Leonurus sibiricus L.

Last updated: 2016 Sept 23

Scientific Name

Leonurus sibiricus L.


Lamium sibiricum (L.) Cordem., Leonurus manshuricus Y.Yabe, Leonurus manshuricus f. albiflorus Nakai & Kitag., Leonurus multifidus (Moench) Desf., Leonurus occidentalis Colla, Leonurus sibiricus f. albiflorus (Nakai & Kitag.) C.Y.Wu & H.W.Li, Leonurus sibiricus var. glaber Krestovsk., Leonurus sibiricus var. grandiflorus Benth., Panzeria angustifolia Raf., Panzeria multifida Moench, Panzeria sibirica Steud., Phlomis sibirica (L.) Medik. [1]

Vernacular Name

Malaysia Ka chang ma [2], seranting, tebungaga, kacangma [3]
English Lion’s tail, Siberian motherwort [3]
China Xi ye yi mu cao [4]
Indonesia Ginjean, dendereman, si saratan [3]
Thailand Khanchaa thet, saa saa, saa nam [3]
Philippines Kamariang-sungsong [3]
Vietnam [Is]ch m[aax]u, sung[us]y, ch[os]i d[ef]n [3]
France Agripaume, gros tombé [3]
Brazil Erva-macae [5].

Geographical Distributions

L. sibiricus is native to temperate Asia, Siberia, China, Korea, and is found from Japan to India and the Mascarenes. It now has a pantropical and temperate distribution. In Malesia, it is distributed from Peninsular Malaysia to Sumatra, Java, Borneo, Bali, Sulawesi, Timor and the Moluccas, and also in the Philippines. [3]

Botanical Description

L. sibiricus is a member from the family of Lamiaceae. It is a branched annual or biennial herb can grow up to a height of 0.5-1.5 m. [3]

The stem is 4-angled, furrowed, hairy or glabrescent and with an unpleasant smell. [3]

The leaves are decussate in arrangement. The lower leaves are egg-shaped or equilateral triangle in outline, sized between 5-7 cm x 3-4.5 cm. The leaves form is palmately-pinnately partite or dissected, with linear incised segments. The upper leaves are papery, glabrescent above, waxy bluish-green and hairy on the veins beneath. The stalk of lower leaves is between 2-4 cm long but the upper leaves without a stalk. [3]

The inflorescence composed of verticillasters with numerous axillary, bisexual, irregular, sessile flowers. Bracts are awl-shaped or spinescent that are about 4-10 mm long. Its sepal is turbinate-campanulate. It is between 4-5 mm long while its fruit is 6-7 mm long. There are 10-veined and 5-toothed and almost equal, almost hairless to sparingly hairy to spinous. Its petal are 2-lipped and 10-11(-20) mm long. The tube is slightly shorter than the sepal, when young with an oblique ring of hairs inside. The upper lip is entire, obovate, erect, convex, hairy outside while the lower lip is 3-lobed, mid-lobe very large, obcordate, hairy, white and pinkish or red. There are 4 stamens in 2 pairs. The filaments are thinly hairy, ascending under the upper lip. [3]

Its fruit consisting of 4 dry 1-seeded schizocarpous nutlets enclosed in the persistent sepal. Its nutlets are ellipsoid in 2 mm long. It is truncate at the apex, smooth, and brown. [3]

The seedling is with epigeal germination. [3]


L. sibiricus is locally common in waste places, along river banks, railway embankments, and also as a weed in arable land. It is sometimes cultivated as an ornamental or for medicinal purposes and also occurs escaped, under both humid and semi-humid climatic conditions, from 0-2000 m altitude. L. sibiricus flowers throughout the year. [3]

Chemical Constituent

Isolation from the aerial part of L. sibiricus has been reported to contain furanoditerpenelactones and diterpene-lactones, leonotinin, leonotin, dubiin and nepetaefuran [5]. The plant also contains guanidine derivatives and alkaloids, the labdane diterpenes, sibiricinones A-E, 15-epi-sibiricinones D and E, flavone genkwanin, 15-epimeric mixtures of diterpenes, leopersins B and C, (+)-pinoresinol O-b-D-glucopyranoside, 8-acetylharpagid, apigenin 7-O-b-D-glucopyranoside, apigenin 7-neohesperidoside and quercetin 3-neohesperidoside [6][7][8][9].

Plant Part Used

Whole plant. [6][7][10]

Traditional Use

L. sibiricus roots and leaves are used as a febrifuge [6]. The seeds are used in Chinese medicine as a constructive and aphrodisiac, the dried plant is used as a tonic and as a general remedy for puerperal and menstrual disorders to relieve menstrual pain and excessive bleeding. It is a traditional emmenagogue (an agent that promotes menstrual discharge) and an antipyretic in China [11]. The leaves are used in the treatment of chronic rheumatism while the juice of the leaves is antibacterial and is extensively used in the treatment of psoriasis, scabies and chronic skin eruptions. L. sibiricus is a respiratory stimulant with curare like effect on motor endings [6][8]. It is used as folk medicine for the treatment of cough and bronchitis [5][8]. The stems and leaves are added to chicken soup for consumption by mothers during confinement [10].

