, Vol. 1(3), 1-6, July (2012)

(12) In vitro antioxidant studies of the ethanolic extract of Tephrosia purpurea L. / G.P. Choudhary / Anc Sci Life. 2007 Jul-Sep; 27(1): 26�30.

(13) TEPHROSIA PURPUREA (LINN.) PERS: A FOLK MEDICINAL PLANT AMELIORATES CARBON TETRACHLORIDE INDUCED HEPATIC DAMAGE IN RATS / Sangeetha, B.; Krishnakumari, S. / International Journal of Pharma & Bio Sciences; Apr-Jun2010, Vol. 1 Issue 2

(14) Ameliorative potential of Tephrosia purpurea extract against arsenic induced toxicity in wistar rats / Ravuri Halley Gora, Sushma Lalita Baxla, Priscilla Kerketta, Reetu Toppo, Naveen Kumar, Birendra kumar Roy / Vet World. 2013; 6(8): 493-496 / doi: 10.5455/vetworld.2013.493-496

(15) A comparative study of ethanol extract of leaves of Tephrosia purpurea pers and the flavonoid isolated for hepatoprotective activity / A Jain, A Singhai, V Dixit / Indian Journal of Pharmaceutical Sciences (Impact Factor: 0.34). 01/2006; DOI: 10.4103/0250-474X.31006

(16) Biogenic Synthesis Of Gold Nanoparticles Using Leaf Extract Of Tephrosia purpurea And Study Of Their Antibacterial Effect / E.R. Jisha, G. Balamurugan*, N. Edison, P. Selvakumar, R. Rathiga / International Journal of PharmTech Research, Vol.4, No.3, pp 1323-1331, July-Sept 2012

(17) Preventive Effect of Tephrosia Purpurea Against N,N-Diethylnitrosamine Induced Hepatocellular Carcinoma In Swiss Albino Mice / R. Gnanaraja, Veeru Prakash / Journal of Biology and Life Science, Vol 5, No 2, 2014


(19) Phytochemical analysis, antioxidant and xanthine oxidase inhibitory activity of Tephrosia purpurea Linn. root extract / Shivraj H Nile* and CN Khobragade / Indian Journal of Natural Products and Resources Vol. 2(1), March 2011, pp. 52-58

(20) Spasmolytic activity of a herbal drug isolated from Tephrosia purpurea in guinea pigs / Kapil K. Soni, M. L. Khare, and R.C. Saxena / Anc Sci Life. 2004 Apr-Jun; 23(4): 59�65.


(22) Immunological effects of aqueous crude extract from tephrosia purpurea aerial parts on plasmodium berghei infected balb/c mice / Isindu, Lydia Wanyaga / Kenyatta University Institutional Repository

(23) Larvicidal Activity of Tephrosia purpurea, (L) Against the Larvae of Culex quinquefasiciatus / Deepak Kumar, P. Dhamodaran, Nilani P and N. Balakrishnan / Journal of Applied Pharmaceutical Science 02 (07); 2012: 219-221

(24) Tephrosia purpurea Linn leaves attenuate pain and inflammation in experimental animals / Gulecha, Vishal; Sivakumar, Thangavel; Upaganlawar, Aman; Khandare, Rakesh; Chandrashekhar Upasani / International Journal of Nutrition, Pharmacology, Neurological D, Jul2011, Vol. 1 Issue 2, p146

(25) Gastroprotective Activity of Tephrosia purpurea / A Tamil Selvan, et al /Int. J. Res. Ayurveda Pharm. 4(5), Sept-Oct 2013

(26) Effects of tephrosia purpurea aqueous seed extract on blood glucose and antioxidant enzyme activities in streptozotocin induced diabetic rats / P Pavana, S Sethupathy, K Santha, S Manoharan / African Journal of Traditional, Complementary and Alternative Medicines, Vol 6, No 1 (2009)

(27) Glycoside from Tephrosia purpurea Roots in the Treatment of Ulcerative Colitis / S.A. Nirmal, L.L. Sonawane, G.S. Asane, S.C. Pal and Subhash C. Mandal / Pharmacologia, Volume 5 Issue 8, 2014

(28) Anticancer activity of Tephrosia purpurea and Ficus religiosa using MCF 7 cell lines / Vishal Gulecha*, Thangavel Sivakuma / Asian Pacific Journal of Tropical Medicine (2011)526-529 / doi: 10.1016/S1995-7645(11)60139-9

