Family • Urticaceae - Boehmeria nivea Linn. - CHINA GRASS - Chu-ma

Scientific names

Boehmeria nivea (Linn.) Gaudich.
Boehmeria tenacissima Gaud.
Urtica nieva Linn.

Other vernacular names

CHINESE: Zhu ma.
FRENCH: Ramie.
INDONESIA: Rami, Haramay.
LAOS: Pan.
MALAYSIA: Rami, Rami-rami.
THAI: Po-paan, Po-bo, Taan khamoi.

Common names

Amirai (Tag.)
Arimai (Ilk.)
Dami (If.)
Hasu (Iv.)
Lipang-aso (Tag.)
Labnis (Ilk.)
Lapnis (Ilk.)
Ramie (Engl.)
China grass (Engl.)
Madame Parquet (Engl.)
Ramie grass (Engl)
Zhu ma (Chin.)


Ramie is an erect, branched, monoecious perennial shrub, 1 to 2 meters high, with a single cylindrical stem, and hairy branches and petioles. Leaves are long-petioled, alternate, broadly ovate, 10 to 18.5 centimeters long, 6 to 14 centimeters wide, with tapering pointed tip, coarsely toothed margin, the upper surface green, roughened with few scattered hairs, the lower surface white, except the nerves, and densely covered with appressed, matted, white hairs. Flowers are small and clustered; the clusters arranged in axillary panicles shorter than the petioles; unisexual, apetalous. Staminate (male) flowers have 4 calyx lobes which are green in color. Stamens are 4.


Additional Sources and Suggested Readings

(1) The Anti-hepatitis B Virus Activity of Boehmeria nivea Extract in HBV-viremia SCID Mic / Jia-Ming Chang et al / eCAM / doi:10.1093/ecam/nem180

(2) Evaluation of the hepatoprotective and antioxidant activity of Boehmeria nivea var. nivea and B. nivea var. tenacissima / Chun-Chung Lin et al / Journal of ethnopharmacology / 1998, vol. 60, no1, pp. 9-17 / doi:10.1016/S0378-8741(97)00122-0

(3) Inhibition of hepatitis B virus production by Boehmeria nivea root extract in HepG2 2.2.15 cells / Kai-Ling Huang et al / World J Gastroenterol 2006 September 21; 12(35): 5721-5725/

(4) Ramie (Boehmeria nivea) pollen-induced bronchial asthma and allergenic cross-reactivity of ramie and Parietaria / Miura N / Arerugi. 1993 May;42(5):649-55./

(5) Boehmeria nivea (L.) Gaudich / Vernacular names / GLOBinMED

(6) Boehmeria nivea Stimulates Glucose Uptake by Activating Peroxisome Proliferator-Activated Receptor Gamma in C2C12 Cells and Improves Glucose Intolerance in Mice Fed a High-Fat Diet / Sung Hee Kim, Mi Jeong Sung, Jae Ho Park, Hye Jeong Yang, and Jin-Taek Hwang / Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, Vol 2013 (2013) / http://dx.doi.org/10.1155/2013/867893

(7) Absorption and accumulation of cadmium by ramie (Boehmeria nivea) cultivars: A field study / She, Wei; Jie, Yu-Cheng; Xing, Hu-Cheng; Luo, Zhong-Qin; Kang, Wan-Li; Huang, Ming; Zhu, Shou-Jing / Acta Agriculturae Scandinavica, B, Vol 61, No 7, 1 October 2011 , pp. 641-647(7)

(8) Involvement of GRP78 in inhibition of HBV secretion by Boehmeria nivea extract in human HepG2 2.2.15 cells/ K.-L. Huang, Y.-K. Lai, C.-C. Lin1, J.-M. Chang / DOI: 10.1111/j.1365-2893.2009.01072.x

– Naturalized in Batan and Babuyan Islands.
– Cultivated in Mindanao and other parts of the Philippines for its fiber.
– A native of southern China.
– Now cultivated in many tropical and subtropical countries.

