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Bhumiamalaki is a wonderful liver remedy effective for clearing gall and bladder stones

Bhumiamalaki

Phyllanthus amarus/niruri (erroneously) – Folium (Euphorbiacea) Phyllanthaceae

Bhumiamalaki means ‘the Amalaki of the earth’ as this very low lying shrub’s leaves resemble the pattern and shape of her somewhat grander celestial namesake.

  • How does it feel?

    Bhumiamalaki is an erect tropical annual herb, growing 40-70cm height. It is glabrous and stems often branch from the base. It is commonly found in coastal areas and edges of cultivated fields.

    The leaves are small green, elliptic oblong shaped, obtuse and they are arranged alternatively on each side of the stem. They resemble those of Amalaki.

    The flowers are yellowish, small and axillary. These are unisexual and the male flowers are one to three in number while the female flowers are solitary in nature. The fruit is a smooth capsule, very small (2 – 3mm in diameter) depressed globose, smooth and scarcely lobed.

  • What can I use it for?

    Ayurveda considers the plant astringent, sour and cooling in action.

    Bhumiamalaki is a small herb, having wide range of medicinal properties thanks to its good range of bioactive molecules such as lignans, flavonoids, triterpenes and tannins.

    Traditionally this plant is used for treating liver related diseases, such as chronic hepatitis. But, it can be used for treating kidney stones, gallbladder stones or as a diuretic, correcting any obstructions in the urinary flow and reducing urinary infections or any burning sensations.

    The whole plant is used in gonorrhoea, menorrhagia and other genital affections.

    Extracts of Bhumiamalaki can encourage a good inflammation response, particularly within the digestive system and it is used as a stomachic, anti-spasmodic, laxative and carminative, reducing constipation or dysentery.

  • Into the heart of Bhumiamalaki

    Bhumiamalaki it is a hypotensive and hepato protective and it has antiviral activities against hepatitis B. It has been reported to exhibit marked antihepatitis B virus surface antigen activity in vivo and in vitro studies. Its protein fractions protect liver tissues against oxidative stress by improving ant oxidative defence.

    Bhumiamalaki is an excellent remedy for stones interfering in the growth and aggregation of calcium oxalate crystals and preventing the growth of calculi.

    It can also decrease the urinary calcium levels and the excess uric acid thanks to the action of the lignans.

    The leaves contain an alkaloid (phyllanthoside) which has a strong antispasmodic activity, helping to relax the smooth muscles in the digestive tract and to reduce hyperacidity and inflammations. Bhumiamalaki is used also to increase appetite and produce laxative effects or reducing dysentery symptoms, thanks to its bitter, sweet and astringent properties. It’s bitter taste but sweet post digestive effect (vipaka) also make it an effective astringent.

    Bhumiamalaki demostrates lipid-lowering activities in those with high cholesterol levels.

  • Did you know?

    Numerous studies indicate that bhumiamalaki from India should be used – the species found in India is actually Phyllanthus amarus but it is often erroneously named as Phyllanthus niuri. This variety is actually native to the West Indies and is not found in India.

    The juice of the roots along with milk consumed twice a day, early in the morning and at bedtime, is a good cure for jaundice.

Additional information

  • Safety

    No drug herb interactions are known.

  • Dosage

    Tincture: 5–15ml of a 1:5 at 25% tincture

    Dried: 1–6g/day

  • Traditional energetics

    • Rasa (taste) Bitter, astringent, sweet
    • Virya (action) Cooling
    • Vipaka (post-digestive effect) Sweet
    • Guna (quality) Dry, light
    • Dosha effect: strengthens pitta, and reduces excessive vata
    • Dhatu (tissue) Plasma, blood, fat, reproductive
    • Srotas (channels) Digestive, reproductive, urinary
  • References

