Family • Amaranthaceae - Achyranthes aspera L. - PRICKLY CHAFF FLOWER - Tu niu xi

Scientific names

Achyranthes aspera Linn.
Desmochaeta repens Llanos

Other vernacular names

CHINESE: Dao gou cao, Dao geng cao, He ye tu niu xi.
HINDI: Latkana, Latjira, Chirchita.
PAKISTANI: Puthkanda.
SANSKRIT: Apamarga.
TAMIL: Naayuruvi, Naayuruvi vaer.

Common names

Angud (Pamp.) Lopo-lopo (Bis.)
Deket-deket (Ilk.) Niknikitan (Bon.)
Dokot-dokot (Tag.) Ragragadi (Ilk.)
Garem (Ilk.) Saramo (Bis.)
Guela (Neg.) Aparmarga (India)
Hangod (Tag.) Chaff flower (Engl.)
Hangor (Tag.) Devil’s horsewhip (Engl.)
Hangot  (Tag.) Prickly chaff flower (Engl.)
Higad-higad (Ilk.) Tu niu xi (Chin.)
Libay (Tag.)

Hangod is a coarse, rambling or erect, distantly branched annual herb, 0.5 to 2 meters high. Leaves are oblong-ovate to elliptic or obovate, 6 to 15 centimeters long, pointed at both ends, more or less hairy, though often nearly smooth. Spikes are rigid, elongated and 10 to 15 centimeters long. Flowers are green and about 5 millimeters in length. Sepals 4 or 5, filaments connate at the base, the stamens and staminodes square toothed or fimbricate, pale purplish. Buds point upwards but when the flowers open, they spread out from the sides. Seeds are oblong, brown, 2 to 3 millimeters long. Fruits utricles are oblong or ovoid, indehiscent.


– Weed found throughout the Philippines at low and medium altitudes, in open, waste places.
– Pantropic weed, probably introduced into the Philippines.

Parts utilized
Entire plant.
Collect from May to October.
Rinse, macerate, sun-dry.


• Phytochemical screening of an ethanol extract yielded triterpenoids, saponins, alkaloids (betaine, achyranthine) and steroids and major constituents.
• Contains triterpenoid and saponins.
• Fruit contains a large percentage of alkaline ash containing potash.
• Seeds contain saponins A and B, glycosides of oleanolic acid.
• Study yielded bioactive compounds: alkaloids, glycosides, terpenoids, steroids, flavonoids, and tannins.
• Plant is rich in metals Fe, Cu, Ca and Na.
• Study of powdered air-dried seeds yielded the presence of alkaloids, saponins, glycosides (especially C-glycosides), flavonoids, proteins, amino acids and terpenoids.
• Methanolic extract of roots and leaves showed an oleanolic acid content of 0.37% and 0.13% w/w respectively.


• According to Ayurveda, bitter, pungent, heating laxative, stomachic, carminative.
• Considered slightly cooling, antipyretic-diuretic.
• Aids lymphatic circulation, strengthens musculature, improves blood circulation.
• Seeds and leaves considered emetic.
• Studies have reported antibacterial, antitumor, anti-inflammatory, abortifacient, antidepressant, anxiolytic, and antinociceptive properties.

Edibility / Culinary / Nutrition
– Leaves and seeds are edible.
– Leaf used as potherb.
– Seeds rich in protein.

