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Barleria prionitis Linn.


Barleria hystrix L., Barleria hystrix (L.) Miq. [1]

Vernacular Names:

Malaysia: Duri Landak
English:  Common Yellow Nail Dye Plant
Indonesia:  Landep
India:  Vajradanti, Kurantaka, Koranta (Sanskrit); Catserina, Katsareya (Hindi); Kantajati (Bengali); Kantaasherio (Gujerati); Multi goranta (Telagu); Shemulli (Tamil & Malayalam) [2]

Dat Kurandu

Sri Lanka:  Ikshura, Ikiri, Katukarandu
Arabia:  Shakhad

General Information


Barleria prionitis Linn., is a shrub which can grow to almost 2m high. It branches freely with branchlet terete and tumid above nodes. They possesses 2-3 divaricated spines measuring 11mm long. The leaves are ovate-elliptic to obovate, measuring 4-10cm x 2-6cm tapering to base, mucronate, galbrous above with many cytolith. The petioles are 2.5 cm long. Flowers are large, solitary, becoming spicate in the upper axils. Bracts are linear-oblong 1.2-2.2cm x 0.2-0.8cm, abruptly acuminate and ciliated. Bracteoles are linear-lanceolate measuring 1.4cm x 0.15cm, spinous-tipped. Outer calyx-lobe ovate-oblong and measuring 1.5 x 0.4cm and is mucronate. The inner lobes are linear-lanceolate, 13 x 2mm. also mucronate. The corolla is bright orange-yellow with the tube pilulose outside and 2.5 cm long. Limb is 3cm across the lateral lobes; the lobes are oval-oblong to rounded and recurved. The anterior stamens are exserted while the posterior stamens rudimentary. Single short staminoid. Capsule is ovoid-oblong, 1.2-1.6 x 0.9-1.1cm; seeds 2, oval-oblong, 8 x 5mm with adpressed, silky hairs. [3]

Plant Part Used

Leaves and roots [2][5][8]

Chemical Constituents

1,8, dihydroxy -2,7-dimethyl3,6-dimethoxy anthraquinone; 1,3,6,8-tetra methoxy-2,7-dimethyl anthraquinone; 4-carbomethoxy, 5,6-dehydro,7,8-dihydroxy,8-methyl-1b-D-glucopyranosidal iridoid; 5,6,b-epoxy,7b-hydroxy,8b-methyl-1b-rhamnosidal iridoid; 6-O-trans-p-coumaroyl-8-O-acetylshanzhiside methyl ester; 13,14-seco-stigmasta-5,14-diene-3-α-ol; acetyl-barlerin; b-sitosterol; balarenone; barlerin; barlerinoside; gentioside; lupeol; melilotic acid; p-hydroxy benzoic acid; pipataline; scutellarein; shanzhiside methylester; syringic acid; vanillic acid [4][5][6][7]


Traditional Use:

Respiratory Diseases

B. prionitis is used in the treatment of catarrhal conditions in children. The juice of the leaves mixed with honey seems to be the remedy for this in the Indian society. On the other hand for the barking cough of Pertussis a decoction of the dried bark is used instead. The ash of the whole plant mixed with honey is a remedy for bronchial asthma. The flower is given internally for the treatment of haemoptysis. 

Skin Diseases

Juice of the leaves is applied to the heels to prevent cracking and laceration. The leaves are also a remedy for infected wounds, erysipelas and pimples. For the latter the juice of the leaves is mixed with coconut oil and applied locally. The oil extract of the plant is used to arrest greying of hair. 

Genito-urinary Diseases

The leaves and the flowering tops are considered as diuretic and are used to treat various urinary affections. The juice of the leaves of the white variety is given for spermatorrhoea. In paste from it is applied as a poultice for enlargement of the scrotum (epididymitis). The flowers are prescribed for urethral discharge and seminal disorders. 

