Phyllanthus: Overview

Alternative names: Bahupatra or Bhuiamla.

History; Source

An Ayurvedic herb, Phyllanthus has been used in connection with secondary hepatitis and other pain, and in Ayurvedic medicine for over 2,000 years.

Phyllanthus is an herb common to central and southern India; it can grow to 30-60cm in height and blooms with many yellow flowers.  All parts of the plant are employed therapeutically.  Phyllanthus species are also found in other countries, including China (e.g., Phyllanthus urinaria), the Philippines, Cuba, Nigeria, and Guam.[2]

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Function; Why it is Recommended

Phyllanthus primarily contains lignans (e.g. phyllanthin and hypophyllanthin), alkaloids, and bioflavonoids (e.g. quercetin).  While it remains unknown as to which of these ingredients has an antiviral effect, research shows this herb acts primarily on the liver.  This action in the liver confirms its historical use as a remedy for jaundice.

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 phyllanthus for 30 days.[3] While clinical studies on the outcome of phyllanthus and HBV have been mixed, the species P. urinaria and P. niruri seem to work better than P. amarus.[4]

Phyllanthus has a wide number of traditional uses: employing the whole plant for jaundice, gonorrhea, frequent menstruation, and diabetes and using it topically 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.[1]


Research has utilized the powdered form of phyllanthus in amounts ranging from 900-2,700mg per day for three months.[5]


No side-effects have been reported using phyllanthus as recommended, and there are currently no well-known drug interactions with phyllanthus.

References & Further Information

[1] Nadkarmi KM.  India Materia Medica, vol 1. Bombay: Popular Prakashan Private Ltd., 1993, pp.947-8
[2] Bharatiya VB.  Selected Medicinal Plants of India.  Bombay: Tata Press, 1992, pp.235-7
[3] Thyagarajan SP, Subramanian S, Thirunalasundar T, et al.  Effect of Phyllanthus amarus on chronic carriers of hepatitis B virus.  Lancet 1988: ii: pp.764-6
[4] Meixa W, Haowei C, Yanjin 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: pp.350-2
[5] Reichert R. Phytotherapeutic alternatives for chronic hepatitis.  Quart Rev Natural Med 1997;Summer: pp.103-8

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Phyllanthus can help with the following:

Organ Health


Phyllanthus has been studied primarily in carriers of the hepatitis B virus, as opposed to those with chronic active hepatitis.  In one study, administering this herb for 30 days appeared to eliminate the hepatitis B virus in 22 of 37 cases (59%) [1].  However, other studies have failed to confirm a beneficial effect of Phyllanthus amarus against hepatitis B [2] [3].

A West Indian species, Phyllanthus urinaria (not widely available in the United States or Europe), has achieved much better results than Indian Phyllanthus amarus.[4] Thus, the specific plant species used may have a significant impact on the results.  The recommended dosage is 200mg, three times per day.

[1] Thyagarajan SP, Subramian S, Thirunalasundari T, et al.  Effects of Phyllanthus amarus on chronic carriers of hepatitis B virus.  Lancet 1988;2: pp.764-6
[2] 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: pp.7-8
[3] Leelarasamee A, Trakulsomboon S, Maunwongyathi P, et al.  Failure of Phyllanthus amarus to eradicate hepatitis B surface antigen from symptomless carriers.  Lancet 1990;335: pp.1600-1
[4] 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: pp.350-2

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