– Bast contains lignin, 1.46%, and cellulose, 65.9%.
– Ash of leaves contains SiO2, 42.5%; CaO, 34.2%; K2O, 4.1%; NaO, 0.9%; MgOm 6.5%; P2O5, 4.8%; SO3, 1.84%; Cl2, 1%.
– Leaves contain chlorogen acid.
– Study on chemical constituents of leaves yielded: kiwiionoside, eugenyl beta-rutinoside, uracil, beta-sitosterol glucoside, 3-hydroxy-4-methoxy-benzoic acid, cholesterol, alpha-amyrin, and nonacosanol.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA– Mildly bitter and sweet tasting.
– Considered antipyretic, cooling, demulcent, diuretic, and resolvent.
– Like the common nettle of Europe, possesses styptic properties.

Parts utilized
Roots, stems and leaves
Propagation through cuttings from the rhizomes and by seeds.

· No known folkloric medicinal use in the Philippines.
· In China roots are reputed to be quieting to the uterus and recommended in threatened abortion.
· Pounded fresh leaves may be used as poultice for swelling pains caused by sprains.
· Regulates placental movement, hemostatic; for cold fever, urinary tract infection, nephritic edema, edema among pregnant women, abnormal placental movements, and excessive menstrual flow: 15.6 to 31 gms dried material in decoction.
· Used for wounds from poisoned arrows, for snake and insect bites.
· In decoction, used as local application in rectal disease.
· Leaves used in wounds and fluxes as astringent.
· Decoction of roots and leaves used as tonic in cases of dysentery.
· In Taiwan, used in folk medicine for hepatoprotection and hepatitis treatment.
· Malays use the leaves for poulticing boils.
· Used for treatment of fluxes and wounds, prevent miscarriages and promote drainage of pus.


· Fiber: A source of fiber or a constituent of fabric with cotton, wool or silk. In the Philippines, the fiber is used for making strings, blankets, and cloth. It is one of the oldest textile fibers, used in mummy cloths in Egypt around 5000-3300 BC.
• Papermaking: Also used for production of papers, bank notes and cigarette papers.

Study Findings
• Anti-Hepatitis B: The study on the BN extract exhibited potential anti-HBV activity in the animal model of HBV viremia.
• Anti-Hepatitis B: BN extract significantly inhibited HBeAg and particle-associated HBV DNA secretion in an anti-HBV machinery different from the nucleoside analogues.
•Antioxidant / Hepatoprotective: In a study of carbon tetrachloride-induced liver injury, results suggest the hepatoprotective and antioxidative effects of BN probably involving mechanisms related to free radical scavenging.
• Pollen-Induced Bronchial Asthma: B nivea has been established to be a cause of asthma. The study showed no cross-reactivity with Parietaria and suggests that ramie may be a new independent allergen.
• Toxicity Study / Embryonic Development: Commonly used to treat miscarriages, the test examined its safety for embryonic development in pregnant mice. Results showed B. nivea extract did not cause significant embyotoxicity or maternal toxicity in mice, although it caused cytotoxicity in cultured ECS (embryonic stem cells) at a high dose.
• Free Radical Scavenging Activity: Study of ethyl acetate and n-butanol fractions of the root showed profound free radical scavenging activities.
• Antiglycosidase / Anticholinesterase / : Ethyl acetate extract showed maximum B-glucosidase inhibition. Leaf extract demonstrated the highest B-galactosidase inhibitory activity. The plant also exhibited notable BChE and moderate AChE inhibitory activity. Results suggest the whole plant provides strong biochemical rationale for the treatment of T2 diabetes, cancer and neurodegenerative diseases.
• Antidiabetic Potential / Glucose Uptake Stimulation: Study showed a reduction in high-fat diet increase in body weight, total cholesterol, and fatty liver, with improved fasting glucose level, blood insulin content, and glucose intolerance.
• Phytoremediation / Cadmium: Ramie has great ability to tolerate and accumulate heavy metals. Study showed the feasibility of phytoremediation of Cd-contaminated farmland by ramie cultivars that have obtained cadmium accumulating capacity through screening and training.
• GRP78 in inhibition of HBV secretion: Study of a root extract of B. nivea showed an inhibitory effect on blocking assembled virion secretion of HBV possibly through reduction of GRP78 (78-kDa glucose-regulated protein).