Neurological Diseases

The plant has been used in the treatment of paraplegia, stiffness of the limbs and sciatica. The paste of the leaves form part of the ingredients of hot poultice and steam bath for the treatment of these conditions. The herb extracted in oil is also used to treat these neurological conditions. The same oil is also used to treat gout and arthritis by massaging the affected joints with it. Flowers are given internally for migraine.

The leaves of the yellow variety is pounded and inserted into hollow of teeth to relieve toothache. The paste of roots is applied to boils and glandular swelling. Medicated oil is applied to unhealthy wounds. 

Other uses

The plant is used in the treatment of internal abscesses, oedema and anasarca. Its antiseptic properties is taken advantage of in the treatment of glandular swelling. [2][5][8]

Pre-Clinical Data


Antimicrobial & anti-inflammatory activity: 

Traditionally various parts of B. prionitis had been used to treat bacterial infection and inflammatory conditions. Singh B et al. studied the anti-inflammatory and anti-arthritic activity of the methanol-water extract of the plant. They found the extract to have significant anti-inflammatory activity against various inflammagens. This activity is not mediated via the pituitary-adrenal axis. There was a significant anti-arthritic activity. They also observed that there was inhibition of vascular permeability and leucocytes migration in vivo into the site of inflammatory insult. Their extract had a LD50 of >3000mg/kg when given orally and LD50 of 2530mg/kg when administered intraperitonially. [9] 

Amoo SO et al. studying three species of South African Barleria including B. prionitis found that their extracts’ anti-inflammatory activity is in fact due to its ability to inhibit the cyclooxygenase enzymes (COX-1 and COX-2). At the same time all their extracts showed a broad spectrum antibacterial activity. [10]

From the ethanolic extract of the Sri Lankan B. prionitis were isolated the following compounds: balarenone (1), pipataline (2), lupeol (3) and 13,14-seco-stigmasta-5,14-diene-3-α-ol (4). Compounds 1, 2 and 4 showed antibacterial activity against Bacillus cereus and Pseudomonas aeruginosa (25 μg/disk). [11] 

Antiviral activity:

Amongst the traditional uses of B. prionitis is its effectiveness in treating various respiratory complaints. Chen JL et al. isolated iridoid glycosides and found that both are able to inhibit the Respiratory Syncythial Virus which is responsible for some lower respiratory tract infection. This antiviral activity could be one of the reasons for its repeated use in the treatment of respiratory tract infection amongst the Indian community in India. [12] 

Hepatoprotective activity:

Singh B et al. evaluated the hepatoprotective activity of iridoid enriched fraction from ethanol extract of B. prionitis. The extract afforded significant protection against carbon tetrachloride, galactosamine and paracetamol induced hepatotoxicity. The studies revealed significant and dose dependent hepatoprotective potential of 'IF' as it reversed the majority of the altered hepatic parameters in experimental liver damage in rodents. The LD50 was found to be more than 3000mg/kg, with no signs of abnormalities or any mortality observed for 15 days period under observation after single dose of drug administration. [13] 

Male antifertility activity:

Gupta RS et al fed extracts of roots of B. prionitis to male rats for a period of 60 days and found that there was interference with spermatogenesis without causing weight loss. They found a significant reduction in the round spermatid population (73.6%) and the population of preleptotene spermatocytes was decreased by 41.9%. Cross sectional surface area of Sertoli cells and mature Leydig cell numbers were significantly reduced (36.9%). The total protein, sialic acid contents of the testes, epididymides, seminal vesicle and prostate were reduced. Testicular glycogen contents were low. There was a 100% reduction in fertility amongst the test group. They concluded that the mechanism mediated by disturbances in testicular somatic cells functions (Leydig and Sertoli cells) resulting in the physio-morphological events of spermatogenesis. [14] 

In a recent study the same workers fractionate the methanol extract of roots (Fr I and Fr II) and treated male rats with 100mg/kg for 60 days. Similar results to their previous study were elicited. However, Fr I seems to be less effective and compared to Fr II. The fertility was decreased by 33.4% in Fr. I and 100% in Fr. II treated rats. [15] 


