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Boehmeria nivea (L.) Gaudich.


Boehmeria candicans Hassk., Boehmeria juncea Bedevian [Invalid],  Boehmeria nipononivea Koidz., Boehmeria tenacissima Gaud., Boehmeria thailandica Yahara, Boehmeria utilis André, Procris nivea Wedd. [Invalid], Urtica nivea L., Ramium niveum (L.) Kuntze.  [22]

Vernacular Names

Malaysia Rami
English Rheea grass
China Chu ma
Indonesia Gambe (Sulawesi); Kalooee (Sumatra)
Myanmar Goun
India Rheea, Inan, Puya, Kuukhoora, Pan
Japan Tajo karao, Mao, Kusa-mao, Kara-mushi [1]

General Information


Boehmeria nivea is a member of the Urticaceae family. It is a perennial herbaceous plant that can reach up to 2.5 m high. The branchlets are densely hairy. The leaves are ovate, acuminate-caudate with rounded or truncate base. The edges are coarsely dentate-serrate and lanate beneath. They measure 6-15 cm long and 5-13 cm wide. The flowers are yellow-green, appearing in axillary panicles. They are unisexual, monoecious, and protandrous. The male flowers are pale yellow with four perianth segments and four stamens. The female flowers have tubular perianths that are hairy. The achenes are oblong, densely pilose with persistent stigma and measure 1 mm long. [4]

Plant Part Used

Roots, stems, and leaves [2][3][5]

Chemical Constituents

2 alpha-hydroursolic acid; 2,4,4’-trihydrochalcone; 19 alpha-hydrocyursolic acid; beta-sitosterol; chlorogenic acid; daucosterol; hederagenin; maslinic acid; protocatechuic; rhoifolin; rutin; tormentic acid; trans-p-hydrocinamic acid; (Z)-9,10,11-trihydroxy-12-octadecenoic acid; (Z)-7,8,9-trihydroxy-10-hexadecenoic acid; (Z)-12-keto-7,8,9-trihydroxy-10-hexadecenoic acid; (E)-8,11,12-trihydroxy-9-octadecenoic acid; kiwiionoside, eugenyl beta-rutinoside, uracil, beta-sitosterol glucoside, 3-hydroxy-4-methoxy-benzoic acid, cholesterol, alpha-amyrin. nonacosanol. [3][6][8][9][13][14]

Traditional Uses

B. nivea is traditionally used as antipyretic, detoxificant, haemostatic, febrifuge, demulcent, vulnerary, antiphlogistic, and antiabortifacient.  It also has been used to treat conditions like swelling, bleeding, haematuria, haemoptysis, haematemesis, metrorrhagia, and excessive foetal movements, traumatic injuries, and to improve urination. [3][5][7] 

The fresh leaves are astringent, resolvent, and used in promoting healing of fluxes and wounds in the digestive tract including gastric ulcer. The decoction of the leaves has antipyretic properties which are used to treat high fever (ague) and measles. [3]Its anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties render it useful in urinary tract infection, traumatic injures, ulcers, boils and even snakebites. [6]  

The root is traditionally used by Malays in the treatment of foul ulceration called pekong. [2] The fresh roots are mashed and used as poultice over the lesion.[3] The haemostatic, antiabortifacient and uterosedative properties of the roots have been used to treat leuchorrhoea, vaginal bleeding, threatened abortion or simple dysfunctional uterine bleeding like metrorrhagia and  gastrointestinal tract bleeding (vomiting blood and piles). [3][5][6][7][12]

The leaves when combined with roots are tonic for those suffering from dysentery. [2]

Preclinical Data


Hepatoprotective and antioxidant activity

Aqueous extracts of B. nivea showed hepatoprotective and antioxidant activities. The result showed that B. nivea exhibited a hepatoprotective activity against CCl4-induced liver injury while antioxidant effects in FeCl2-ascorbate induced lipid peroxidation in rat liver homogenate. B. nivea also has the active oxygen species scavenging ability evaluated by an electron spin resonance (ESR) spin-trapping technique. These activities were assumed to be related to the free radical scavenging effects of the extract. [15]

Anti-HBV activity

Initial studies on the anti-hepatitis B virus activity of B. nivea root extract were done using HepG2 2.2.15 cell model system. The results showed significant reduction of hepatitis B virus (HBV) production but the causes was not by its cytotoxicity to cells or inhibition of viral DNA replication and RNA expression. Subsequent to this, another study was done and found out that the inhibition was due to the ability of the root extract to block assembled viron secretion by reducing 78-kDa glucose-regulated protein (GRP78). [16][17][18]

Antiglycosidase and anticholinesterase activity

Methanol extracts of B. nivea leaves, stems and roots and their respective n-hexane, methylene chloride, ethylene acetate, n-butanol and aqueous fractions were screened for antiglycosidase and anticholinesterase activities. The n-butanol fraction of the roots showed high-pitched α-glucosidase inhibition while the ethyl acetate fraction exhibited highest beta-glucosidase inhibition. The leaves extract showed highest β-galactosidase inhibitory activity, but none of the extracts showed alpha-galactosidease inhibition. The whole plant showed notable butyrylcholinesterase enzyme inhibition activity and moderate anti-acetylcholineseterase activity. These results indicated that B. nivea as a potential choice for the treatment of diabetes type II, cancer and neurodegenerative diseases. [19]


