Justicia gendarussa Burm.f.

Last updated: 20 March 2015

Scientific Name

Justicia gendarussa Burm.f.


Dianthera subserrata Blanco, Dicliptera rheedei Kostel. ,Ecbolium gendarussa (Burm.f.) Kuntze, Ecbolium subserratum Kuntze , Gendarussa vulgaris Nees, Justicia gandarussa L.f. [Spelling variant].[1]

Vernacular Name

Malaysia Gandarusa, temenggong melela, urat sugi (Peninsular) [2]; sikapapar, tolonsi (Sabah) [3]
English Black malabar nut, black vasa (India-Bengali); water willow, willow-leaved justicia [3]
China Qin qiu [3]
India Jagatmadan (Bengali); nili nargandi (Hindi); bhutakeshi, kasanah, neel nirgundi, nila nirgundi, udisanbhalu, vaidyasinha, viadyasinha (Sanskrit); Karunochi, karunochchi (Tamil) [3]
Indonesia Gandarusa (General); besi-besi (Aceh); kawo (Seram) [2]
Thailand Chiang phraa man (Central); pong dam (Trat); kraduuk kaidam (Northern) [2]
Philippines Kapanitulot (Tagalog); bunlao(Bisaya); tagpayan (Iloko) [2]
Vietnam t[aaf]n c[uwr]u, thu[oos]c tr[awj]c, t[aaf]n giao [2]
France Ayapana marron, laliapana marron, natchouli, yapana malgache (Réunion); nitchouli (Maurice) [3].

Geographical Distributions

Justicia gendarussa possibly native plant of China but is found naturalised or cultivated in Pakistan, Sri Lanka, India, Malaysia, Bangladesh and Philippines. It often grows along streams at low and medium altitudes in both primary and secondary forests. [2]

Botanical Description

J. gendarussa belongs to the Acanthaceae family. This is a shrub up to 150 cm tall. The stems are cylindrical and usually the young twigs are dark purple. [2]

The leaves are linear-lance-shaped size 5-20 cm x 1-3.5 cm, with up to 1 cm long stalk. [2]

The inflorescence is a spike with lance-shaped bracts and about 4 mm long. The flowers are 1.5-2 cm long, white with purplish streaks and with spots on the inside. [2]

The fruit is club-shaped to ellipsoid, about 1.3 cm long and smooth. [2]


No documentation.

Chemical Constituent

J. gendarussa has been found to contain alkaloids, triterpenoids, tannins, justicin, steroids and flavonoids, gendarusin A and B. [4][5]

Plant Part Used

Leaves, twigs, and roots. [6]

Traditional Use

Traditionally, J. gendarussa has been utilized to treat chronic rheumatism, inflammations, bronchitis, vaginal discharges, dyspepsia, eye diseases, muscle pain, lumbago, headache, earache, hemiplegia, hair growth promotion, leucoderma, asthma, antiseptic, haemostatic, nasal bleeding, bone fracture, injuries and fever. [7][8][9][10][11][12]

The fresh leaves of J. gendarussa are pounded into a paste and applied onto the affected area of muscle pains or added to coconut oil to treat boils. The young leaves are boiled to make a drink or used as a bath to treat lumbago and for aphrodisiac purposes.  A decoction of the twigs is used as a herbal bath during childbirth.  The leaves are used in Vietnamese folk medicine as a poultice to treat rheumatism and arthritis. [6]

In the West Indies, a decoction of the plant is used as a bath to treat haemorrhoids and fever [13]. In Brazil, it is used to treat pains, fever, and for the treatment of diseases of magical-religious origin [14].

Preclinical Data


Antinociceptive activity

The aqueous leaf extract of J. gendarussa (1500, 2000 and 3000 mg/kg p.o.) showed a moderate and dose-dependent antinociceptive activity in the hot plate but not in the tail flick test. The antinociceptive effect had a rapid onset (2 h) and was of 2-4 h duration.  However, in comparison to morphine, the antinociceptive effect of J. gendarussa leaf extract was weaker by 2-5 folds.  The antinociceptive activity of the leaf extract was probably mediated via opioid receptors as it was blocked by naloxone (1.5 mg/kg, i.p.), an opioid receptor antagonist but there was no evidence of involvement of cholinergic mechanisms or dopaminergic mechanisms.  Its effectiveness in the hot plate test indicated that antinociception by the leaf extract was mediated centrally at the supraspinal level, therefore, it may be effective against phasic transient pain. [15]

The J. gendarussa leaf extract (3000 mg/kg) also suppressed both phases of the formalin test of nociception indicating that it was effective against both neurogenic and continuous inflammatory pain even of peripheral origin.  Its ineffectiveness in the tail flick test showed that the antinociception that was induced by the leaf extract was not mediated spinally as the tail flick test predominantly measures spinal reflexes.  These findings showed that the leaf extract has the potential to be used as a safe and economical oral therapeutic agent for mild to moderate pains.  The strong antioxidant activity of the extract may have also contibuted to its antinociceptive activity. [15]

Antioxidant activity

The aqueous leaf extract of J. gendarussa showed a dose-dependent anti-oxidant activity which was comparable to those of butylated hydroxytoulene, ascorbic acid and vitamin E in the thiobarbituric acid reactive substances assay which was based on fowl egg yolk. [15]

Immunosuppresive activity

The methanol extract of J. gendarussa (100 µg/mL) produced a significant decrease in mitogen-induced lymphocyte proliferation which suggests that it affected T-cell proliferation in a dose-dependent manner. The methanol extract produced a maximum inhibition of 85 %.  A low concentration of the aqueous extract (50 µg/mL) showed a strong immunosuppressive effect on mitogen-stimulated lymphocytes. [16]

