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Bidens pilosa. (Asteraceae)



Bidens alba L. var. radiata Schultz-Bip

Vernacular Names:

Malaysia: Kancing Baju, Pall-pall Pasir, Keroten
English: Beggar's Tick, Broom Stick, Broom Stuff, Cobbler's Pegs, Devil's Needles, Spanish Needle, Farmer’s Friend
Indonesia: Ajeran, Hareuga (Sundanese), Jaringan, Ketul (Javanese)
Philippines: Dadayem (Ibanag), Burburtak (Ilocano), Pisau-pisau (Bisava).
Thailand: Puen Moksai, (northern), Keen Ok Sai, Yaa Koncham Khaao (central).
Vietnam: D[ow]n bu[oos]t, t[uwr] t[oo] hoang, q[ur]y tr[aa]m th[ar]o
French: Sornet

General Information


Bidens pilosa is an annual plant which is used worldwide for a variety of medicinal purposes, including for the treatment of malaria in the Amazon region.  It can grow up to 1.5m in height and measuring 5-15mm in diameter. It is found in tropical and subtropical regions of the world.

B. pilosa, a type of herb with bright green prickly leaves, yellow flowers and black fruit, is native to tropical areas of South America, Africa, the Caribbean and Southeast Asia.

Plant Part Used

Whole plant. [11]

Chemical Constituents

The plant is rich in flavonoids, terpenes, phenylpropanoids and lipids. The flavonoids contain antimalarial activity. The anti-inflammation and antibacterial activities are attributed to phytochemicals. The chemical composition of the plant has been described extensively elsewhere. [1]  The plant also contains polyacetylenes,flavone glycosides, chalcones, aurones and phenylpropanoids. [2]

Traditional Use:

B. pilosa is used all over the world to treat various ailments such as coughs, laryngitis, headache, conjunctivitis, rheumatism, infections, digestive and stomach disorders including peptic ulcers, hepatitis, diabetes, malaria, and inflammation. [5][13][17]  Aqueous extract of the leaf is used in Cameroon for the treatment of jaundice, threatened abortion, conjunctivitis, toothache, intestinal helminthiasis, leg ulcer and for the management of high blood pressure. [4] The flank pains are treated with the leaves and flowers, while fractures and febrile convulsion are treated with the whole plant. [11]  The flower is used in the treatment of diarrhoea, dysentery and stomach upset due to food poisoning. [11]

Pre-Clinical Data


Anti-inflammatory activity 

B. pilosa extract was demonstrated to have anti-inflammatory actions. [2],[3] Studies using normal human dermal fibroblast showed that B. pilosa extract inhibits cyclooxygenase (COX)-2 expression and its major product, prostaglandin. [2] Both are chemical processes in the body which are linked to inflammatory diseases.

Antiulcer activity

 Extracts of the leaf (as well as the entire plant) have been shown to protect rats against chemical- and bacteria-induced gastric lesions and ulcers and, also, to reduce gastric acid secretion.[4],[5]

Antidiabetic activity

In vivo studies with rats and mice have demonstrated that the plant has hypoglycemic activity and is able to improve insulin sensitivity.[6],[7] The hypoglycemic properties are attributed to a group of glucoside chemicals found in the aerial parts of the plant including 2-beta-D-glucopyranosyloxy-1-hydroxy-5(E)-tridecene-7,9,11-triyne and 3-beta-D-glucopyranosyloxy-1-hydroxy-6(E)-tetradecene-8,10,11,12-triyne. [8] Some polyacetylenes from the plant for example cytopiloyne have also been shown to prevent diabetes mellitus type 1 in non-obese mice. [9]

Antihypertensive activity

B. pilosa was documented to prevent hypertension in rats fed with a high-fructose diet, and to lower the resulting (elevated) blood pressure and triglyceride levels. [10][11]

Antimicrobial and antimalarial activity

The petrol ether and methanol/water extracts of B. pilosa have been shown to have some antimicrobial activity. [12] These antimicrobial actions have been attributed to polyacetylenes such as phenylheptatriyne as well as linolic and linoleic acids. [12] The ethanol extract has also been shown to have antimalarial activities. [13]

Anticancer activity

B.pilosa was reported to have antileukemic actions. [14] Research has shown that its hot-water extract inhibited the growth of five strains of human and mouse leukemia at less than 200µg per mL in vitro. [14] Using the in vivo comet assay, research has also shown that the methanol extract of the whole plant has anticancer activity. [15]

Antioxidant activity

 Extracts of B.pilosa showed antioxidant properties in in vitro studies. [16][17][18]


Specific toxicology studies have shown no toxicity when dosages of up to 1g per kg of body weight were injected into mice.

Clinical Data

Clinical Trials

Adverse Effects in Human:

High doses can irritate bladder and kidneys.

Use in Certain Conditions

Pregnancy / Breastfeeding

No documentation

Age Limitations

Neonates / Adolescents

No documentation


No documentation

Chronic Disease Conditions

No documentation


Interactions with drugs

None clinically documented in humans. However, the antidiabetic, and antihypertensive activities of this plant may potentiate the actions of these drugs.  

Interactions with Other Herbs / Herbal Constituents

No documentation



Due of its hypoglycaemic [9] and antihypertensive [10][11] activities, people with these conditions should use this plant with caution and under the supervision of a qualified medical personnel. B. pilosa contains a small amount of naturally-occurring caffeine and therefore should not be used by those who are allergic or sensitive to caffeine.

