Phyllanthus is an herb found in central and southern India. It can grow from 30–60 centimeters in height and blooms with many yellow flowers. Phyllanthus species are also found in other countries, including China (e.g., Phyllanthus urinaria), the Philippines, Cuba, Nigeria, and Guam.1All parts of the plant are used medicinally.
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3 Stars Reliable and relatively consistent scientific data showing a substantial health benefit.
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1 Star For an herb, supported by traditional use but minimal or no scientific evidence. For a supplement, little scientific support.
900 to 2,700 mg daily
Taking the herb phyllanthus may be beneficial for people with hepatitis B.
Phyllanthus (Phyllanthus amarus), an Ayurvedic herb, has been studied primarily in carriers of the hepatitis B virus, as opposed to those with chronic active hepatitis. In one trial, administering this herb for 30 days appeared to eliminate the hepatitis B virus in 22 of 37 cases (59%).3 However, other trials have failed to confirm a beneficial effect of Phyllanthus amarus against hepatitis B.4 , 5 A West Indian species, Phyllanthus urinaria (not widely available in the United States or Europe), has achieved much better results than Indian Phyllanthus amarus. 6 Thus, the specific plant species used may have a significant impact on the results. The amount of phyllanthus used in clinical trials has ranged from 900–2,700 mg per day.
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Extracts of phyllanthus plants have shown a marked ability to decrease pain, apparently by decreasing inflammation. With liver-protective properties, they may be safer than drugs such as acetaminophen, which has toxicity to the liver.
In animal research, alcohol/water extracts of plants from the genus phyllanthus (25 to 200 mg per 2.2 pounds body weight) have shown a marked ability to decrease pain.7 This family includes the plants Phyllanthus urinaria, P. caroliniensis, P. amarus, and P. niruri. Like aspirin, phyllanthus extracts appear to reduce pain by decreasing inflammation.8 Although they are six to seven times more potent than aspirin or acetaminophen9 in test tube studies, extracts of these plants also demonstrate liver-protective properties,10 suggesting they may be safer than drugs such as acetaminophen, which has well-documented toxicity to the liver. The usefulness of phyllanthus extracts for treating pain in humans is unknown.
Phyllanthus has been used in Ayurvedic medicine for over 2,000 years and has a wide number of traditional uses including internal use for jaundice, gonorrhea, frequent menstruation, and diabetes and topical use as a poultice for skin ulcers, sores, swelling, and itchiness. The young shoots of the plant are administered in the form of an infusion for the treatment of chronic dysentery.2
Phyllanthus blocks DNA polymerase, the enzyme needed for the hepatitis B virus to reproduce. In one study, 59% of those infected with chronic viral hepatitis B lost one of the major blood markers of HBV infection (e.g., hepatitis B surface antigen) after using 900 mg of phyllanthus per day for 30 days.11 While clinical trials on the effectiveness of phyllanthus for HBV have been mixed, the species P. urinaria and P. niruri seem to work better than P. amarus.12 Clinical trials with hepatitis B patients have used 900–2,700 mg of phyllanthus per day.
Research has used the powdered form of phyllanthus ranging from 900–2,700 mg per day for three months.13
1. Bharatiya VB. Selected Medicinal Plants of India. Bombay: Tata Press, 1992, 235–7.
2. Nadkarmi KM. India Materia Medica, vol 1. Bombay: Popular Prakashan Private Ltd., 1993, 947–8.
3. Thyagarajan SP, Subramian S, Thirunalasundari T, et al. Effects of Phyllanthus amarus on chronic carriers of hepatitis B virus. Lancet 1988;2:764–6.
4. Doshi JC, Vaidya AB, Antarkar DS, et al. A two-stage clinical trial of Phyllanthus amarus in hepatitis B carriers: Failure to eradicate the surface antigen. Indian J Gastroenterol 1994;13:7–8.
5. Leelarasamee A, Trakulsomboon S, Maunwongyathi P, et al. Failure of Phyllanthus amarus to eradicate hepatitis B surface antigen from symptomless carriers. Lancet 1990;335:1600–1.
6. Wang M, Cheng H, Li Y, et al. Herbs of the genus Phyllanthus in the treatment of chronic hepatitis B: observations with three preparations from different geographical sites. J Lab Clin Med 1995;126:350–2.
7. Santos AR, Filho VC, Yunes RA, et al. Analysis of the mechanisms underlying the antinociceptive effects of extracts of plants from the genus Phyllanthus. Gen Pharmacol 1995;26:1499–506.
8. Cechinel Filho V, Santos AR, De Campos RO, et al. Chemical and pharmacological studies of Phyllanthus caroliniensis in mice. J Pharm Pharmacol 1996;48:1231–6.
9. Miguel OG, Calixto JB, Santos Ar, et al. Chemical and preliminary analgesic evaluation of geraniin and furosin isolated from Phyllanthus sellowianus, Planta Med 1996;62:146–9.
10. Syamasundar KV, Singh B, Thakur RS, et al. Antihepatotoxic principles of Phyllanthus niruri herbs. J Ethnopharmacol 1985;14:41–4.
11. Thyagarajan SP, Subramanian S, Thirunalasundar T, et al. Effect of Phyllanthus amarus on chronic carriers of hepatitis B virus. Lancet 1988:2:1017–8.
12. Meixa W, Haowei C, Yanjun L, et al. Herbs of the genus Phyllanthus in the treatment of chronic hepatitis B: observation with three preparations from different geographic sites. J Lab Clin Med 1995;126:350–2.
13. Reichert R. Phytotherapeutic alternatives for chronic hepatitis. Quart Rev Natural Med 1997;Summer:103–8.
Last Review: 05-01-2013
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