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Acalypha indica Linn.



Acalypha australis Linn.; Acalypha ciliata Wall.; Acalypha spicata Forsk.; Acalypha canescense Wall

Vernacular Names:

Malaysia: Chikka Emas, Galak Kuching

Indian acalypha, Indian nettle, Three-seeded mercury


Lelatang, Kucing-kucingan, rumput kokosongan (Sunda); rumput bolong-bolong (Jawa)

China:  Tie xian
India:  Kuppikhokli (Hindi); Kuppigida (Kannada); Kuppameni (Malayalam); Haritamanjari (Sanskrit); Kuppaimeni, Kuppaveni (Tamil); Kuppicettu, Kuppinta, Muripindi (Telagu); Muktajhuri, Sveta-basanta (Gujerati)
French:  Ricinelle des Indes, Oreille de chatte, Herba chatte

General Information


Acalypha indica Linn is a member of the Euphorbiaceae family. It is essentially a weed which grows in waste areas. It is an erect, annual herbaceous plant with numerous ascending branches. It can grow up to 1.5m. tall. The stems are sparingly to densely hairy. The leaves have long petioles (up to 12cm long), arranged spirally, simple, with blades that are ovate or rhombic-ovate, acute, cuneate at the base. Margins are crenate-serrated. They are glabrous and thin. Flowers are unisexual. Both male and female flowers appears in axillary spikes, male being minute, followed by a tuft of sterile flowers, while the female are scattered, 3-5 surrounded by a many-nerved bract. Fruit capsules are small, concealed by the bracts. The seeds are ovoid, smooth, pale brown in colour.

Plant Part Used

Whole plant

Chemical Constituents

Kaempferol glycosides, mauritianin, clitorin, nicotiflorin and biorobin, acalyphin, epiacalyphin, tannins, beta-sitosterol, acalyphamide, aurantiamide, succinimide, flindersin, triacetonamine, n-octacosanol, quebrachitol, hydrocyanic acid.

Traditional Use:

Acalypha indica is considered by the traditional practitioners to be bitter, acrid, expectorant, purgative, emetic, gastrointestinal irritant and diuretic. [1] 

The leaves are known to have laxative properties and is given in the form of powder or decoction by Indians to treat constipation. In cases of obstinate constipation the leaves are grounded into paste and made into a ball and introduced per rectum. It is supposed to relax the sphincter ani and produces free motion. In Madagascar, the root decoction is used as a laxative. A. indica is also considered as a vermifuge in this case the root infusion is being used by people of Seychelles and Reunion Islands. On the other hand the Indians make use of the leaves together with garlic to expel the vermins. The leaves are considered as an emetic and most practitioners make use of the leaf sap as part of a concoction to induce vomiting. It is considered as safe even for children. [2][3]

A. indica is considered an expectorant and the juice expressed from the leaves is being given to treat croup, while in smaller doses it helps in productive cough by aiding its expectoration. The root infusion or decoction is given for asthma. [2] 

The leaves of A. indica has been advocated for use in the treatment of various parasitic skin condition. One of the most common application is the treatment of scabies. In Madagascar crushed aerial parts are applied to skin parasites while in Mauritius the juice of the crushed leaves are mixed with salt and applied on scabitic lesions. The Indians mixed the sap with salt to treat scabies. It is also used to treat various inflammatory skin problems like maggot-infested wounds, syphilitic ulcers and some other skin infection. [2][3]

East Africans use the leaf sap to treat eye infection while in Namibia the decoction is instilled into the eye for the same purpose. In India a decoction of the leaves is instilled into the ears to treat otalgia and otitis.  In Comoros, the leaf decoction is used in cream form to treat joint pains and rheumatism, while in India the leave juice mixed with oil is used instead. Poultice of the plant is applied to the head for headache. [3]

Pre-Clinical Data


Postcoital infertility activity

The petroleum ether and ethanol extracts were found to have anti-implantation activity when they were given to female albino rats. This effect was reversible upon withdrawal of the treatment with the extracts. This effect is due to some estrogenic activity as evidenced by histological studies of the uterus. [4] 

