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Ruellia tuberosa Linn.


Ruellia clandestina Linn., Cryphiacanthus barbadensis Nees [2]

Vernacular Names

English Meadow-weed
Indonesia Pletekan, Ceplikan
Thailand Toi Ting
India Tapas-kaaya
France Chanderlier
Spain Salta Perico (Cuba); Periquito (Santa Domingo)
Jamaica Minnie Root, Many Root, Minny Root, Duppy Gun, Menow Weed
Virgin Islands Iron Root
Barbados Iron Root, Monkey Gun
Gaudeloupe, Martinique Patate Chanderlier [1][7][8]

General Information


Ruellia tuberosa is a member of the Acanthaceae family. It is a perennial herbaceous plant that can reach up to 60cm. The roots are clustered, thick, elongated and fusiform. The stems are erect or ascending and is pilose above, and glabrescent below. The leaves are ovate, oblong of elliptical, measuring 12cm long and 4.5cm broad. The apex is rounded, obtuse or acute, narrowed at the base into margined petioles which are 3cm long. The inflorescence contains a few flowers of peduncled cyme. The bracts are narrow and small; calyx is hispid-pubescent measuring 12-20mm long. The corolla is mauve to bluish-purple or white with the tube 4.5cm long, the limb spreading, the lobes surrounded and measure 12-14mm in diameter. The capsules are oblong to clavate, measure about 1.5cm long and puberulent. The seeds are ovate and compressed. [2]

Plant Part Used

Whole plant, roots, root-bark, leaves [1][3][4][10]

Chemical Constituents

Apigenin; beta-sitosterol; campesterol; cassifolioside; cholesterol; comanthoside B; forsythoside; hispidulin 7-O-β-D-glucuronopyranoside; hispidulin 7-O-α-L-rhamnopyranosyl-(1'″ → 2″)-O-β-D-glucuronopyranoside; isocassifolioside; isonuomioside; isoverbascoside; luteolin; nuomioside; paucifloside; pectolinaringenin 7-O-α-L-rhamnopyranosyl-(1'″ → 2″)-O-β-D-glucuronopyranoside; stigmasterol; verbascoside. [3][5][9]

Traditional Uses

R. tuberosa was traditionally used to improve urination, reduce fever, lower blood sugar levels, counteract the effect of poison, as thirst-quenching agent, pain killer and to treat high blood pressure problem. [10] In Central America, it has been used interchangeably with ipecacuanha to induce vomiting. The Maya tribe applies this plant to sores in the mouth to promote its healing. [1][4][10] It also had been promoted as a remedy of heart problem, urinary problems including bladder infection and stones, and genital tract infection[1][6][8][10] 

R. tuberosa has been promoted by traditional medical practitioners for use in the treatment of respiratory  disease and various forms of cough and common cold where teas of the root bark or leaves were prescribed. A poultice of the leaves is a remedy for aching limbs but it should not be placed on for more than half an hour as it is believed to be very strong. The poultice of the roots on the other hand is a good remedy for broken bones and dislocated joints. Another interesting use of the plant is in inducing abortion and treatment of fibroids. It also used in the treatment of ear and eye problems especially infection. [1][3][4][10] Some Sri Lankan traditional medical practitioners claim the roots of R. tuberosa to have the ability to prevent the development of gastritis. [13]

Pre-Clinical Data


Antioxidant activity

The methanol extract of R. tuberosa and its four fractions (water, ethyl acetate, chloroform and n-hexane) were subjected to antioxidant evaluation (2,2-diphenyl-1-picrylhydrazyl (DPPH) free radical scavenging assay and H2O2 induced luminal chemiluminescence assay). The results indicated that R. tuberosa extracts have potent antioxidant activity with ethyl acetate fraction showing the highest activity. [11] 

Antinociceptive activity

The ethanol extract of R. tuberosa was evaluated for its antinociceptive activity using hotplate test, hot tail flick test and acetic acid writhing test in mice. The result showed that the extract exhibit antinociceptive activity in a dose dependent manner and is comparable to diclofenac. [12]

Antiinflammatory activity

R. tuberosa ethanol extract exhibited significant anti-inflammatory activity as evidenced by its ability to inhibit serotonin and egg albumin induced hind paw oedema in rats. This activity is dose dependent and is comparable to indomethacin. [12]

