Family • Lamiaceae - Leucas zeylanica (Linn.) R. Br. - CEYLON SLITWORT - Zhou mian cao

Scientific names

Leucas zeylanica (Linn.) R. Br.
Leucas bancana Miq.
Phlomis zeylanica Linn.
Spermacoce denticulata Walp.

Common names

Guma-guma (Sul.)
Masibulan (Gad.)
Ceylon slitwort (Engl.)

Other vernacular names

BANGLADESH: Kusha, Shetadrone, Pai thung sa (Marma).
CHINESE: Zhou mian cao.

Guma-guma is an erect, annual, hairy herb growing to a height of 30 to 90 centimeters. Leaves are linear or elliptic-lanceolate, 5 to 7.5 centimeters long, blunt at the tip, and toothed at the margins. Whorls of many flowers are 1 to 1.5 centimeters in diameter. Calyx is 5 to 7 millimeters long, and obliquely turbinate, with minute teeth, erect or spreading horizontally.


Additional Sources and Suggested Readings

(1) Use of medicinal plants among tribes in Satpuda region of Dhule and Jalgaon districts of Maharashtra–An ethnobotanical survey / D L Jain et al / Indian Journ of Traditional Knowledge, Vol 9(1), Jan 2010, pp 152-157

(2) Antimicrobial Activity of Plants Collected from Serpentine Outcrops in Sri Lanka / Nishanta Rajakaruna et al / Pharmaceutical Biology, 2002, Vol. 40, No. 03, pp. 235–244

(3) Study on Essential Oil Obtained from the Seed of Leucas zeylanica / Tian Guang-hui, Liu Cun-fang et al / DOI: CNKI:SUN:AJSH.0.2009-02-016


(5) Leucas zeylanica (L.) R. Br. protects ethanol and hydrogen peroxide-induced oxidative stress on hepatic tissue of rats / Shahdat Hossain, Mijanur Rahman, Nusrat Fatima, Mozammel Haque, Jahirul Islam / International Current Pharmaceutical Journal, Vol 2, No 9 (2013)

– I n open grasslands at low altitudes in Nueva Viscaya and Bataan Provinces in Luzon; and in Panay and Mindanao (Lanao and Davao).
– Also occurs In tropical Asia to Malaya.


– On distillation, yields a small amount of essential oil.
– Decoction of herb boiled with soda solution emits a strong odor; when condensed, the vapor yields ammonia and a volatile alkaloid in the distillate.

– Considered a stimulant and antirheumatic.

Parts used
Leaves, flowers, roots.

– Herb has a bitter taste; used as flavoring or pot herb.
– In Bali, sometimes used as flavoring.

– Used for coughs, toothaches and abdominal pains.
– In China, used for coughs.
– In China and Malaya, poultice of leaves used for wounds and sores.
– Poultice of leaves also used for itches, headaches and vertigo.
– In Reunion, used as stimulant and antirheumatic.
– A decoction of leaves and Nigella seed or the fresh juice of tumeric and rice, used for ulceration.
– Juice of leaves used for headaches and colds.
– In Ceylon, plant used for mild fevers associated with indigestion; also, for pain caused by intestinal worms.
– Leaves used for itches.
– Bitter roots and bitter and pungent leaves used for skin diseases and for scabies.
– Infusion used as insecticide.
– In Malaysia, leaves taken as sedative and for wound healing. Entire plant rubbed on the abdomen after child-birth. Leaves used as anthelmintic.
– In India, used for fever, scorpion and snake bites. Leaves and flowers used for jaundice.
– In Sri Lanka, a principle vermifuge ingredient. Used for anorexia, flatulence, colic; in mixture, used to treat malaria.

Study Findings
• Antibacterial / Photoactivity: In a study of 32 plants species collected from serpentine (ultramafic) soils in Sri Lanka and screened for antimicrobial properties, L. zeylanica showed photo-mediated activity against S. aureus and B. subtilis. L. zeylanica showed population-level variation in photoactivity. Study suggests plants from serpentine environments may have altered antimicrobial activities compared to non-serpentine environments, and that attention is needed in deciding on the substrate and habitat when collecting plants to test for antimicrobial properties.
• Essential Oil / Antioxidant / Antibacterial: Study of essential oil showed the major components were: oleic acid, hexadecanoic acid, 1-octenen-3-oil, caryophyllene, etc. The essential oil showed scavenging antioxidant activity. Antibacterial activity showed inhibition of test bacterial growth, especially E coli and Salmonella enteritidis.
• Protection Against Ethanol and H2O2-induced Hepatic Oxidative Stress: Study of Leucaszeylanica showed protection against oxidative stress on hepatic tissue induced by exposure to ethanol and Fenton’s reagent. Results were attributed to the presence of antioxidant phytochemicals, including polyphenols and flavonoids.