• In the Philippines, decoction of roots and leaves used as diuretic.
• Sap said to be useful in dissipating corneal opacities.
• Used for cold with fever, heat stoke with headache, malaria, dysentery.
• Used for urinary tract lithiasis, chronic nephritis, edema, and rheumatic arthralgia (joint pain).
• Ash, with honey, used to relieve coughs.
• In India roots macerated in water, are applied to relieve the pain of scorpion stings.
• Juice of leaves used for dysentery.
• Infusion of root used as mild astringent for bowel complaints.
• Seeds and leaves used as emetic.
• In Ayurveda, used for treating vomiting, bronchitis, heart problems, hemorrhoids itching, abdominal pains, ascites, etc.
• Yunani healers have used stems, leaves, and fruits for piles, dropsy, pneumonia, kidney stones, snake bites, gonorrhea, dysentery.
• In India, used as abortifacient. Also, used as stomachic and laxative. Used by various tribes as purgative, diuretic, for piles, boils, skin eruptions and treating snake bites.
• In Western India, juice of plant applied to relieve toothache. Ashes with honey given to relive cough. Root given at bedtime to relieve night blindness, and rubbed into a pasted with water and used as eye salve for corneal opacities.
• In Western Ghats, seeds used for treating jaundice
• Used in piles, inflammation of the internal organs and enlarged cervical glands.
• Juice is applied to relieve toothache.
• Decoction of leaves used in treatment of diarrhea and dysentery.
• Poultice of leaves used for rabies, hysteria, insect and snake bites.

• Ash from burnt plant, mixed with mustard oil and pinch of salt, and used as powder for cleaning teeth.
• Dried twigs or fresh piece of root used as toothbrush.
• Ash is a rich source of potash. Used for washing clothes.

Study Findings
• Ethnomedicinal Gynecological Use in Uttar Pradesh, India: The study records the ethno-medicinal use of A. aspera in rural areas in India: abortion, inducing labor pains, expelling dead fetus, expelling placental remains, stopping excessive bleeding, dysmenorrhea, amenorrhea, etc.
• Antifertility / Abortifacient: Methanolic leaves extract of AA showed significant abortifacient activity and increased, pituitary and uterine weights in ovariectimized rats. Its anti-fertility activity presents a potential option for population explosion.
• Nephroprotective: Study evaluating the nephroprotective role of the methanolic extract of A aspera against lead acetate-induced nephrotoxicity in rats showed complete amelioration of the lead-induced renal damage.
• Antiinflammatory / Leaves: Study evaluated the anti-inflammatory activity of ethanolic extract fractions on carrageenan-induced rat paw edema. Results showed various fractions with anti-inflammatory activity, with the ethyl acetate fraction showing most potent activity.

Additional Sources and Suggested Readings

(1) Chirchita or Onga (Achyranthes aspera var. perphyristachya Hook. F.) / Pankaj Oudhia

(2) Achyranthes aspera – L. / Devil’s Horsewhip / Plants For A Future

(3) Effect of achyranthes aspera L. on fetal abortion, uterine and pituitary weights, serum lipids and hormones/ Workineh Shibeshi et al / Afr Health Sci. 2006 June; 6(2): 108–112.

(4) Post-coital antifertility activity of Achyranthes aspera Linn. root / VASUDEVA Neeru et al / Journal of ethnopharmacology • 2006, vol. 107, no2, pp. 179-181

(5) Effect of alcohol extract of Achyranthes aspera Linn. on acute and subacute inflammation / T. Vetrichelvan et al / Phytotherapy Research, Volume 17 Issue 1, Pages 77 – 79 / DOI 10.1002/ptr.1070

(6) Anti-inflammatory activity of roots of Achyranthes aspera / S Vijaya Kumar et al / Summary
Pharmaceutical Biology, October 2009, Vol. 47, No. 10, Pages 973-97

(7) Experimental Studies of Achyranthes aspera Preventing Nephrotoxicity Induced by Lead in Albino Rats /
Thangavel Jayakumar et al / Journal of Health Science, 55(5), 701-708 (2009)

(8) Wound Healing and Antioxidant Activity of Achyranthes aspera / S Edwin et al / Summary
Pharmaceutical Biology, 2008, Vol. 46, No. 12, Pages 824-828

(9) Antioxidant and antibacterial activity of Achyranthes aspera : An in vitro study / Abi Beaulah G, Mohamed Sadiq A and Jaya Santhi R* / Annals of Biological Research, 2011, 2 (5) :662-670