L. sibiricus is used in the West Indies as a cough syrup and an antipyretic for the treatment of malaria. The juice of the fresh plant is used to treat hemoptysis, edema, gout, and arthritis [7]. It is popularly used in Brazil for cold, diarrhea and digestive complaints [11].

Preclinical Data


Antibacterial activity

The CCl4 and chloroform extracts of the aerial parts of L. sibiricus (500 μg/disc) showed a broad spectrum antibacterial activity in the disc diffusion method assay against Staphylococcus aureus, Staphylococcus epidermis, Streptococcus pyogenes, Escherichia coli, Vibrio cholerae, Shigella dysenteriae, Shigella boydii. [6]

The ethanol extract of L. sibiricus was active against E. coli, Micrococcus luteus and Bacillus subtilis although other studies found the plant to be inactive against Staphylococcus aureus, E. coli, Candida albicans, S. epidermidis and B. subtilis. [13]

L. japonicus seed extract strongly inhibited the growth of fungal and bacterial pathogens. The protein that was purified from the seed extract has a small molecular mass of 7.8 kDa, an isoelectric point of 8.2 and was heat stable. The seed protein produced more pronounced hyphal growth inhibition against hyphomycete fungi, such as Alternaria alternata, Cercospora personata, and Aspergillus niger. Overexpression of this seed protein in transgenic tobacco significantly enhanced resistance of the tobacco to fungal and bacterial pathogens without any visible alteration in plant growth and development. [11]

Anticancer activity

The furanoditerpenelactones and the diterpene-lactones, leonotinin, leonotin, dubiin and nepetaefuran exhibited moderate cytotoxic activity (IC50 of 50-60 µg/mL) against leukemia cells (L 1210) in tissue culture. [5]

The effects of adsorbed and unabsorbed fractions of L. sibiricus separated by ion-exchange resins were studied in lesions of the mammary gland and uterus of GR/A mice [16]. Both the adsorbed and unadsorbed fractions of L. sibiricus suppressed the incidence of palpable mammary tumours and retarded their growth. There was no difference in effect between the two fractions. Both fractions did not affect pregnancy-dependent mammary tumours, mammary hyperplastic alveolar nodules or uterine adenomyosis [14]. In contrast, the development of pregnancy-dependent mammary tumours (PDMT) and mammary cancers that originated from PDMT in mice was enhanced by chronic ingestion of a methanol extract of the above-ground parts of L. sibiricus (0.5% in drinking water) [15]. However, the development of mammary cancer that originated from hyperplastic alveolar nodules was markedly suppressed as was the incidence of uterine adenomyosis. L. sibiricus stimulated the urinary excretion of allantoin, creatine and creatinine and also the glucose tolerance [15]. These findings suggest that the full manifestation of the medicinal effects of L. sibiricus is dependent on synergistic interactions between the different components [14].

Analgesic and anti-inflammatory activity

The methanolic extract of L. sibiricus aerial parts showed significant analgesic effect in acetic acid-induced writhing in mice and anti-inflammatory activity against carrageenin induced rat paw edema in rats. The extract (250 and 500 mg/kg, i.p.) inhibited writhing by 44.15% and 69.68%, respectively, which was comparable to that produced by the positive control, diclofenac sodium (25 mg/kg, i.p.) which produced an inhibition of 74.67%. The extract (200 and 400 mg/kg, p.o.) also produced a significant dose-dependent anti-inflammatory activity against carrageenin induced rat paw edema in rats, an effect that was comparable to that of phenylbutazone(100 mg/kg, p.o.), a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory agent that was the positive control. [16]

Antioxidant activity

The hot-water extract of L. sibiricus showed considerable anti-oxidant and antimutagenic properties without any cytotoxic effects when examined in an Escherichia coli system. L. sibiricus hot water extract (5 mg/mL) was highly active at scavenging superoxide anion radicals (85.4%) and inhibited xanthine oxidase (89% inhibition) but showed a lower hydroxyl radical scavenging activity (56.9%). The extract of L. sibiricus also inhibited lipid peroxidation in an ex vivo antioxidant assay system using rabbit erythrocyte membrane ghost. [17]

Antiviral activity

L. sibiricus extract showed potent anti-influenza virus activity [8]. The methanol extract of the aerial parts of L. sibiricus (100 mg/mL) did not produce significant inhibitory effects on HIV-1 protease activity, an important target in the design of antiviral agents for AIDS [18].

