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Rhinacanthus nasutus


Justicia nasuta   
Rhinacanthus communis
Dianthera paniculata [1]

Vernacular Names:


Chabai Emas

English Snake Jasmine, Dainty spurs

Akar Teriba, Daun Burung


Ibon-ibonan, Tagak-tagak (Tagalog)


Bai He Ling Zhi, Pai Ho Ling Chih, Hsuan-tsao


Palakjuhi, Jahipani (Hindi); Gajkarni (Marathi); Uragamali, Nagamalle (Tamil); Nagamulla, Puzhukkoli (Malayam); Nagamalle (Telagu); Nagamallige, Doddapatika (Kannada); Juipana (Bengali) Damari (KonKani); Palakjuhi (Urdu); Yudhikaparni, Yoodhikaparni (Sanskrit)


Pajarito [17]

General Information


Rhinacanthus nasutus is a member of the Acanthaceae family. It is a slender, erect, branched, somewhat hairy shrub which can reacxh a height of 2m. The leaves are long, lanceolate and measures up to 10cm long. The inflorescence is a spreating, leafy, hairy panicle with the flowers usually in clusters. The calyx is green, hairy, and measures about 5 mm long. The corolla-tube is greenish, slender, cylindric, and about 2 cm long. The flowers is 2-lipped; upper lip is white, erect, oblong or lanceolate, 2-toothed at the apex, and about 3 mm long and wide. The lower lip is broadly obovate, measuring 1.1-1.3 cm long and wide, 3-lobed and white, with a few minute, brownish dots near the base. The fruit is club-shaped and contains 4 seeds. [3]

Plant Part Used

Leaves and Roots [2] [3]

Chemical Constituents

Rhinacanthin A, rhinacanthin B, rhinacanthin-C, rhinacanthin-D, rhinacanthin E, rhinacanthin F, rhinacanthin Q, lupeol, b-sitosterol, stigmasterol. [18] [19] [20] [21] [22] [23]

Traditional Used:

Dermatological Diseases

The leaves and roots of R. nasutus is widely used in South and South-east Asia for treatment of various dermatoses. It is commonly employed in the treatment of fungal infestations like ringworm or dhobie’s itch. Various forms of preparation had been advocated for this purpose. In India the fresh roots and leaves are mixed with lime juice and applied locally over the lesion. The Filipinos use the sap extracted from the roots and leaves or a decoction , while the Thais make tinctures of the roots and leaves or a preparation in vinegar. The Malays on the other hand mix the juice of the roots and leaves with benzoin and suphur to apply on ringworm. [2] [3] [17]

It is also used for treating other dermatoses including scruf, eczema and herpes. [2] [3]

Other uses

In India the roots are believed to have aphrodisiacal powers when boiled in milk. The roots are also considered an antidote to bites of poisonous snakes. [3]

Pre-Clinical Data


Antimicrobial activity

Antiviral actvity

Two naphthoquinone isolated from R. nasutus (rhinacanthin-C and D) exhibit inhibitory activity against cytomegalovirus (CMV).[5] Two other compounds (rhinacanthin E and F) were found to have significant activity against influenza virus type A.

Antibacterial activity

Rhinacanthin-rich R. nasutus extract was prepared and standardized to contain total rhinacanthin not less that 70% (w/w) and was tested for its antimicrobial activity against Streptococcus mutans, Propionibacterium acnes, Helicobacter pylori, Staphylococcus aureus, Staphylococcus epidermidis and Candida albicans. It was found that the extract exhibited potent bactericidal activity against Streptococcus mutans and potent baterostatic activity against Staphylococcus epidermidis, Propionibacterium acnes and Staphylococcus aureus. This extract however did not show any activity against Candida albicans.

Antifungal activity

Kodama isolated a naphthopyran derivative (3,4-dihydro-3,3-dimethyl-2H-naphtho[2,3-b]pyran-5,10dione) which proved to have antifungal activity. A high yeilding rhinacanthin (rhinacanthin C,D, & N) extract was found to have improved antifungal activity against Trichophyton rubrum, Trichophyton mentagrophytes and Microsporum gypseum.