(10) Diuretic activity of whole plant extract of Achyranthes aspera Linn / Saurabh Srivastav*, Pradeep Singh, K. K. Jha, Garima Mishra1, Shruti Srivastava, M.S. Karchuli and R. L. Khosa / European Journal of Experimental Biology, 2011, 1 (2):97-102

(11) Spermatotoxicity of a protein isolated from the root of Achyranthes aspera: a comparative study with gossypol / Mohanan Nair Mohana Kumari Anuja, Ramachandran Nair Saraswathy Amma Nithya, Chellam Rajamanickam, Indira Madambath / Contraception, Volume 82, Issue 4 , Pages 385-390, October 2010

(12) Assessment of Antiobesity Potential of Achyranthes aspera Linn. Seed / Neerja Rani, Surendra Kumar Sharma, and Neeru Vasudeva / Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine
Volume 2012 (2012) / doi:10.1155/2012/715912

(13) Preventive and curative effects of Achyranthes aspera Linn. extract in experimentally induced nephrolithiasis / Anshu Aggarwal, Chanderdeep Tandon et al / Indian Journal of Experimental Biology, Vol 50, March 2012, pp 201-208.

(14) Effect of aqueous extracts of Achyranthes aspera Linn. on experimental animal model for inflammation / Uma A Bhosale, Radha Yegnanarayan, Prachi Pophale, Rahul Somani /Ancient Sci Life 2012;31:202-6 / DOI: 10.4103/0257-7941.107362

(15) Hepatoprotective Potency of Achyranthes aspera: An In-vivo Study / Manjunatha BK*, Abhilash 2, Vinay Hegde, Suchitra M N, Vidya S M / Int.J.Pharm.Phytopharmacol.Res. 2012, 1(6): 387-390

(16) Impact of Achyranthes aspera L. on Protein Profile in Impaired Wound Models / C C Barua*, A Talukdar, S A Begum, A K Handique, G K Handique, J D Roy, B Buragohain / Indo Global Journal of Pharmaceutical Sciences, 2011, Vol 1, Issue 1: Page No. 13-24

(17) Studies on Antibacterial Effect of Apamarga (A. aspera) on Multi-Drug Resistant Clinical Isolates / Patil Usha and Sharma Mahesh Chandra / Int. J. Res. Ayurveda Pharm. 4(2), Mar-Apr 2013

(18) Anti-proliferative and anti-cancer properties of Achyranthes aspers: specific inhibitory activity against pancreatic cancer cells / Subbarayan et al / Journal of Ethnopharmacology, 2010;13(1):78-82.



(21) Evaluation of some minerals and trace elements in Achyranthes aspera Linn. / Aparna Saraf* and Aruna Samant / International Journal of Pharma Sciences, Vol. 3, No. 3 (2013): 229-233

(23) Study of central nervous system depressant and behavioral activity of an ethanol extract of Achyranthes aspera (Agadha) in different animal models / Uma A Bhosale, Radha Yegnanarayan, Prachi D Pophale, Mandar R Zambare, Rahul S Somani / Int J App Basic Med Res 2011;1:104-8 / DOI: 10.4103/2229-516X.91154

(24) Antibiofilm and quorum sensing inhibitory activity of Achyranthes aspera on cariogenic Streptococcus mutans: An in vitro and in silico study / K. Murugan, K. Sekar, S. Sangeetha, S. Ranjitha, and S. A. Sohaibani / Pharmaceutical Biology, June 2013, Vol. 51, No. 6 , Pages 728-736 / (doi:10.3109/13880209.2013.764330)

(25) Antibacterial Activity of Medicinal Plants against Pathogens from Extracts of Achyranthes Aspera /
R Pandey*, Sambasivarao Y and Gurumurthy / Med Aromat Plants 2:135 / doi: 10.4172/2167-0412.1000135