Study Findings
– Modulatory Effect / Chemopreventive: Study results suggest that T. purpurea is an effective chemopreventive agent in the skin that may suppress benzoyl peroxide-induced cutaneous toxicity.
– Immunomodulatory : The flavonoid fraction of Tephrosia purpurea significantly inhibited sheep RBCs-induced delayed type-hypersensitivity reactions and significantly dose-dependently reduced hemagglutination antibody titer. Results of the study in mice indicate the ability to modulate both cell-mediated and humoral components of the immune system.
– Antihyperglycemic / Antioxidant:Study of the ethanolic seed extract clearly indicated potent antihyperglycemic and anti-lipid peroxidative effects in streptozotocin-induced diabetic rats.
– Antibacterial: The ethanolic root extract of Tephrosia purpurea showed significant activity against Pseudomonas aeruginosa, two other pseudomoas strains and two coliform strains.
– Hepatoprotective / Thioacetamide Hepatotoxicity: Study in albino rats evaluating the hepatoprotective activity of aerial parts of T purpurea and stem bark of T undulata against thioacetamide-induced hepatotoxicity showed significant reduction of serum enzymes and other chemical indices, significant improvement in liver glutathione, and dose-dependent reduction of necrosis on histopath exam.
– Antioxidant / Leaves: Study showed the leaves of T purpurea have antioxidant potential. The ethanolic extract showed to be more portent than the aqueous decoction. The antioxidant content may be responsible for its use in the treatment of jaundice and other oxidative stress-related diseases.
– Renal Protective: Study evaluated the protective and curative effects of TP extracts on gentamicin-induced acute renal injury in albino rats. Results showed the ethanol extract of leaves possess marked nephroprotective and curative activities without toxicity. The mechanisms of activities were attributed to phenolic and flavonoidal compounds like quercetin. Results suggest a promising role for TP in the treatment of acute renal injury caused by pharmaceutical nephrotoxins.
– Wound Healing: Histopathological study of wound healing potential using three types of wound models in rats (incision wound, excision wound and dead space wound) showed significant increase in fibroblast cells, collagen fibers and blood vessels formation.
– Wound Healing: Flavonoid-rich fraction of aerial parts of Tephrosia purpurea showed a potential for enhancing the burn wound healing process, probably through to its free radical scavenging property.
– Anticarcinogenic / Anti-Lipid Peroxidative: Study showed the ethanolic root extract has potent chemopreventive efficacy and significant anti-lipidperoxidative effect, in DMBA-induced oral carcinogenesis.
– Anti-Ulcer Healing: Study showed the aqueous extract of roots of Tephrosia purpurea possess significant anti-ulcer property which could be due to a cytoprotective action of the drug or through a strengthening of the gastric and duodenal mucosal and enhancing of mucosal defense mechanisms.
– Phytochemical / Antimicrobial: Study showed a pet ether extract to have the most potent antimicrobial activity against gram positive, gram negative bacteria and Candida albicans.
– Antihyperglycemic / Antihyperlipidemic / Leaves: Study of aqueous extract of leaves showed prominent antihyperglycemic and hypolipidemic effects in streptozotocin-induced diabetic rats.
– Anti-Inflammatory / Analgesic: Study of an ethanol extract of aerial and root parts of T. purpurea in rats showed dose-related anti-inflammatory and analgesic activities.
– Polycystic Ovary Syndrome: Study evaluated the potential of Tephrosia purpurea in the treatment of PCOS (polycystic ovary syndrome) in female albino Wistar rats. T. purpurea showed potent effect on rats estrous cycle by normalizing it after being induced with PCOS. Results suggest the seeds have a potential effect on PCOS bringing the reproductive cycle of rats to normalcy.
– Acute and Subacute Toxicity Evaluation: Study evaluated the acute and subacute toxicity of a 50^ ethanolic extract of Tephrosia purpurea. In acute toxicity study, it was well tolerated up to 2000 mg/kg with no mortality or behavior changes in mice. In subacute studies, it showed no significant alterations in hematological and biochemical parameters in rats. Results demonstrate a wide margin of safety for therapeutic use and corroborates its traditional use as an anti-hepatocarcinogenic agent.
