Family • Oxalidaceae - Biophytum sensitivum (Linn.) DC - LITTLE TREE PLANT - Gan ying cao

Scientific names

Biophytum sensitivum (Linn.) DC
Oxalis sensitiva Linn.
Oxalis cunningiana Turcz.
Oxalis metziana Miquel ex Edgeworth ex Hook. f.

Other vernacular names

CHINESE: He cao, Xiu li cao.
INDONESIA: Daun kucingan, Krambilan, Kurang-kurang.
LAOS: Dok han.
NEPAL: Nagbeli
THAILAND: Chi yop tontaan, Krathuep yop, Khan rom.
VIETNAM: L[as] chue me, Chua me l[as] me, Ta lang.

Common names

Damong-bingkalat (Tag.)
Damong-huya (Bis.)
Guyanka (Sub.)
Hoya-hoya (P. Bis.)
Makahiyang-lalaki (Tag.)
Lubi-lubi (P. Bis.)
Mahinhin (Ilk.)
Makahia (Tag.)
Ning-ning (Sul.)
Life plant (Engl.)
Little tree plant (Engl.)
Gan ying cao (Chin.)

Damong-bingkalat is an unbranched herb with stems up to 30 centimeters in height but usually shorter. Leaves are pinnately compound, numerous, crowded at the apex of the stem, and 5 to 12 centimeters long, with 8 to 14 pairs of leaflets. Leaflets gradually increase in size upward, about 1.5 centimeters long or less, oblong to oblong-obovate, often somewhat curved. Flowers are many, crowded at the apices of the numerous peduncles. Sepals are subulate-lanceolate, striate, about 7 millimeters long. Petals are yellow. Fruit is a capsule, shorter than the persistent calyx.


– In grasslands and open thickets at low and medium altitudes, from northern Luzon to Mindanao and Sulu.
– Pantropic.


– Considered tonic, stimulant, stomachic, vulnerary.
– Seeds considered vulnerary.

Additional Sources and Suggested Readings

(1) Antioxidant potential of Biophytum sensitivum extract in vitro and in vivo / Guruvayoorappan C, Afira AH, Kuttan G. / J Basic Clin Physiol Pharmacol. 2006;17(4):255-67.

(2) Apoptotic Effect of Biophytum sensitivum on B16F-10 Cells and Its Regulatory Effects on Nitric Oxide and Cytokine Production on Tumor-Associated Macrophages / Girija Kuttan, PhD / Integrative Cancer Therapies, Vol. 6, No. 4, 373-380 (2007) / DOI: 10.1177/1534735407309484

(3) Leaf Extract From Life Plant Stimulates Insulin Secretion.(Biophytum sensitivum) / Diabetes Week / December 10, 2001

(4) Anti-metastatic effect of Biophytum sensitivum is exerted through its cytokine and immunomodulatory activity and its regulatory effect on the activation and nuclear translocation of transcription factors in B16F-10 melanoma cells / Guruvayoorappan C, Kuttan G / J Exp Ther Oncol. 2008;7(1):49-63.

(5) Antibacterial activity of leaf extracts of Biophytum sensitivum (L.) DC. / D.Natarajan et al /J. Pharm. Sci. & Res. Vol.2 (11), 2010,717-720

(6) Effect of Biophytum sensitivum on streptozotocin and nicotinamideinduced diabetic rats / Ananda Prabu K, Kumarappan CT et al / Asian Pacific Journal of Tropical Biomedicine, 31-35

(7) Anti-tumor activity of aqueous extract of Biophytum sensitivum Linn / V H Bhaskar and V Rajalakshmi / Annals of Biological Research, 2010, 1 (3) : 76-80

(8) Calcium Antagonistic Activity of Biophytum petersianum on Vascular Smooth Muscles of Wistar Rat / SIMÉNOU TITRIKOU, KWASHIE EKLU-GADEGBEKU et al / IJPT, July 2007, vol. 6, no. 2

(9) Biophytum sensitivum (L.) DC inhibits tumor cell invasion and metastasis through a mechanism involving regulation of MMPs, prolyl hydroxylase, lysyl oxidase, nm23, ERK-1, ERK-2, STAT-1, and proinflammatory cytokine gene expression in metastatic lung tissue. / Guruvayoorappan C, Kuttan G. / Integr Cancer Ther. 2008 Mar;7(1):42-50 / doi: 10.1177/1534735407313744.

(10) Biophytum sensitivum / Vernacular names / GLOBinMED

(11) Effect of Biophytum sensitivum on streptozotocin and nicotinamide- induced diabetic rats / Ananda Prabu K, Kumarappan CT, Sunil Christudas*, Kalaichelvan VK / Asian Pacific Journal of Tropical Biomedicine (2012) 31-35 / doi:10.1016/S2221-1691(11)60185-8


(13) ESTIMATION OF TOTAL FLAVONOIDS CONTENT (TFC) AND ANTI OXIDANT ACTIVITIES OF METHANOLIC WHOLE PLANT EXTRACT OF BIOPHYTUM SENSITIVUM LINN / Pallab Kalita, Barman K Tapan, Tapas K Pal, Ramen Kalita / Journal of Drug Delivery and Therapeutics, Vol 3, No 4, July-August 2013

(14) The antioxidative effects of some medicinal plants as hypoglycemic agents on chromosomal aberration and abnormal nucleic acids metabolism produced by diabetes stress in male adult albino rats / Sherifa H. Salah, Halima S. Abdou, Amal S. Abd El Azeem, E.A. Abdel-Rahim /Journal of Diabetes Mellitus, 1, 6-14/ . doi: 10.4236/jdm.2011.11002.

