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Family Polygalaceae
Polygala paniculata L.
Yuan zhui hua yuan zhi

Scientific names Common names
Polygala amaniensis Gürke ex Chodat Vicks (Tagabawa)
Polygala brasiliensis Mart. Bubblegum plant (Engl.)
Polygala carlotina E.H.L.Krause False pea (Engl.)
Polygala humilis Vell. Island snake-root (Engl.)
Polygala paniculata L. Milkwort (Engl.)
Polygala paniculata var. ambigua Kunntze Polygala grass (Engl.)
Polygala paniculata var. brasiliana DC. Root beer plant (Engl.)
Polygala paniculata var. carlotina E.H.L.Krause  
Polygala paniculata f. humilis Chodat  
Polygala paniculata f. leucoptera S.F.Blake  
Polygala paniculata var. normalis Kuntze  
Polygala paniculata var. verticillata Chodat  
Polygala paniculata f. violacea Kuntze  
Polygala ramosissima Cav.  
Polygala tenella Willd.  
Polygala paniculata L. is an accepted name. KEW: Plants of the World Online

Other vernacular names
BRAZIL: Barba-de-são-pedro, Barba-de-São-João, Barba-de-bode, Mimosa, Vassourinha-branca.
CHINA: Yuan zhui hua yuan zhi.
INDONESIA: Akar wangi, Rumput wangi, Pincalang putiah, Jukut rindik, Sasapuan, Katumpang lemah, Evo bokori.
MALAYSIA: Gosok, Kayu putih.
PERU: Canchalagua.
VIETNAM: Kich nhu chum, Kich nhu thom, Cay dau nong, Vien chi la nho.
OTHERS: Jerasem ladang, Pokok angin, Ubat tulang.

Gen info
-  The local name "Vicks" refers to the smell of the roots, which is similar to the smell of the over-the-counter medication, Vicks Vapor Rub. (21)
- The common name "root beer plant" refers to the smell of the volatile compound from the plant, methyl salicylate, which is used as flavoring for root beer drink. (12)
- Polygala paniculata is a species of flowering plant in the milkwort family (Polygalaceae) .
- Etymology: The genus name means "lot of milk", referring to the belief that cattle grazing on the plant will produce more milk. The species name 'paniculata' refers "after panicule", referring to the structure of the inflorescence (branching inflorescence).

Polygala paniculata is annual, erect herb, 10-50 cm tall. Stems terete, mostly much branched, glandular pubescent. Leaves alternate, subsessile, lowest 4 or 5 often in pseudowhorls; leaf blade lanceolate to linear-lanceolate, 5-20 × 1-4 mm, 1-veined, lateral veins absent, base attenuate, margin entire, apex acute. Racemes terminal or opposite to leaves, 2-15 cm. Pedicel 0.5-1 mm; basal bracteoles caducous, lanceolate, apex acute. Sepals 5; outer sepals 3, ± elliptic, apex obtuse; inner sepals 2, purple, petaloid, elliptic-oblong, ca. 2 mm, 3-veined. Petals 3, white or violet; lateral petals narrowly ovate-lanceolate, attenuate to apex; keel apex with multifid appendages. Stamens 8, forming an open staminal sheath glabrous inside and split at top into 8 very short free filaments. Ovary obovoid to nearly globose; style straight, 1.5-2 × as long as ovary, apex expanded into an oblique broad cup, upper portion of which ends in tuft of hair; stigma at base of cup. Capsule oblong, ca. 2 mm, not winged, apex notched, glabrous. Seeds black, oblong, densely white pubescent; strophiole small, with 2 membranous appendages. (Flora of China @ efloras.org) (2)

- Introduced to the Philippines.
- Native range is Mexico to Tropical America.
- Grows primarily in the seasonally dry tropical biome. (1)
- Native to grasslands with altitudes between 350 to 1,700 m.

- Study of air-dried whole plant yielded two xanthones, 1-hydroxy-5-methoxy-2,3-methylenedioxyxanthone (1) and 1,5-dihydroxy-2,3-dimethoxyxanthone (2), together with coumarin murragatin and flavonol rutin. (9)
- Study of petrol ether and chloroform extracts yielded four coumarins, namely: aurapten, phebalosin, murrangatin, and 7-methoxy-8-(1,4-dihydroxy-3-methyl-2-butenyl) coumarin. (13)
- Phytochemical studies have characterized two sterols, spinasterol and δ-25-spinasterol, and the minor 1-hydroxy-2,3,5-trimethoxyxanthone (Cristiano et al, 2003). (3)

- Studies have suggest bio-insecticidal, antidiabetic, antidepressant, antinociceptive, neuroprotective, antioxidant, gastroprotective, antileishmanial, vasorelaxant, hypotensive properties.

