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Emilia sonchifolia


Emilia purpurea, Crassocephalum sonchifolium, Cacalia sonchifolia, Senecio sonchifolia, Sonchus amboinicus [1] [2] [3]

Vernacular Names:


Sawi Tekukur

English Tassel Flower, Shaving Brush
Indonesia Patah Kemudi, Tempuh Wiyang, Tambutu (Central Sulawesi) [4]
Thailand Hu Pra Chon
Vietnam Co Chua-le
Philippines Kipot-kipot (Bicolano); Kampisao (Bisaya); Lamlampaka (Ilocano); Ketim Libun (Ilongo); Tagulinaw (Pampango, Tagalog) [4]
India Muel-schery
Sri Lanka Kadupara

Bon Tulsi


Yi-dian-hong, I-tien-hung, Yang-ti-cao, Yang-t’i-ts’ao, Yi-xia-hong, Yeh-hsia-hung, Zi Bei Cao [11] [12]

Hong Kong



Ngangir sag (Chepang); Toir Phule (Magar); Chaulene Jhur, Muda Pate, Tori Phul (Nepali); Dhule (Tamang) [5]


Pupu Lele


Nti-ele (Igbo); Mchekacheka (Swahili); Odundunodo (Yoruba)

Pueto Rico

PHuye que te cojo; Yerba socialista [27]

General Information


Emilia sonchifolia is an annual herb of the Asteraceae family. The roots are branched tap-root. The stems are weak, erect or often branched at the base, smooth or sparingly hairy, measuring 10-60cm tall. The lower leaves are deeply and irregularly pinnately or bluntly toothed. The lobes nearly round, kidney-shaped, ovate, triangular-ovate or obovate, measure 4-16cm long and 1-8cm wide with narrowly winged petioles. The upper leaves are smaller than lower leaves, alternate, usually entire, sometimes coarsely dentate, sessile and somewhat clasping the stem. The inflorescence is terminal, involucrate flower head resembling a single flower, measures 12-14mm long and 4-5mm wide, urn-shaped with long peduncle. The flowering branches are usually dichotomously branched with 3-6 heads, each head or capitulum a composite or numerous florets. The involucre green in colour, cylindrical, somewhat inflated below, in a single series. The inner florets perfect, outer ones pistillate 30-60 per head. The flowers are purple, scarlet, red, pink, orange, white and lilac in colour. The ovary is inferior, one cell, one oval with basal placentation. The fruit is a dry indehiscent achene prismatic, measures 2.4-3mm long, narrowly oblong with 5 shortly hairy ribs alternating with indistinct, smooth ribs, outer achene reddish brown, inner ones off-white. The pappus white in colour, abundant, measures 8mm long.

Plant Part Used

Whole plant [5] [8]

Chemical Constituents

Senkirkline [1] , doronine [13] , simiral [2] , beta-sitosterol [2] , stigmasterol [2] , palmitic acid [2] , honey acid [14]

Traditional Used:

Gastrointestinal Diseases

The Nepalese make use of the juice of the roots to treat diarrhoea. [5] In the Philippines the plant treats enteritis, diarrhoea and dysentery. [4] The Chinese made use of the leaf tea to treat cases of dysentery. [6] The Africans occasionally consume the plant as vegetable for its laxative properties. [8] The decoction of the leaves are used in the treatment of tape worms and roundworms infestations. [9]

Inflammatory Diseases

It has been advocated in the treatment of various inflammatory conditions including earaches, abscesses, conjunctivitis, dental caries to name a few. The tea of the whole plant treats abscesses, influenza, burns and snakebites in China. The Nepalese uses the juice of the leaves to cure eye infections and night blindness and the same it dripped into the ears to relieve earaches [5] [8] , while the flowers are chewed to prevent tooth decay. [5] [7] The leaves are pounded and applied on wounds and ulcers promote healing. [6] Tonsillitis is treated by painting the throat with the juice extracted from the leaves mashed with salt and onion. Another method is by applying the paste of the leaves over the throat. [9]

Other Uses

It is considered an astringent, febrifuge and expectorant by the Nepalese. [5] The Chewa tribe of Malawi make use of the root decoction to ease difficult labour. [10] As a febrifuge the Africans give a decoction of the leaves or in cases of infants, bathed with the decoction which also helps prevent febrile convulsions. [8]

