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Elephantopus scaber Linn.


Scabiosa cochinchinensis Lour., Asterocephalus cochinensis Spreng. [1]

Vernacular Names:


Bersih Hitam, Tutup Bumi, Tapak Sulaiman, Tapak Leman, Tapak Babi, Urat Tutup Bumi (Peninsula); Pepalut (Sabah)


Prickly-leaves Elephant's Foot


Tapak Liman, Tutup Bumi (Java); Talpak Tana (Madurese)


Ya Kai Nok Kum, Domai Ru Lom (Central); Kee Fain Ok Khuun (Loei); Naat Me Khlaen (Surat Thani)


Dila-dila, Tabatabkohan (Tagalog); Kabkabron (Iloko)


Co Luoi Meo


Ti Tan Tsao; Tu-gong-ying (Hong Kong); Ding-kia-u (Taiwan)


Gojihiva (Sanskrit); Gobhi (Hindi); Gojialata, Shamdulum (Bengal); Hastipada (Bombay); Anashavadi, Anaichovadi (Tamil); Hustikasaka (Telagu); Hakkarika (Cannada)


Pied d’elephant. [1] [2] [3] [5] [6]

General Information


Elephantopus scaber is a member of the Asteraceae family. It is a herbaceous plant that can reach up to 80cm tall. The stems are rigid, appressed long haired or scabrous. The leaves in a radical rosette, if cauline much smaller, oblong-obovate to spatulate, measuring about 5-38cm x 1-6cm; glomerules terminal, generally long-peduncled, glomerule bracts generally longer than the involucral bracts; the flowers with corolla 7-9mm long, bluish or purplish, sometimes white; the fruit  measure about 4mm long with pappus bristles equal and 4-6mm long. E. scaber occurs in grasslands, wasteland, roadsides, along fields and in forest borders, up to 1500m altitude. [6]

Plant Part Used

Leaves and roots. [2-6]

Chemical Constituents

28Nor-22(R)Witha 2,6,23-trienolide; beta-sesquiphellandrene; crepiside E; deoxyelephantopin; hexadecanoic acid; isodeoxyelephantopin; isopropyl dimethyl tetrahydronaphthalenol; elescaberin; isoscabertopin; lupeol; molephantin; octadecadienoic acid;  phytol;  scabertopin; sigmasterol; stigmasteryl. [4][8][9][10][11]

Traditional Used:

E. scaber is mucilaginous and is considered a cardiac tonic, an astringent, an alternative, a febrifuge a diuretic and an emollient. [3]

Gastrointestinal Diseases

The Chinese use this plant to cure damp heat which includes indigestion and loss of appetite. A decoction of the leaves with cumin and buttermilk is prescribed for diarrhea and dysentery by the Indians. In Malaysia the plant is one of the armament for worm infestation in children. The roots are also prescribed for amoebic dysentery, arresting vomiting and other digestive problems. [2][3][4]

Genito-urinary Diseases

As a diuretic, E. scaber had been advocated for use in the treatment of oedema of any cause, relieve of anuria, dysuria, urethral discharges or gonorrhoea and even as part of the remedy for renal and bladder calculi. [2][3][4] 

Obstetrics and Gynaecological Diseases

E. scaber is one of the ingredients used to ease the delivery of the placenta meaning that it has myometrial stimulatory activity. The more sinister use of the decoction is in procuring abortion. In Malaysia the village midwifes use the decoction of the whole plant as a prevention of post-partum haemorrhage. In Myanmar the stem and leaves are used in treating menstrual disorders while the root is considered an aborticfacient. The decoction of the whole plant is also used in treatment of vaginal discharge. [2][3][4]

Other Uses

The plant is bechic and is used to treat pulmonary disease especially as a remedy for cough. In India it is considered a tonic with aphrodisiac properties. It is also a laxative, analgesic, anti-inflammatory and febrifuge. It is another plant which would be considered for use in the treatment of snakebites. [2][3][4] 

