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Family Urticaceae
Alabong
Pilea microphylla Linn.
ARTILLERY PLANT

Xiao ye leng shui hua

Scientific names Common names
Adicea microphylla Kuntze Alabong (Ig.)
Chamaecnide microphylla Nees ex Miq. Isang-dakot-na-bigas (Tag.)
Dubrueilia microphylla (L.) Gaudich. Artillery plant (Engl.)
Parietaria microphylla L. Military fern (Engl.)
Pilea microphylla (L.) Liebm. Gunpowder plant (Engl.)
Pilea muscosa Lindl.  
Pilea portula Liebm.  
Pilea serpyllacea (Kunth) Liebm.  
Pilea succulenta Hook.f.  
Urtica microphylla (L.) Sw.  
Urtica serpyllacea Kunth  
Pilea microphylla (L.) Liebm. is an accepted name The Plant List

Other vernacular names
CHINESE: Tou ming cao, Xiao ye leng shui ma, Xiao ye leng shui hua.
INDONESIA: Katumpangan, Akar nasi, Jalu-jalu bobudo.
VIETNAM: Ph[as]o b[oo]ng, L[aw]n t[aw]n.

Botany
Alabong is a small,soft, smooth herb, 10 centimeters or less in height. Stems are slender, angular, green with a tint of purple, and angular. Leaves occur in two rows, petioled, somewhat elliptical in shape, 2 to 5 millimeters in length. Flowers are very small and crowded in small inflorescences (cymes) which are greenish or tinged with red and less than 1 millimeter in length.

Distribution
- In and about towns, on damp walls, etc., throughout the Philippines.
- Native of tropical America.
- Now found in most tropical countries.

Constituents
- Study yielded flavonoids quercetin (reported DPP-IV inhibitor), rutin, chlorogenic acid (reported lipid lowering property) along with others (luteolin-7-O-glucoside, apigenin- 7-O-glucoside, isorhoifolin). (see study below) (9)
- Study of whole plant yielded six phenolic compounds: (1) quercetin-3-O-rutinoside (2) 3-O-caffeoylquinic acid (3) luteolin-7-O-glucoside (4) apigenin-7-O-rutinoside (5) apigenin-7-O-@b-d-glucopyranoside and (6) quercetin. (see study below) (11)

Properties
- Studies have suggested antioxidant, antidiabetic, radioprotective, antimicrobial, antigenotoxic, antidepressant properties.

Parts utilized
Entire plant.

Uses
Folkloric
- Entire plant infusion is used as a diuretic.
- Used for diarrhea and asthma.
- Crushed leaves applied to sores and bruises.
- In the Antilles, sweetened decoction of roots used as diuretic.
- In Jamaica, entire plant used for women in labor; used for infertility and inflammation. (
4)
- In Brazil, used as a diuretic.
- In Guatemala, used for urinary problems.
- In Jamaican and Chinese medicine, used for diabetes.
- In western Panama, stem decoction drunk for diarrhea.


Studies
Antioxidant / Radioprotective:
An ethanolic extract of Pilea microphylla was found inhibit iron-induced lipid peroxidation. In screening for in vivo radioprotection in Swiss albino mice, it showed 80% protection. The fraction also protected livers of irradiated mice from depletion of endogenous antioxidant enzymes, provided general protection to the intestine from acute radiation effects. (1)
Non-Phenolic Antioxidant Activity:
Results indicated that the antioxidant activity was not correlated with phenolic content and suggests that non-phenolic compounds may be responsible for the free radical scavenging activity. (
2)
Antibacterial:
• Study found PM active against Staphylococcus aureus. • In one study, P. microphylla exhibited a variety of antimicrobial activity against pathogenic microorganisms. The majority of crude extracts were active against Gram-positive bacteria such as B. cereus, B. subtilis, and methicillin-resistant Staph aureus.
Antioxidant:
Screening study demonstrated P. microphylla contained different levels of total phenolic, total flavonoid and possessed diverse antioxidant properties. It was most potent when subjected to detailed free radical scavenging.
Antioxidant / Antimicrobial:
In a testing of 9 extracts, the methanol extract showed the highest antioxidant activity. A chloroform extract showed highest total phenolic contents. An extract showed antibacterial activity against Gram+ and Gram- bacteria without antifungal and antiyeast activity. A hexane extract showed no toxicity against brine shrimp. (
5)
Antidiabetic:
Screening in alloxan-induced diabetic rats showed that Pilea microphylla had beneficial benefits on blood glucose levels in normal and diabetic rats and also demonstrated significant protection from other metabolic aberrations cause by alloxan. (
6)
Antidiabetic:
Study evaluated the antidiabetic potential of a flavonoid rich fraction in C57BL/KsJ-db/db mice. Study yielded flavonoids quercetin (reported DPP-IV inhibitor), rutin, chlorogenic acid (reported lipid lowering property) along with others (luteolin-7-O-glucoside, apigenin- 7-O-glucoside, isorhoifolin). An overall antidiabetic effect could be the result of a combination of several constituents acting in concert.
(9)
Radioprotective / Cytoprotective / Antigenotoxicity:
Study compared the cytoprotective and antigenotoxic activity of the polyphenolic fraction with its active polyphenolic constituents against g-radiation in V79 cells. Results showed radioprotection probably from a synergistic effect of the phytochemicals present in the herbal extract rather than any single component.
(10)
Phenolic Compounds and Prevention of Radiation-Induced DNA Damage / Antioxidant:
Study yielded six phenolic compounds: (1) quercetin-3-O-rutinoside (2) 3-O-caffeoylquinic acid (3) luteolin-7-O-glucoside (4) apigenin-7-O-rutinoside (5) apigenin-7-O-@b-d-glucopyranoside and (6) quercetin. Pre-treatment with compounds 1-3 and 6 in V79 cells attenuated radiation-induced formation of reactive oxygen species, lipid peroxidation, cytotoxicity and DNA damage, correlating the antioxidant activity of polyphenols with their radioprotective effects.
(11)
Improvement in Sperm Parameters and DNA Fragmentation:
Study investigated the effects of PM in a rat model of varicocele. Results showed Pilea microphylla improves sperm parameters and DNA fragmentation in varicocelized rats. PM can reduce the damage to sperm DNA but not chromatin condensation. (13)
Antidepressant:
Study evaluated various crude extracts (methanol, chloroform, and ethyl acetate) of Pilea microphylla on depression in mice. Results showed an antidepressant effect in animal models. The effect of acute or repeated administration was similar to that produced by fluoxetine and haloperidol. (1
4)
Antidiabetic / Flavonoids: Study evaluated the antidiabetic potential of flavonoid rich fraction of PM and its possible mechanism of action in C57BL/KsJ-db/db mice. The presence of flavonoids viz., quercetin (reported DPP-IV inhibitor), rutin, chlorogenic acid (reported lipid lowering property) along with others (luteolin-7-O-glucoside, apigenin-7-O-glucoside, isorhoifolin) in PM1 reversed the disturbed metabolic milieu in C57BL/KsJ-db/db mice. (1
5)

