Login   |  Users Online: 1107 Home Print this page Email this page Small font sizeDefault font sizeIncrease font size
Search Article 
Advanced search 
   Home | About us | Editorial board | Search | Ahead of print | Current issue | Archives | Submit article | Instructions | Subscribe | Contacts

  Table of Contents  
Year : 2011  |  Volume : 32  |  Issue : 3  |  Page : 398-401  

Pharmacognostical study of Tamalaki (Phyllanthus fraternus Webster), a herb used in Tamaka-svasa

1 Lecturer, Department of Agada Tantra and Vidhi Ayurveda, Government Ayurvedic College and Hospital, Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh, India
2 Ex-Professor, Department of Dravyaguna, Faculty of Ayurveda, Banaras Hindu University, Varanasi, India
3 Professer, Department of Medicine, Faculty of Medicine, Institute of Medical Sciences, Banaras Hindu University, Varanasi, India

Date of Web Publication17-Mar-2012

Correspondence Address:
Binay Sen
Lecturer, Department of Agadatantra and Vidhi Ayurveda, Govt. Ayurvedic College and Hospital, Varanasi-02, Uttar Pradesh
Login to access the Email id

Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/0974-8520.93924

Rights and Permissions

Tamalaki is a herbacious medicinal plant, described in Ayurvedic texts in many occurrences with different properties, actions, uses and synonyms, supposed to indicate more than one species commonly used in practice. Modern scholars mostly suggest Phyllanthus fraternus Webster (syn. P. niruri Linn.), P. amarus Schum. and Thonn. and P. urinaria Linn. as the source plants of Tamalaki. In this study, an attempt has been made to designate P. fraternus as the source plant of Tamalaki used in the treatment of Tamaka-svasa (Bronchial asthma) and other respiratory disorders by analyzing therapeutic uses, actions, properties, taste, synonyms as well as pharmacognostical characters. Smooth capsule, six tepals, less and short fibrous root, pentagonal outline with wing-shaped young stem are some of the specific characters observed in this species.

Keywords: Ayurveda, pharmacognosy, phyllanthus, synonyms, tamalaki

How to cite this article:
Sen B, Dubey S D, Tripathi K. Pharmacognostical study of Tamalaki (Phyllanthus fraternus Webster), a herb used in Tamaka-svasa. AYU 2011;32:398-401

How to cite this URL:
Sen B, Dubey S D, Tripathi K. Pharmacognostical study of Tamalaki (Phyllanthus fraternus Webster), a herb used in Tamaka-svasa. AYU [serial online] 2011 [cited 2023 Feb 6];32:398-401. Available from: https://www.ayujournal.org/text.asp?2011/32/3/398/93924

   Introduction Top

There is considerable variation in the identity of the source plant of Tamalaki by different scholars. It got more than hundreds of synonyms, broad spectrum of properties, actions as well as therapeutic indices. These are the reasons behind consideration of more than one plant by different experts. It is often a difficult task to take a particular species with the name Tamalaki in all medicated formulations used in Ayurveda. Therefore, it is essential to consider the single species for specific purpose along with specification of morphological characters. A preliminary pharmacognostical study of three different species of Tamalaki namely Phyllanthus fraternus, P. amarus, and P. urinaria had been carried out by the scholar himself. [1] In this study, P. fraternus has only been selected by giving more emphasize on its therapeutics in the treatment of Tamaka-svasa.

Literary research

In Ayurveda, since Tamalaki is attributed with Kasahara and Svasahara properties, [2],[3] Acaryas have incorporated it in many formulations used for the treatment of respiratory diseases. Some of them are Cyavanaprasa, Amritaprasa ghrita, Satyadi churna, Tejovatyadi ghrita, Kantakari ghrita, Padmakadi leha,[4] Talisadi ghrita, [5] and Jivantyadi churna.[6],[7] A single drug remedy (Tamalaki decoction) is found in the treatment of Rajayaksma associated with six symptoms. [8] In context of morphological characters, different terminologies such as Dalaphalika[9],[10] and Sahapatraphala[11] are equated with Tamalaki by the ancient commentators, which signify general morphological characters observed in Phyllanthus species and thus identification of any particular species on this ground is not possible.

Among the Nighantus, it is surprisingly noticed that the source plant described in Bhava Prakasa Nighantus is Tikta, Kasaya, and Madhura in Rasa. The actions and indications are predominant in the respiratory system and the synonym Ajata (less and short fibrous roots) suggesting toward Phyllanthus fraternus Webster. [12] Some of the research works revealed that Phyllanthus niruri Linn. is an antihistaminic in the experimental model [13] and clinically effective in non-bacterial upper respiratory tract infection. [14] It has been reported that P. niruri Hook. f. (Fl Br Ind.) non-Linn. has been renamed as P. fraternus Webster in 1957. [15] In a clinical study, it was found beneficial for the patient of Tamaka-svasa.[1] P. amarus was investigated as hepatoprotective [16],[17] and P. urinaria Linn. as diuretic. [15],[18] Synonyms Jata ( having more fibrous root) and Drdhapada ( hard root system) appeared in Nighantus indicate P. urinaria and P. amarus, respectively. [19] On the basis of the literary research, the source plant of Tamalaki appeared in Kasahara, Svasahara groups, used in the treatment of Tamaka svasa and other respiratory diseases, is taken as P. frateruns.