Pre-Clinical Data


Antiasthmatic activity
An evaluation of anti-asthmatic activity of leaves of E. scaber proved that the ethanolic extract indeed possess the activity. This is evidenced by its ability to decrease histamine induced constriction of isolated guinea pig trachea, decrease bronchospasm induced by histamine and acetylcholine and protect mast cell degranulation. It was concluded that the anti-asthmatic activity is due to its antihistaminic, anticholinergic and mast cell stabilizing property. [7]

Antidiabetic activity
Fractionation of the acetone extract of E. scaber yielded a new steroid, 28Nor-22(R) Witha2,6,23-trienolide. This compound exhibited a significant anti-diabetic activity by reducing hyperglycaemia and restoring insulin levels in streptozotocin-induced diabetic rats. [8]

Antitumour activity
Extracts of E. scaber contained a number of sesquiterpene lactones which exhibit anti-tumour activity. Amongst those with strong anti-tumour activities are scabertopin, deoxyelephantopin, isodeoxyelephantopin, and elescaberin. Of the four compounds mentioned, deoxyelephantopin was found to be the most potent anti-tumour compound. It proved to be effective against human prostate carcinoma (PC-3), human nasopharangeal carcinoma (CNE), human acute promyelocytic leukemia (HL-60) and mammary adenocarcinoma (TS/A). It is both anti-tumour and anti-metastatic especially in mammary adenocarcinoma, properties qualifying it to be superior to paclitaxel. [10-20]

Anti-inflammatory activity
E. scaber forms part of a compound medicine known as ‘Teng-khia-u’, a folk medicine in Taiwan. This compound medicine exhibit significant anti-inflammatory activity while at the same time significantly suppressed the development of chronic arthritis induced by Complete Freund’s Adjuvant (CFA). E. scaber was one of the plants listed as being used to treat snakebites. The anti-inflammatory and analgesic activities in this plant qualifies its use in this manner. [21] [28]

Hepatoprotective activity
Studies have shown that extracts of E. scaber either as a simple or in a compound medicine does possess significant liver protective activity. This is evidenced by biochemical changes in liver injuries induced by hepatotoxins like carbon tetrachloride and ethanol. The serum glutamate-oxalate transaminase (SGOT) and serum glutamate-pyruvate-transaminase (SGPT) decreased after treatment with crude extract of the plants in rats with acute liver damage induced by D-galactosamin and Acetaminophen. The protective mechanism seems to be via its antioxidant effect and its ability to inhibit p38 MAP kinase and COX-2 expression. These effects had been attributed to the presence in abundance of a sesquiterpene lactone, deoxyelephantopin. It has also been postulated that E. scaber plays a crucial role in cell cycle-induced liver regeneration and suppressed hepatocyte apoptosis. The aqueous extract seems to be more potent than the ethanol extract. [22-27]

Antimicrobial activity

The methanol extract of E. scaber is active against Staphylococcus aureus (NCIM-2079), Eschericha coli (NCIM-2067); Baccilus subtilis (NCIM-2063); Pseudomonas aeruginosa (NICI-2036); and Proteus vulgaris (NCIM-2027). The ethanol extract of the roots is also active against S. aureus, E. coli and P. aeruginosa. [29] [30] [31]

The water extract of E. scaber exhibited anti-RSV (Respiratory syncytial virus) activity but does not seem to have any effects on HSV-1 (Human Herpes simplex virus type 1). [32]

Clinical Data

Clinical Trials

No documentation.

Adverse Effects in Human:

No documentation.

Used in Certain Conditions

Pregnancy / Breastfeeding

Its use in the conduct of delivery by village midwifes as a myometrial contraction stimulant renders it contra-indicated for use during pregnancy.

Age Limitations

Neonates / Adolescents

No documentation.


No documentation.

Chronic Disease Conditions

No documentation.