Anticancer activity

Rhinacanthins were islolated from both leaves and roots of R. nasutus. These compounds showed antiproliferative and anticancer activities. Rhinacanthin-Q a 1,4-naphthoquinone, was isolated from the roots was found to have cytotoxic and antiplatelet effects. [9] Rhinacanthin C was found to have a comparable antiproliferative activity to 5-FU and showed antiproliferative activity against MDR1-overexpressing Hvr100-6 cell. [10] Another compound, rhinacanthone isolated from the roots possesses anticancer effect through induction of apoptosis mediated through the mitochondria-dependent signaling pathway. This is expressed in HeLa cells making rhinacanthone a promising agent for the treatment of human cancer cervix. [11] [14] [15]

Anti-inflammatory activity

The leaves of R. nasutus had been used traditionally to treat various inflammatory related diseases. Three naphthoquinone derivatives (rhinacanthin A, D, & N) isolated from the leaves showed very potent anti-inflammatory activity. They were found to produce this effect through the inhibition of NO and protaglandin E2 releases. [12] Another study showed the the leaves extract could either increase or decrease NO production by macrophages through its effect on the TNF-alpha expression. [13] However, the aqueous root extract was found to be ineffective agains colon carcer. [16]

Anti-allergic activity

Three compounds isolated from the leaves of R. nasutus was found to be potent anti-allergic acitivity against antigen-induced beta-hexosamidase release as a marker of degranulation in RBL-2H3 cells. These three naphthoquinone derivatives were identified as rhinacanthin-C,D,and N. Rhinacanthin C was found to be the most potent when tested on antigen-induced release of TNF-alpha and IL-4. [4]


No documentation

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

There was a study whereby it was mentioned that rhinacanthone from the leaves of R. nasutus has anti-platelet aggregation effects. This contradicts its use in patients receiving anti-coagulation therapy.[9]