Parts used
Roots, leaves, aerial parts.



- The Bagobo Tagabawa tribe of Mindanao use decoction of roots for treatment of headache. (21)
- Used for snake bites and blenorrhagia.
- In Brazil, used for treatment of physical traumas.
- In Malaysia, root decoction drunk as tea to cure coughs and fever. (9)
- In Indonesia, used for treatment of cough, bronchitis, asthma. (11) Used for treatment of gonorrhea, rheumatism, and for wound healing. (14) Used for tonsillitis, pre- and post-partum treatments. (19)
- In Vietnam, used for treatment of painful limbs, runny nose, flatulence. (15) Leaves eaten raw  or decoction of root or whole plant drunk for diarrhea. Used for tinea versicolor, pityriasis, itching, fever, and urinary disorders. Whole plant used in steam baths for people with high fever.  (15)
- Sweetened infusion of aerial parts used for treatment of gonorrhea and lumbago. Pulverized wounds applied to wounds. (18)

Study evaluated the antidepressant-like effect of hydroalcoholic extract of P. paniculata and mechanisms involved using forced swimming test (FST) and open filed test in mice. Results showed significant reduction in immobility time in FST (0.01-30 mg/kg) compared to control, without changing locomotor activity. The antidepressant-like action is likely mediated by an interaction with serotonergic (50HT2A receptors), noradrenergic (α2 and ß-receptor) and dopaminergic (D1 and D2 receptors) systems. (3)
Bio-Insecticidal / Ae. aegypti / Scented Root: Study evaluated the effect of the Insecticide Score of P. paniculata root extracts on the mortality of Ae. aegypti mosquitoes based on KT50. The extract of P.  paniculata at concentration of 25% showed potential for use as a bio-insecticide in controlling Ae. aegypti mosquitoes. (4)
Antidiabetic / α-Glucosidase Inhibitory Activity: Study evaluated ethanolic extracts of P. paniculata for glucosidase inhibitory activity. Results showed potential as antidiabetic with α-glucosidase inhibition with IC50 of 0.518 µg/mL. (5)
• Source of Methyl Salicylate: Methyl salicylate or salicylic acid is used in flavoring of foods, candies, beverages, and pharmaceuticals. It is also an odorant, perfume, and ultraviolet absorber in cosmetics, and used in traditional medicine. Study showed plantlets of P. paniculata produced a high level of methyl salicylate and BAP. Plantlets cultured on control MS medium showed more than 80% salicylate, while the addiction of BAP at 2 and 4 mgL concentrations reduced methyl salicylate production to 71% and 21%, respectively. Results showed the tissue culture of P. paniculata is a potential source of methyl salicylate. (6)
• Antinociceptive: Study evaluated the antinociceptive effects of hydroalcoholic extract of P. paniculata in chemical and thermal behavioral models of pain in mice. Orally, the extract produced potent and dose dependent inhibition of acetic acid-induced visceral pain. In the formalin test, the extract caused significant inhibition of both early (neurogenic pain) and late (inflammatory pain) phases of formalin-induced licking. Capsaicin-induced nociception was reduced at a dose of only 1.0 mg/kg orally. The extract significantly reduced cinnamaldehyde-induced nociception and caused significant and dose-dependent inhibition of glutamate-induced pain. Results suggest inhibition of glutamatergic ionotropic receptors may account for the antinociceptive action. (7)
• Neuroprotective / MeHg Neurotoxicity: Study evaluated the protective effects of Polygala paniculata extract against methylmercury (MeHg)-induced neurotoxicity in adult mice. MeHg exposure significantly inhibited glutathione peroxidase and increased glutathione reductase activity, while levels of thiobarbituric acid reactive substances were increased in the cerebral cortex and cerebellum. Except for glutathione reductase activity, all the alterations were prevented by the extract. Results showed in-vivo protective effects against MeHg-induced neurotoxicity. (10)
• Antibacterial: Study evaluated the antibacterial activity of ethanol extracts of balm plants against Staphylococcus aureus and Escherichia coli using agar diffusion methods and concentrations of  6.25, 12.5, 25, and 50%, with chloramphenicol as positive control. Results showed antibacterial activity with a medium category. (14)
• Antileishmanial / Antimicrobial / P. paniculata Root Endophyte: Study reports on the isolation and identification of an endophytic strain of Burkholderia cepacia (COPS strain) associated with Polygala paniculata roots. The root endophyte B. cepacia COPS showed activity against S. aureus, E. faecalis, M. luteus, E. coli, and C. albicans and broad-spectrum activity against phytopathogenic fungi. The COPS crude extract also exhibited potent cytotoxic effects on Leishmania infantum and L. major promastigote forms with 78.25% and 57.30% inhibition. (16)
• Gastroprotective / Ethanol and Indomethacin Induced Lesions / Antioxidant: Study evaluated the effects of hydroalcoholic extract of P. paniculata on acute lesions induced by ethanol (70% p.o.) and indomethacin (20 mg/kg s.c.) in rats. Treatment decreased ulcer index and maintained gastric mucus production in acute gastric lesions caused by ethanol, and partially protected mucosa against indomethacin-induced lesions. Antioxidant activity was observed in DPPH free radical scavenging assay, which was attributed to isolated flavonoid compound rutin. The gastroprotective effect may involve prostaglandins and cytoprotective factors such as antioxidant activity and maintenance of mucus production.  (17)
• Vasorelaxant / Hypotensive / Flavonoid Rutin: Study evaluated the in vitro and in vivo cardiovascular effects of crude hydroalcoholic extract from Polygala paniculata (HEPP).  In endothelium-intact aortic rings, HEPP (30-1000 µg/ml) produced significant non-concentration dependent relaxing effect (≈40%). In anaesthetized rats, the HEPP (30-300 mg/kg) caused a dose-dependent and sustained hypotensive action. Rutin (103 mg/kg) administered intravenously also caused a dose-dependent hypotensive effect in rats.  The potent hypotensive and vasorelaxant effects were dependent on nitric oxide/guanylate cyclase pathway. The effect could be related, at least in part, to the rutin content. (20)


