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Acanthus ebracteatus Vahl.


Dilivaria ebracteata Pers.

Vernacular Names:

Malaysia: Jeruju Hitam, Jeruju, Beruju, Chakar Bebek
English: Sea Holly
Indonesia:  Jeruju, Daruju (Java); Juruju (Sumatra)
Thailand:  Ngueak plaamo dok muang, Nguek Pla-mo, Nam-mo, Naagh Plamoh, I Kreng (Patani)
Philippines:  Kollil (Palauan), lagiwliw, ragoyroy (dalangdang-zambal)
Vietnam:  O ro
Cambodia: Trohjiekcragn pkapoe sar, Trohjeikcragn slekweng [1]

General Information


Acanthus ebracteatus is one of the mangrove herbs of the family Acanthaceae. It is endemic in Southeast Asia and is seen more in the east coast of Peninsular Malaysia. It is an erect herbaceous plant with woody material only seen in older branches. The stem is green to dark brown to black colour and is armed with numerous spines. It can grow up to 1.5-2m tall. The leaves resemble those of holly with the leaf blade being dark green, stiff and deeply lobed. The apex of the lobes each has a sharp spine. The flowers are in terminal or axillary spikes of about 10 cm long with several flowers. The bracts are ovate and 0.6cm long while the bracteoles are absent. Corolla usually white in colour but there are varieties with pale blue colour. The lip is 2.5cm long and 1.5cm wide, white entirely or with cobalt blue tip and yellowish central keel, elliptic-oblong. The stamens are pink. The fruit is a square-shaped capsule, which explodes when ripe and projecting the seeds measure up to 2m from the plant. The seeds are off-white and flat. [2]

Plant Part Used

Leaves, fruits, seeds, stems and roots. [3]

Chemical Constituents

(2R)-2-O-b-d-glucopyranosyl-2H-1,4-benzoxazin-3(4H)-one; (2R)-2-O-b-d-glucopyranosyl-4-hydroxy-2H-1,4-benzoxazin-3(4H)-one; 7-chloro-(2R)-2-O-b-d-glucopyranosyl-4-hydroxy-2H-1,4-benzoxazin-3(4H)-one; (8R, 70S, 80R)-5,50-dimethoxylariciresinol 40 -O-b-d-glucopyranoside; adenosine; alangionoside C; apigenin-7-O-b-d-glucuronide; b-hydroxyacteoside; benzyl alcohol 7-O-b-d-glucopyranosyl-(1!2)-O-b-d-glucopyranoside (zizybeoside I); ebracteatoside A; ebracteatosides B–D; isoverbascoside; leucosceptoside A ; luteolin-7-O-b-d-glucuronide; (+)-lyoniresinol 3a-O-b-d-glucopyranoside; (_)-lyoniresinol 3a-O-b-d-glucopyranoside; magnolenin C; martynoside; phenethyl alcohol 8-O- b-d -glucopyranosyl-(1!2)-O- b-d -glucopyranoside; plucheoside B; premnaionoside; schaftoside; (+)-syringaresinol-4-O-b-d-apiofuranosyl-(1!2)-O- b-d -glucopyranoside; vecenin-2; verbascoside

Traditional Used:

Throughout Southeast Asia, the leaves of A. ebracteatus are being used to treat inflammatory conditions like rheumatism. The seeds on the other hand are highly regarded as a remedy for persistent boils. Pounded and mixed with water, it would render the person free of boils for a year for each seed taken. [1] In addition, the seeds are used to treat intestinal worms. [3] 

For snakebites, the Malays often advocate the use of the roots as an immediate remedy. The same is used to treat effects of other animal toxins. [1] However, in Kalimantan, the fruit pulp is used to dress wounds of snakebites. [2]

The roots are used to treat herpes zoster. [3] 

The Thais used a pill made from the combination of the leaves of A. ebracteatus and pepper for longevity. It is also a purgative and used as an anti-inflammatory. 

