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International Journal of Research in Botany 2013; 3(1): 19-22

ISSN 23197854
Review Article
Acalypha indica L - an Important Medicinal Plant: a Review of Its Traditional
Uses, and Pharmacological Properties
D.Jagatheeswari, J.Deepa, H.Sheik Jahabar Ali and P.Ranganathan*
Department of Botany, Annamalai University, Annamalai nagar, Chidambarum, Tamil Nadu, India.
*Corresponding author email:
Received 22 February 2013; accepted 09 March 2013
Medicinal herbs are moving from fringe to mainstream use with a greater number of people seeking remedies and health
approaches free from side effects caused by synthetic chemicals. India officially recognizes over 3000 plants for their
medicinal value. It is generally estimated that over 6000 plants in India are in use in traditional, folk and herbal medicine.
This article aims to provide a comprehensive review on the and pharmacological aspects of Acalypha indica. It is obtained
from deciduous and mixed-monsoon forests throughout greater parts of India, ascending to 1300 m in outer Himalaya, is
widely used in traditional medicinal system of India has been reported to possess hepatoprotective, anti-inflammatory,
antitussive, antifungal and also used to check wounds healing and antibacterial. It is known as a rich source of tannins,
flavanoids and glycosides. The innumerable medicinal properties and therapeutic uses of Acalypa indica as well as its
phytochemical investigations prove its importance as a valuable medicinal plant.
2013 Universal Research Publications. All rights reserved
Key words: Medicinal herbs, Acalypha indica, Pharmacological Properties.
Many of the plants used today were known to the people of
ancient cultures throughout the world and were highly
considered their preservative and medicinal powers.
Scientific experiments on the antimicrobial properties of
plants and their components have been documented in the
late 19th century Zaika (1975). India has a rich flora that is
widely distributed throughout the country. Herbal
medicines have been the basis of treatment and cure for
various diseases and physiological conditions in traditional
methods practiced such as Ayurveda and Homeopathy.
Medicinal components
From plants play an important role in conventional as well
as western medicine. Plant derived drugs have been a part
of the evolution of human, healthcare for thousands of
years. Plant based drugs were commonly used in India and
China Duraipandiyan et al (2007). At the same time,
indigenous people of the rest of the planet were also
utilizing plants for curing diseases. Today, nearly 88% of
the global populations turn to plant derived medicines as
their first line of defense for maintaining health and
combating diseases. One hundred and nineteen secondary
plant metabolites derived from plants are used globally as
drugs; 15% of all angiosperms have been investigated
chemically and of that 74% of pharmacologically active
plant derived components were discovered. Currently,
people of Asia and India are utilizing plants as part of their
routine health management Perumal samy et al (2008).
Acalypha indica L. (family: Euphorbiaceae) is a weed
widely distributed throughout the plains of India. It has
been reported to be useful in treating pneumoniae, asthma,
rheumatism and several other ailments Chopra (1956). The
dried leaves of Acalypha indica was made into a poultice to
treat bedsores and wounds and the juice of Acalypha indica
is added to oil or lime and used to treat a variety of skin
disorders. The leaves of Acalypha grandis have also been
reported to possess contraceptive activity Bourdy et al
(1992). Several chemical Donw et al (1938) and biological
Bauer et al (1923) investigations have been carried out on
this plant. In the present study, an attempt has been made to
enrich the knowledge of antibacterial activity of Acalypha
indica plant extract against Gram positive and Gram-
negative bacteria.
Over the last few years, researchers have aimed at
identifying and validating plant-derived substances for the
treatment of various diseases. Interestingly it is estimated
that more than 25% of the modern medicines are directly or
indirectly derived from plants. It is worth mentioning that
Indian medicinal plants are considered as a vast source of
several pharmacologically principles and compounds that
are commonly used as home remedies against multiple
ailments Pallab Maity et al (2009). Since early 1990s, the
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International Journal of Research in Botany 2013; 3(1): 19-22

use of forest products for medicine has been emerging as a
vital income generating resource for the development of
various social groups; hence, there is an increased attention
for their long-term sustainability Chandra Prakash Kala
(2006). Indian traditional medicine is based on various
systems including Ayurveda, Siddha, Unani and
Homoeopathy. The evaluation of these drugs is primarily
based on phytochemical, pharmacological and allied
approaches including various instrumental techniques such
chromatography, microscopy and others. With the
emerging worldwide interest in adopting and studying
traditional systems and exploiting their potential based on
different health care systems, the evaluation of the rich
heritage of traditional medicine is essential Gupta (2010).