   Materials and Methods Top

Collection of plant materials and procedures

The whole plant was collected from BHU campus, Varanasi (UP, India) during the month of June-July. Macroscopic characters were established from the available source books as well as the observations made by the experts of Department of Dravyaguna and Department of Botany, BHU, followed by microscopic studies in the Pharmacognosy laboratory in Department of Dravyaguna. For a microscopic study, plant materials (root, stem, and leaf) were immersed into alcohol for 15 days to become soft and then cross sections obtained from a electronic microscope. Staining and mountaining were done following the usual procedures of plant microtechnique (Jahnson 1940). The respective diagram was sketched with the help of camera lucida (from slides, ×80) and digital camera (from dissecting microscope, ×10).

Plan of study

This study has been performed in following two divisions:

  • Macroscopic study
  • Microscopic study

   Observations Top

Macroscopic study

Ayurvedic aspects

Modern aspects

The leaf is simple, numerous, somewhat imprecated, alternate, opposite, thin and almost sessile. The upper surface is green and glabrous while the lower surface is pale green and somewhat glaucous in fresh condition,, often in two rows with a whitish rachis, elliptic-oblong shaped, margin entire, apex rounded, obtuse (rarely sub-acute), base rounded, 6-13 by 3-6 mm, unicostate reticulate venations. The main lateral nerves are usually four to five pairs, petioles very short, stipules simple, minute, free-lateral, awl-shaped, lanceolate-subulate, very acute [Figure 1]a-c. Taste is slightly bitter and odor indistinct. [20],[21],[22]
Figure 1: Phyllanthus fraternus Webster (a) Whole plant, (b) Flowering bud (x10), (c) Capsule (upper) Leaves (x10) (below), (d) Root (Less and short fibrous roots)

Click here to view

Stem: Herbaceous, quite smooth, aerial, erect, green, branching profuse toward the upper region, 30-60 cm in height and up to 4 mm in diameter. Stem naked below with 5-11 pairs leaves bearing branches, pale green, angular, slender, and spreading. The internodes are small, 1-1.5 cm long [Figure 1]a and d. Taste is slightly bitter and odor indistinct.

Root: The taproot is more or less straight, small, 2.5-11.0 cm long, gradually tapering, with a number of whitish fibrous secondary and tertiary roots, external surface light brown, fracture short [Figure 1]d.

Capsule: 2.5 mm diameter, smooth, globose, slightly depressed at the top faintly 3-lobed with six enervations, Sepals 6, enlarged more than half portion of the capsule, generally light green [Figure 1]c.

Microscopic study

Transverse section of the young stem shows a pentagonal outline having a small wing-like protrusion in each angle [Figure 2]a. As the stem maturing, the protrusion becomes less pronounced and lastly becomes almost circular due to bulging out of the compressed inner mass.
Figure 2: Microscopy (a) T. S. of young stem (x10), (b) T. S. of mature stem (x80), (c) T. S. Stem (outer) (x367), (d) T. S. Stem (Inner) (x367)

Click here to view

Older stem shows four to five layers of cork, composed of thin-walled, tubular, tangentially elongated and radially arranged cells, filled with reddish-brown content; epidermis consists of a single layer of broad but short barrel-shaped cells with a thick cutinized outer wall. The epidermis is followed by cortex consists of a continuous ring of collenchymatous tissue, followed by chlorenchymatous and zone of oval, tangentially elongated, thin-walled, parenchymatous cells which has prominent patches of phloem. The cells of the outer most layer of the cortex are comparatively larger and closely placed, while the cells of the innermost layer of the cortex are flattened and tangentially elongated [Figure 2]b and c; secondary phloem narrow, composed of a sieve tube, companion cells and phloem parenchyma; secondary xylem consists of vessels, tracheids, fibers, and xylem parenchyma; centre occupied by a pith composed of thin-walled, circular to oval parenchymatous cells, contain starch grains and crystals of calcium oxalate [Figure 2]b-d. [20],[21],[22]

