Blumea balsamifera (L.) DC

Last updated: 13 March 2015

Scientific Name

Blumea balsamifera (L.) DC


Baccharis balsamifera Stokes, Baccharis gratissima Blume ex DC., Baccharis salvia Lour., Blumea appendiculata DC., Blumea grandis DC., Blumea zollingeriana (Turcz./Sch.Bip.) C.B.Clarke, Conyza appendiculata Blume, Conyza balsamifera L., Conyza saxatilis Zoll. ex C.B.Clarke, Pluchea appendiculata (DC.) Zoll.& Mor., Pluchea balsamifera (L.) Less. [1] [2].

Vernacular Name

Malaysia Capa, chapa, chapor, sembong, telinga kerbau [2][3]
English Ngai camphor, buffalo-ear [3][4]
China Pen Ts’ao, ainaxiang [3][4]
India Kukundara; kukkura-dru (Sanskrit); kakaronda; kakoranda; kukronda (Hindi); bhamaruda (Bombay); kukur-soka; kuk-sungh (Bengali) [3][4]
Indonesia Sembung, capa (Sulawesi); sembung utan (Sundanese); sembung gantung, sembung gula, sembung kuwuk, sembung legi, sembung mingsa, sembung langu, sembung lelet (Javanese); kamandhin (Madura); apompase, mandikapu (Ternate) [2][3][4]
Philippine Sambong (Tagalog); lakadbulan (Bikol); subsub (Ilocano) [2][3]
Myanmar Poung-ma-theing [3]
Cambodia Bai mat [3]
Laos ‘Nat, phi ma ‘sen [2][3]
Thailand Kamphung (Northern); naat-yai (Central); naat (South-eastern); dai bi, dai ngai [2] [3]
Vietnam D[aj]ibi, t[uwf] bi, b[aw]ng mai phi[ees]n, cay dai be [3]
France Camphrier [3][4]
Germany Büffelohr [4]
Saudi Arabia Kama; phitus [3]

Geographical Distributions

Blumea balsamifera is a perennial evergreen shrub native of Southeast Asia but is distributed throughout tropical Asia and extending from India to Indo-China and the Philippines [2] [5]. It is a perennial evergreen shrub native found on the roadsides, fields, lowlands, and mountainous areas of tropical and sub-tropical zones of Asia, especially the Indian Subcontinent and Southeast Asia [2]. It is tolerant of a widely diversified habitat and found from ground level to mountainous slope and from sea level to 1500 m altitude [2] [5].

Botanical Description

B. balsamifera is a member of the family Compositae. The plant that can grow up to 4 m in height. It is a strongly aromatic herb and imparts a strong camphorous odour [2] [5]. It sometimes grows gregariously and hardly tolerates shade. It is often considered a weed, but is easily eradicated. B. balsamifera is frequently found in regularly burned grassland, as it readily sprouts from underground parts after the leaves and branches have been killed by fire [2].

The stems are erect and densely woolly-villous with a diametre ranging from 2-8 cm; simple at the base then repeatedly trifid. The bark is greyish brown, smooth while the wood is soft and white. The branches are terete, densely wooly and villous with yellowish-white hairs [2] [5].

The leaves are usually narrowly oblong-lance-shaped or sometimes oblong-egg-shaped with tapered base with size of 6-30 cm x 1.5-12 cm. The margin is entire, serrate, serrulate to pinnately lobed. It is wrinkled and hairy with long soft hairs on the top surface and densely silky-woolly underneath. The stalk is sometimes absent [2]. The petiole is 0-3.5cm long mostly with 1-3 pairs of basal and patent appendages [2] [5].

The inflorescence is arranged in a terminal or axillary panicle; 10-50 cm long and 6-30 cm in diametre and behaves in a form of a head that is 6-10 mm in diametre. The peduncle is 3-10mm long; involucres campanulate; bracts in many rows, imbricate and linear-subulate, with the inner ones measure 1-9 mm long being the longest and gradually getting short outwardly, becoming densely wooly outside; receptacle measuring 2-4 mm in diametre, slightly convex, alveolate, glabrous or with fimbriate margins of the pits and glabrescent [2] [5].

The florets are heterogamous, numerous, tubular, hardly exserting from the involucres, yellow, marginal florets are female, disk florets ranging from 8 to 28 and are bisexual. The corolla of the bisexual florets is tubular, measures 5-7 mm long, 5-lobed. Lobes triangular-ovate, acute, papillate and pubescent with colleters. The corolla of the female florets is filiform, measures up to 6 mm long, 2-4 lobed and glabrous [2] [5]. The aggregated flowers are in large axils or terminal panicles. The flower stalk is 3-10 mm long combined into the 7-9 mm long, linear and densely woolly ring. The marginal flowers are 1 mm long and up to 6-ribbed [2]. There are 5 stamens, with anthers basally tailed and connective prolonged. The style exsert with 2-branched at the apex [2] [5].

