Family • Lamiaceae - Balbas-pusa - Orthosiphon aristatus (Blume) Miq. - CAT'S WHISKER - Mao xu cao

Scientific names

Orthosiphon aristatus (Blume) Miq.
Ocimum aristatum Blume
Orthosiphon stamineus Benth.

Other vernacular names

CHINESE: Mao xu cao.
THAI: Yaa-nuat-maeo.

Common names

Balbas-pusa (Tag.)
Kabling-gubat (Tag.)
Kabling-parang (Tag.)
Cat’s whisker (Engl.)
Indian kidney tea (Engl.)
Java tea (Engl.)
Kidney tea (Engl.)

Kabling-gubat is a slender, smooth or hairy undershrub, 30 to 60 centimeters high. Leaves in distant pairs, narrowed into the stalk, ovate, 5 to 10 centimeters long, pointed at both ends, coarsely toothed at the margins. Flowers are borne in very lax racemes. Calyx is bell-shaped, with a naked throat and two slender lower teeth. Corolla is 2.5 centimeters long, smooth, white or purplish, very slender in the tube, and thrice as long as the calyx. Nutlets are oblong and compressed.


– In thickets, at low and medium altitudes in Cagayan, Isabela, Nueva Ecija, Pampanga, Bulacan, and Rizal Provinces in Luzon; and in Coron.
– Also occurs in India through Malaya to tropical parts of Australia.


Additional Sources and Suggested Readings

(1) Antihypertensive actions of methylripariochromene A from Orthosiphon aristatus, an indonesian traditional medicinal plant / MATSUBARA T; BOHGAKI T et al / Biological & pharmaceutical bulletin / Oct 1999, vol. 22, no10, pp. 1083-108

(2) Three Indonesian medicinal plants were studied for their biologically active constituents /

(3) Chemical Specification of Orthosiphon aristatus (Blume) Miq. / Duangpen Pattamodilok et al / Medicinal Plant Research Institute, Department of Medical Sciences, Nonthaburi 11000, Thailand.

(4) Orthosiphon Versus Placebo in Nephrolithiasis with Multiple Chronic Complaints: A Randomized Control Trial / Amorn Premgamone et al / eCAM 2009 6(4):495-501; doi:10.1093/ecam/nem141

(5) Chronic toxicity test of Orthosiphon aristatus (Bl.) miq.extract / Bulletin of Department of Medical Sciences 1999; 41(1): 41-54 / Medicinal Plant Research Institute, Department of Medical Sciences / Division of Clinical Pathology, Department of Medical Sciences, Tiwanond Road, Nonthaburi11000

(6) Hepatoprotective Activity of “Orthosiphon stamineus” on Liver Damage Caused by Paracetamol in Rats / C. Maheswari, R.Maryammal and R. Venkatanarayanan / Jordan Journal of Biological Sciences, Vol 1, Number 3, Pages 105 -108, September. 2008

(7) Indonesian Medicinal Plants. XXIII.1) Chemical Structures of Two New Migrated Pimarane-type Diterpenes, Neoorthosiphols A and B, and Suppressive Effects on Rat Thoracic Aorta of Chemical Constituents Isolated from the Leaves of Orthosiphon aristatus (Lamiaceae) / Kazuyoshi Ohashi et al / Chem. Pharm. Bull. 48(3) 433—435 (2000)

(8) Antioxidant and Anti-Inflammatory Effects of Orthosiphon aristatus and Its Bioactive Compounds / Chin-Lin Hsu et al / J. Agric. Food Chem., 2010, 58 (4), pp 2150–2156 / DOI: 10.1021/jf903557c

(9) Qualitative and Quantitative Analysis of the Phenolic Constituents from Orthosiphon aristatus. / Sumaryono W, Proksch P, Wray V, Witte L, Hartmann T. / Planta Med. 1991 Apr;57(2):176-80.


(11) Effect of Orthospihon aristatus Extract as Histamine Antagonist on Tracheal Chain of Guinea Pig / Nantaya Chanarat et al / Bull Chiang Mai Assoc Med Sci, Vol 30, Suppl No 1, 1997

(12) Antihypertensive actions of methylripariochromene A from Orthosiphon aristatus, an Indones / T Matsubara, T Bohgaki, M Watarai, H Suzuki, K Ohashi, H Shibuya / Biol Pharm Bull (1999) 22: 1083-8.


Parts utilized

– Leaves contain a high percentage of potassium salts (0.738 gm in 100 grams of fresh leaves.
– From dried leaves, a small amount of volatile oil and a bitter alkaloid, orthosiphonin.
– Studies yielded flavonoids, carbohydrates, tannins, saponins, phenols, and terpenoids.
– Phytochemical screening yielded twenty compounds: nine lipophilic flavones, two flavonol glycosides, and nine caffeic acid derivatives. Caffeic acid derivatives included the major compounds rosmarinic acid and 2,3-dicaffeoyltartaric acid.

Considered anti-allergic, anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial, diuretic and hypoglycemic.

– Leaves used for gout and renal disorders.
– Also used for its diuretic effect.
– Poultice of leaves or chewed leaves stuffed onto painful tooth.
– In Java, leaves made into tea for treatment of diseases of the kidney and bladder.
– In South East Asia and Australia, frequently used for renal inflammation, kidney stones and dysuria.
– In Holland and France, reported use for treatment of genitourinary diseases.
– In Malaysia, traditionally used for bladder catarrh, diabetes, kidney diseases, for hypertension and as diuretic.

Java Tea is derived from Orthosiphon aristatus, touted for its diuretic action, kidney flushing benefits for kidney and bladder stones.

