Euphorbia hirta L.

Last updated: 25 Aug 2016

Scientific Name

Euphorbia hirta L.


Chamaesyce gemella (Lag.) Small, Chamaesyce hirta (L.) Millsp., Chamaesyce hirta var. glaberrima (Koidz.) H.Hara, Chamaesyce hirta var. laeticincta Croizat, Chamaesyce hirta f. litoralis Hurus., Chamaesyce karwinskyi (Boiss.) Millsp., Chamaesyce pekinensis var. glaberrima (Koidz.) Makino & Nemoto, Chamaesyce pilulifera var. glaberrima (Koidz.) H.Hara, Chamaesyce rosei Millsp., Desmonema hirta (L.) Raf., Ditritea hirta (L.) Raf., Euphorbia bancana Miq., Euphorbia capitata Lam., Euphorbia chrysochaeta W.Fitzg., Euphorbia gamella Lag., Euphorbia globulifera Kunth, Euphorbia hirta var. destitute L.C.Wheeler, Euphorbia hirta var. glaberrima Koidz., Euphorbia karwinskyi Boiss., Euphorbia nodiflora Steud., Euphorbia obliterata Jacq., Euphorbia pilulifera var. discolor Engelm., Euphorbia pilulifera var. glabrescens Thell., Euphorbia pilulifera var. guaranitica Chodat & Hassl., Euphorbia pilulifera var. hirta (L.) Thell., Euphorbia pilulifera var. hirta (L.) Griseb., Euphorbia pilulifera f. humifusa Domin, Euphorbia pilulifera var. obliterata (Jacq.) Hitchc., Euphorbia pilulifera f. rubmaculata Domin, Euphorbia pilulifera f. viridis Domin, Euphorbia verticillata Vell. [Illegitimate]. [1]

Vernacular Name

Malaysia Ambin jantan, ara tanah, daun patiyang, gelang susu, kelesum, keremak susu, lanchang [2]
English Asthma herb, asthma plant, asthma weed, cat’s hair, dove-weed, garden spurge, hairy spurge, milkweed, pill-bearing spurge, red milkweed, snake weed, spurge [2]
China Da fei yang cao [2]
India Acchacche gida, acche gida, achchegida, ache soppu, agatabuslai, ajilagids, akki, amampatchaiarisi, asal-gida, badi dudhi, bara dudhe, bara-kerui, baro-kheruie, chapangsing, chitaaguti, chitaguti, chithaa kutti, chittakuta, cintiyalatcurai, cirrammanpaccarici, cirrilaippalatai, citti-rai, cittirapalai, cittirappalatai, cittiravalaiya, cittivalaiyam, cittivalaiyarici, civittarici, cututuratti, dhedi, dodda haalu kudi, dodhi, doodhiklan, doodhli, dudagachha, dudh-dahi, dudh khurd, dudhalo, dudheli, dudhi, dudhli, dudili, dudoli, dugdhika (dugdh milk), dughdika, dulya, gakhirati bon, gen-thee kasa, guddani, haala kudi, halunni soppu, hari horika, harihorika, horihorika, jutikunta, kempu neneyaki soppu, khar, kherui mara, khiro gatcha, khirogatch, lal-dudhi, laldudhi, mitnalei, naagaarjuni, maanabaala, naanabiyan, nagal, nanabala, nanabalu, nanabiyan, nelapalai, nilappala, pachha bottu, pachhaku, pakhamba-maton, palatai, par puranti, parcorri, parcorrikkoti, parcorrikosti, parcurri, par-puranti, parcorri, par-puranti, patchaiarissi, peyammanpaccarici, pushi toa, pusita, pusitao, raihipot, rati, reddinanabrolu, reddivaari nanabalu, reddivari-nanubalu, reddy vari nanubalu, ritah, rowtho, rudanti kalpa, sahjana, taddina gida, vayalammanpaccarici, vellaiyammanpaccarici [2]
Bangladesh Saimamungye [2]
Nepal Dudhe jhar, dudejhar, jotane jhar, ratango, trishubha mran [2]
Philippines Bambanilag, bobi, bolo-botanis, boto-botones, boto-butonisan, botonis, gatas-gatas, golandrina, magatas, malis-malis, maragatas, pansi-pansi, saikan, sisiohan, soro-soro, tabab, teta [2]
Arabic Libbein [2]
Africa Asen-uloko (Bini); ege-ile, emi-ile (Yoruba); etinkeni-ekpo (Efik); lukwe bebe (Bwari); mbasombol min-gem (Tivi), nonan kurchiya (Hausa); udani (Igbo) [2]
Congo Claganzu [2]
Ghana Ahenkodze, animakoa, anufosu, notsigbe [2]
East Africa Acak, akajwa, akasandasanda, akawjamate, amatu, mbabazi za ntaama [2]
Madagascar Aidinono, zanraobera (= Jean Robert) [2]
Nigeria Ajemuga, asin-uluko, ohugben, pembi-chuke [2]
Tanzania Ntanze, mziwaziwa, nwache [2]
Peru Golondrina, hierba de la golondrina, leche-leche, urpai micuna, yerba colorada [2]
Pacific Deniosi, kikikana, kokokahiki, kuku, la’au fai moti, ovuka, sip, tabuturu, titania [2]
Papua New Guinea Bubu, gigirogo, tade, tantade, wilai [2].