Pre-Clinical Data


Anti-inflammatory activity

The methanolic extract of E. sonchifolia leaves was found to inhibit carrageenan-induced edema indicating it has anti-inflammatory activity. [15] In 2000 Muko et al. did a preliminary study on the anti-inflammatory activity of aqueous and methanolic extract of the leaves of E. sonchifolia and found the aqueous extracts had a more pronounced effect. [16]

Antioxidant activity

The antioxidant activity of the leaves of E. sonchifolia was first studied by Shylesh et al. [17] and they found that both the fresh juice and the methanolic extract had potent inhibitory effects on hydroxl radical formation and superoxide radical generation in vitro. Gayanthri et al. [18] studied the flavonol fraction extract of E. sonchifolia (whole plant) for its antioxidant activity. They found the extract to be a potent inhibitor of peroxidative damage as evidenced by its ability to modify the antioxidant peroxidation products, the activities of the anitoxidant enzymes-superoxide dismutase, catalase, glutathione peroxidase, glutathione reductase and glutathione-S-transferase and the concentration  of reduced glutathione.

Antibacterial activity

A number of studies were carried out in China to determine the efficacy of various extracts of E. sonchifolia against an array of bacteria and fungi. The investigators isolated the flavonoid fraction of E. sonchifolia and found that they had strong antibacterial activity against Staphylococcus aureus and weaker activity against Escherichia coli and Bacillus subtilis. [19] [20] [21] They also looked into the antibacterial activity of the alkaloids fraction and found them to have medium sensitivity against the same bacteria in a dose dependent manner. [22]

Cytotoxic activity

Shylesh et al. [23] [24] studied the cytotoxic activity of various exctracts of E. sonchifolia. In their preliminary study the used the methanolic extract of the plant and found that its was able to inhibit the growth of Daltons Lymphoma, Erlich ascites carcinoma and mouse lung fibroblast (L-929) cells, but not to normal human lymphocytes in vitro. The extract seem to inhibit DNA synthesis as evidenced by a reduction in tritiated thymidine incorporation into DL cells under in vitro conditions. In 2005 they isolated the active principle responsible for the anticancer activity in the n-hexane extract fraction. This extract induced membrane blebbing, nuclear condensation, DBA ladder formation and formation of apoptotic bodies which are characteristic of apoptotic cell death.

Anticataract activity

An in vivo [26] study was conducted to evaluate the modulatory effects of flavonoids from E. sonchifolia against selenite cataract. It has been well established that E. sonchifolia possesses potent antioxidant activity and the flavonoid fraction contributes a significant proportion of this activity. The flavonoids of E. sonchifolia was found to be able to increase the activities of superoxide dismutase, catalase and reduced glutathione. This suggests that it can modulate lens opacification and oxidative stress in selenite-induced cataract.

Antidiabetic activity

In Eastern Nigeria, E. sonchifolia is used in the treatment of diabetes. The effects of the aqueous extract of this plant on glucose concentration and liver function enzymes were assessed. Comfort et al. [25] found that it was able to decrease the blood glucose level and seem to have hepato-protective effects in experimental diabetes.


