Family • Scrophulariaceae - Scoparia dulcis Linn. - SWEET BROOMWEED - Zhu zai cao

Scientific names

Scoparia dulcis Linn.
Scoparia grandiflora
Scoparia ternata
Capraria dulcis
Gratiola micrantha

Other vernacular names

BENGALI: Bon dhonya.
BRAZIL: Vassourinha.
CHINA: Zhu zai cao.
HINDI: Mithi patti, Ghoda tulsi.
SPANISH: Escobilla, Escobilla amarga.
TAMIL: Sarakkotthini.

Common names

Isisa (Ilk.)
Kabug (C. Bis.
Mala-anis (Pamp.)
Saang-kabayo (Tag.)
Sampalokan (Tag.)
Tachin-karnero (Iv.)
Silhigop (Bis.)
Bitterbroom (Engl.)
Broomweed (Engl.)
Licorice weed (Engl.)
Sweetbroom (Engl.)
Sweet broom weed (Engl.)

Mala-anis is an erect, much branched, smooth, herbaceous, or half-woody plant 25 to 80 centimeters in height. Leaves are opposite and whorled, lanceolate to elliptic or oblanceolate, 0.5 to 2 centimeters long, pointed at both ends and narrowed below the short stalk, and toothed in the margins. Flowers are white, small, very numerous, and in pairs; their stalks slender, and 1 centimeter long or less. Sepals are 4 or 5, imbricate, corolla rotate, 4-fid, the throat bearded, lobes subequal, white stamens 4, subequal. Capsules are ovoid or rounded, 2 to 3 millimeters in diameter.


– Ubiquitous weed throughout the Philippines in settled areas at low to medium altitudes along roadsides, sides of ditches, and other more or less shaded and moist places.
– Native or tropical America.
– Now pantropic.

• When chewed, bitter at first, later sweet.
• Sweet and has cooling nature.
• Considered antipyretic, diuretic, analgesic, antiinflammatory, antifungal, antibacterial,
• Considered by some as aphrodisiac.

• Contains a trace of an alkaloid, an insoluble bitter principle, and much salicilic acid.
• Study yielded diterpenoids, flavonoids, tannins, alkaloids, triterpenes, hexaconasol, b-sitosterol, ketone, dulcitone and amellin.
• Triterpene and mannitol isolated from the roots; dulcitol from aerial parts. (Source)
• Phytochemical studies revealed acacetin, amellin, amyrin, apigenin, benzoxazin, benzoxalinone, betulinic acid, daucosterol, dulcidion . . among others. Also isolated were a flavone glycoside and a diterpene. (source)

Additional Sources and Suggested Readings

(1) Database File: Vassourinha (Scoparia dulcis)/ Raintree

(2) Free Radical Scavenging Activity of Scoparia dulcis Extract / M Babincova and P Sourivong / Journal of Medicinal Food. September 2001, 4(3): 179-181. doi:10.1089/109662001753165765.

(3) Effect of an aqueous extract of Scoparia dulcis on blood glucose, plasma insulin and some polyol pathway enzymes in experimental rat diabetes / M Latha and L Pari / Braz J Med Biol Res, April 2004, Volume 37(4) 577-586 / doi: 10.1590/S0100-879X2004000400015

(4) Protective role of Scoparia dulcis plant extract on brain antioxidant status and lipidperoxidation in STZ diabetic male Wistar ratsLeelavinothan Pari et al / BMC Complement Altern Med. 2004; 4: 16.
/ doi: 10.1186/1472-6882-4-16.

(5) Scoparic acid A, a beta-glucuronidase inhibitor from Scoparia dulcisHayashi T et al / J Nat Prod. 1992 Dec;55(12):1748-55.

(6) Acetylated Flavonoid Glycosides Potentiating NGF Action from Scoparia dulcisJ. Nat. Prod., 2004, 67 (4), pp 725–727 / DOI: 10.1021/np0302908

(7) Insulin-secretagogue activity and cytoprotective role of the traditional antidiabetic plant Scoparia dulcis (Sweet Broomweed) / Latha M pari et al / Life Sci. 2004 Sep 3;75(16):2003-14.

(8) Protective role of Scoparia dulcis plant extract on brain antioxidant status and lipidperoxidation in STZ diabetic male Wistar rats / Leelavinothan Pari and Muniappan Latha / BMC Complement Altern Med. 2004; 4: 16. / Online 2004 / doi: 10.1186/1472-6882-4-16.

