Family • Amaranthaceae - Boerhaavia diffusa Linn. - SPREADING HOG WEED - Huang xi xin

Scientific names

Boerhaavia diffusa Linn.
Boerhaavia repens Linn.

Common names

Katkatud (Ilk.)
Paanbalibis (Tag.)
Tabtabokol (Ilk.)
Red spiderling (Engl.)
Spreading hogweed (Engl.)
Hog weed (Engl.)
Horse purslane (Engl.)
Yierba de puerco (Span.)
Matapavo (Span.)
Huang xi xin (Chin.)

Other vernacular names

BENGALI: Punarnova.
CHINESE: Shu shen.
FRENCH: ipecacuanha de Cayenne (Fr. Guiana).
HINDI: Gadha-cand, Shothagni.
INDIA: Punarnava.
MALAYALAM: NaThazhuthamame.
NEPALESE: Punarnava.
SANSKRIT: Punarnava, Shothagni, Varshabhu.
SPANISH: Hierba de cabro.

Paanbalibis is a diffusely spreading, laxly branched, smooth or somewhat hairy herb, with the branches sometimes attaining a length of 2 meters. Leaves are scattered, ovate, elliptic, or oblong, 1 to 4 centimeters long, sometimes wavy, pale beneath, with rounded or pointed apex, and usually rounded base. Cymes are very lax and panicled with slender branches. Flowers are minute. usually fascicled or subumbellate on the ultimate branchlets, pink, and about 1.5 millimeters long. Fruit is glandular, narrowly oblong-obovoid, about 3 millimeters long.


– Throughout the Philippines in open places in settled areas at low and medium altitudes.
– A common weed in and about town.
– Native of India and Brazil.
– Pantropic.


– Plant has yielded Boerhaavic acid, punarnavine, potassium nitrate, tannins, phlobaphenes.
– Root yields alkaloids (punarnavine), rotenoids (boeravinones A-F), flavonoids, amino acids, lignans (liriodendrons), ß-sitosterols and tetracosanoic, esacosanoic, stearic, and ursolic acids.
– Seeds yield fatty acids and allantoin.
– Ash analysis yielded potassium, magnesium, sodium, calcium, nitrate, phosphates, silica and sulphates.
– Studies have yielded ß-sitosterol, a-2-sitosterol, palmitic acid, tetracosanoic, hexacosonoic, stearic, arachidic acid, urosilic acid, among others.
– Phytochemical screening yielded flavonoids, alkaloids, glycosides and sterols in the alcoholic root.


– Early studies have reported the diuretic effect of the liquid extract of the dry or fresh plant. The diuretic effect appears prominent on certain types of ascites, ie, liver cirrhosis. The diuretic effect was attributed to punarnavine, an alkaloid that reported increases blood pressure and urination.
– Considered diuretic, stomachic, laxative, expectorant and emetic.
– Root is considered purgative, anthelmintic, febrifuge.
– Also reported abortifacient, analgesic, antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, diaphoretic, rejuvenating, tonic.


Additional Sources and Suggested Readings

(1) Punanrnava or Santhi (Boerhaavia diffusa Linn.) / Pankaj Oudhia / Society for Parthenium Management (SOPAM)

(2) Antidiabetic activity of Boerhaavia diffusa L.: effect on hepatic key enzymes in experimental diabetes / L Pari and M Amarnath Satheesh / Journal of Ethnopharmacology, Volume 91, Issue 1, March 2004, Pages 109-113 / doi:10.1016/j.jep.2003.12.013 |

(3) Boerhaavia diffusa: A study of its hepatoprotective activity / B K Chandan, A K Sharma and K K Anand / Journal of Ethnopharmacology, Volume 31, Issue 3, March 1991, Pages 299-307 / doi:10.1016/0378-8741(91)90015-6 |

(4) Effect of chronic administration of Boerhaavia diffusa Linn. leaf extract on experimental diabetes in rats / Rao K Nalamolu et al / Tropical Journal of Pharmaceutical Research, June 2004; 3 (1): 305-309

(5) Anti-convulsant Activity of Boerhaavia diffusa: Plausible Role of Calcium Channel Antagonism / Mandeep Kaur and Rajesh Kumar Goel / eCAM, doi:10.1093/ecam/nep192

(6) An in vitro study on antiproliferative and antiestrogenic effects of Boerhaavia diffusa L. extracts / Sreekumar Sreeja and Sreeharshan Sreeja / Journal of Ethnopharmacology, Volume 126, Issue 2, 12 November 2009, Pages 221-225 / doi:10.1016/j.jep.2009.08.041

(7) Antistress, Adaptogeic and Immunopotentiating Activity of Roots of Bd in Mice / Meera Sumanth and S S Mustafa / Intern Journ of Pharmacology 3(5):416-420, 2007

(8) Spasmolytic Effects of Nonprenylated Rotenoid Constituents of Boerhaavia diffusa Roots / Francesca Borrelli et al / J. Nat. Prod., 2006, 69 (6), pp 903–906 / DOI: 10.1021/np060073h