Biophytum sensitivum
Parts used
Seeds, roots, leaves.

• In the Philippines, powdered seeds applied as vulnerary.
• Decoction of roots used for gonorrhea and bladder stones.
• Bruised leaves applied to contusions.
• Plant decoction used for diabetes.
• Infusion of leaves used as expectorant.
• Powdered seeds applied to wounds and abscesses to facilitate suppuration.
• Root decoction used for gonorrhea and lithiasis.
• In Brazil, used as antiasthmatic; also used for scorpion bites.
• Used for tuberculosis.
• In India and Java, used for asthma and phthisis.
• In Nepalese folk medicine, used for diabetes.

Study Findings
• Anti-diabetic / Insulinotropic activity: A leaf extract study of BS showed a hypoglycemic effect with serum insulin levels showing a significant rise in treated animals. Results suggest a pancreatic mechanism for the hypoglycemic response, mediated through stimulation of synthesis and/or release of insulin from the beta cells of Langerhans.
Damong-bingkalat4• Anti-Oxidant / Insulinotropic Activity: BS was found to scavenge superoxide radicals and nitric oxide. Glutathione-S transferase and glutathione reductase increase while glutathione peroxidase decreased after administering the BS extract. Results indicate significant antioxidant activity in vitro and in vivo.
• Anti-Tumor / immunomodulatory activity: Extract of BS showed immunomodulatory and antitumor activity.
• Hypocholesterolemic: Study on the water extract of leaves of BS showed significant hypocholesterolemic effect.
• Apoptotic / Anti-tumor Effect: Study results suggest that regulation of proinflammatory cytokine production by tumor cells, tumor-associated macrophages, altered inducible NO synthase and RNA expressions by BS methanol extract induces apoptosis in B16F-10 melanoma cells.
• Antiinflammatory: Study showed all the extracts except the methanol extract of aerial parts, exhibited antiinflammatory activity; maximum inhibition was noted with the aqueous extracts.
• Immunomodulatory: Study of the effect of BS on cell-mediated immune response in normal and Erlich ascites tumor bearing mice showed immunomodulatory property of Biophytum sensitivum.
• Anti-Metastatic / Cytokine and Immunomodulatory Activity: Study showed B. sensitivum treatment could alter proinflammatory cytokine production and inhibit the activation and nuclear translocation of transcription factors in B16F-10 melanoma cells.
• Antibacterial: In a study of leaf extracts against human pathogenic bacterial strains (B subtilis, Staph aureus, Strep pneumonia, K pneumonia, S typhi, P vulgaris and E coli), all the extracts showed various levels of activity comparable with standard antibiotics.
• Antidiabetic: Study of aqueous solutions of BS leaf extract suggests a promising effect on STZ-nicotinamide-induced diabetes.
• Anti-Tumor: Study of aqueous extract of B. sensitivum against Dalton’s Ascitic Lymphoma-bearing Swiss albino mice exhibited significant antitumor activity.
• Hypotensive / Calcium Antagonistic Activity: Study showed the hypotensive effect of Biophytum petersianum which may result from inhibition of calcium influx via both voltage and receptor operated channels.
• Antimetastatic Effects: Study showed B. sensitivum exhibits antimetastatic effects through inhibition of invasion and motility. Results suggest that matrix metalloproteases (MMPs), prolyl hydroxylase, lysyl oxidase, nm23, ERKs, VEGF, STAT, and proinflammatory cytokines are critical regulators of the B sensitivum-mediated antimetastatic effect.
• Antidiabetic / Leaf Extract: Study investigated an aqueous solution of B. sensitivum leaf extract on normal and streptozotocin (STZ)-nicotinamide-induced diabetic rats. Results showed significant reduction of blood glucose and glycosylated hemoglobin levels, increase in hexokinase activity, decreased glucose-6-phosphatase, fructose-1,6-bisphosphatase activities in diabetic rats.
• Hypoglycemic / Leaf Extract: Study of leaf extract showed significant hypoglycemic effect, possibly due to pancreatic beta-cell stimulating action.
• Flavonoids / Antioxidant: Study of methanolic extract yielded flavonoids. Antioxidant activity was measured by DPPH scavenging activity and reducing power ability. Results showed dose dependent reducing capabilities.
• Chromosonal Aberrations in Diabetic Rats / Antioxidant: Chromosomal analysis showed that diabetic rats had significantly increased chromosomal aberrations compared to normal healthy controls. Animals treated with methanolic extracts showed significant improvements in the frequency of chromosomal aberrations, attributed to the induction of flavonoids by the methanol extracts.