It is generally known amongst the inhabitants of mangroves that the juice of the leaves are good for preventing hair loss. [2]

A cough mixture is made from the seeds together with flowers of Averrhoa and black sugar cane, cinnamon and rock sugar. [3]

Pre-Clinical Data


Antimutagenicity activity:

Various extracts of A. ebracteatus were found to be able to inhibit chemical mutagenesis by inhibiting enzyme activities necessary for the activation of indirect mutagens/carcinogens. [4] 

Anti-inflammatory activity:

In a study to evaluate the anti-inflammatory activity of A. ebracteatus, Laupattarakasem et al found that the aqueous extract could reduce the production of eicosanoid. [5] 

Bioactive polysaccharides activity:

Crude water-soluble polysaccharides obtained from A. ebracteatus stem were separated into neutral and acidic fractions after pre-treatment with 80% ethanol. The neutral polysaccharide was found to be rich in galactose, 3-O-methylgalactose and arabinose while the acidic polysaccharide contains mainly galacturonic acid together with rhamnose, arabinose and galactose as minor components. 3-O-methylgalactose is also present in the acidic fraction. Both fractions showed potent effects on the complement system. The presence of small amounts of 3-O-methylgalactose seemed to be of importance for this activity enhancement. [6] 

Antimicrobial activity:

Hot water extracts of A. ebracteatus was shown to be able to inhibit growth of the following strains of bacteria S. aureus, S. epidermidis, L. plantarum, K. pneumoniae and P. vulgaris with minimum inhibitory concentrations (MICs) and minimum bactericidal concentrations (MBCs) in the range of 1-2 and 2-4 g/L, respectively. Thus, A. ebracteatus has good antimicrobial activity against nosocomial pathogen and skin infection bacteria at low concentrations. [7]


Chronic toxicity studies done on rats given aqueous extracts of the roots of A. ebracteatus did not show any significant effects when given within therapeutic range. However, mild degree of changes in liver and kidneys were observed histopathologically with an exceptional increase in nephropathy observed in female rats receiving 2.7 and 13.5 gm/kg of the extract. Thus, aqueous extracts of the roots of A. ebracteatus would be considered safe for human use but prolonged use and overdose should be avoided to prevent nephrotoxicity. [8]

Clinical Data

Clinical Trials

No documentation

Adverse Effects in Human:

No documentation

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



No documentation

Case Reports

No documentation

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  1) Botanical Info


  1. H.N.Ridley The Flora of the Malay Peninsula Volume 2 L. Reeves and Co. London 1923 pg. 577.
  2. Kathy MacKinnon The ecology of Kalimantan, Volume 3 Dalhousie University Singapore 1996 pg. 512.
  3. I.H. Burkill A Dictionary of Economic Products of the Malay Peninsula Vol. 1 Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperative Malaysia Kuala Lumpur 1966 pg. 27.
  4. Rojanapo W, Tepsuwan A, Siripong P. Mutagenicity and antimutagenicity of Thai medicinal plants. Basic Life Sci. 1990;52:447-52.
  5. Laupattarakasem P, Houghton PJ, Hoult JR, Itharat A. An evaluation of the activity related to inflammation of four plants used in Thailand to treat arthritis. J Ethnopharmacol. 2003 Apr;85(2-3):207-15.
  6. Hokputsa S, Harding SE, Inngjerdingen K, Jumel K, Michaelsen TE, Heinze T, Koschella A, Paulsen BS. Bioactive polysaccharides from the stems of the Thai medicinal plant Acanthus ebracteatus: their chemical and physical features. Carbohydr Res. 2004 Mar 15;339(4):753-62.
  7. Sittiwet, C, Niamsa, N, Puangpronpitag, D Antimicrobial Activity of Acanthus ebracteatus Vahl. Aqueous Extract: The Potential for Skin Infection Treatment International Journal of Biological Chemistry. Vol. 3, no. 2, pp. 95-98. Apr-Jun 2009.
  8. Pongpun Siripong, Piengchai Kupradinan, Suratsawadee Piyaviriyagul, Sirirat Tunsakul Saeree Sukarayodhin, Pikul Laisupasin, Nareerat Kanivichaporn, Bancha Senapeng   Chronic toxicity of Acanthus ebracteatus Vahl. in rats Bulletin of the Department of Medical Sciences (Thailand); Warasan Krom Witthayasat Kan Phaet   Oct-Dec 2001 43(4) p.293-307

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