    1. Borrelli F, Capasso R, Aviello G, et al (2005). Effectiveness and safety of ginger in the treatment of pregnancy-induced nausea and vomiting. Obstet Gynecol. 105(4): 849-56
    2. Chaiyakunapruk N, Kitikannakorn N, Nathisuwan S, Leeprakobboon K, Leelasettagool C. The efficacy of ginger for the prevention of postoperative nausea and vomiting: a meta-analysis. Am J Obstet Gynecol. 2006;194(1):95–99
    3. Lien HC, Sun WM, Chen YH, Kim H, Hasler W, Owyang C. Effects of ginger on motion sickness and gastric slow-wave dysrhythmias induced by circular vection. Am J Physiol Gastrointest Liver Physiol. 2003;284(3): G481–G489
    4. Haniadka R, Saldanha E, Sunita V, et al. (2013) A review of the gastroprotective effects of ginger (Zingiber officinale Roscoe). Food Funct. 4 (6):845–855.
    5. Al-Nahain A, Jahan R, Rahmatullah M. (2014) Zingiber officinale: A Potential Plant against Rheumatoid Arthritis. Arthritis. 159089.
    6. Srivastava KC, Mustafa T. (1992) Ginger (Zingiber officinale) in rheumatism and musculoskeletal disorders. Med Hypothesis 39: 342-8
    7. Wilson PB. (2015) Ginger (Zingiber officinale) as an Analgesic and Ergogenic Aid in Sport: A Systemic Review. J Strength Cond Res. 29(10): 2980–2995.
    8. Daily JW, Zhang X, Kim DS, Park S. (2015) Efficacy of Ginger for Alleviating the Symptoms of Primary Dysmenorrhea: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis of Randomized Clinical Trials. Pain Med. 16 (12): 2243–2255.
    9. Grzanna R, Lindmark L, Frondoza CG. (2005) Ginger – an herbal medicinal product with broad anti-inflammatory actions. J Med Food. 8(2): 125–132.
    10. Mao QQ, Xu XY, Cao SY, et al. (2019) Bioactive Compounds and Bioactivities of Ginger (Zingiber officinale Roscoe). Foods. 8(6): 185.
    11. Wang J, Ke W, Bao R, Hu X, Chen F. (2017) Beneficial effects of ginger Zingiber officinale Roscoe on obesity and metabolic syndrome: a review. Ann N Y Acad Sci. 1398 (1): 83–98.
    12. Ebrahimzadeh Attari V, Malek Mahdavi A, Javadivala Z, et al. (2018) A systematic review of the anti-obesity and weight lowering effect of ginger (Zingiber officinale Roscoe) and its mechanisms of action. Phytother Res. 32(4): 577–585
    13. Baliga MS, Haniadka R, Pereira MM, et al. (2012) Radioprotective effects of Zingiber officinale Roscoe (ginger): past, present and future. Food Funct. 3(7): 714–723.
    14. Tosun B, Unal N, Yigit D, et al. (2017) Effects of Self-Knee Massage With Ginger Oil in Patients With Osteoarthritis: An Experimental Study. Res Theory Nurs Pract. 31(4): 379–392.
    15. Paritakul P, Ruangrongmorakot K, Laosooksathit W, et al. (2016) The Effect of Ginger on Breast Milk Volume in the Early Postpartum Period: A Randomized, Double-Blind Controlled Trial. Breastfeed Med. 11: 361–365
Aromatic
An ‘aromatic’ remedy, high in volatile essential oils, was most often associated with calming and sometimes ‘warming’ the digestion. Most kitchen spices and herbs have this quality: they were used both as flavouring and to ease the digestion of sometimes challenging pre-industrial foods. Many aromatics are classed as ‘carminatives’ and are used to reduce colic, bloating and agitated digestion. They also often feature in respiratory remedies for colds, chest and other airway infections. They are also classic calming inhalants and massage oils, and are the basis of aromatherapy for their mental benefits.
Astringent taste
The puckering taste you get with many plants (the most familiar is black tea after being stewed too long, or some red wines) is produced by complex polyphenols such as tannins. Tannins are used in concentrated form (eg from oak bark) to make leather from animal skins. The process of ‘tanning’ involves the coagulation of relatively fluid proteins in living tissues into tight clotted fibres (similar to the process of boiling an egg). Tannins in effect turn exposed surfaces on the body into leather. In the case of the lining of mouth and upper digestive tract this is only temporary as new mucosa are replenished, but in the meantime can calm inflamed or irritated surfaces. In the case of open wounds tannins can be a life-saver – when strong (as in the bark of broadleaved trees) they can seal a damaged surface. One group of tannins, the reddish-brown ‘condensed tannins’ are procyanidins, which can reduce inflammation and oxidative damage.
Bitter
Bitters are a very complex group of phytochemicals that stimulate the bitter receptors in the mouth. They were some of the most valuable remedies in ancient medicine. They were experienced as stimulating appetite and switching on a wide range of key digestive functions, including increasing bile clearance from the liver (as bile is a key factor in bowel health this can be translated into improving bowel functions and the microbiome). Many of these reputations are being supported by new research on the role of bitter receptors in the mouth and elsewhere round the body. Bitters were also seen as ‘cooling’ reducing the intensity of some fevers and inflammatory diseases.
Blue-purple colouring
Any fruits with a blue-purple colouring contain high levels of the polyphenols known as anthocyanins. These work 1) on the walls of small blood vessels, helping to maintain capillary structure to reduce a key stage in inflammation, and improving the microcirculation to the tissues; 2) to improve retinal function and vision; 3) to support connective tissue repair around the body.
Cooling