The fruits are minute, measure 1 mm long, brown, with sparse short and white hairs. The pappus is uniseriate, measures 4-7 mm long, soft, white or more often reddish yellow [2] [3].


B. balsamifera grows naturally along roadsides, in upland fields, fields infested with Imperata, and natural grazing lands, brushwood and forest, including bamboo and teak forests and sometimes in wet places on river banks [2].       

Chemical Constituents

B. balsamifera  has been reported to contain flavonoids (e.g. 5',7-dimethylether-2',3,5-trihydroxy-5',7-dimethoxyflavonone; 4'-methylether-3,3',5,7-tetrahydroxy-4'-methoxyflavonone; 3',7-dimethylether-3,4',5-trihydroxy-3',7-dimethoxydihydroflavonol; 4',7-dimethylether-3,4',5-trihydroxy-3',7-dimethoxyflavonone; 4',5-dihydroxy-3',7-dimethoxydihydroflavonol; 3,4',5-trihydroxy-3',7-dimethoxyflavanone; 3',4',5-trihydroxy-7-methoxyflavanone; 3-O-7''-biluteolin), terpenes (e.g. borneol, cineol, limonene, camphor, a-pinene, camphene, b-pinene, 3-carene, sesquiterpenes, monoterpenes, triterpenes and cryptomeridiol), and lactones (blumealactone A, B, C) [3] [6] [7] [8] [9].

Plant Part Used

Leaves, aerial parts, roots.

Traditional Uses

B. balsamifera has been traditionally used in the treatment of various afflictions of the body by Asian people. It has been used to treat conditions like flatulence, indigestion, diarrhoea, intestinal colic and dysentery [9].

A decoction of the leaves is consumed three times a day after meal to treat kidney stones by inducing diuresis [11]. The Indian people used a decoction of the leaves for the treatment of gas distention and abdominal colic [9]. In Vietnam a decoction of the fresh leaves is used to treat influenza and cough either by drinking the decoction or by inhalation of the vapour from the boiling of the leaves [2] [10].

The leaves have properties ofsudorific and diaphoretic which rendered it advantageous in the treatment of flu and a type of fever known as 'Ahwah' in Bengal [9]. For fever, a handful of the leaves is boiled and when lukewarm it is used in a sponge bath [2] [10]. Indian Materia Medica described the treatment for lumbago andsciatica by sitting in a Sitz-bath of boiled leaves [9].

In Malaysia, a decoction of the leaves is used as a lotion to treat beri-beri,lumbago, rheumatism, for bathing after childbirth, and for skin conditions in children. The crushed leaves are applied to heal wounds, stop bleeding, and treat stomach ache and headache. The leaves are eaten with betel to ease the pain in the region of the heart (which may be a digestion pain) [12] [13] [14]. In Sabah, the leaves are used to treat pancreatitis [16].

The pounded fresh leaves are used to relieve headache by applying on the forehead and temple region and tying a clean cloth around the crown to retain the poultice [2]. Meanwhile the Indian people used a poultice of fresh pounded leaves and applied locally to treatpiles [9]. Sometimes a poultice of fresh leaves is applied to the affected area of arthritis [2] [9]. In Southeast Asia it has been widely used in the treatment of various women problems. During the immediate period following childbirth, the leaves of B. balsamifera are used in hot fomentation (tungku) over the uterus to induce rapid involution. It is also used to treat heavy period problem, painful menstruation, functional uterine bleeding and leucorrhoea [2].

The juice of fresh leaves is used to treat purulent eye discharge by squeezing it into the eyes. In case of sinusitis, Thai people made cigarettes out of the chopped dried leaves and smoked it [2].

The roots are traditionally used to improve appetite and expel worms from intestine [9]. It has anti-inflammatory properties including anticatarrh which render its usefulness in the treatment of both upper and lower respiratory tracts like sinusitis, influenza, and asthmatic bronchitis. It also is reportedly used to treat heavy period problem [2].

A decoction of the roots is sometimes given to treat fever [2] [10]. In the case ofcystitis, a decoction of the leaves and roots is given to induce diuresis [11]. Its anti-inflammatory property is advantageous in treating rheumatism. It is also being used in the treatment of joint pains after giving birth. Both leaves and roots are used either in combination or separately in a decoction to treat arthritis [2]. B. balsamifera also has been advocated in the treatment of high blood pressure[15].

Preclinical Data


Hypoglycaemic activity

10% extract of B. balsamifera leaves given to diabetic rats showed a reduction in blood glucose level after one hour [10].