Gastroprotective activity

The crude extract of R. tuberosa root at doses 470, 940, 1880mg/kg showed a strong and dose dependent gastroprotective activity to rats with alcohol induced gastric lesions. There were significant reduction in the duration of haemorrhagic gastric lesion. The extract also exhibited mild erythropoietic and analgesic activity. It is also well tolerated with subchronic treatment. [13] 

Antidiabetic activity

The whole plant methanol extract and the n-hexane and ethyl acetate fractions of R. tuberosa were subjected to antidiabetic assay both in normal and alloxan-induced diabetic rabbits. The study showed that the ethyl acetate fraction had the highest hypoglycaemic activity both in normal and diabetic rabbits in dose dependent manner. This is comparable to tolbutamide. [14]


No documentation

Teratogenic effects

No documentation

Clinical Data

Clinical Trials

No documentation

Adverse Effects in Human:

No documentation

Used in Certain Conditions

Pregnancy / Breastfeeding

While there has not been any studies done on the abortifacient property of this plant, it had been reported that the roots has been used to induce abortion in Indian traditional practices. Thus, pregnancy is a contraindication for the use of this plant especially the roots. [10]

Age Limitations

Neonates / Adolescents

No documentation


No documentation

Chronic Disease Conditions

No documentation


Interactions with drugs

Antidiabetic studies had shown that extracts of the whole plant have hypoglycaemic activity both in normal and diabetic rabbits. There would be greater tendency for patients to develop hypoglycaemia when this is taken together with antidiabetic drugs. [14]

Interactions with Other Herbs / Herbal Constituents

No documentation



No documentation

Case Reports

No documentation


  1. Khare CP. Indian Medicinal Plants: An Illustrated Dictionary, Springer Verlag, Berlin. 2007; pg. 561
  2. Liogier AH. Descriptive Flora of Puerto Rico and Adjacent Islands: Spermatophyta Volume V, Universidad de Puerto Rico, San Juan. 1997; pg. 49 – 50
  3. Kay MA. Healing with Plants University of Arizona Press. 1996; pg. 237
  4. Kunow MA. Maya Medicine: Traditional Healing in Yucatan, UNMPress . 2003; pg 90, 93.
  5. Panda H. Handbook on Ayurvedic Medicines with Formulae, Processes and their Uses, National Institute of Industrial Research, New Delhi. 2004; pg. 438
  6. Quiros-Moran D. Guide to Afro-cuban Herbalism, AuthorHouse, Bloomington. 2009; pg. 586
  7. Tomei R. Forbidden Fruits: The Secret Names of Plants in Caribbean Culture, Morlacchi Editore. 2008; pg. 34
  8. Ratnasari J. Krisantini, Galeri Tanaman Hias Bunga Niaga Swadaya. Jakarta. 2007; pg. 195
  9. Phakeovilay C, Disadee W, Sahakitpichan P, Sitthimonchai S, Kittakoop P, Ruchirawat S, Kanchanapoom T. Phenylethanoid and flavone glycosides from Ruellia tuberosa L. J Nat Med. 2013 Jan;67(1):228-33. doi: 10.1007/s11418-012-0658-7.
  10. Chothani DL, Patel MB, Mishra SH. HPTLC Fingerprint Profile and Isolation of Marker Compound of Ruellia tuberosa, Chromatography Research International. 2012
  11. Fu-An C, An-Bang W, Pochuen S, Daih-Huang KCH, Evaluation of the antioxidant activity of Ruellia tuberosa, Food Chemistry, 2006; 9(1):14 – 18
  12. Ashraful MA, Nusrat S, Abdul MA, Shohidul MA, Mokaddez S, Lutfun N, Satyajit DS,  Antinociceptive and anti-inflammatory properties of Ruellia tuberosa, Pharmaceutical Biology. 2009; 47(3):209 – 214
  13. Arambewela LSR, Thambugala R, Ratnasooriya WD. Gastroprotective activity of Ruellia tuberosa root extract in rats. J. Trop. Med. Plants.;4(2)
  14. Shahwar D, Ullaha S, Ahmad M, Ullah S, Ahmad N, Khan MA. Hypoglycaemic Activity of Ruellia tuberosa Linn. (Acanthaceae) in Normal and Alloxan-induced Diabetic Rabbits, Iranian Journal of Pharmaceutical Sciences 2011; 7(2): 107 – 115.

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