– Antioxidant / Roots: An ethanolic extract of root was screened for in vitro antioxidant properties. Results showed significant antioxidant activity in the DPPH and nitric acid radical inhibition assay, greater than those obtained with ascorbic acid and rutin.
– Hepatoprotective / CCl4-induced Hepatic Damage / Root: An ethanolic extract of root showed hepatoprotection against carbon tetrachloride induced oxidative damage probably by increasing antioxidative defense activities.
– Ameliorative / Arsenic induced Toxicity: Study evaluated the protective activity of TP extract against arsenic induced toxicity in wistar albino rats. Supplementation with TPE orally/daily for 28 days showed a protective effect against arsenic induced toxicity.
– Hepatoprotective / CCl4-induced Toxicity / Leaves: An ethanol extract of leaves and flavonoid isolated from leaves were evaluated for CCl4-induced hepatotoxicty in rats. Results showed hepatoprotective activity attributed to the ethanol extract of leaves rather than the isolated flavonoid.
– Gold Nanoparticles / Leaf Extract / Antibacterial: Study describes the synthesis of gold nanoparticles using a leaf extract of Tephrosia purpurea. The nanoparticles were tested for antibacterial activity against E. coli, Enterobacter faecalis, S. aureus, K. pneumonia. Results showed the prepared gold nanoparticles can be used as a good antibacterial agent.
– Anti-Tumor / Hepatocellular Carcinoma: Study evaluated the preventive property of T. purpurea methanol extract in DENA (diethylnitrosamine) induced liver cancer in male Swiss albino mice. Results showed significant antitumor activity at 300 mg/kg.
– Antihelmintic / Leaves: Study of aqeuous and methanol extracts of leaves showed statistically significant anthelmintic activity against Pheretima posthuma. Albendazole was used as standard drug.
– Antioxidant / Xanthine Oxidase Inhibition / Roots: Study showed T. purpurea root extract can be exploited to treat diseases associated with free radical formation, oxidative stress and xanthine oxidase activity.
– Spasmolytic / Anti-Asthma: Herbal drugs isolated from T. purpurea studied for anti-asthma effects in guinea pigs showed spasmolytic activity.
– Anti-Histaminic / Anti-Spasmodic / Aerial Parts: Study of ethanolic extract of aerial parts of Tephrosia purpurea against experimental animal models (isolated goat tracheal chain and rat ileum) showed the anti-histaminic and anti-spasmodic potential.
– Immunological / Anti-Malarial / Aerial Parts / Plasmodium berghei: Stem extract of T. purpurea showed in vitro antiplasmodial activity against chloroquine-sensitive and chloroquine-resistant strains of Plasmodium falcifarum. Stem extract yielded a new prenylated flavone, terpurinflavone, along with known compounds lanceolatin A, (- )-semiglabrin and lanceolatin B. The new compound showed the highest antiplasmodial activity. Study of an aqueous extract of aerial parts seeks to determine the effects on the immune system of P. berghei infected BALB/c mice.
– Larvicidal / Culex quinquefasciatus: Study evaluated the larvicidal activity of Tephrosia purpurea against late thrid or early fourth instar larvae of Culex quinquefasciatus. Results suggested 100% mortality and suggests an alternative pesticide that is biodegradable, more selective and less noxious.
– Pain and Inflammation Attenuation / Leaves: Study of different fractions of leaves of T. purpuea showed anti-inflammatory and analgesic activities using acetic-acid induced writhing and tail flick tests in rats and mice models.
– Gastroprotective and Inflammation Attenuation / Leaves: Study evaluated the antiulcer activity of a methanolic extract of T. purpurea aerial parts in pylorus ligated and ethanol induced ulcer model in wistar rats. Results showed antiulcerogenic as well as ulcer healing properties.
– Antihyperglycemic / Antioxidant / Seeds: Study evaluating an aqueous seed extract of T. purpurea showed potent antihyperglycemic and antioxidant effects in streptozotocin-induced diabetic rats.
– Root Glycosides in Treatment of Ulcerative Colitis: Study evaluated roots of Tephrosia purpurea in the treatment of ulcer and colic pain in ulcerative colitis model in mice. Results showed an aqueous extract fraction to yield a glycoside, 1, 4a, 7, 7a-tetrahydro-7-hydroxy-7-(hydroxymethyl)-1-(tetrahydro-3′,4′,5′-trihydroxy-6′-(hydroxymethyl)-2H-pyran-2′-yl oxy) cyclopenta (c) pyran-4-carboxylic acid. The glycoside was assumed responsible for the treatment effects on ulcerative colitis.
– Anticancer / MCF7 Cell Line: Study showed various fractions of Tephrosia purpurea and Ficus religiosa showed anticancer potential in the MCF7 cell line.