Family • Rubiaceae - Ophiorrhiza mungos Linn. - MONGOOSE PLANT

Scientific names

Ophiorrhiza mungos Linn.
Ophiorrhiza camiguinensis Elm.
Ophiorrhiza communis Ridl.
Ophiorrhiza singaporensis

Common names

Kayotimokan (Bag.)
Lumai (Bik.)
Payang-payang-gubat (Tag.)
Mongoose plant (Engl.)
Snakeroot (Engl.)

Other vernacular names

HINDI: Sarhati
SANSKRIT: Sarpakhsi, sarpari
TAMIL: Kirippuntu, kirippurantan

Payang-payang-gubat is a half-woody, erect, smooth plant growing to a height of 30 centimeters. Leaves are very thin, elliptic to elliptic-lanceolate, 4 to 12 centimeters long, 2 to 6 centimeters wide, pointed at both ends. Cymes are flat-topped, smooth or hairy, 2 to 7 centimeters in diameter, with subumbellate spreading branches. Calyx-teeth are very short. Corolla is white and smooth, with very short, obtuse lobes that are keeled at the back. Capsules are pedicelled, 2 to 5 millimeters in diameter. Seeds are many, minute and angled.


Additional Sources and Suggested Readings

(1) Comparative studies on the camptothecin content from Nothapodytes foetida and Ophiorrhiza species / G. Roja / Natural Product Research, Volume 20, Number 1, Number 1/January 2006 , pp. 85-88(4)

(2) Traditional Phytotherapy for Snake bites by Tribes of Chitradurga District, Karnataka, India / V T Hiremath and T C Taranath / Ethnobotanical Leaflets 14: 120-25, 2010.

(3) Ophiorrihiza mungos / • Pandanus Database of Plants

(4) Cancer chemopreventive potential of luteolin-7-O-glucoside isolated from Ophiorrhiza mungos Linn. / Baskar AA, Ignacimuthu S, Michael GP, Al Numair KS. / Nutr Cancer. 2011;63(1):130-8.

(5) Comparative studies on the camptothecin content from Nothapodytes foetida and Ophiorrhiza species / Roja G. / Nat Prod Res. 2006 Jan;20(1):85-8.

(6) Lesser Known Ethnomedicinal Plants of Alagar Hills, Madurai District of Tamil Nadu, India / S. Karuppusamy*, G. Muthuraja and K.M. Rajasekaran / Ethnobotanical Leaflets 13: 1426-33, 2009.

– In thickets and forests at low altitudes, from the Batan and Babuyan Islands and northern Luzon to Palawan and Mindanao.
– Also occurs in India to Malaya.


– Contains starch, chlorophyll, and a light-brown resin soluble in chloroform.
– Comparative studies on camptothecin content showed low levels of alkaloids.
– Main chemical constituent is a monoterpenoid quinoline alkaloid called camptothecin.

– Considered antibacterial, laxative, tonic, sedative.
– Bark of root considered laxative and sedative.

Parts utilized
Roots, bark and leaves.


· An agreeable bitter tonic.
· Decoction of leaves, roots and bark (one part in 10) in half-ounce doses are stomachic.
· Bark of root is sedative and laxative.
· Decoction of leaves used for cleaning ulcers.
· In Malaysia, used for wound healing, enlarged spleens and to alleviate cough.
· In India, the bitter root of O mungos used as an antidote for snake bites. Also, the root extract, mixed with powder of white gulaganji to make a paste, applied locally or given orally. For wound healing, whole plant is ground into a paste with coconut oil, applied topically on affected areas to heal wounds. In Tamil Nadu, leaves and roots used for poisonous bites and external tumors. Roots extensively used by local medicine men.
· In Ayurveda plant pacifies vitiated kapha, wounds, ulcers, worm infestation, snake poison, skin diseases, and cancer.

Study Findings
• Camptothecin / Anti-Cancer: Camptothecin is an anticancer quinoline alkaloid effective against colon cancer, acting through inhibition of the enzyme DNA topoisomerase. Comparative study showed the highest yields in N foetida, with low levels of the alkaloid with O mungos and O rugosa.
• Antivenom Activity: Study showed inhibition of the effects of Naja nigricollis venom by aqueous extract of O mungos root. The extract also showed dose-related inhibition of blood clotting induced by Echis carinatus venom.
• Cancer Chemopreventive / Luteolin-7-O-glucoside: Study isolated phytocompound Luteolin-7-O-glucoside (LUT7G) from the leaves. LUT7G induced apoptosis by scavenging ROS and suppressing the expression of ß-catenin. Results suggest a potent anticancer drug for colon carcinogenesis.
• Antioxidant Activity / Preliminary Cytotoxicity: Study of a methanolic extract of the whole plant showed the dichlormethane soluble fraction with the highest amount of phenolic compounds and also revealed significant antioxidant activity. Brine shrimp lethality bioassay showed a crude extract to possess cytotoxic principles.
• Antioxidant / Antiproliferative: Study evaluated the antioxidant and antiproliferative activities of 10 traditional medicinal plants, including O. mungos. All tested extracts showed significant concentration- and time-dependent antioxidant and antiproliferative activities, with O. mungos sixth in descending order.