Case Reports

No Documentation

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  1) Botanical Info


  1. Tropical plant database, Raintree Nutrition,
  2. Yoshida N, Kanekura T, Higashi Y, Kanzaki, T.  Bidens pilosa suppresses interleukin-1 beta-induced cyclooxygenase-2 expression through the inhibition of mitogen activated protein kinases phosphorylation in normal human dermal fibroblasts.  J. Dermatol., 33(10): 676-83, 2006.
  3. Chiang YM, Lo CP, Chen YP, Wang SY, Yang NS, Kuo YH, Shyur LF. Ethyl caffeate suppresses NF-kappaB activation and its downstream inflammatory mediators, iNOS, COX-2, and PGE2 in vitro or in mouse skin.  Br. J. Pharmacol., 146(3): 352-63, 2005.
  4. Tan PV, Dimo T, Etienne Dongo E.  Effects of methanol, cyclohexane and methylene chloride extracts of Bidens pilosa on various gastric ulcer models in rats. J. Ethnopharmacol., 73(3): 415–21, 2000.
  5. Alvarez A, Pomar F., Sevilla M.A., Montero M.J. Gastric antisecretory and antiulcer activities of an ethanolic extract of Bidens pilosa L. var. radiata Schult. Bip.  J. Ethnopharmacol., 67(3): 333–40, 1999.
  6. Alarcon-Aguilar FJ., Roman-Ramos R., Flores-Saenz J.L., Aguirre-Garcia F. Investigation on the hypoglycaemic effects of extracts of four Mexican medicinal plants in normal and alloxan-diabetic mice.  Phytother. Res., 16(4): 383–86, 2002.
  7. Alarcon-Aguilara FJ, Roman-Ramos R., Perez-Gutierrez S., Aguilar-Contreras A., Contreras-Weber C.C., Flores-Saenz J.L. Study of the anti-hyperglycemic effect of plant used as antidiabetics.  J. Ethnopharmacol., 61(2): 101–10, 1998.
  8. Chang SL, Chang CL, Chiang YM, Hsieh RH, Tzeng CR, Wu TK, Sytwu HK, Shyur LF, Yang WC. Polyacetylenic compounds and butanol fraction from Bidens pilosa can modulate the differentiation of helper T cells and prevent autoimmune diabetes in non-obese diabetic mice.  Planta Med., 70(11): 1045-51, 2004.
  9. Chang CL, Chang SL, Lee YM, Chiang YM, Chuang DY, Kuo HK, Yang WC. et al. Cytopiloyne, a polyacetylenic glucoside, prevents type 1 diabetes in nonobese diabetic mice.  J. Immunol., 178(11): 6984-93, 2007.
  10. Dimo T, Rakotonirina SV, Tan PV, Azay J, Dongo E, Cros G.  Leaf methanol extract of Bidens pilosa prevents and attenuate the hypertension induced by high-fructose diet in Wister rats.  J. Ethnopharmacol. 83(3): 183–91, 2002.
  11. Dimo T, Azay J, Tan PV, Jacques Pellecuer J, Cros G, Bopelet M, Serrano JJ.  Effects of the aqueous and methylene chloride extracts of Bidens pilosa leaf on fructose-hypertensive rats.  J. Ethnopharmacol., 76(3): 215–21, 2001.
  12. Geissberger P, Séquin U.  Constituents of Bidens pilosa L: do the compounds found so far explain the use of this plant in traditional medicine?. Acta Trop., 48(4): 251-61, 1991.
  13. Andrade-Neto VF Andrade-Neto VF, Brandão MG, Oliveira FQ, Casali VW, Njaine B, Zalis MG, Oliveira LA, Krettli AU., et al.  Antimalarial activity of Bidens pilosa L (Asterareacea) ethanol extracts from wild plants collected in various localities or plants cultivated in humus soil.  Phytother Res., 18(8): 634-9, 2004.
  14. Chang JS, Chiang LC, Chen CC, Liu LT, Wang KC, Lin CC.  Antileukaemic activity of Bidens pilosa L var. minor (Blume) Sherff and houttuynia cordota Thunb. Am J Chin Med., 29(2): 303-12, 2001.
  15. Sundararajan P, Dey A, Smith A, Doss AG, Rajappan M, Natarajan S.  Studies of anticancer and antipyretic activity of Bidens pilosa whole plant.  Afr. Health Sci., 6(1): 27-30, 2006.
  16. Chiang YM,  Chuang DY, Wang SY, Kuo YH, Tsai PW, Shyur LF.  Metabolite profiling and chemopreventive bioactivity of plant extracts from Bidens pilosa.  J Ethnopharmacol., 95(2-3): 409-19, 2004.
  17. Abajo C, Boffill MA, del Campo J, Méndez MA, González Y, Mitjans M, Vinardell MP. In vitro study of the antioxidant and immunomodulatory activity of aqueous infusion of Bidens pilosa.  J Ethnopharmacol., 93(2-3): 319-23, 2004.
  18. Yang HL Chen SC, Chang NW, Chang JM, Lee ML, Tsai PC, Fu HH, Kao WW, Chiang HC, Wang HH, Hseu YC.  Protection from oxidative damage using Bidens pilosa extracts in normal human erythrocytes.  Food Chem Toxicol, 44(9), 1513-21, 2006.

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