Availability

- Wildcrafted.
- Occasionally cultivated as a dish garden plant or cover plant.

© Godofredo U. Stuart Jr., M.D.

Last Update April 2016

Photo © Godofredo Stuart / StuartXchange
OTHER IMAGE SOURCE: / Photograph / Pilea microphylla Images /Flowering plant, showing dense growth habit / Photograph by: Andres Hernandez S. / Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0) / click on image to go to source page / Useful Tropical Plants

Additional Sources and Suggested Readings
(1)
Antioxidant and radioprotective effect of the active fraction of Pilea microphylla (L.) ethanolic extract /
K.R. Prabhakara, V.P. Veerapura et al / Chemico-Biological Interactions • Volume 165, Issue 1, 5 January 2007, Pages 22-32 / doi:10.1016/j.cbi.2006.10.007
(2)
Antioxidant Activity and Total Phenolic Content of Some Medicinal Plants in Urticaceae Family / Amir Modorresi Chahardehi et al / Journal of Applied Biological Sciences 3(2): 25-29, 2009
(3)
Creole Remedies of Trinidad and Tobago / Cheryl Lans
(4)
Ethnomedicines used in Trinidad and Tobago for reproductive problems / Cheryl Lans / J Ethnobiol Ethnomedicine. 2007; 3: 13. / doi: 10.1186/1746-4269-3-13.
(5)
Antioxidant, Antimicrobial Activity and Toxicity Test of Pilea microphylla / Amir Modarresi Chahardehi, Darah Ibrahim, Shaida Fariza / Int J Microbiol. 2010; 2010: 826830. / doi: 10.1155/2010/826830
(6)
ANTIDIABETIC ACTIVITY OF PILEA MICROPHYLLA IN ALLOXAN INDUCED DIABETIC RATS / Pradeep S, Sini S, and Rajasekharan S /
(7)
Pilea microphylla (L.) Liebm. / Chinese names / Catalogue of Life, China
(8)
Pilea microphylla / Vernacular names / GLOBinMED
(9)
Flavonoid rich fraction of Pilea microphylla (L.) attenuates metabolic abnormalities and improves pancreatic function in C57BL/KsJ-db/db mice / Bansal, P and Paul, P and Shankar, G and Munjal, D and Nayak, PG and Priyadarsini, KI and Unnikrishnan, MK / Biomedicine & Preventive Nutrition, 2011, pp. 268-272.
(10)
Polyphenolic fraction of Pilea microphylla (L.) protects Chinese hamster lung fibroblasts against γ-radiation-induced cytotoxicity and genotoxicity. / Paul P, Bansal P, Nayak PG, Pannakal ST, Priyadarsini KI, Unnikrishnan MK / Environmental toxicology and pharmacology 33:1 2012 Jan pg 107-19
(11)
Phenolic compounds isolated from Pilea microphylla prevent radiation-induced cellular DNA damage / Bansal, Paul, Nayak, Pannakal, Zou, Laatsch, Priyadarsini, and Unnikrishnan / Acta Pharm Sin B 1(4):10 (2011)
(12)
Pilea microphylla / Synonyms / The Plant List
(13)
Do Pilea Microphylla Improve Sperm DNA Fragmentation and Sperm Parameters in Varicocelized Rats? /
Heidari R, Alizadeh R, Abbasi N, Pasbakhsh P, Hedayatpour A, Farajpour M, Khaleghi MR, Abbasi M, Dehpour AR / Acta Med Iran. 2015;53(9):547-54.
(14)
ANTIDEPRESSANT-LIKE EFFECTS OF SELECTED CRUDE EXTRACTS OF PILEA MICROPHYLLA IN MICE MODEL OF DEPRESSION / Amir Modarresi Chahardehi, Darah Ibrahim, Farid Abolhassani and Shaida Fariza Sulaiman /
American Journal of Agricultural and Biological Sciences, 2013, 8 (1), 75-81 / doi:10.3844/ajabssp.2013.75.81
(15)
Flavonoid rich fraction of Pilea microphylla (L.) attenuates metabolic abnormalities and improves pancreatic function in C57BL/KsJ-db/db mice P/ . Bansal, P. Paul, G. Shankar, D. Munjal, P.G. Nayak, K.I. Priyadarsini, M.K. Unnikrishnan / Biomedicine & Preventive Nutrition, 2011, 1 (4) pp 268-272

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.

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