The study of aqueous extract of B. nivea at up to 16 times (32 g/kg/day) of human daily dose for embryotoxicity and maternal toxicity did not show significant effect and did not induce maternal liver, kidney or heart damage in mice. However, there was evidence of cytotoxicity in cultured embryonic stem cells where B. nivea extract significantly (p<0.05) lower its viability at concentrations 5 mg/mL and above. [20]

Clinical Data

Clinical Trials

No documentation

Adverse Effects in Human:

B. nivea pollens have been established as a cause of asthma in Nagasaki, Japan. Miura found that the rate of positive reaction to B. nivea was 11.7% amongst adult asthmatic patients in the Nagasaki area. A cross-reactivity study between B.nivea and Parietaria spp. (both members of Urticaceae) showed there was not cross-reactivity detected. [21]

Used in Certain Conditions

Pregnancy / Breastfeeding

No documentation

Age Limitations

Neonates / Adolescents

No documentation


No documentation

Chronic Disease Conditions

No documentation


Interactions with drugs

No documentation

Interactions with Other Herbs / Herbal Constituents

No documentation



Care must be taken when using B. nivea extracts in people with unstable or severe cardiac disease, uncontrolled epilepsy, or active peptic ulcer diseases. The presence of anti-acetylcholinesterase in the plant could aggravate these conditions. [19]

Case Reports

No documentation


  1. Peter Hanelt P.  Mansfeld’s Encyclopedia of Agricultural and Horticultural Crops. Springer-Verlag: Berlin; 2001. pg. 394
  2. Gimlette  JD. A Dictionary of Malayan Medicine. London: Oxford University Press London; 1939. pg.195 – 196.
  3. Yellowdawn TH. The Sun, Human & Food: A Self-Treatment and Practice with Natural Food.  Bloomington: Author House; 2011. pg. 91 – 92.
  4. Hu SY. Food Plants of China. Chinese University Press; 2005. pg. 363.
  5. Yang XR. Encyclopaedic Reference of Traditional Chinese Medicine. Springer Berlin; 2003. pg. 468.
  6. Kimura T, But PPH. International Collation of Traditional and Folk Medicine. Singapore: Northeast Asia World Scientific Publishing Co. Pte. Ltd; 1998. pg. 14
  7. Plants for a Future. Boehmeria nivea. [cited 2012 March 15]. Available from:
  8. Li W, Ding L, Li B. Chemical constituents of the root of Boehmeira nivea (L.) Gaud. Zhongguo Zhong Yao Za Zhi. 1996 Jul; 21(7):427-8.
  9. Xu Q, Chen G, Fan J, Zhang M, Li X, Yang S, Li X. Chemical constituents of roots of Boehmeria nivea. Zhongguo Zhong Yao Za Zhi. 2009 Oct; 34(20):2610-2.
  10. Balfour E. The Cyclopaedia of India and of Eastern and Southern Asia. 1st vol. Scottish & Adelphi Press; 1871. pg. 565.
  11. Rein JJ. The Industries of Japan. Curzon Press Richmond; 1995. pg. 167.
  12. Wu JN, An Illustrated Chinese Materia Medica. New York: Oxford University Press; 2005. pg. 138.
  13. Xu QM, Liu YL, Li XR, Li X, Yang SL. Three new fatty acids from the roots of Boehmeria nivea (L.) Gaudich and their antifungal activities. Nat Prod Res. 2011 Mar; 25(6):640-7.
  14. Liu C, Zou K, Guo Z, Zhao Y, Cheng F, Zhang H. Chemical constituents from leaves of Boehmeria nivea. Zhongguo Zhong Yao Za Zhi. 2010 Jun; 35(11):1432-4.
  15. Lin CC, Yen MH, Lo TS, Lin JM. Evaluation of the hepatoprotective and antioxidant activity of Boehmeria nivea var. nivea and B. nivea var. tenacissima. Journal Ethnopharmacol. 1998 Feb; 60(1):9-17.
  16. Huang KL, 7. Huang KL, Lai YK, Lin CC, Chang JM. Inhibition of hepatitis B virus production by Boehmeria nivea root extract in HepG2 2.2.15 cells. World Journal Gastroenterol. 2006 Sep 21; 12(35):5721-5.
  17. Chang JM, Huang KL, Yuan TT, Lai YK, Hung LM. The Anti-hepatitis B Virus Activity of Boehmeria nivea Extract in HBV-viremia SCID Mice. Evidence-based Complementary and Alternative Medicine. 2010 Jun;7(2):189-95.
  18. Lai YK, Lin CC, Chang JM. Involvement of GRP78 in inhibition of HBV secretion by Boehmeria nivea extract in human HepG2 2.2.15 cells. Journal of Viral Hepatitis. 2009 May;16(5):367-75.
  19. Sancheti S, Sancheti S, Seo SY. Evaluation of antiglycosidase and anticholinesterase activities of Boehmeria nivea. Pak J Pharm Sci. 2010 Apr;23(2):236-40.
  20. Tian XY, Xu M, Deng B, Leung KS, Cheng KF, Zhao ZZ, Zhang SP, Yang ZJ, Deng PX, Xu DY, Xu XP, Koo I, Wong M. The effects of Boehmeria nivea (L.) Gaud. on embryonic development: in vivo and in vitro studies. Journal of Ethnopharmacology. 2011 Mar 24; 134(2):393-8.
  21. Miura N. Ramie (Boehmeria nivea) pollen-induced bronchial asthma and allergenic cross-reactivity of ramie and Parietaria. Arerugi. 1993 May; 42(5):649-55.
  22. The Plant List. Accessed on 4th August 2014. Available from

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