Root: Transverse section shows four to six layers of cork, consisting of thin-walled, rectangular, tangentially elongated and radially arranged cells, filled with reddish-brown content; secondary cortex consists of 8-10 layers of thin-walled, tangentially elongated parenchymatous cells; secondary phloem is a narrow zone consists of sieve tube, companion cells and phloem parenchyma, and the whole is traversed by narrow phloem rays; secondary xylem represented by a broad zone composed of vessels, tracheids, fibers and xylem parenchyma; pith parenchymatous [Figure 3]a-d.
Figure 3: Microscopy (a) T. S. of root (x80), (b) T. S. root (outer) (x367), (c) T. S. root (inner) (x367), (d) Xylem cells (x367)

Click here to view

Leaf : Transverse section of leaf shows epidermis on either side composed of thin-walled, tangentially elongated cells, covered externally by a thick cuticle; mesophyll differentiated into palisade and spongy parenchyma; palisade single-layered, occupy nearly half the space between the two epiderme; anisocytic-type stomata present on both epidermis, stomata are followed by respiratory cavities beneath; mesophyll composed of three to five layers of loosely arranged cells having a number of veins traversed in this region, a few cluster crystals of calcium oxalate present in spongy parenchyma [Figure 4]a-c. [20],[21],[22]
Figure 4: (a) T. S> of leaf (x80), (b) Stomata cells (x367), (c) Leaf margin (x367)

Click here to view

   Discussion Top

Tamalaki has been in use since the Samhita period. Different properties, actions, and synonyms mentioned in Ayurvedic literatures indicate more than one species of it. Some experimental and clinical studies had already been carried out on different species taken as Tamalaki for different actions. The word Tamalaki thus reasonable to consider as a generic name in the present time which includes different species of Phyllanthus, and are subjected to further investigation for their specific action. It is observed that P. fraternus and P. amarus have six and five prominent tepals respectively, but P. urinaria got very minute six tepals. Capsule of P. urinaria is echinatus, whereas rest two is smooth. Short and less fibrous (Ajata), relatively more fibrous (Jata) root system and hard tap root Drdhapada, are seen in P. fratrnus, P. urinaria, and P. amarus, respectively.

   Conclusion Top

P. fraternus is reasonable to consider as a source plant of Tamalaki used in the treatment of Tamaka svasa. Profuse branching toward the upper region of stem, whitish rachis, elliptic-oblong leaf, smooth capsule with six tepals, less and short fibrous root system, pentagonal outline with wing-shaped young stem are some of the specific characters observed in this herb.

   Acknowledgments Top

The authors wish to pay special thanks and regards to Prof. V. K. Joshi, Dean, Faculty of Ayurveda, Prof. K. N. Dwivedi, Head and Dr. A. K. Singh, Department of Dravyaguna, Prof. V. P. Singh, Department of Medicinal Chemistry, Prof. N. K. Dubey, Department of Botany, Dr. Anuradha Roy, Department of Prasuti Tantra, BHU, Varanasi and Dr. R. K. Tiwari, ARO (Botany), NVARI and H, Lucknow (UP), for their inestimable suggestions and valuable concerns provided during the course of study. This work is a part of PhD (Ay.) Dravyaguna thesis of the corresponding author.