(9) Hepatoprotective Evaluation of Scoparia dulcis L. / Atish Kumar Sahoo and V Madhavan / Journ of Complementary and Integrative Medicine, Vol. 6 (2009) / Issue 1 / Research Articles

(10) Analgesic and antiinflammatory properties of Scoparia dulcis L. Extracts and glutinol in rodents / Sonia Maria de Farias Freire et al / Phytotherapy Research, Volume 7 Issue 6, Pages 408 – 414

(11) Sweet Broom Weed / Common names / Flowers of India

(12) Pro blood clotting activity of Scoparia dulcis in rats / E. R. H. S. S. Ediriweera,1 J. R. A. C. Jayakody,2 and W. D. Ratnasooriya / Ayu. 2011 Apr-Jun; 32(2): 271–274. / doi: 10.4103/0974-8520.92547

(13) Efficacy of scopadulcic acid A against Plasmodium falciparum in vitro. / Riel MA, Kyle DE, Milhous WK / J. Nat. Prod. (2002) 65:614-615


Parts utilized
· Whole plant.
· Collected from April to June.
· Wash, cut into pieces, dry under the sun.

· In the Philippines, roots, leaves, and tops used as infusion for gastralgia, diarrhea, and dysentery.
· Root decoction used for fevers.
· Decoction of leaves and tops used for intestinal affections.
· Decoction of dried material used for cold and fever, enteritis, diarrhea, beriberi, edema, difficulty in urination.
· For miliaria, rub the squeezed juice from fresh plant.
· For headaches associated with fevers, leaf or whole plant macerated in water is drunk copiously when cooled.
· Used as a children’s remedy for coughs and diuretic.
· In Liberia decoction taken for gravel and kidney complaints.
· Decoction applied as fomentation on bruises and contusions.
· In Brazil decoction used for bronchitis and broncho-pulmonary afflictions.
· In the Antiles, plant used as emollient; decoction used as enema and for local baths.
· Decoction used for diarrhea, colic, and indigestion.
· Roots used as diuretic.
· In Costa Rica decoction of leaves used as stomachic; infusion used as emmenagogue.
· In India, China and Southeast Asia, used for pain, fever, dysentery, diarrhea, cough, bronchitis, hypertension, piles and insect bites.
· In Vietnam, used for snakebites and antidote for cassava intoxication. Also, for pimples, impetigo, ulcers and eczema.
· In Taiwan, used for hypertension.
·Murong tribe in Bangladesh used the plant in the treatment of malaria.
· In Sierra Leone, used for remittent fevers and gonorrhea. For the latter, a cold infusion, sweet and mucilaginous, is drunk repeatedly.
· In Nigeria, plant used in the management of sickle cell anemia.
· In Nicaragua, plant used for malaria.
· In India, used for gonorrhea, to induce labor, and diabetes.
· In China, used for herpes.
· In Burma and India, herb infusion used as mouthwash for infected gums.
· In Brazilian folk medicine, used for bronchitis, gastric disorders, hemorrhoids, insect bites, skin wounds.

· In Trinidad’s santowah ceremony, sweetbroom is used to sprinkle holy water.