Antiviral activity

The crude water extract of the aerial parts of J. gendarussa (200 µg/mL) strongly inhibited HIV type 1 reverse transcriptase activity in vitro eliciting 90.75% inhibition ratio while the ethanol extract elicited 16.82% inhibition ratio. In this assay, doxorubicin hydrochloride (1 mM) was used as the positive control, it inhibited HIV-1 reverse transcriptase activity by 98.3%. [17]


The subchronic (21 days) treatment of rats with the aqueous leaf extract of J. gendarussa (3000 mg/kg p.o.) did not produce any overt signs of toxicity, stress or aversive behaviours. There were no changes in the haematological parameters or in the serum enzyme levels of glutamic-oxaloacetic transaminase (SGOT), glutamic-pyruvate transaminase (SGPT), creatinine and urea indicating no hepatic, renal or haemotoxicities.  The leaf extract also did not produce changes in the rectal temperature or the body weight. [15]

Clinical Data

Clinical findings

No documentation.


The herb should be used with caution as it was shown in a rat study that the decoction or alcoholic extract of the root of doses of 10-20 g/kg was antipyretic and depressant which could cause violent diarrhea and eventually death. [18]

Side effects

No documentation.

Pregnancy/Breast Feeding

No documentation.

Age limitation

No documentation.

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.

Poisonous Management

J. gendarussa should be used with caution as it was shown in a rat study that the decoction or alcoholic extract of the root of doses of 10-20 g/kg was antipyretic and depressant which could cause violent diarrhoea and eventually death. [16]

Line drawing




Figure 1: The line drawing of J. gendarussa [2]


  1. The Plant List. Ver1.1. Justicia gendarussa Burm.f. [homepage on the internet]. c2013 [updated 2012 March 23; cited 2015 March 20]. Available from: http://www.theplantlist.org/tpl1.1/record/kew-2330879
  2. Sangat-Roemantyo H. Justicia gendarussa Burm.f. In: de Padua, L.S., Bunyapraphatsara N, Lemmens RHMJ, editors. Plant Resources of South-East Asia No. 12(1): Medicinal and poisonous plants 1. Leiden, Netherlands: Backhuys Publisher, 1999; p. 330.
  3. Porcher MH.  Multilingual Multiscript Plant Name Database. Sorting Justicia Names. [homepage on the Internet]. Melbourne: The University of Melbourne; c1995-2020 [updated 2012 Jun 02; cited 2015 Mar 20]. Available from: http://www.plantnames.unimelb.edu.au/Sorting/Justicia.html
  4. Prajogo BEW, Dudy S, Mulja HS. Analisis kadar gendarusin a pada tanaman budidaya Justicia gendarussa burm. f. Jurnal Farmasi Indonesia. 2007;3 (4):176-180.
  5. Izzah Z, Prajogo B, Radjaram. Studi stabilitas kimia Gendarusin A dalam sediaan granul fraksi air daun Justicia gendarussa Burm F. Majalah Farmasi Airlangga. 2010;8(1):20-23.
  6. Ahmad FB, Holdworth DK. Medicinal plants of Sabah, East Malaysia—part 1. Pharm Biol A. 2003;41:340-346.
  7. Council of Scientific & Industrial Research. The wealth of India: A dictionary of Indian raw materials and industrial products. H - K, Volume 5. New Delhi: CSIR Publications, 1959; p. 312.
  8. Das AK, Dutta BK, Sharma GD. Medicinal plants used by different tribes of Cachar district, Assam. Indian J Tradit Knowl. 2008;7(3): 446-54.
  9. Dolui AK, Sharma HK, Marein TB, Lalhriathpuii TC. Folk herbal remedies from Megalaya. Indian J Tradit Knowl. 2004;3(4):358-364.
  10. Madhu V, Ravindra Naik DS. Ethnomedicinal uses of leaf preparations in Adilabad District, Andhra Pradesh, India. Ethnobot Leaflets. 2009;13:1337-1347.
  11. Rahman AHMM, Jahan-E-Gulsan, Alam MS, Ahmad S, Naderuzzaman ATM, Rafiul Islam AKM An ethnobotanical portrait of a village: Koikuri, Dinajpur with reference to medicinal plants. Int J Biosci. 2012;2(7):1-10.
  12. Zheng X, Xing F. Ethnobotanical study on medicinal plants around Mt. Yinggeling, Hainan Island, China. J Ethnopharm. 2009;124(2):197–210.
  13. Gurib-Fakim A, Sewraj MD, Gueho J and Dulloo E. Medicinal plants of Rodrigues. Pharm Biol. 1996;34(1):2-14.
  14. De Albuquerque UP, Monteiro JM, Ramos MA, de Amorim ELC. Medicinal and magic plants from a public market in northeastern Brazil. J Ethnopharmacol. 2007;110(1):76-91.
  15. Ratnasooriya WD, Deraniyagala SA, Dehigaspitiya DC. Antinociceptive activity and toxicological study of aqueous leaf extract of Justicia gendarussa Burm.f. in rats.  Pharmacogn Mag. 2007;3(11):145-155.
  16. Arokiyaraj S, Perinbam K, Agastian P, Balaraju K.  Immunosuppressive effect of medicinal plants of Kolli hills on mitogen-stimulated proliferation of the human peripheral blood mononuclear cells in vitro. Indian J Pharmacol. 2007;39(4):180-183.
  17. Woradulayapinij W, Soonthornchareonnon N, Wiwat C.  In vitro HIV type 1 reverse transcriptase inhibitory activities of Thai medicinal plants and Canna indica L. rhizomes.  J Ethnopharmacol. 2005;101(11):84-89.
  18. Hutchins LG. The effect on the body temperature of rats of certain drugs described in the Pen-tsao. Chem Abs. 1937;31:2688.