(26) Screening the Anti-Cancerous Efficacy of Achyranthes aspera Linn. using Animal Model Swiss Albino Mice / Geetha. P, Narayanan. K.R* and A.G. Murugesan / J Biomed Sci and Res., Vol 2 (4), 2010,231-235

(27) Preliminary research results on application of a local medicinal herb (Achyranthes aspera) as dietary supplement to sows to prevent diarrhea in piglets / Pham Hong Son, Pham Quang Trung, Tran Quang Vui and Dinh Thi Bich Lan / Livestock Research for Rural Development 15 (7) 2003

(28) Investigation of Antifungal Activity of Puthkanda Achyranthes aspera: A wild medicinal Herb of Pakistan / Saba Riaz, Laiba Tehreem, Sana Khalid / Investigation of Antifungal Activity of Puthkanda Achyranthes aspera (Paperback)

(29) Assessment of Antiobesity Potential of Achyranthes aspera Linn. Seed / Neerja Rani, Surendra Kumar Sharma, and Neeru Vasudeva / Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, Volume 2012 (2012) / http://dx.doi.org/10.1155/2012/715912

(30) Preventive and curative effects of Achyranthes aspera Linn. extract in experimentally induced nephrolithiasis / Anshu Aggarwal, Surinder K Singla, Manish Gandhi and Chanderdeep Tandon / Indian Journal of Experimental Biology, Vol 50, March 2012, pp 201-208

(31) Antiinflammatory activity of fractionated extracts of Achyranthes aspera Linn leaves / Amrutia Jay N, Jagir patel, Moses Rajan Semuel and Shabaraya A. R. / Journal of Applied Pharmaceutical Science 01 (08); 2011: 188-190

(32) Phytochemical investigation of seeds of Achyranthes aspera Linn. / Dinesh Reddy Somagari, Karisetty Basappa, Srikanth Rolla, Pothuganti Jithendar, Rajashekar. B / Journal of Pharmacognosy and Phytochemistry 2014; 3 (1): 190-193

(33) Anti-herpes virus activities of Achyranthes aspera: An Indian ethnomedicine, and its triterpene acid Hemanta Mukherjee, Durbadal Ojha, Paromita Bag, Himanshu Singh Chandel, Souvik Bhattacharyya, Tapan K. Chatterjee, Pulok K. Mukherjee, Sekhar Chakraborti, Debprasad Chattopadhyay / Microbiological Research, Volume 168, Issue 4, 6 May 2013, Pages 238–244

(34) Hypolipidemic Efficacy of Achyranthes aspera on Lipid Profile in Sesame oil fed Rats / Dr. S. Krishnakumari, Priya. K / Ancient Science of Life Vol : XXV (3&4) January, February, March, April, May, June 2006

(35) Anti-proliferative and anti-cancer properties of Achyranthes aspera: specific inhibitory activity against pancreatic cancer cells. / Pochi R Subbarayan, Malancha Sarkar, Stefania Impellizzeri, Francisco Raymo, Balakrishna L Lokeshwar, Pradeep Kumar, Ram P Agarwal, Bach Ardalan / J Ethnopharmacol 2010 Aug 9;131(1):78-82.