• Antioxidant: Free Radical Scavenging Activity of Scoparia dulcis Extract: Study showed strong antioxidant activity corresponding to the reduction of hydroxyl radical generation, a possible rationale for the weeds observed therapeutic effects.
• Antioxidant / Anti-Diabetic: Study showed significant decrease in TBARS and hyperperoxides formation in the brain of rats suggesting a role in protection against lipid peroxidation induced membrane damage. Results suggest, in addition to its antidiabetic effect, SD possess antioxidant potential.
• Antihyperglycemic / Polyol Pathway: Effect of an aqueous extract of Scoparia dulcis on blood glucose, plasma insulin and some polyol pathway enzymes in experimental rat diabetes: Study showed SD was effective in attenuating hyperglycemia in rats, possibly due to the decreased influx of glucose into the polyol pathway with increased activities of antioxidant enzymes and plasma insulin and decreased activity of sorbitol dehydrogenase.
• Anti-Diabetic: Study showed the aqueous extract of Scoparia dulcis exhibited antihyperglycemic effect by attenuating biochemical alterations in streptozotocin-induced diabetic rats.
• Cytoprotective / Insulin-Secretagogue Activity: Study showed significant decrease in blood glucose with significantly increased plasma insulin level with use of aqueous extract of S dulcis in STZ-induced diabetic rats. Other results showed its insulin secretagogue activity and protection against STZ-mediated cytotoxicity. The glucose lowering effect was associated with potentiation of insulin release from the pancreatic islets.
• Anti-Ulcer: Study showed water extracts of S dulcis showed dose-dependent inhibition of indomethacin-induced gastric damage in rats validating its use in traditional medicine as an antacid and anti-ulcer agent.
• Antioxidant: Protective role of Scoparia dulcis plant extract on brain antioxidant status and lipid peroxidation in STZ diabetic male Wistar rats. Study showed levels of peroxidation markers in the brain were significantly a role in protection against lipidperoxidation-induced membrane damage.
• Anti / Antifungal: Study of isolated fractions showed significant antimicrobial and antifungal activity against all tested organisms – S typhii, S aureus, E coli, B subtilis, P aeruginosa, P vulgaris and fungal strains (C albicans, A niger and F oxysporum).
• Antitumor / Scopadulcic Acid B: Scopadulcic acid B (SDB), a tetracyclic diterpenoid isolated from S dulcis, inhibited the effects of a tumor promoter, inhibited phospholipid synthesis and suppressed the promoting effect of TPA on skin tumor formation. Its potency is stronger than other natural anti-tumor promoting terpenoids. (7)
• Antihyperlipidemic: Effect of Scoparia dulcis (Sweet Broomweed) in Streptozotocin Diabetic Rats: Study showed antidiabetic and antihyperlipidemic activity in normal and experimental diabetic rats.
• NGF Activity: Acetylated Flavonoid Glycosides Potentiating NGF Action from Scoparia dulcis: Three new acetylated flavonoid glycosides were isolated, two of which showed enhancing activity of nerve growth factor-mediated neurite outgrowth.
• Cytotoxicity: Study isolated four new diterpenes. Crude extracts and pure diterpenes suggested cytotoxicty.
• Scoporic Acid A / Beta-glucoronidase Inhibitor: Study isolated three labdane-type diterpene acids: scoparic acid A, B and C. Scoporic acid A was found to be a potent beta-glucoronidase inhibitor.
• Hepatoprotective / Antioxidant: Study isolated showed the hydroalcoholic extract of S dulcis exhibits significant hepatoprotective activity against carbon tetrachloride-induced liver damage in rats, an activity attributed to free radical scavenging activity.
• Anti-Trypanosomal Immunosuppression / Immunological Boosting: Previous findings suggest T. brucei is immunosuppressive. Study showed Scoparia dulcis provides a measure of immunological boost during experimental T. brucei infection in rabbits.
• Sympathomimetic Effects / Catecholamines: Study yielded both noradrenaline and adrenaline in the plant extract. The catecholamines may be responsible for the hypertensive and inotropic effects after parenteral administration of S dulcis extracts.
• Anti-Urolithiasis: Study investigating the inhibition of calcium oxalate, calcium phosphate and calcium carbonate mineralization by five medicinal plants – A aspera, P leschenaultii, S amplexicaulis, Scoparia dulcis and A lanata – showed that increased intake of the fruit juices and seed extracts of the test plants would be helpful in urinary stone prophylaxis. The sequestering of the insoluble calcium salts by the fruit juices may be due to single or mixed ligand chelation by the hydroxyl acids present in them.
• Anti-Inflammatory / Analgesic: Study results indicate that the extract of S dulcis possess analgesic effects probably related to its antiinflammatory activity, effects probably attributable to the presence of glutinol and flavonoids.
• Pro Blood Clotting Activity: Study investigated the effect of a decoction of S. dulcis on blood clotting time in rats. Results showed significant reduction in clotting time. The proclotting activity was faster than vitamin K.
• Anti-Malarial / Scopadulcic acid A: Phytochemical screening yielded pharmacologically active compounds scopadulcic acid A (SDA) and scopadulcic acid B (SDB), and semisynthetif analogues. SDB has shown antiviral activity against Herpes simplex virus 1 and antitumor activity against various human cancer cell lines, and potent inhibitory activity against gastric proton pumps. Pure SDA was tested and found to have in vitro activity against P. falcifarum.

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