Geographical Distributions

Euphorbia hirta is a common weed in garden beds, garden paths and wastelands. It is usually found in Java, Sunda, Sumatra, Peninsular Malaysia, the Philippines and Vietnam. [3]

E. hirta is a weed of waste places and in crops, occurring up to 2000 m altitude. [4]

Botanical Description

E. hirta is a member of Euphorbiaceae family. [1] This is an annual, unarmed, hairy with long soft hairs herb up to 70 cm tall. [4]

The stems are sparingly branched near the base. [4]

The leaves are opposite, ovate to ovate-oblong size 1-5 cm x 0.3-2.5 cm. The base is obliquely triangular to round while the apex is bluntly pointed. The margin is finely serrate, pale to dark green and often with purple spots. There is a short-stalk with sharply pointed free stipules. [4]

The inflorescence is arising from axils or terminal and composed of inflorescence stalk, 4 minute spherical clusters of flower and lying flat-hairy involucres. The green or purplish glands bear a narrow appendage and yellow anthers. [4]

The capsule is acutely 3-lobed, broadly ovoid-pyramidal, about 1 mm x 1.2 mm and lying flat hairy. [4]

The seeds are oblong, with slight transverse wrinkles. [4]


No documentation.

Chemical Constituent

The whole plant of E. hirta has been reported to contain cycloartenol, friedelin, taraxerol, aphyldienol, ingenol triacetate, euphorbol hexacosanate, β-amyrin acetate, tinyatoxin, β-sitosterol, choline, shikimic acid  inositol, quercetin, rutin, an alkaloid xanthorhamnine, dimeric tannins euphorbins A-C and diesters of 12-deoxy-4β-phorbol [5]. Recently, flavonol glycosides: afzelin, quercitrin and myricitrin were also isolated [6].

Plant Part Used

Entire plant, latex, aerial part, root, and leaf. [3]

Traditional Use

E. hirta extract is a sedative and affects the mucus membranes of the respiratory and genitourinary tracts. A decoction of the herb is used to treat cough, asthma, gonorrhoea, cataracts and phlegmon. It is also used to expel worms. E. hirta is believed to be an astringent and is used to treat chronic diarrhoea, enteritis, proctitis, dysentery and colic. It is mixed with water and used as an enema. The poultice is applied to abscesses and inflammed glands. The milk is applied to warts. The extract has tonic, narcotic and haemostatic properties.

The latex is used to treat conjunctivitis, cornea ulcers, warts, chronic catarrh and chest complaints. The extract is used as a protective medicine against ‘meroyan’ during the first 3 days after childbirth. It is also used as poultice to heal leg ulcers and bruises. This latex is reported to have been applied by the Jamaicans and Darienitas to the nipples of young girls to induce mammification.

The aerial part in combination with Fibraurea recisa is used as an antispasmodic to relieve chronic amoebic dysentery, abdominal colic, ascaridiosis and genitourinary disorders. It is also used as a gargle and poultice. The combination of the aerial parts with Lobelia inflataroot or Polygala senega root is used to treat cough and asthma. The juice is used to treat Tinea imbricata while the essential oil is used to cure erysipelas caused by Streptococcus. The aerosol is used as insect repellents.