Traditional ‘cold’ or cooling’ remedies often contain bitter phytonutrients such a iridoids (gentian), sesiquterpenes (chamomile), anthraquinones (rhubarb root), mucilages (marshmallow), some alkaloids and flavonoids. They tend to influence the digestive system, liver and kidneys. Cooling herbs do just that; they diffuse, drain and clear heat from areas of inflammation, redness and irritation. Sweet, bitter and astringent herbs tend to be cooling.
Hot
Traditional ‘hot’ or ‘heating’ remedies, often containing spice ingredients like capsaicin, the gingerols (ginger), piperine (black or long pepper), curcumin (turmeric) or the sulfurous isothiocyanates from mustard, horseradich or wasabi, generate warmth when taken. In modern times this might translate as thermogenic and circulatory stimulant effects. There is evidence of improved tissue blood flow with such remedies: this would lead to a reduction in build-up of metabolites and tissue damage. Heating remedies were used to counter the impact of cold, reducing any symptoms made worse in the cold. .
Mucilaginous
Mucilages are complex carbohydrate based plant constituents with a slimy or ‘unctuous’ feel especially when chewed or macerated in water. Their effect is due simply to their physical coating exposed surfaces. From prehistory they were most often used as wound remedies for their soothing and healing effects on damaged tissues. Nowadays they are used more for these effects on the digestive lining, from the throat to the stomach, where they can relieve irritation and inflammation such as pharyngitis and gastritis. Some of the prominent mucilaginous remedies like slippery elm, aloe vera and the seaweeds can be used as physical buffers to reduce the harm and pain caused by reflux of excess stomach acid. Mucilages are also widely used to reduce dry coughing. Here the effect seems to be by reflex through embryonic nerve connections: reduced signals from the upper digestive wall appear to translate as reduced activity of airway muscles and increased activity of airway mucus cells. Some seed mucilages, such as in psyllium seed, flaxseed (linseed) or guar bean survive digestion to provide bulking laxative effects in the bowel. These can also reduce rate of absorption of sugar and cholesterol. .
New-mown hay aroma
The familiar country odour of haymaking, of drying grass and other plants, is largely produced by coumarins (originally isolated from tonka beans – in French coumarou) and widely used in perfumery. They are chemically categorised as benzopyrone lactones and are important phytochemicals, with strong antioxidant activity in the laboratory and likely effects in modulating inflammation. They were most often associated with the calming effect linked to their use in stuffing mattresses and pillows and plants, high In coumarins were commonly used for these properties.
Resinous
Resins are most familiar as tacky discharges from pine trees (and as the substance in amber, and rosin for violin bows). They were most valued however as the basis of ancient commodities like frankincense and myrrh (two of the three gifts of the Three Wise Men to the baby Jesus) and getting access to their source was one benefit to Solomon for marrying the Queen of Sheba (now Ethiopia). Resins were the original antiseptic remedies, ground and applied as powders or pastes to wounds or inflamed tissues, and were also used for mummification. With alcohol distillation it was found that they could be dissolved in 90% alcohol and in this form they remain a most powerful mouthwash and gargle, for infected sore throats and gum disease. They never attracted much early research interest because they permanently coat expensive glassware! For use in the mouth, gums and throat hey are best combined with concentrated licorice extracts to keep the resins in suspension and add extra soothing properties. It appears that they work both as local antiseptics and by stimulating white blood cell activity under the mucosal surface. They feel extremely effective!
Salty
The salty flavour is immediately distinctive. A grain dropped onto the tongue is instantly moistening and a sprinkle on food enkindles digestion. This easily recognisable flavour has its receptors right at the front of the tongue. The salty flavor creates moisture and heat, a sinking and heavy effect which is very grounding for the nervous system and encourages stability. People who are solid and reliable become known as ‘the salt of the earth'.
Sharpness
The sharp taste of some fruits, and almost all unripe fruits, as well as vinegar and fermented foods, is produced by weak acids (the taste is generated by H+ ions from acids stimulating the sour taste buds). Sour taste buds are hard-wired to generate immediate reflex responses elsewhere in the body. Anyone who likes the refreshing taste of lemon or other citrus in the morning will know that one reflex effect is increased saliva production. Other effects are subjective rather than confirmed by research but there is a consistent view that they include increased digestive activity and contraction of the gallbladder.
Sweet
In the days when most people never tasted sugar, ‘sweetness’ was associated with the taste of basic foods: that of cooked vegetables, cereals and meat. In other words sweet was the quality of nourishment, and ‘tonic’ remedies. Describing a remedy as sweet generally led to that remedy being used in convalescence or recovery from illness. Interestingly, the plant constituents most often found in classic tonics like licorice, ginseng are plant steroids including saponins, which also have a sweet taste.

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