January 2023

                                                 PHOTOS / ILLUSTRATIONS
IMAGE SOURCE: Photograph: Polygalaceae--Polygala paniculata flowering plant / Copyright © 2011 Leonardo L Co [ref. DOL33511]  / Non-Commercial Use / click on image to go to source page / Phytoimages.siu.edu
OTHER IMAGE SOURCE: Photo: Polygala paniculata flowers / O M Montiel: TROPICOS / CC by NC-ND 3.0 Unported   / click on image to go to source page / Tropicos. Missouri Botanical Garden
OTHER IMAGE SOURCE: Photo: Polygala paniculata flowers closeup / Maja Dumat  / Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International / click on image to go to source page / FRASER COAST PLANTS

Additional Sources and Suggested Readings
Polygala paniculata L. / KEW: Plants of the World Online

Polygala paniculata / WFO: The World Flora Online
Antidepressant-like effect of extract from Polygala paniculata: Involvement of the monoaminergic systems
/ Luis E B Bettio, Daniele G Machado, Adair R S Santos et al / Pharmaceutical Biology, 2011; 49(12) /
DOI: 10.3109/13880209.2011.621958
Bio-insecticide's Extract of Scented Root (Polygala paniculata) in Controlling the Mosquite Aedes aegypti (L.) / Denai Wahyuni, Nila Puspita Sari, Jasrill, Jufrizal Syahhri / Makara Journal of Science, 2022; 26(2): pp 107-113 / DOI: 10.7454/mss.v26i2.1303
Inhibitory Potential of Polygala paniculata L. against
α-glucosidase / Aktsar Roskiana Ahmad, Risda Waris /  International Journal of PharmTech Research, 2016; 9(12): pp 531-535 / pISSN: 0974-4304 / eISSN: 2455-9653
Polygala paniculata: a source of methyl salicylate produced through plant tissue culture
/ Cristiane Pimentel Victorio, Juliana Beltrami Carrico, Celso Luiz Salgueiro Lage / Revista Ceres, 2011; 58(3): pp 269-272 / ISSN: 0034-737X
Antinociceptive Properties of the Hydroalcoholic Extract and the Flavonoid Rutin Obtained from Polygala paniculata L. in Mice / Fernanda da R Lapa, Vinicius M Gadotti, Marcelo Farina et al / Basic % Clinical Pharmacology & Toxicology, 2008; 104(4): pp 306-315  / DOI: 10.1111/j.1742-7843.2008.00365.X
Medicinal Plants of Sabah, East Malaysia --Part 1 / Fasihuddin B Ahmad, David K Holdsworth / Pharmaceutical Biology, 2003; 41(5): pp 340-346 / DOI: 10.1076/phbi.41.5.340.15940
Two Xanthones from Polygala paniculata and Confirmation of the 1-Hydroxy-2,3,5-trimethoxy-xanthone at Trace Level by HRGC-MS / Rodrigo Cristiano, Moacir G Pizzolatti, Alexsandro Branco et al / Zeitschrift für Naturforschung, 2003; 58c: pp 490-494 / DOI: 10.1515/znc-2003-7-808
Protective effects of Polygala paniculata extract against methylmercury-induced neurotoxicity in mice / Marcelo Farina, Jeferson Luis Franco, Moacir G Pizzolatti et al / Journal of Pharmacy and Pharmacology, 2005; 57(11): pp 1503-1508 / DOI: 10.1211/jpp.57.11.0017
Ethnomedicine Study on Medicinal Plants Used by Communities in West Sumatera, Indonesia /  Skunda Diliarosta, Monica Prima Sari, Rehani Ramadhani, Annisa Efendi / Natural Medicinal Plants / DOI: 10.5772/intechopen.96810
Polygala paniculata / UrbanForest
Coumarins from Polygala paniculata / M Hamburger, M Gupta, K Hostettmann / Planta Med, 1985; 51(3): pp 215-217 / DOI: 10.1055/s-2007-969460