The root is used to allay vomiting. It is also used by nursing mothers to increase lactation. The leaves are useful for healing ulcers and eye-related diseases. [3]

Preclinical Data


Antimalarial activity

The flavonol glycosides afzelin, quercetrin and myricitrin were isolated from methanol extracts of the aerial parts of E. hirta. The compounds showed inhibition of the proliferation of Plasmodium falciparum with myricitrin being the most active. The little cytotoxic activity was exhibited against human epidermoid carcinoma KB 3-1 cells. [6]

In another study of 20 African plants, the whole plant extract of E. hirta was one of the 14 plants that demonstrated more than 60% inhibition of the P. falciparum growth in vitro at a concentration of 6 μg/mL. The E. hirta whole plant extract also exhibited more than 60% chemosuppression of parasitaemia in mice infected with P. berghei at the dose of 200-400 mg/kg per day. [7]

Antidiarrhoeal activity

The lyophilised decoction of E. hirta was found to possess a prominent antidiarrhoeic activity in animal model induced by castor oil, arachidonic acid and prostaglandin E2. The decoction delayed small intestinal transit when this was hastened by castor oil. Quercetrin, isolated from this decoction, also showed antidiarrhoeal activity. [8]

Quercitrin, a flavanoid isolated from E. hirta, shows antidiarhoeal activity at doses of 50mg/kg, against castor oil- and PGE2-induced diarrhoea in mice, but not when magnesium sulphate was used to provoke the diarrhea. The flavonoid delayed rat intestinal transit when accelerated with castor oil but did not modify the fluid transport across the colonic mucosa when it was given intraluminally, either in normal conditions or when this transport was altered by PGE2 or sodium picosulphate. [9]

The aqueous leaf extract of E. hirta showed significantly and dose-dependently decreased on gastrointestinal motility in castor oil-induced diarrhoea in mice. [10]

Anti-inflammatory activity

Lyophilised aqueous extract of E. hirta has been demonstrated anti-inflammatory activity in animal model. The significant and dose-dependent anti-inflammatory effects were observed on an acute inflammatory process in carrageenan-induced oedema in rats from the dose of 100 mg/kg. Conversely, the plant extract remained inactive on chronic processes such as Freund's adjuvant-induced rheumatoid arthritis, after a chronic treatment during fourteen days at the daily dose of 200 or 400mg/kg. Nevertheless, if inefficacy was observed on rat backpaws oedema and on loss of weight, the aqueous extract reduced the inflammatory hyperalgia. [11]

The n-hexane extract of E. hirta has been demonstrated anti-inflammatory activity on the 12-O-tetradecanoyl phorbol acetate (TPA)-induced mouse ear oedema. The compounds responsible for the anti-inflammatory effect were isolated and identified as β-amyrin, 24-methylencyclocloartenol and β-sitosterol. These three triterpenes were also examined for their inhibitory effects on TPA-induced inflammation in mice. Both the extract and the triterpenes wielded significant and dose-dependent anti-inflammatory activity in the TPA-induced mice. Combinations of the isolated triterpenes were tested and the results showed that the combination was higher in magnitude as anti-inflammatory agent than those produced by each triterpene alone. [12]

The aqueous extract of E. hirta was investigated for its influence on prostaglandin biosynthesis (PG I2, PG E2, PG D2). The study showed that the extract of E. hirta strongly reduced the release of prostaglandins I2, E2, and D2. In addition, the extract exerted an inhibitory effect on platelet aggregation and depressed the formation of carrageenin induced rat paw oedema. The chemical nature of the active principle of E. hirta could be characterized as (a) compound(s) of medium polarity in the molecular weight range of 1000 to 3000 Da. [13]

Antiplasmodial activity

The ethanol extract from the whole plant of E. hirta exhibited a pronounced antiplasmodial activity (IC50 < 3 μg/mL) in the investigation of the treatment of malaria. The same observation was made for its petroleum ether fraction.  The observed antiplasmodial activity may be related to the presence of terpenes, steroids, coumarins, flavonoids, phenolic acids, lignans, xanthones and anthraquinones. [14]