   References Top

1.Sen B. Studies on 'Tamalaki' with special reference to its Shwasahara Karma, M.D. (Ay.) Thesis, Dravyaguna, Institute of Medical Sciences. Varanasi: Banaras Hindu University; 2005.  Back to cited text no. 1
2.Acharya JT. Caraka Samhita of Agnivesa with 'Ayurveda-Dipika' commentary by Cakrapanidatta. Varanasi: Chaukhamba Surbharati Prakashan; 2000; Su.4 /. p. 16-36,37.  Back to cited text no. 2
3.Sharma SP. Ashtanga Sangraha of Vriddha Vagbhata with 'Sasilekha' commentary by Indu, C. Varanasi: howkhamba Sanskrit Series Office; 2006 Su.15/7.  Back to cited text no. 3
4.Acharya JT. Caraka Samhita of Agnivesa with 'Ayurveda-Dipika' commentary by Cakrapanidatta. Varanasi: Chaukhamba Surbharati Prakashan; 2000 Ci. 1-I /. p. 63,11 /37, 17 /123, 142, 18/ 127, 178.  Back to cited text no. 4
5.Acharya JT, Acharya NR. Susruta Samhita of Susruta with 'Nibandhasañgraha' commentary by Dalhana. Varanasi: Chaukhamba Surbharati Prakashan; 2003 Ut. 51 /27.   Back to cited text no. 5
6.Sharma SP. Ashtanga Sangraha of Vriddha Vagbhata with 'Sasilekha' commentary by Indu. Varanasi: Chowkhamba Sanskrit Series Office; 2006 Ci. 6/23, 24.   Back to cited text no. 6
7.Paradakara HS. Ashtanga Hridayam of Vagbhata with commentaries 'Sarvañgasundara' of Arundatta and 'Ayurvedarasayana' of Hemadri, Chaukhamba Orientalia. Varanasi: 2005 Ci.4 /44.  Back to cited text no. 7
8.Acharya JT. Caraka Samhita of Agnivesa with 'Ayurveda-Dipika' commentary by Cakrapanidatta Varanasi: Chaukhamba Surbharati Prakashan; 2000 Ci.8 /70.   Back to cited text no. 8
9.Sharma PV. Caraka Samhita (critical notes), Vol. IV, APPENDIX, p.37, Jejjata on Ci.3.219 . Chaukhambha Orientalia. Varanasi: 994.   Back to cited text no. 9
10.Acharya JT, Acharya NR. Susruta Samhita of Susruta with 'Nibandhasañgraha' commentary by Dalhana. Varanasi: Chaukhamba Surbharati Prakashan; 2003 Dalhana on SS. Ut. 51/27.   Back to cited text no. 10
11.Sharma SP., Ashtanga Sangraha of Vriddha Vagbhata with 'Sasilekha' commentary by Indu. Varanasi: Chowkhamba Sanskrit Series Office; 2006 Indu on AS. Ci. 7/10   Back to cited text no. 11
12.Mishra BS, Vaishya RL. Bhavaprakasa of Shri Bhava Mishra with 'Vidyotini' Hindi commentary, Notes and Appendix, Chaukhambha Sanskrit Sansthan. Varanasi:1999 Guduchyadi Varga.277-8.  Back to cited text no. 12
13.Mishra RB. Studies on Tamalaki (Phyllanthus niruri Linn.), M.D.(Ay.), Thesis, Dravyaguna, Institute of Medical Sciences. Varanasi: Banaras Hindu University; 1978.  Back to cited text no. 13
14.Yeolekar ME, Shahani S, Desouza A, Ghai H, Chawda MB. Evaluation of Efficacy and Safety of Tab. Nirocil® in Non-Bacterial Upper Respiratory Disorders, Ayurvani®, Vol 1(2), Solumiks Herbaceuticals Limited, 2005, p. 1-4.  Back to cited text no. 14
15.Anonymous. The Wealth of India (Raw Materials Series), Vol 8, New Delhi: Publication and Information Directorate; 1969. p. 34-6.  Back to cited text no. 15
16.Thyagarajan SP, Subramanian S, Thirunalasundari T, Venkateswaran PS, Blumberg BS. Effect of Phyllanthus amarus on chronic carriers of hepatitis B virus. Lancet 1988;2:764-6.  Back to cited text no. 16
17.Thyagarajan SP, Jayaram S, Villiammai T, Madanagopal N, Pal VG, Jayaraman K. Phyllanthus amarus and hepatitis B virus. Lancet 1990;336:949-50.  Back to cited text no. 17
18.Kirtikar KR, Basu BD. Indian Medicinal Plants, Vol 3, Lalit Mohan Basu, Allahabad: 1935. p. 2222-7.  Back to cited text no. 18
19.Sen B, Dubey SD. Tamalaki - An analytical review. Indian J Tradit Knowl. 2009;8(3):364-8.  Back to cited text no. 19
20.Satyavati GV, Gupta AK, Tandon N. Medicinal Plants of India, Vol 2, Indian Council of Medical Research, New Delhi: 1987. p. 405-7.  Back to cited text no. 20
21.The Ayurvedic Pharmacopoeia of India. Part-1, Vol. 1, New Delhi: The Controller of Publications, Civil Lines, Ministry of Health and FW, Department of ISM and H, Govt. of India, 1990 pp.111-2.  Back to cited text no. 21
22.Trease GE, Evan WC. Text book of Pharmacognosy, 12 th ed. English Language Book Society. London: Balliere Tindall; 1983.  Back to cited text no. 22


  [Figure 1], [Figure 2], [Figure 3], [Figure 4]

This article has been cited by
1 Antiplasmodial activity of selected medicinal plants used to treat malaria in Ghana
Gustav Komlaga,Sandrine Cojean,Rita A. Dickson,Mehdi A. Beniddir,Soulaf Suyyagh-Albouz,Merlin L. K. Mensah,Christian Agyare,Pierre Champy,Philippe M. Loiseau
Parasitology Research. 2016;
[Pubmed] | [DOI]
2 Antinociceptive effect of Phyllanthus fraternus extract in complete Freundęs adjuvant induced chronic pain in mice
Atul R. Chopade,F.J. Sayyad
Biomedicine & Aging Pathology. 2013;
[Pubmed] | [DOI]


    Similar in PUBMED
   Search Pubmed for
   Search in Google Scholar for
 Related articles
    Access Statistics
    Email Alert *
    Add to My List *
* Registration required (free)  

  In this article
    Materials and Me...
    Article Figures

 Article Access Statistics
    PDF Downloaded606    
    Comments [Add]    
    Cited by others 2    

Recommend this journal