Interactions with drugs

Diabetic on antidiabetic therapy should use this plant with great caution due to the presence of proven antidiabetic activity. 

Interactions with Other Herbs / Herbal Constituents

No documentation.



No documentation.

Case Reports

No documentation.

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  1) Botanical Info

  2) Malaysian Herbal Plants


1. Merrill: Loureiro’s “Flora Cochinchinensis” Transactions, American Philosophical Society, Philadephia 1935 Vol 24(2):383
2. Buirkill IH. A Dictionary of Economic Products of the Malay Peninsula, Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives Malaysia, Kuala Lumpur 1996, pg. 924 – 925
3. Panda H. Handbook on Medicinal Herbs with Uses, National Institute of Industrial Research, New Delhi 2004, pg. 489 – 492 
4. Kho HL., A Guide to medicinal Plants: An Illustrated Scientific and Medicinal Approach, World Scientific Publishing Co. Pte. Ltd. Singapore 2009 pg. 61 – 62 
5. Shaw PC, Wang J, But PPH. Authentication of Chinese Medicinal Mate, World Scientific Publishing Co. Pte. Ltd., Singapore, 2002, pg. 46 
6. PROSEA. Available from : Accessed on 14th March 2013
7. Sagar R, Sahoo HB. Evaluation of antiasthmatic activity of ethanolic extract of Elephantopus scaber L. leaves. Indian J Pharmacol. 2012 May;44(3):398-401. 
8. Daisy P, Jasmine R, Ignacimuthu S, Murugan A novel steroid from Elephantopus scaber L. an ethnomedicinal plant with antidiabetic activity. E. Phytomedicine. 2009 Mar;16(2-3):252-7. 
9. Wang L, Jian S, Nan P, Zhong Y. Chemical composition of the essential oil of Elephantopus scaber from Southern China. Z Naturforsch C. 2004 May-Jun;59(5-6):327-9.
10. Xu G, Liang Q, Gong Z, Yu W, He S, Xi L. Antitumor activities of the four sesquiterpene lactones from Elephantopus scaber L. Exp Oncol. 2006 Jun;28(2):106-9.
11. Liang QL, Min ZD, Tang YP. A new elemanolide sesquiterpene lactone from Elephantopus scaber. J Asian Nat Prod Res. 2008 May-Jun;10(5-6):403-7. 
12. Xu G, Liang Q, Gong Z, Yu W, He S, Xi L. Antitumor activities of the four sesquiterpene lactones from Elephantopus scaber L. Exp Oncol. 2006 Jun;28(2):106-9.
13. Ichikawa H, Nair MS, Takada Y, Sheeja DB, Kumar MA, Oommen OV, Aggarwal BB. Isodeoxyelephantopin, a novel sesquiterpene lactone, potentiates apoptosis, inhibits invasion, and abolishes osteoclastogenesis through suppression of nuclear factor-kappaB (nf-kappaB) activation and nf-kappaB-regulated gene expression. Clin Cancer Res. 2006 Oct 1;12(19):5910-8.
14. Liang QL, Min ZD, Tang YP. A new elemanolide sesquiterpene lactone from Elephantopus scaber. J Asian Nat Prod Res. 2008 May-Jun;10(5-6):403-7.
15. Su M, Wu X, Chung HY, Li Y, Ye W. Antiproliferative activities of five Chinese medicinal herbs and active compounds in Elephantopus scaber. Nat Prod Commun. 2009 Aug;4(8):1025-30.
16. Lee WL, Wen TN, Shiau JY, Shyur LF. Differential proteomic profiling identifies novel molecular targets of paclitaxel and phytoagent deoxyelephantopin against mammary adenocarcinoma cells. J Proteome Res. 2010 Jan;9(1):237-53. 