In this regard, one such plant is Acalypha indica L.
Acalypha indica has been extensively used in Ayurvedic
system of medicine for various ailments. It is deciduous
and mixed-monsoon forests throughout greater parts of
India, is widely used in traditional medicinal system of
India has been reported to possess hepatoprotective, anti-
inflammatory, antitussive, antifungal and used also check
wounds healing and antibacterial Gupta (2010).
Taxonomic Classification
Kingdom: Plantae
Class: Magnoliopsida
Order: Euphorbiales
Family: Euphorbiaceae
Subfamily: Acalyphoideae
Genus: Acalypha
Species: Acalypha indica Linn.
Traditional uses
The root is prescribed as a tonic, astringent, febrifuge and
strong purgative Khare (2007). The leaves extract reduced
mutagenecity in E. coli Gupta et al (2008). Extract of the
root bark with alcohol can be used for backwart fever. The
leaves are laxative and used externally as emollient, a
poultice is used for chilblains, in insect bites, swelling,
rheumatism and facial paralysis Kirtikar et al (2006).
Leaves posses anti periodic and laxative properties, the
leaves are used in jaundice, piles, rheumatism ulcers and
also externally skin eruptions, ring worms, eczema. The
leaves extract are applied to pustules, insect bites Nadkarni
(2009). The roots are used in chest pain, joint pain, and
migraine and blood dysentery. The extract of the root
lowered the blood sugar level up to 30 % Chopra et al
(2006). Leaves and flowers are both purgative like the pulp
Agarwal et al (2005). Ashes from burnt pods mixed with
little salt are used with honey taking 3- 4 times to relieve
cough BenErik et al (2009). Root is useful in fever, heart
diseases, retained excretions and biliousness. Fruits are
used as catharatic and in snake bite. Juice of leaves is used
in skin diseases Rastogi et al (2004). Flowers and pods are
used as purgative, febrifugal, biliousness and astringent.
The ethanolic 50% extract of pods show antifertility
activity in female albino rats. The heated pods are applied
to swellings on the neck due to cold. The Leaf is reported
to be used for asthma Vaishnava et al (1993). Root is given
in disorders of liver. Leaf is used as analgesic as an
antipyretic, it is a remedy for malaria and fever. It is also
applied in blood poisoning, anthrax and antidysentric,
leprosy and antidiabetic, for the removal of abdominal
obstruction Vaishnav et al (1996). The extract of the flower
inhibits the ovarian function and stimulate the uterine
function in albino rats. Root are used in the treatment of
diabetes, antipyretic, abortifacient, demulcent, lessens
inflammation and heat of the body; useful in chest
complaints, throat troubles, liver complaints, diseases of
eye and gripping.Juice of leaves is useful as dressing for
ringworm, relieving irritation and relief of dropsical
swelling. The pulp of the fruit around the seeds is a mild
purgative Misra et al (1997). It is also used in biliousness
and in diabetes. Externally, it is useful for evacuation in
flatulent colic, as dressing for gouty or rheumatic joints.
The pith is particularly useful if there is swelling in
stomach, liver or intestine. The seeds are emetic, used in
constipation and have cathartic properties Barthakur et al
(1995). The seed are slightly sweet and possess laxative,
carminative, cooling, improves the appetite Mahesh et al
(1984), and antipyretic activity. They are useful in
jaundice, biliousness, skin disease and in swollen throat. A
seed dried produce marked hypoglycaemic activity Meena
Rani et al (1998). Seed powder is used in amoebiasis. The
fruit pulp is used for constipation, colic, chlorosis and
urinary disorders. The bark possess tonic and antidysentric
properties, it is also used for skin complaints, the powder or
decoction of the bark is administered in leprosy, jaundice,
syphilis and heart diseases. The aqueous extract of the root
bark exhibits anti-inflammatory activity. The root is used in
cardiac disorders biliousness, rheumatic condition,
haemorrhages, wounds, ulcers and boils and various skin
diseases. The stem bark is used against amenorrhoea, chest
pain and swellings.