Larvicidal activity

The larvicidal activity of ethyl acetate, butanol, and petroleum ether extracts of five species of Euphorbiaceae plants including E. hirta were tested against the early fourth instar larvae of Aedes aegypti L. and Culex quinquefasciatus (Say). The larval mortality was observed after 24 h of exposure. The highest mortality was found in petroleum ether extract. The LC50 value of petroleum ether extract of E. hirta was 272.36ppm against A. aegypti and 424.94 ppm against C. quinquefasciatus. Of the various ratios tested, the petroleum ether extracts of E. hirta was observed to be the least efficient amongst the other plant extracts. The result shows that E. hirta can be applied as the potential larvicide against A. aegypti and C. quinquefasciatus albeit a weak activity. [15]

Antimicrobial activity

The ethanolic extract of the aerial parts of E. hirta was tested for antimicrobial activity. The plant exhibited a broad spectrum of antimicrobial activity, particularly against Escherichia coli (enteropathogen), Proteus vulgarisPseudomonas aeruginosa and Staphylococcus aureus. [16]

Antibacterial activity

The methanol extract of E. hirta has been demonstrated antibacterial activity against dysentery-causing Shigella spp. using the Vero cell line. The cytotoxicity studies of the extract were performed using the cell line and the non-cytotoxic concentration of the extract was tested for antibacterial activity against the cytopathic dose of the pathogen. The extract was found to be non-cytotoxic and effective antibacterial agents. [17]

Diuretic activity

The Ehirta leaf extracts was assessed a diuretic effect in rats using acetazolamide and furosemide as standard diuretic drugs. The water and ethanol extracts (50 and 100mg/kg) of the plant produced time-dependent increase in urine output. The plant extracts also significantly affect the electrolyte excretion. The water extract behaved similarly like acetazolamide, by increasing urine output and enhancing the excretion of Na+, K+ and HCO3 suggesting that the active components in the water extract had similar diuretic effect to that of acetazolamide. On the other hand, the ethanol extract increased the excretion of HCO3, decreased the loss of K+ and had little effect on renal removal of Na+. Furosemide, increased the renal excretion of Na+ and Cl; but had no effect on the loss of K+ and HCO3. [18]

Anti-allergic activity

A 95% ethanol extract of whole aerial parts of E. hirta showed antihistaminic, anti-inflammatory and immunosuppressive properties in various animal models. The study demonstrated that E. hirta possessed significant activity to prevent early and late phase allergic reaction. [19]

Antifertility activity

The aqueous crude extracts of the fresh leaves of E. hirta were administered to thirty eight-week old sexually mature male albino rats to determine the effects of the extract on the male reproductive organs of these animals. The results from this study showed that the aqueous crude extract of E. hirta caused varying degrees of testicular degeneration as well as reduction in the mean seminiferous tubular diameter in the treated rats. The aqueous extract of E. hirta has potentially deleterious effects on the testes and accessory organs of rats. The study has consequently revealed that E. hirta has potential toxic effects on animals and great caution should be exercised in the use of this plant for medicinal purposes. [20]

Behavioural and neurotropic activity

The non-toxic aqueous extract of whole plant of E. hirta has been investigated for behavioural and neurotropic effects in mice. Sedative properties could be confirmed with high doses (100 mg of dried plant/kg, and more), by a decrease of behavioral parameters measured in non-familiar environment tests (activitest and staircase test), whereas anticonflict effects appeared at lower doses (12.5 and 25 mg of dried plant/kg), by an enhancement of behavioral parameters measured in the staircase test and in the light/dark choice situation test. [21]

Anthelmintic activity

The aqueous crude extract of E. hirta has been demonstrated anthelmintic activity in 20 Nigerian dogs which were found to be heavily infected with worms. The results showed that the aqueous crude extracts of E. hirta after its administration into local dogs produced a significant reduction of worm load. The phenol compound present in the plant extract could have caused reduction in worms load through this same mechanism that culminates in exhaustion and death of worms. Since the aqueous crude extract of E. hirta significantly reduced the faecal egg count of the helminths, it could serve as an anthelmintic agent. [22]