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

No documentation

Interactions with Other Herbs / Herbal Constituents

No documentation



No documentation

Case Reports

No documentation

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  1)  Botanical Info


  1. Theophilus Redwood, Samuel Frederick Gray  Gray's supplement to the Pharmacopoeia Longman & Co. London 1848  pg. 347
  2. G. P. Roy, B. K. Shukla, Bhaskar Datt Flora of Madhya Pradesh: Chhatarpur and Damoh S.B. Nangia New Delhi 1992 pg. 236
  3. E.D. Merrill “A Commentary on Loureiro’s “Flora Cochinchinensis” Transactions, American Philosophical Society (vol. 24, Part 2, 1935-June) The American Philosophical Society Philadelphia 1935 pg. 396
  4. Philippines Medicinal Plants ( Accessed on : 28th June 2010
  5. N. P. Manandhar, Sanjay Manandhar  Plants and people of Nepal  Timber Press Portland 2002 pg. 218
  6. Marita Ignacio Galinato, Keith Moody, Colin M. Piggin, International Rice Research Institute Upland rice weeds of south and southeast Asia IRRI Los Banos 1999 pg. 22 – 23
  7. Kumar  Complete Biology For Medical Ent Exams Tata McGraw-Hill New Delhi 2009 pg. 214
  8. Maurice M. Iwu  Handbook of African medicinal plants CRC Press Boca Raton 1993 pg. 177-178
  9. K. Jose Boban Tribal ethnomedicine: continuity and change A.P.H. Publishing Corporation New Delph 1998 pp (174,178,181)
  10. Brian Morris Chewa medical botany: a study of herbalism in southern Malawi Die Deutsche Bibliothek Hamburg 1996 pg. 259
  11. Shiu-ying Hu  Food plants of China Chinese University of Hong Kong Hong Kong 2005 pg. 729
  12. Thomas S. C. Li  Chinese & Related North American Herbs: Phytopharmacology & Therapeutic Values CRC Press Boca Raton 2009 pg. 62
  13. Cheng D, Röder E  [Pyrrolizidine Alkaloids from Emilia sonchifolia.] Planta Med. 1986 Dec;52(6):484-6.
  14. Gao JJ, Cheng DL, Liu XP. [Chemical constituents of Emilia sonchifolia L. DC.] Zhongguo Zhong Yao Za Zhi. 1993 Feb;18(2):102-3, 127.
  15. B. S. Shylesh and J. Padikkala Antioxidant and anti-inflammatory activity of Emilia sonchifolia Fitoterapia Volume 70, Issue 3, 1 June 1999, Pages 275-278
  16. Muko KN, Ohiri FC. A preliminary study on the anti-inflammatory properties of Emilia sonchifolia leaf extracts. Fitoterapia. 2000 Feb;71(1):65-8.
  17. S. Shylesh and J. Padikkala Antioxidant and anti-inflammatory activity of Emilia sonchifolia Fitoterapia Volume 70, Issue 3, 1 June 1999, Pages 275-278
  18. D. Gayathri Devi, Y. Lija, T.R. Cibin, P.G. Biju, V. Gayathri Devi and Annie Abraham Evaluation of the protective effects of Emilia sonchifolia (L.) DC on perchlorate induced Oxidative Damage Journal of Biological Sciences 2006 6(5):887-892
  19. LI Jun-sheng,YAN Liu-juan,SU Hui-wu,LIN Zheng Study on Separations of Emilia sonchifolia Flavonoids and Their Antibacterial Activities Food Science 2007 - 9
  20. CHEN Xiao-wei, WEI Yuan-yuan, ZHOU Wu-ping, PAN Ming-jian, LI Jun-sheng Study on separations and the antimicrobial effects of the total flavonoids of Emilia sonchifolia Food Science and Technology 2009 - 01
  21. Chen, Xiao-Wei; Wei, Yuan-Yuan; Zhou, Wu-Ping; Pan, Ming-Jian; Li, Jun-Sheng; Shipin Keji Study on separations and the antimicrobial effects of the total flavonoids of Emilia sonchifolia (Food Science and Technology) , no. 1, pp. 163-165. 2009
  22. ZHOU Wu-ping,WEI Yuan-yuan,LI Jun-sheng*,YAN Liu-juan,LAI Xue-fen  Study on the Extraction and Antibacterial Activites of the Alkaloids in Emilia sonchifolia from Guangxi Lishizen Medicine and Materia Medica Research 2008 - 08
  23. Shylesh BS, Padikkala J.In vitro cytotoxic and antitumor property of Emilia sonchifolia (L.) DC in mice. J Ethnopharmacol. 2000 Dec;73(3):495-500.
  24. B.S. Shylesh; S. Ajukumaran Niar, S. Subramaniam Induction of cell-specific apoptosis and protection from Dalton’s Lymphoma challenge in mice by an active fraction of Emilia sonchifolia Indian Journal of Pharmacology 2005 34(4):232-237
  25. Comfort C. Monago and A.E. Ogbonnaya Effexcts of Aqueous Extract of Emilia sonchifolia on Some Liver Enzyme in Dithizone Induced Diabetes in Rabbits Nigerian Journal of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology 24 (1): 8-15, 2009.
  26. Lija Y, Biju PG, Reeni A, Cibin TR, Sahasranamam V, Abraham A. Modulation of selenite cataract by the flavonoid fraction of Emilia sonchifolia in experimental animal models. Phytother Res. 2006 Dec;20(12):1091-5.
  27. Alain H. Liogier, Luis F. Martorell  Flora of Puerto Rico and adjacent islands: a systematic synopsis Universidad de Puerto Rico San Juan 2000 pg. 208

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