• Post-coital antifertility activity of Achyranthes aspera Linn. root: Study suggests the ethanol extract possess both anti-implantation and abortifacient activity. It also exhibited estrogenic activity.
• Larvicidal activity: All extracts showed moderate larvicidal effects against A aegypti and C quinquefasciatus. It investigates the potential of crude extracts of medicinal herbs as a measure to control the vector of dengue and lymphatic filariasis.
• Immunomodulatory Activity: Extract of AA was found to enhance the induction of ovalbumin-specific humoral antibody response in mice on intraperitoneal extract injection along with OVA. Results confirm the immunostimulatory properties of A aspera.
• Anti-Inflammatory activity: Study results demonstrate promising anti-inflammatory activity against both acute and chronic inflammation. Also, inhibition of prostaglandins and bradykinins may play a role.
• Wound Healing / Antioxidant: Study showed the ethanol and aqueous extracts of Achyranthes aspera showed wound healing activity in the wound models used and also exhibited good antioxidant effect by the prevention of free radicals. Results justify the inclusion of the plant in the management of cuts and wound healing.
• Antimicrobial / Anti-Inflammatory: Study showed inhibition of S aureus, B subtilis, E coli and Aspergillus terreus.
• Antiviral / Anti-carcinogenic: Study showed significant inhibitory effects on the Epstein-Barr virus antigen induced by a tumor-promoter in Raji cells. In the in vivo two stage mouse skin carcinogenesis test, the methanolic extract exhibited a pronounced anticarcinogenic effect.
• Antioxidant / Antibacterial: Study of various extracts of root, stem, leaf, and inflorescence was evaluated by DPPH assay and antibacterial activity against E. coli and Staph aureus. All extracts exhibited antioxidant and antibacterial activities which were concentration and time dependent. Study yielded bioactive compounds: alkaloids, glycosides, terpenoids, steroids, flavonoids, and tannins.
• Diuretic: A methanolic extract exhibited significant diuretic activity, with less effect than furosemide. Results support its ethnopharmacologic use as a diuretic.
• Spermatotoxicity: A 58-kDa protein was isolated from the roots and studied for spermatotoxic effects. Treated mice showed significant spermatotoxicity, exhibiting spermicidal activity even after proteolysis.
• Antiobesity / Seed: Study evaluated the antiobesity effect of an ethanol extract in in vitro and in vivomodels. Results showed inhibition of pancreatic amylase and lipase activity. There was suppression in body, retroperitoneal adipose tissue, and liver weights, and reduction in serum parameters, viz. total cholesterol, total triglycerides, and LDL. The antiobesity effects may be partly mediated by a delay of intestinal absorption of dietary fat through the inhibition of pancreatic amylase and lipase activity.
• Nephrolithiasis / Nephroprotective: Study evaluated the efficacy of A. aspera in preventing and reducing the growth of calcium oxalate stones in an ethylene glycol induced nephrolithiatic model in hyperoxaluria-induced rats. Treatment showed A. aspera maintained renal functioning and reducing renal injury, with reduced changes in renal architecture and decrease in size of crystals.
• Anti-Inflammatory / Leaves and Whole Plant: Aqueous extracts of leaves and whole plant of A. aspera exhibited promising anti-inflammatory activity attributed to flavonoids, alkaloids, saponins and triterpenoids phytoconstituents.
• Hepatoprotective: Study an ethanolic extract from seeds showed a hepatoprotective effect in carbon-tetrachloride induced liver damage in rats. Data was comparable to silymarin.
• Wound Healing / Protein Impact: Study evaluated the comparative protein profile of granulation tissues of burn, diabetic, and immunocompromised patients treated with an ointment of A. aspera methanol extract. A. aspera treatment induced expression of a particular protein in diabetic and immunocompromised wound models suggesting the protein could play a key role in A aspera mediated wound healing in the two models.
• Antibacterial / Multi-Drug Resistant Isolates: Study evaluated the antimicrobial effect of crude extracts on clinical isolates of multidrug resistant bacteria. Results conclude A. aspera might be useful against multidrug resistance in pathogens of clinical importance.
• Anti-Proliferative and Anti-Cancer / Pancreatic Cancer: Study evaluated a methanol leaf extract on human cancer cells in vitro. The leaf extract exhibited time and dose-dependent cytotoxicity on several tumor cells, with the pancreatic cells showed more sensitivity. The extract selectively suppressed the transcription of metalloproteases, inhibitors of MMPs, and angiogenic factors. Results suggest potent antiproliferative constituents with specific activity against pancreatic cancer.