UJI AKTIVITAS ANTIBAKTERI EKSTRAK ETANOL HERBA TUMBUHAN BALSEM (Polygala paniculata L.) TERHADAP BAKTERI Staphylococcus aureus DAN Escherichia coli / Helen Anjelina Simanjuntak, Hotnauli Nababan, Kasta Gurning / Biologica Samudra, 2020; 2(1) / DOI: 10.33059/jbs.v2i1.2315
Ethobotanical study of medicinal plants used by K'ho-cil people for treatment of diarrhea in Lam Dong province, Vietnam / Nguyen Xuan Minh Ai, Sok-Siya Bun, Evelyne Ollivier, Dang Thi Phuong Thao / Journal of Herbal Medicine, 2020; 19 / DOI: 10.1016/j.hermed.2019.100320
Discovery of a Novel Lneage Burkhlderia cepacia ST 1870 Endophytically Isolated from Medicinal Polygala paniculata Which Shows Potent In Vitro Antileishmanial and Antimicrobial Effects /  Felipe de Paula Nogueira Cruz, Ailton Ferreira de Paula,  Cristina Paiva de Sousa et al /  International Journal of Microbiology, 2021; Vol 2021 / DOI: 10.1155/2021/6618559
Gastroprotective activity of hydroalcoholic extract obtained from Polygala paniculata L. in rats / Fernanda da Rocha Lapa, Cristina Setim Freitas, Cristiane H Baggio et al / Journal of Pharmacy and Pharmacology, 2007; 59: pp 1413-1419 / ISSN: 0022-3573 / DOI: 10.1211/jpp.59.10.0012
Polygala paniculata / AsianPlantNet
Diversity of medicinal plants utilized by To Manui ethnic of Central Sulawesi, Indonesia / Nuning Rahmawati, Fanie Indrian Mustofa, Sari Haryanti / BIODIVERSITAS, 2020; 21(1): pp 375-392 / pISSN: 1412-033X / eISSN: 20875-4722 / DOI: 10.13057/biodiv/d210145
Vasorelaxant and hypotensive effects of the extract and the isolated flavonoid rutin obtained from Polygala paniculata L. / Fernanda da Rocha Lapa, Kelly Cristina Soares, Yanna Dantas Rattman, Sandra Crestani, Adair Roberto Soares Santos et al / Journal of Pharmacy and Pharmacology, 2011, 63(6): pp 875-881 / DOI: 10.1111/j.2042-7158.2010.01240.x
Polygala paniculata / Cabero JD / FGD: Remedios Kabaling, Gloria Sandangan et al / Philippine Traditiona Knowledge Digital Library on Health

DOI: It is not uncommon for links on studies/sources to change. Copying and pasting the information on the search window or using the DOI (if available) will often redirect to the new link page. (Citing and Using a (DOI) Digital Object Identifier)

                                                            List of Understudied Philippine Medicinal Plants

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