(9) Process for isolation of eupalitin from Boerhavia diffusa / FreePatentsOnLine

(10) Antibacterial Activity of Important Medicinal Plants on Human Pathogenic Bacteria-a Comparative Analysis / H V Girish and S Satish / World Applied Sciences Journal 5 (3): 267-271, 2008

(11) Nutritive and Anti-Nutritive Properties of Boerhavia diffusa and Commelina nudiflora Leaves / C O Ujowundu et al / Pakistan Journal of Nutrition 7 (1): 90-92, 2008

(12) Studies of the immunomodulatory effects of Boerhaavia diffusa alkaloidal fraction / A. A. Mungantiwar, A. M. Nair, U. A. Shinde et al / Journal of Ethnopharmacology, Vol 65, Issue 2, May 1999, Pages 125-131 / doi:10.1016/S0378-8741(98)00153-6

(13) Cytological effects of the root extracts of Boerhaavia diffusa on root tips of Crinum jagus / Ndubuisi Moses Chikere Nwakanma, Bosa Ebenezer Okoli / EurAsia J BioSci 4, 105-111 (2010) / DOI:10.5053/ejobios.2010.4.0.13

(14) Anti-Convulsant Activity of Boerhaavia diffusa: Plausible Role of Calcium Channel Antagonism / Mandeep Kaur and Rajesh Kumar Goel / Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, Vol 2011 (2011), Article ID 310420, 7 pages / doi:10.1093/ecam/nep192

/ Sandhya K Desai, Soniya M et al / International Journal of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences
ISSN- 0975-1491 Vol 3, Issue 1, 2011


(17) Studies on the Protective Effects of Boerhaavia diffusa L. Against Gamma Radiation—Induced Damage in Mice / K A Manu, P V Leynon, Girija Kuttan / Integrative Cancer Therapies


(19) Boerhavia diffusa L. (accepted name) / Chinese names / Catalogue of Life, China

(20) Detail Study on Boerhaavia Diffusa Plant for its Medicinal Importance- A Review / AR Mahesh*, Harish Kumar, Ranganath MK and Raviraj Anand Devkar / Research Journal of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Vol. 1(1), 28-36, September (2012)

(21) Hepatoprotective Activity of Boerhavia Diffusa Linn. (Nyctaginaceae) against Ibuprofen Induced Hepatotoxicity in Wistar Albino Rats / A. Jayavelu, A. Natarajan, S. Sundaresan, K. Devi, *B. Senthil kumar / International Journal of Pharma Research & Review, April 2013; 2(4):1-8

(22) Antimicrobial activity study of ethanolic extract of Boerhaavia diffusa whole plant / Sourav Das / Int. J. of Pharm. & Life Sci. (IJPLS), Vol. 3, Issue 10: October: 2012, 2006-2009 2006

(23) Protective Effects of Boerhaavia Diffusa Against Acetaminophen-Induced Nephrotoxicity in Rats / Surendra K. Pareta*, Kartik C.Patra, Ranjeet Harwansh, Manoj Kumar, Kedar Prasad Meena / Pharmacologyonline 2: 698-706 (2011)

Paanbalibis4Parts used
Roots, leaves, seeds.

Edibility / Nutrition
– A neglected and underutilized vegetable.
– Good source of vitamins C, B2 and B3.
– In southeastern Nigeria, leaves are cooked and eaten as vegetable.

Root, in powder, decoction or infusion, used as laxative.
Used as diuretic, in strangury, gonorrhea and other internal inflammations.
In moderate doses, used in asthma; in large doses, used as emetic.
Infusion of whole plants used as mild laxative and febrifuge in children; also used for convulsions.
Used to regulate menstruation.
In the Gold Coast, used in the treatment of yaws.
In the Antilles, used as a stimulant , tonic, vermifuge, emetic, sudorific and as antispasmodic.
In Martinique, roots used for snake bites.
In Uruguay, roots considered antidysenteric and emetic.
In Ayurveda, considered bitter, cooling, astringent to bowels; used for biliousness, leucorrhea, anemia, asthma. Leaves used in dyspepsia, tumors, abdominal pains and splenic enlargements. Roots used as diuretic, expectorant, vermifuge, analgesic and to improve renal and hepatic functions.
In Chinese traditional medicine, used to move blood and break up stasis, regulate menses, strengthen the bones and tendons; for pain, malnutrition, dysmenorrhea, vaginal discharge.
In Nigeria, used for boils, epilepsy, convulsions, guinea worms, asthma, fever, constipation.
In Nepal, used for snakes bites, headaches, pain, hemorrhoids, jaundice, gout, asthma, round worms, excessive menstruation, cough and hemoptysis.
In India, used for asthma, cough, urethritis, edema, ascites, nephritis.