• Antipyretic / Leaves: Study evaluated a methanol extract of leaves for anti-pyretic activity in experimental animal models. The extract exhibited significant anti-pyretic activity in all test doses compared to the control group.
• Antifungal: An ethanol extract of leaves showed elevated antifungal activity against C. kefyr, Cryptococcus neoformans, Aspergillus niger and Aspergillus flavus. A methanol extract showed higher activity against C. neoformans and A. flavus. A study on methanol extract of seeds of Achyranthes aspera showed 95% inhibition of growth of Aspergillus niger.
• Antidepressant / Anxiolytic: Study evaluated an ethanol extract of A. aspera for depressant effects on the central nervous system and behavioral effects. Phytoanalysis yielded triterpenoids, saponins, alkaloids (betane, achyranthine) and steroids as major constituents. Results showed decreased locomotor activity, production of muscle relaxation, and anxiolytic activity. The CNS depressant effect and anxiolytic activity were comparable to diazepam.
• Anticariogenic / Antibiofilm Preventive Medicine: Study evaluated A. aspera for its potential to inhibit growth and biofilm formation by cariogenic isolate Streptococcus mutans as an alternative means of caries management by quorum quenching (QQ). Study yielded anticaries bioactive compounds with possible QQ ability and a potential for use as anticaries drug leads and antibiofilm preventive medicine.
• Antibacterial / Leaf and Stem: Study evaluated organic extracts of both leaf and stem parts for antibacterial activities against multi-drug resistance organisms, viz., Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Proteus mirabilis, and Enterococcus faecalis.
• Anti-Cancer Activity : Study evaluated the anticancer efficiency of A. aspera in mineral oil induced cancer in Swiss albino mice. Results showed the ether extract at 3 mg/ml concentration is very effective in reducing cancer symptoms.
• Prevention of Diarrhea in Piglets : Study showed “co xuoc” supplementation to sows decreased diarrhea prevalence in piglets, increased their growth rate but decreased litter size, with no apparent effect on the immune response or gut microbial flora.
• Antiobesity / Seeds: Study evaluated the antiobesity effect of ethanol extract of Achyranthes aspera seed in in vivo and in vitro models. Results showed antiobesity effects of EAA in high-fat diet treated mice which may be partly mediated through delaying of intestinal absorption of dietary fat by inhibition of pancreatic amylase and lipase activity.
• Anti-Urolithiasis: Study evaluated the efficacy of AA extract of roots in preventing and reducing the growth of calcium oxalate stones in ethylene glycol induced nephrolithiatic model in rats. Results showed decrease changes in the architecture of renal tissue and also decreased size of crystals resulting in quick expulsion.
• Anti-Herpes / Oleanolic Acid: Study evaluated the antiviral potential of a methanolic extract of A. aspera and one of its pure compound oleanolic acid (OA) against herpes simplex virus types 1 and 2. Results showed the ME to have weak anti-herpes virus activity while the OA exhibited potent antiherpes virus activity against both HSV 1 and HSV 2.
• Hypolipidemic: Study evaluated the antihyperlipidemic effect of an aqueous extract of A. aspera in experimental rats fed with an atherogenic diet containing sesame oil. Results showed amelioration of hypercholesterolemia probably through decrease of exogenous cholesterol absorption and increasing the endogenous cholesterol conversion to bile acid.
• Silver Nanoparticles / Antibacterial: Study reports the synthesis of silver nanoparticles using A. aspera plant extract embedded in chitosan (CS) biopolymer. The biologically synthesized nanoparticles exhibited tremendous antibacterial activity against E. coli and S. aureus.
• Anti-Proliferative and Anti-Cancer Properties/ Inhibitory Activity against Pancreatic Cancer Cells: Study investigated the anti-proliferative properties of methanol extract of A. aspera leaves on human cancer cells in vitro. The LE showed time and dose dependent cytotoxicity on several tumor cells. Compared to colon, breast, lung, and prostate cancer cells, pancreatic cancer cells significantly showed more sensitivity. Preliminary mechanistic studies suggested LE selectively suppressed the transcription of metalloproteases, inhibitors of MMPs and angiogenic factors.