Molluscicidal activity

The aqueous and serially purified latex extracts of E. hirta have potent molluscicidal activity. The sub-lethal doses (40 and 80% of LC50) of aqueous and partially purified latex extract of the plant also significantly alter the levels of total protein, total free amino acid, nucleic acid (DNA and RNA) and the activity of enzyme protease and acid and alkaline phosphatase in nervous tissue of the snail Lymnaea acuminata in time and dose-dependent manner. [23]

A similar study was also conducted on aqueous stem bark and leaf extracts of the E. hirta plant in different body tissues of L. acuminata. The findings concluded that aqueous extracts of the plant caused significant time and dose dependent alteration of the biochemical levels in various tissues of the vector snail. [24]


No documentation.

Clinical Data

No documentation.


No documentation.

Poisonous Management

No documentation.

Line drawing


Figure 1: the line drawing of E. hirta. [4]


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  9. Gálvez J, Crespo ME, Jiménez J, Suárez A, Zarzuelo A. Antidiarrhoeic activity of quercitrin in mice and rats. J Pharm Pharmacol. 1993;45(2):157-159.
  10. Hore SK, Ahuja V, Mehta G, Kumar P, Pandey SK, Ahmad AH. Effect of aqueous Euphorbia hirta leaf extract on gastrointestinal motility. Fitoterapia. 2006;77(1):35-38.
  11. Lanhers MC, Fleurentin J, Dorfman P, Mortier F, Pelt JM. Analgesic, antipyretic and anti-inflammatory properties of Euphorbia hirta. Planta Med. 1991;57(3):225-231.
  12. Martinez Vázquez M, Apan TOR, Lazcano ME, Bye R. Anti-inflammatory active compounds from the n-hexane extract of Euphorbia hirta. Revista de la Sociedad Quimica de Mexico. 1999;43(3-4):103-105.
  13. Hiermann A, Bucar F. Influence of some traditional medicinal plants of Senegal on prostaglandin biosynthesis. J Ethnopharmacol. 1994;42(2):111-116.
  14. Tona L, Cimanga RK, Mesia K, et al. In vitro antiplasmodial activity of extracts and fractions from seven medicinal plants used in the Democratic Republic of Congo. J Ethnopharmacol. 2004;93(1):27-32.
  15. Rahuman AA, Gopalakrishnan G, Venkatesan P, Geetha K. Larvicidal activity of some Euphorbiaceae plant extracts against Aedes aegypti and Culex quinquefasciatus (Diptera: Culicidae). Parasitol Res. 2008;102(5):867-873.
  16. Sudhakar M, Rao ChV, Rao PM, Raju DB, Venkateswarlu Y. Antimicrobial activity of Caesaplinia pulcherrima, Euphorbia hirta and Asystasia gangeticum. Fitoterpia. 2006;77(5):378-380.
  17. Vijaya K, Ananthan S, Nalini R. Antibacterial effect of the aflavin, polyphenon 60 (Camellia sinensis) and Euphorbia hirta on Shigella spp. –a cell culture study. J Ethnopharmacol. 1995;49(2):115-118.
  18. Johnson PB, Abdulrahman EM, Tiam EA, Abdu Aguye I, Hussaini IM. Euphorbia hirta leaf extracts increase urine output and electrolytes in rats. J Ethnopharmacol. 1999;65(1):63-69.
  19. Singh GD, Keiser P, Youssouf MS, et al. Inhibition of early and late phase allergic reactions by Euphorbia hirta L. Phytother Res. 2006;20(4):316-321.
  20. Adedapo AA, Abatan MO, Akinloye AK, Idowu SO, Olorunsogo OO. Morphometic and histopathological studies on the effects of some chromatographic fractions of Phyllanthus amarus and Euphorbia hirta on the male reproductive organs in rats. J Vet Sci. 2003;4(2):181-185.
  21. Lanthers MC, Fleurentin J, Cabalion P, et al. Behavioral effects of Euphorbia hirta L.: sedative and anxiolytic properties. J Ethnopharmacol. 1990;29(2):189-198.
  22. Adedapo AA, Shabi OO, Adedokun OA. Anthelmintic efficacy of the aqueous crude extract of Euphorbia hirta Linn in Nigerian dogs. Veterinarski Arhiv. 2005;75(1):39-47.
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