Interactions with Other Herbs / Herbal Constituents

No documentation



No documentation

Case Reports

No documentation

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  1)  Botanical Info


    1. Merrill: Loureiri Flora Cochinchinensis, Transactions American Philosophical Soceity (vol. 24, Part 2, 1935-June) American Philosophical Society Philadelphia 1935 pg. 359
    2. Batugal, PA., Kanniah J., Sy.L., Oliver, JT Medicinal Plants Research in Asia – Volume 1 International Plant Genetic Resources Institute 2004 Serdang pg. 168
    3. Rhinacanthus nasutus – Snake Jasmine ( Accessed on 17th August 2010
    4. Tewtrakul S, Tansakul P, Panichayupakaranant P. Anti-allergic principles of Rhinacanthus nasutus leaves. Phytomedicine. 2009 Oct;16(10):929-34. Epub 2009 Apr 28.
    5. Sendl A, Chen JL, Jolad SD, Stoddart C, Rozhon E, Kernan M, Nanakorn W, Balick M. Two new naphthoquinones with antiviral activity from Rhinacanthus nasutus. J Nat Prod. 1996 Aug;59(8):808-11.
    6. Kernan MR, Sendl A, Chen JL, Jolad SD, Blanc P, Murphy JT, Stoddart CA, Nanakorn W, Balick MJ, Rozhon EJ. Two new lignans with activity against influenza virus from the medicinal plant Rhinacanthus nasutus. J Nat Prod. 1997 Jun;60(6):635-7.
    7. Kodama O, Ichikawa H, Akatsuka T, Santisopasri V, Kato A, Hayashi Y. Isolation and identification of an antifungal naphthopyran derivative from Rhinacanthus nasutus. J Nat Prod. 1993 Feb;56(2):292-4.
    8. Panichayupakaranant P, Charoonratana T, Sirikatitham A. RP-HPLC analysis of rhinacanthins in Rhinacanthus nasutus: validation and application for the preparation of rhinacanthin high-yielding extract. J Chromatogr Sci. 2009 Sep;47(8):705-8.
    9. Wu TS, Hsu HC, Wu PL, Teng CM, Wu YC. Rhinacanthin-Q, a naphthoquinone from Rhinacanthus nasutus and its biological activity. Phytochemistry. 1998 Dec;49(7):2001-3.
    10. Gotoh A, Sakaeda T, Kimura T, Shirakawa T, Wada Y, Wada A, Kimachi T, Takemoto Y, Iida A, Iwakawa S, Hirai M, Tomita H, Okamura N, Nakamura T, Okumura K. Antiproliferative activity of Rhinacanthus nasutus (L.) Kurz extracts and the active moiety, Rhinacanthin C. Biol Pharm Bull. 2004 Jul;27(7):1070-4.
    11. Siripong P, Hahnvajanawong C, Yahuafai J, Piyaviriyakul S, Kanokmedhakul K, Kongkathip N, Ruchirawat S, Oku N. Induction of apoptosis by rhinacanthone isolated from Rhinacanthus nasutus roots in human cervical carcinoma cells. Biol Pharm Bull. 2009 Jul;32(7):1251-60.
    12. Tewtrakul S, Tansakul P, Panichayupakaranant P. Effects of rhinacanthins from Rhinacanthus nasutus on nitric oxide, prostaglandin E2 and tumor necrosis factor-alpha releases using RAW264.7 macrophage cells. Phytomedicine. 2009 Jun;16(6-7):581-5. Epub 2009 Mar 19.
    13. Punturee K, Wild CP, Vinitketkumneun U. Thai medicinal plants modulate nitric oxide and tumor necrosis factor-alpha in J774.2 mouse macrophages. J Ethnopharmacol. 2004 Dec;95(2-3):183-9.
    14. Siripong P, Yahuafai J, Shimizu K, Ichikawa K, Yonezawa S, Asai T, Kanokmedakul K, Ruchirawat S, Oku N. Induction of apoptosis in tumor cells by three naphthoquinone esters isolated from Thai medicinal plant: Rhinacanthus nasutus KURZ. Biol Pharm Bull. 2006 Oct;29(10):2070-6.
    15. Siripong P, Yahuafai J, Shimizu K, Ichikawa K, Yonezawa S, Asai T, Kanokmedakul K, Ruchirawat S, Oku N . Antitumor activity of liposomal naphthoquinone esters isolated from Thai medicinal plant: Rhinacanthus nasutus KURZ. Biol Pharm Bull. 2006 Nov;29(11):2279-83.
    16. Kupradinun P, Siripong P, Chanpai R, Piyaviriyagul S, Rungsipipat A, Wangnaitham S. Effects of Rhinacanthus nasutus kurz on colon carcinogenesis in mice. Asian Pac J Cancer Prev. 2009 Jan-Mar;10(1):103-6.
    17. C.P. Khare Indian Medicincal Plants: An Illustrated Dictionary Springer-Verlag Berlin 2007 pg. 545
    18. Michael R. Kernan, Anna Sendl, Jian Lu Chen, Shivinand D. Jolad, Phillipe Blanc, James T. Murphy, Cheryl A. Stoddart, Weerachai Nanakorn, Michael J. Balick, and Edward J. Rozhon  Two New Lignans with Activity against Influenza Virus from the Medicinal Plant Rhinacanthus nasutus J. Nat. Prod., 1997, 60 (6), pp 635–637
    19. Tian-Shung Wu, Hua-Chun Hsu, Pei-Lin Wu, Che-Ming Teng and Yang-Chang Wu Rhinacanthin-Q, a naphthoquinone from Rhinacanthus nasutus and its biological activity Phytochemistry December 1998Volume 49(7):2001-2003
    20. Anna Sendl, Jian Lu Chen, S. D. Jolad, Cheryl Stoddart, Edward Rozhon, and Michael Kernan Two New Naphthoquinones with Antiviral Activity from Rhinacanthus nasutus J. Nat. Prod., 1996, 59 (8), pp 808–811
    21. Osamu Kodama, Hiroaki Ichikawa, Tadami Akatsuka Isolation and Identification of an Antifungal Naphthopyran derivative from Rhinacanthus nasutus J. Nat. Prod., 1993, 56(2):292-294
    22. Tian-Shung Wu, Hsian-Ju Tien, Mou-Yung Yeh and Kuo-Hsuing Lee Isolation and cytotoxicity or rhinacanthin – A and – B , two; naphthoquinones, from Rhinacanthus nasutus. Phytochemistry 1988 Volume 27(12):3787 – 3788
    23. Wu T.S.,  Hsu H.C.,  Wu P.L.,  Leu Y.L., Chan Y.Y., Chern.C.Y., Yeh M.Y., Tien H.J.  Naphthoquinone esters from the root of Rhinacanthus nasutus Chemical and pharmaceutical bulletin 1998, vol. 46(3): 413-418

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