Plasmin Inhibitory activity

Two flavonoids amongst nine known flavonoids isolated from the leaves of B. balsamifera i.e. compounds with two free hydroxyl groups on both C-3’ and C-4’ positions (IC50 values are 1.5 and 2.3 µM, respectively) showed plasmin-inhibitory activity [17].

Antifungal activity

Two metabolites isolated from the leaves of B. balsamifera i.e. icthyothereol acetate and cryptomeridiol showed moderate antifungal activities. Icthyothereol has moderate activity against the fungi Aspergillus nigerTrichophyton mentagrophytes, and Candida albicans, while cryptomeridiol has low activity against A. nigerT. mentagrophytes, and C. albicans [18].

Xanthine oxidase inhibitory activity

The methanol extracts of B. balsamifera aerial part have showed strong xanthine oxidase inhibitory activity with IC50 values less than 20 µg/mL. This indicated that the extract have a potential as an antigout agents [19]. 

Hepatoprotective activity

Blumeatin (Blu, 5,3',5'-trihydroxy-7-methoxy-dihydro-flavone) isolated from B. balsamifera has shown ability to protect liver from being damaged by carbon tetrachloride (CCl4) and thioacetamide in mice. In CCl4-intoxicated mice, blumeatin given as an intraperitoneal (ip) inhibited the increase of serum alanine aminotransferase (AAT) and liver triglycerides and increased serum triglycerides, beta-lipoprotein, and liver glycogen content. Histological lesions of liver were less severe than those of hepatic injury control. Blumeatin ip given at doses of 0.65 and 3.25 mg/kg inhibited the increase of serum AAT and hepatic TG in thioacetamide (TAA)-intoxicated mice. Blumeatin also shortened the pentobarbital sleeping time in CCl4-intoxicated mice [20]. 

Antioxidant activity

The organic extracts of B. balsamifera leaves and that of eleven pure flavonoids isolated from the leaves exhibited more potent of free radical-scavenging ability than did alpha-tocopherol, butylated hydrotoluene (BHT) and butylated hydroxyanisole (BHA). The antioxidant activities of crude extracts decreased in the order: methanol extract > chloroform extract > pet-ether extract. The antioxidant activities of all compounds tested decreased in the order: quercetin > rhamnetin > luteolin > luteolin-7-methylether > L-ascorbic acid > blumeatin > butylated hydroxyanisole > 5,7,30,50-tetrahydroxyflavanone > tamarixetin > butylated hydroxytoluene > a-tocopherol > dihydroquercetin-40-methylether > dihydroquercetin-7,40-dimethylether. Quercetin,rhamnetin, luteolin and luteolin-7 methyl ether showed higher antioxidant activity than ascorbic acid, a well-known antioxidant. Therefore, the leaves extracts can be used for a variety of beneficial chemo-preventive effects [21].



Cytotoxic activity

The methanol extracts of B. balsamifera leaves have induced cell-growth inhibitory activities in rats and in human hepatocellular carcinoma without affecting normal rat hepatocytes. It has been demonstrated that this activity is mediated through the extracts ability to arrest cell cycle at the G1 phase by decreasing the expression of cyclin-E and phosphorylation of retinoblastoma protein. This extracts have reduced the level of a proliferation related ligand (APRIL) which stimulates tumour cell growth. These findings suggested that these extracts may have a possible therapeutic potential in hepatoma cancer patients [22].

Ahydroflavonol (BB-1) extracted from B. balsamifera proved to possess the most striking synergism with TRAIL (Tumour Necrosis Factor (TNF)-Related Apoptosis Induced Ligands). This augmented synergy appears to be due to its ability to increase the level of TRAIL-R2 promoter activity and the surface protein expansion in a p53-independent manner. A combined treatment with the extracts and TRAIL-resistant to adult T-cell leukemia/lymphoma cell line KOB, resulted in apparent apoptosis that was not observed on treatment with either agent alone. These results suggest that combined treatment with BB-1 and TRAIL may be a new strategy for cancer therapy [23].

A sesquiterpenoid ester isolated from the leaves of B. balsamifera showed mild cytotoxic activity when tested against Jurkat human T-cell leukemia cells, with an IC50 value of 26.2 µM [17].

Clinical Data

Clinical findings

No documentation


No documentation

Side effects

No side effects are observed when used in the recommended dosage

Pregnancy/Breast Feeding

Age limitation

Safety in young children and the elderly has not been established.

Adverse reaction

No documentation

Interaction & Depletion

No documentation

Interaction with drug

No documentation

Interaction with other Herbs

No documentation


No documentation

Case Report

No documentation


No documentation


No documentation

Line drawing

Blumea balsamifera


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