Study Findings
• Antihypertensive / Methylripariochromene: Methylripariochromene A (MRC), isolated from the leaves of OA showed blood pressure lowering effect and a vasodilating action, decrease cardiac output and diuretic action. It supports the traditional use of the plant for hypertension treatment.
• Na+,K+-ATPase Inhibition: In the study of ten Thai indigenous medicinal plants, O aristatus showed high potent inhibitory activity.
• Inhibition of Smooth Muscle Contraction: Three Indonesian medicinal plants were studied for their biologically active constituents. Three benzochromenes and four isopimarane-type diterpenes isolated from the leaves of Orthoshiphon aristatus were shown to exhibit inhibitory effects on smooth muscle contractions caused by several stimulants
• Pimarane-type Diterpenes / Suppressive Effect on Thoracic Aortic Contraction: Study isolated pimarane-type diterpenes, neoorthosiphols A and B, and other known compounds from the water decoction of leaves of O. aristatus. The compounds exhibited a suppressive effect on contractile responses in rat thoracic aorta.
• Diuretic: O. stamineus extract exhibited dose-dependent diuretic activity with a significantly increased excretion of K. There was also slight increase of BUN, creatinine and blood glucose levels, although statistically significant when compared to control , the levels were considered within normal range. Although less potent than furosemide and HCTZ, care should be taken in its consumption because of alterations in kidney parameters.
• Nephrolitihiasis Study : In a randomized control trial of Orthosiphon versus placebo, no statistically significant difference was found.
• Hepatoprotective : A study on the methanol extract of leaves of Orthosiphon stamineus against paracetamol-induced hepatotoxicity showed treatment with OS extract brought back the altered biochemical markers in a dose-dependent manner suggesting hepatoprotective activity. Study showed dose-dependent in vivo hepatoprotective activity of Et-F on liver injury induced by CCl4 in mice.
• Diuretic / Hypouricemic : A study on the methanol extract of OS showed significantly increased excretion of sodium and potassium excretion in a pattern comparable to hydrochlorothiazide. It also showed reduced serum urate level in hyperuricemic rats. Study provides evidence towards a diuretic and hypouricemic effect in rats.
• Antioxidant / Anti-Inflammatory : A study results showed the ethanolic extract and its bioactive compound, ursolic acid, suppress LPS-induced NO and PGE2 production by inhibiting ROS generation, along with reducing expression of iNOS and COX-2 in RAW 264.7 cells.
• Radical Scavenging Activity / Flavonoid : Study concludes a correlation between flavonoid content and radical scavenging activity. In the study, F obovata, D lobbiana and O aristatus exhibited the highest free radical scavenging activity.
• No Diuretic Effect / Double-Blind Placebo-Controlled Study: In a study of four traditional Vietnamese herbal remedies (Z mays, I cylindrica, Plantago major, O stamineus) claiming to increase diuresis, no diuretic effect was seen in a placebo-controlled double-blind crossover model.
• Antioxidant / Hepatoprotective : Study showed dose-dependent in vivo hepatoprotective activity of Et-F on liver injury induced by CCl4 in mice. An n-butanol fraction showed higher in vitro antioxidant activity on FRAP assay than others in the DPPH assay. Results show O. aristatus is a potential source of natural antioxidants and hepatoprotective agents.
• Nephroprotective: Study in rats investigated the nephroprotective effect of O. stamineus in gentamicin-induced renal damage. Lab parameters were improved and the extent of renal damage was decreased by a methanolic extract of O. stamineus.
• Histamine Antagonist / Anti-Asthma: Study showed Oa exhibited bronchodilator and antihistamine action as theophylline did. Results propose several mechanisms of actions: chemical constituents that might stimulate adenyl cyclase that stimulates increase cAMP production from ATP, with consequent vasodilatation and bronchodilation. extract may inhibit phosphodiesterase with consequent increase in cAMP extract could be a histamine antagonist, or anticholinergic activity.
• Anti-Inflammatory: Study of leaf extracts showed anti-inflammatory activity. The flavonoid rich chloroform extract fraction containing sinensetin, eupatorin, and 3′-hydroxy-5,6,7,4′-tetramethoxyflavone, significantly reduced rat hind paw edema, NO, and decreased dye leakage. Results suggest the anti-inflammatory effects may be due to the presence of flavonoid compounds affecting the NO pathway.
• Antihelmintic: Study evaluated the efficacy of O. aristatus aqueous crude extract as anthelmintic.Results showed effective control of swine parasites with decreased number of worm eggs and reduced number of adult worms.
• Antihypertensive / Methylripariochromene A : Study isolated methylripariochromene A (MRC) from the leaves of O. aristatus and tested on hypertensive related pharmacological efficacy. Results showed MRC possesses blood pressure lowering property i.e. vasodilating, decrease in cardiac output and diuretic action.
• Antioxidant / Toxicity Study: Study evaluated the antioxidant activity and potential toxicity of a 50% methanolic extract of leaves after acute and subchronic administration in rats. Results showed good superoxide radical scavenging, hydroxyl radical scavenging, ferrous ion chelating, and antilipid peroxidation activities. No mortality or any signs of toxicity was detected in the acute and subchronic toxicity studies.
Toxicity Study
• Chronic Toxicity Test : A study on the chronic toxicity of water extract of Orthosiphon aristatus on Wistar rats showed that high doses of the extract caused a reduction of serum sodium levels in all extract-treated groups and increase alkaline phosphatase level and incidence of hydrocalyx in male rats, therefore advising that the prolonged use of OA should be avoided.

Tea, powders, extracts in the cybermarket.