Wound healing activity

Studies found that A. indica does have wound healing ability, however, it is inferior to Heliotropium indicum which has better activity and tensile strength. [5] 

Neutralisation potential of Viper russelli russelli venom activity

A. indica is a common weed while Viper russelli russelli is amongst the deadliest snakes in the world. Shirwaika et al associated the two together when they investigated the ability of the A. indica to neutralise the snake's venom. The viper venom induced lethality by haemorrhage, necrotisation and mast cell degranulation in rats and cardiotoxicity and neurotoxicity in frogs. Preadministration of the ethanol leaf extracts to test animals was found to significantly inhibit these effects. It was found that the extract also inhibited venom-induced lipid peroxidation in RBC, decrease GSH and catalase levels in rat kidney tissue. This indicates that the ethanol leaf extract of Acalypha indica possesses potent snake venom neutralising properties. [6] 

Antibacterial activity

A study of the antibacterial activity of 4 different extracts (hexane, chloroform, ethyl acetate and methanol) from the leaves of A. indica was carried out against Gram positive (Staphylococcus aureus, Staphylococcus epidermidis, Bacillus cereus, Streptococcus faecalis) and Gram negative (Klebsiella pneumoniae, Escherichia coli, Proteus vulgaris, Pseudomonas aeruginosa) bacteria. All the extracts exhibited antibacterial activity against the Gram positive organisms with MIC 0.156 to 2.5 mg/mL while amongst the Gram negative bacteria only Pseudomonas aeruginosa was susceptible. [7]


The raw herb is considered poisonous, emetic, and causes intestinal irritation. Pollens may cause allergy. [8]

Clinical Data

Clinical Trials

No documentation

Adverse Effects in Human:

No documentation

Use 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



No documentation

Case Reports

Acute intravascular haemolysis

It was reported in Sri Lanka that four patients developed acute intravascular haemolysis after ingesting a broth containing Acalypha indica Linn. All four patients wer found to have glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase deficiency. [9]

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  1) Botanical Info


  1. P. K. Warrier, Arya Vaidya Sala Kottakkal Indian medicinal plants: a compendium of 500 species, Volume 4 Orient Longman Hyderabad 2005 pg 36.
  2. H. Panda Herbal Soaps & Detergents Hand Book National Institute of Industrial Research Delhi 2003 pg. 48 – 49
  3. Gabriëlla Harriët Schmelzer, Ameenah Gurib-Fakim, Plant Resources of Tropical Africa (Program) Medicinal plants Backhuys Publishers, Wageningen 2008 pg. 23-25
  4. Hiremath SP, Rudresh K, Badami S, Patil SB, Patil SR. Post-coital antifertility activity of Acalypha indica L. J Ethnopharmacol. 1999 Nov 30;67(3):253-8.
  5. Reddy JS, Rao PR, Reddy MS. Wound healing effects of Heliotropium indicum, Plumbago zeylanicum and Acalypha indica in rats. J Ethnopharmacol. 2002 Feb;79(2):249-51.
  6. Shirwaikar A, Rajendran K, Bodla R, Kumar CD. Neutralization potential of Viper russelli russelli (Russell's viper) venom by ethanol leaf extract of Acalypha indica. J Ethnopharmacol. 2004 Oct;94(2-3):267-73.
  7. Govindarajan M, Jebanesan A, Reetha D, Amsath R, Pushpanathan T, Samidurai K. Antibacterial activity of Acalypha indica L. Eur Rev Med Pharmacol Sci. 2008 Sep-Oct;12(5):299-302.
  8. C. P. Khare Indian herbal remedies: rational Western therapy, ayurvedic, and other traditional usage, Botany Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2004 pg. 12.
  9. Lamabadusuriya SP, Jayantha UK. Acalypha indica induced haemolysis in G6PD deficiency. Ceylon Med J. 1994 Mar;39(1):46-7.

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