Study Findings
• Anti-Diabetic: Study investigating the effect of oral administration of an aqueous solution of B. diffusa leaf extract on normal and alloxan-induced diabetic rats showed a significant decrease in blood glucose, a significant increase in activity of hepatic enzymes, and a significant increase in plasma insulin levels in normal and diabetic rats. The effect was more prominent than glibenclamide.
• Antidiabetic / Chronic Administration of Leaf Extract: Study of leaf extract of Bd produced dose-dependent reduction in blood glucose probably through rejuvenation of pancreatic B-cells or through extrapancreatic action.
• Antidiabetic / Increase Glucose Tolerance: Extracts of Bd showed significant increase in glucose tolerance; the methanolic extract showed more activity.
• Hepatoprotective : Study showed the alcoholic extract of the whole plant of Bd exhibited hepatoprotective activity against experimentally induced carbon tetrachloride hepatotoxicity in rats and mice.
• Antitumor / Chemopreventive : Study demonstrated the chemopreventive property of topical treatment of Bd extract on DMBA-induced skin papillomagenesis in male Swiss albino mice.
• Anticonvulsant : Study showed the crude methanolic extract of Bd and its liriodendrin-rich fraction showed a dose-dependent protection against PTZ-induced convulsions.
• Antiproliferative / Anti-Estrogenic : Study of methanol extract of Bd showed moderate to very strong inhibition in MCF-7 breast cancer cell lines. Results demonstrated antiproliferative and antiestrogenic properties and suggests a therapeutic potential in estrogen dependent breast cancers.
• Antistress / Adaptogenic / Immunomodulatory : Study of ethanol extracts of roots of Bd showed increased stress tolerance in swim endurance test and cold restrain stress. Immunomodulatory activity was shown by increased carbon clearance, indicating stimulation of the reticuloendothelial system. There was an increase in DTH response to SRBC in mice, corresponding to cell mediated immunity and indicating stimulatory effects on lymphocytes and accessory cell types.
• Spasmolytic / Rotenoid Derivatives : Study showed the methanol extract of roots of Bd exhibited a significant spasmolytic activity in guinea pig ileum, probably through a direct effect on smooth muscle. Phytochemicals isolated one new and 6 known rotenoid derivatives.
• Eupalitin / Anti-Osteoporosis Activity : Invention relates to a process of isolation of bioactive eupalitin from Bh possessing anti-osteoporosis activity by extraction of powdered leaves.
• Antibacterial : In a study of the leaves of five different plants belonging to different family, the methanol extracts of Bd, T cardiofolia and E alba leaves showed significant in vitro antimicrobial activity.
• Nutritive Properties : Study showed Bd as vegetable contains saponins, alkaloids, flavonoids. The vitamin constituents were vitamins C, B3, B2; mineral contents, Ca, Na, and Mg. Results suggest that the leaves as cheap sources of vitamins, macro- and micro-nutrients can be incorporated into the human and animal diet. Its flavonoid and vit C contents also suggest a potential source of antioxidants.
• Immunomodulatory: Study of alkaloidal fraction was studied for its effect on cellular and humoral functions in mice. Results showed an in vivo immunostimulatory activity without an in vitro effect.
• Cytological Effects: Study of the mitotic effects of root extracts of B. diffusa on the root tips of Crinum jagus were investigated. Results showed root extracts of Bd can accumulate metaphase and inhibit mitoses and presents an alternative to the rather expensive colchicene for cytological studies.
• Antihyperglycemic / Renoprotective: Study of an ethanolic extract of Bd in alloxanized diabetic rats showed it to be a potent renoprotective and antihyperglycemic agent in diabetic animals.
• Anticonvulsant / Calcium Channel Antagonism: Study results reiterated the anticonvulsant activity of a methanolic extract of Bd roots. It suggests the anti-convulsant activity could be due to calcium-channel antagonistic action.
• Antistress: Study of a hydroethanolic extract (80%) of Boerhaavia diffusa (HEBD) and a polyherbal formulation (Punarnava mandur) PHF-09 containing Boerhaavia diffusa showed antistress activity in a dose-dependent manner.
• Radioprotective: Study evaluated the radioprotective effect of a hydroalcoholic extract of B. diffusa in an in vivo mice model of sublethally irradiated mice. The most affected tissues — bone marrow and intestine — were considerably protected by an intraperitoneal administration of the extract. There was also significant reduction of lipid peroxidation. Results indicated a radioprotective effect of the whole-plant extract.
• Male Anti-Fertility Effects: The oral administration of an aqueous extract of leaves to male Wistar rats for sixty days caused a reduction of sperm count, progressive sperm motility, sperm live-dead ratio and caused degeneration of the germinal epithelia of the testes.
• Hepatoprotective / Ibuprofen-Induced Hepatotoxicity: A methanol extract of root and aerial parts restored nearly normal structure and functions of hepatic cells in ibuprofen-induced hepatotoxicity in Wistar albino rats. Roots showed more hepatoprotective efficacy than the aerial part of the same plant.
• Antimicrobial: Study evaluated the antimicrobial activity of an ethanolic extract of B. diffusa. Results showed significant antimicrobial activity against most of the tested organisms.
• Renoprotective / Acetaminophen-Induced Nephrotoxicity: Study investigated the effects of pre-treatment of aqueous extract of root on acetaminophen-induced nephrotoxicity in rats. Pre-treatment had a nephroprotective effect possibly through improvement of renal function and antioxidant activities.