Impartant pharmacological activities in Acalypha indica
Acalypha indica in Homeopathy:
A drug having a marked action on the alimentary canal and
respiratory organs. It is indicated in incipient phthisis, with
hard, racking cough, bloody expectoration, arterial
hemorrhage, but no febrile disturbance. Very weak in the
morning, gains strength during day. Progressive
emaciation. All pathological hemorrhages having notably a
morning worse.
Acalypha indica in Ayurveda:
Preparations - Infusion of root, powder, decoction,
cataplasm, succus (juice expressed), tincture and liquid
Leaves possess laxative properties; are used as a substitute
for senega; are used in the form of powder or decoction;
mixed with garlic they are used as Anthelmintic in worms.
Mixed with garlic they are applied to scabies; and their
juice mixed with oil forms an application in rheumatic
arthritis. Expressed juice of the leaves is a safe, certain and
speedy emetic for children in one teaspoonful (I drachm)
doses, in cases of croup; in smaller doses it is expectorant,
and is useful in chronic bronchitis, asthma and
Decoction is employed in ear-ache as instillation and also
as fomentation round the aching ear; and a cataplasm of the
bruised leaves is applied to syphilitic ulcers, to maggot-
eaten sores and also to relieve the pain of snakebites. Juice

International Journal of Research in Botany 2013; 3(1): 19-22

from fresh leaves may be employed in scabies and other
skin diseases, and with lime and onion it is a good
stimulating application in rheumatism. Powder of dry
leaves is used in bed sores. In congestive headache a piece
of cotton saturated with the expressed juice of the plant or
leaves and inserted into each nostril is said to relieve it by
causing hemorrhage from the nose. In cases of obstinate
constipation of children the leaves ground into a paste and
made into a ball and introduced into the rectum, relax the
sphincter ani and produces free motions. An infusion of the
root or the root bruised in
Water, acts as a cathartic.
Anti-inflammatory Activity:
Maximum inhibition by the methanolic extract was
observed at 250 mg/kg body weight after three hours of
ingestion, which was comparable to that of the standard
drug phenylbutazone at a dose of 100mg/kg body weight.
The anti-inflammatory activity also demonstrated in dose
dependent manner.
Anti bacterial and anti fungal activity:
The ethanol extract of Acalypha indica showed maximum
inhibition against Bacillus cereus, Bacillus subtilis,
Escherichia coli, Salmonella typhi, Vibrio cholera and
Pseudomonas aeruginosa but proved to be resistant against
Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Shigella flexneri,
Staphylococcus aureus, Klebsiella pneumoniae, Vibrio
cholerae and Bacillus cereus. The ethyl acetate extract of
Acalypha indica showed maximum inhibition against
Staphylococcus aureus, Klebsiella pneumoniae and
Shigella flexneri ethyl acetate was resistant to Vibiro
cholerae and Bacillus cereus. Pseudomonas aeruginosa
was resistant to ethyl acetate extract of Acalypha indica.
Another study proved that ethanol and water extract of
leaves, stems, seeds and roots from Acalypha indica were
effective against two bacterial Escherichia coli (Gram-
negative bacteria), Staphylococcus aureus (Gram-positive
bacteria) and for anti-fungal activity against three fungi,
Aspergillus fumigatus, Microsporum canis (molds) and
Candida albican (yeast). Microsporum canis showed dose-
dependent sensitivity towards aqueous leaves and roots
extract, but resistant to both ethanol and water stems, roots
and seeds extracts. Aspergillus fumigatus and Candida
albican were resistant to both ethanol and water extract of
all Acalypha indica.
Antioxidant Activity:
The Antioxidant activity of the extracts was analyzed by
evaluating superoxide and hydroxyl radical scavenging
activity and effect on lipid peroxidation. The ethanol
extract showed significant antioxidant activity in all the
free radical scavenging tests.
The present study show the pharmacological study of the
plant and various bio active compound responsible for it
which have been reported. The whole plants have been
used in traditional medicine for decades and the studies
done yet have authentified the practice. Earlier as described
the plant have been used in the Ayurveda and homeopathy
medicine. However, more clinical and pathological studies
must be conducted to investigate the unexploited potential
of the plant.
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Source of support: Nil; Conflict of interest: None declared