Bhumyamalaki (Phyllanthus niruri)
It is one of the herbs mentioned in all ancient scriptures of Ayurveda. Bhamyamalaki is also known as tamalaki, bahupatra, bhadhatri, visnuparni, uttama etc. Maharsi Caraka has categorized it as kasahara – alleviates cough and svasahara relieves asthma. It has been cited in Ayurvedic texts that bhumyamalaki increases the appetite, is digestant, laxative and a liver stimulant. It is beneficial in cough, asthma, urinary diseases, jaundice, malaria and enlargement of liver and spleen.
During the last decade, bhumyamalaki has attracted the attention of scientists all over the world, because of its hepatprotective activity. All forms of viral hepatitis have a common pathology of acute inflammation of the entire liver. Epatic cell necrosis is associated with leaucocytic and histiocytic reaction .At present, five different varieties of viral hepatitis are known but major ones are Hepatitis A and Hepatitis B. No. effective specific therapy is available for treatment of hepatitis due to these viruses. Bhumyamalaki has shown clinical efficacy in Viral Hepatitis B, with modern parameters.
Bhumyamalaki grows throughout India, more common in central and southern regions. It is an annual herb which grows 30-60 cm in height. It is quite glabrous; stem often branched at the base. The leaves resemble to those of amalaki, but are more broad and thick. They are oblong obtuse, numerous and in pairs. The flowers are yellowish, axillary and numerous. The male flowers are 1-3, whereas female flowers are solitary. The fruits are globose, depressed capsules and the seeds are pale brown in colour. There are 3-4 different varieties of phyllanthus.
The botanical name of bhumya malaki is Phyllanthus niruri and it belongs to family Euphorbiaceae. Isolation of phyllanthin and hypophyllanthin from leaves). Three new lignansniranthin, nirtetralin and phyltetralin – isolated from leaves. The seed oil contained ricinoleic acid (1.2), linoleic (21.0) and linolenic (51.4%) acids. A new flavone glycoside isolated and characterized as fisetin – 4-O- glucoside; rutin, quercetin, quercetrin and astralgin also isolated a new lignan – nirphyllin and a new neolignan – phyllnirurin – from aerial parts.
Bhumyamalaki is bitter, astringent and sweet in the post digestive effect (vipaka) and has cold potency (virya). It alleviates kapha and pitta dIt possesses light (laghu) and dry (ruksa) attributes. It is specially used as an alleviator of pitta dosa and is salutary in excessive thirst, hyperacidity, anaemia, cough and the blood disorders. (Bhavaprakasa Nighantu)
The whole plant juice is used for medicinal purpose. The paste of its leaves is applied, externally, in the skin diseases, wounds and ulcers. In fractures, the pulp of the leaves mixed with salt is applied externally, to hasten the healing. In the diseases of the eye, the root juice, mixed with sugar, is instilled into nostrils in hiccup.
Internally, it is benevolent in gastroinsential ailments like loss of appetite, constipation, hyperacidity and excessive thirst. It also mitigates diarrhea and dysentery. The decoction of bhumyamalaki augments the liver functions and is used as a blood purifier in hepatosplenomegaly. It calms down the pitta. In women, menorrhagia and leucorrhea is effectively treated with the seeds of bhumyamalaki. The also are rewarding in urinary diseases, diabetes, diabetes and chronic fever. The fresh juice of the whole plant works well, when given with ghee, in menorrhagia. In diabetes, the mixture of powders of bhumyamalaki, cardamom, cinnamon and amalaki is beneficial. The excessive thirst due to pitta vitiation is alleviated with the decoction of the herb in milk. Bhumyamalaki can also be of help as a general tonic in debility. It has a mild diuretic activity, so is useful as an adjunct, in the treatment of dysuria.
The effect of bhumyamalaki on chronic carriers of Hepatitis – B – virus was studied clinically, In a preliminary study, carriers of Hepatitis – B – virus were treated with the preparation of the plant phyllanthus niruri for 30 days. 22 of 37 (59%) treated patients has lost Hepatitis B surface antigen when tested 15-20 days after the end of the treatment compared with only 1 of 23 (4%) placebo treated controls. Some subjects have been followed up for upto 9 months. In no case has the surface antigen returned. Clinical observation reveals few or no toxic effects. The encouraging results of this preliminary study recommend continued evaluation of the plant and the active principles isolated from it (The Lancet, Oct 1, 1988, PP 764-766).
Classical Ayurvedic Preparations
- Bhumyamalaki svarasa (fresh Juice)
- Bhumyamalaki powder of dried plant