17. Huang CC, Lo CP, Chiu CY, Shyur LF. Deoxyelephantopin, a novel multifunctional agent, suppresses mammary tumour growth and lung metastasis and doubles survival time in mice. Br J Pharmacol. 2010 Feb;159(4):856-71. 
18. Geetha BS, Latha PG, Remani P. Evaluation of Elephantopus scaber on the inhibition of chemical carcinogenesis and tumor development in mice. Pharm Biol. 2010 Mar;48(3):342-8. 
19. Su M, Chung HY, Li Y. Deoxyelephantopin from Elephantopus scaber L. induces cell-cycle arrest and apoptosis in the human nasopharyngeal cancer CNE cells. Biochem Biophys Res Commun. 2011 Jul 29;411(2):342-7. 
20. Geetha BS, Nair MS, Latha PG, Remani P. Sesquiterpene lactones isolated from Elephantopus scaber L. inhibits human lymphocyte proliferation and the growth of tumour cell lines and induces apoptosis in vitro. J Biomed Biotechnol. 2012;2012:721285. 
21. Tsai CC, Lin CC. Anti-inflammatory effects of Taiwan folk medicine 'Teng-Khia-U' on carrageenan- and adjuvant-induced paw edema in rats. J Ethnopharmacol. 1999 Jan;64(1):85-9.
22. Lin CC, Yen MH, Chiu HF. The pharmacological and pathological studies on Taiwan folk medicine (VI): The effects of Elephantopus scaber subsp. oblanceolata, E. mollis and Pseudoelephantopus spicatus. Am J Chin Med. 1991;19(1):41-50.
23. Lin CC, Tsai CC, Yen MH. The evaluation of hepatoprotective effects of Taiwan folk medicine 'teng-khia-u'. J Ethnopharmacol. 1995 Feb;45(2):113-23.
24. Rajesh MG, Latha MS. Hepatoprotection by Elephantopus scaber Linn. in CCl4-induced liver injury. Indian J Physiol Pharmacol. 2001 Oct;45(4):481-6.
25. Hung HF, Hou CW, Chen YL, Lin CC, Fu HW, Wang JS, Jeng KC. Elephantopus scaber inhibits lipopolysaccharide-induced liver injury by suppression of signaling pathways in rats. Am J Chin Med. 2011;39(4):705-17.
26. Huang CC, Lin KJ, Cheng YW, Hsu CA, Yang SS, Shyur LF. Hepatoprotective effect and mechanistic insights of deoxyelephantopin, a phyto-sesquiterpene lactone, against fulminant hepatitis. J Nutr Biochem. 2012 Jun 28. 
27. Ho WY, Yeap SK, Ho CL, Abdul Rahim R, Alitheen NB. Hepatoprotective Activity of Elephantopus scaber on Alcohol-Induced Liver Damage in Mice. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2012;2012:417953.
28. Ruppelt BM, Pereira EF, Gonçalves LC, Pereira NA. Pharmacological screening of plants recommended by folk medicine as anti-snake venom--I. Analgesic and anti-inflammatory activities. Mem Inst Oswaldo Cruz. 1991;86 Suppl 2:203-5.
29. Chen CP, Lin CC, Namba T. Screening of Taiwanese crude drugs for antibacterial activity against Streptococcus mutans. J Ethnopharmacol. 1989 Dec;27(3):285-95.
30. Kumar SS, Perumal P, Suresh B. ANTIBACTERIAL STUDIES ON LEAF EXTRACT OF ELEPHANTOPUS SCABER Linn. Anc Sci Life. 2004 Jan;23(3):6-8.
31. Anitha VT, Antonisamy JM, Jeeva S. Anti-bacterial studies on Hemigraphis colorata (Blume) H.G. Hallier and Elephantopus scaber L. Asian Pac J Trop Med. 2012 Jan;5(1):52-7.
32. Li Y, Ooi LS, Wang H, But PP, Ooi VE. Antiviral activities of medicinal herbs traditionally used in southern mainland China. Phytother Res. 2004 Sep;18(9):718-22.


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