No documentation

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

No documentation


  1. Peter Hanelt, R. Büttner, Rudolf Mansfeld Mansfeld's Encyclopedia of Agricultural and Horticultural Crops Varleg Berlin Springer, 2001 pg. 1913.
  2. Niir Board Compendium of Medicinal Plants Delhi National Institute Of Industrial Re, 2004pg. 23.
  3. M. D. Dassanayake A Revised Handbook to the Flora of Ceylon, Volume 12 Boca Raton CRC Press, 1998 pg. 87.
  4. S.V. Ganga Raju; K.C. Naidu; V. Chakradhar; R.Y. Prasad. Anthraquinones from Barleria prionitis Indian drugs 2002, vol. 39(7):400-401.
  5. Dr. M. Daniel Medicinal plants: chemistry and properties New Hampshire Science Publishers, 2006 pg 78.
  6. Jian Lu Chen, Phillipe Blanc, Cheryl A. Stoddart, Mark Bogan, Edward J. Rozhon, Nigel Parkinson, Zhijun Ye, Raymond Cooper, Michael Balick, Weerachai Nanakorn, and Michael R. Kernan New Iridoids from the Medicinal Plant Barleria prionitis with Potent Activity against Respiratory Syncytial Virus J. Nat. Prod., 1998, 61 (10): 1295–1297.
  7. Athar Ataa, Kosmulalage S. Kalharia and Radhika Samarasekera Chemical constituents of Barleria prionitis and their enzyme inhibitory and free radical scavenging activities Phytochemistry Letters 2009 Volume 2(1):37-40.
  8. C. P. Khare Indian Medicinal Plants: An Illustrated Dictionary Verlag Berlin Springer 2007 pg. 82, 93-94.
  9. Singh B, Bani S, Gupta DK, Chandan BK, Kaul A. Anti-inflammatory activity of 'TAF' an active fraction from the plant Barleria prionitis Linn. J Ethnopharmacol. 2003 Apr;85(2-3):187-93.
  10. Amoo SO, Finnie JF, Van Staden J. In vitro pharmacological evaluation of three Barleria species. J Ethnopharmacol. 2009 Jan 21;121(2):274-7.
  11. Kalhari S. Kosmulalagea, Shamsulhaq Zahida, Chibuike C. Udenigwea, Sarfraz Akhtara, Athar Ataa, and Radhika Samarasekerab Glutathione S-Transferase, Acetylcholinesterase Inhibitory and Antibacterial Activities of Chemical Constituents of Barleria prionitis Z. Naturforsch. 2007, 62b, 580 – 586; received August 10, 2006.
  12. Chen JL, Blanc P, Stoddart CA, Bogan M, Rozhon EJ, Parkinson N, Ye Z, Cooper R, Balick M, Nanakorn W, Kernan MR. New iridoids from the medicinal plant Barleria prionitis with potent activity against respiratory syncytial virus. J Nat Prod. 1998 Oct;61(10):1295-7.
  13. Singh B, Chandan BK, Prabhakar A, Taneja SC, Singh J, Qazi GN. Chemistry and hepatoprotective activity of an active fraction from Barleria prionitis Linn. in experimental animals. Phytother Res. 2005 May;19(5):391-404.
  14. Gupta RS, Kumar P, Dixit VP, Dobhal MP. Antifertility studies of the root extract of the Barleria prionitis Linn in male albino rats with special reference to testicular cell population dynamics. J Ethnopharmacol. 2000 May;70(2):111-7.
  15. Verma PK, Sharma A, Joshi SC, Gupta RS, Dixit VP. Effect of isolated fractions of Barleria prionitis root methanolic extract on reproductive function of male rats: preliminary study. Fitoterapia. 2005 Jul;76(5):428-32.

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