Uterine activity

A decoction of L. sibiricus produced a stimulatory action on the mouse uterus in vitro which was related to stimulation of uterine H1- and a-adrenergic receptors. [19]


The CH2Cl2-MeOH extract from the aerial parts of L. sibiricus elicited an LC50 of 12 ppm in the brine shrimp (Artemia salina Leach) lethality assay. [12]

Clinical Data

No documentation


No documentation

Poisonous Management

No documentation

Line drawing


Figure 1: The line drawing of L. sibiricus. [3]


  1. The Plant List. Ver 1.1. Leonurus sibiricus L. [homepage on the Internet]. c2013 [updated 2012 Mar 23; cited 2016 Sept 23]. Available from: http://www.theplantlist.org/tpl1.1/record/kew-109583
  2. Quattrocchi U. CRC world dictionary of medicinal and poisonous plants: Common names, scientific names, eponyms, synonyms, and etymology. Volume III E-L. Boca Raton, Florida: CRC Press, 2012; p. 741
  3. Teo SP, Pin CH. Leonurus sibiricus L. In: van Valkenburg JLCH, Bunyapraphatsara N, editors. Plant Resources of South-East Asia No. 12(2): Medicinal and poisonous plants 2. Leiden, Netherlands: Backhuys Publishers, 2001; p. 331-334.
  4. US National Plant Germplasm System. Leonurus sibiricus L. [homepage on the Internet]. [updated 2007 Feb 4; cited 2016 Sept 30]. Available from: https://npgsweb.ars-grin.gov/gringlobal/taxonomydetail.aspx?21757
  5. Satoh M, Satoh Y, Isobe K, Fujimoto Y. Studies on the constituents of Leonurus sibiricus L. Chem Pharm Bull. 2003;51(3):41-342.
  6. Ahmed F, Islam MA, Rahman MM. Antibacterial activity of Leonurus sibiricus aerial parts. Fitoterapia. 2006;77(4):316-317.
  7. Boalino DM, McLean S, Reynolds WF, Tinto WF. Labdane diterpenes of Leonurus sibiricus. J Nat Prod. 2004;67(4):714-717.
  8. Fumito K, Ken'ichiro H, Masashi Y, et al. Diterpenoids from Leonurus sibiricus L. Koryo, Terupen oyobi Seiyu Kagaku ni kansuru Toronkai Koen Yoshishu. 2005;49:299-301.
  9. Hayashi K, Ikoma R, Deyama T. Phenolic compounds and iridoids from Leonurus sibiricus. Nat Med. 2001;55(5):276.
  10. Tawan CS, Sim SL, Ho WS, Lau CY. Studies on medicinal and large scale agriculture potential of other crops and plants: Kacang Ma - A potential medicinal herb in Sarawak. Research Update. Volume 2(1). In: Special R & D focus on agronomics, agrobiology, agrobiotechnology, agroprocessing, agrometrics. Sarawak: UNIMAS, 2005; p. 22.
  11. Yang X, Xiao Y, Wang X, Pei Y. Expression of a novel small antimicrobial protein from the seeds of motherwort (Leonurus japonicus) confers disease resistance in tobacco. App Environ Microbiol. 2007;73(3):939-946.
  12. De Almeida Alves TM, Silva AF, Brandão M, et al. Biological screening of Brazilian medicinal plants. Rio de Janeiro. Mem Inst Oswaldo Cruz. 2000;95(3):367-373.
  13. De Souza GC, Haas APS, von Poser GL, Schapoval EES, Elisabetsky E. Ethnopharmacological studies of antimicrobial remedies in the south of Brazil. J Ethnopharmacol. 2004;90(1):135-143.
  14. Nagasawa H, Inatomi H, Suzuki M, Mori T. Further study on the effects of motherwort (Leonurus sibiricus L) on preneoplastic and neoplastic mammary gland growth in multiparous GR/A mice. Anticancer Res. 1992;12(1):141-143.
  15. Nagasawa H, Onoyama T, Suzuki M, Hibino A, Segawa T, Inatomi H. Effects of motherwort (Leonurus sibiricus L) on preneoplastic and neoplastic mammary gland growth in multiparous GR/A mice. Anticancer Res. 1990;10(4):1019-1023.
  16. Islam MA, Ahmed F, Das AK, Bachar SC. Analgesic and anti-inflammatory activity of Leonurus sibiricus. Fitoterapia. 2005;76(3-4):359-362.
  17. Nam SH, Kang MY. Antioxidant activity of 13 medicinal plants. Pharmaceu Biol. 2004;42(6):409-415.
  18. Min BS, Bae KH, Kim YH, Miyashiro H, Hattori M, Shimotohno K. Screening of Korean plants against human immunodeficiency virus Type 1 protease. Phytother Res. 1999;13:680-682.
  19. Shi M, Chang L, He G. [Stimulating action of Carthamus tinctorius L., Angelica sinensis (Oliv.) Diels and Leonurus sibiricus L. on the uterus] Chung Kuo Chung Yao Tsa Chih. 1995;20(3):173-175.