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Biophytum sensitivum or the small tree plant with sensitive leaflets and bright yellow circular small flowers resembles a tree in its texture and looks and hence the name small tree plant. Referred to as Mukkutti, it is the ninth among the ten sacred, highly anti-oxidant, detoxifying, anti-poisonous, immune boosting and rejuvenative group of plants called as Dasapushpam.

This group of plants have a special place in the monsoon medical tradition and culture of Kerala in India, where Ayurveda is lived as a healthy way of life. Biophytum or the small tree plant, an herb that has been used as medicine either as a single herb and or in formulations, in India and Nepal for centuries, has attracted the attention of the scientific community during the last few decades. The plant rich in beneficial compounds like amentoflavone, cupressuflavone, and isoorientin have been scientifically proved to possess antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, antitumor, radio-protective, chemo-protective, anti-metastatic, anti-angiogenesis, wound-healing, immunomodulation, anti-diabetic, and cardio-protective properties.

The plant is also called life plant and it does justice to its name with its immense medicinal values.The flowers in full bloom resemble an open palm with all the five fingers stretched out and so it got to be called Alambusha and Kritaanjali. The sensitivity of the leaves gave the name Lajjalu which means shying away from touch. The leaflet arrangement pattern gave the name Samanga meaning equally paired. The yellow coloured flowers led to the name Peethapushpa and the flowering in rainy season got the name Jalapushpa.

Alambusha - Biophytum - The Botany Classification

Latin Name: Biophytum sensitivum

Family: Oxalidaceae Plant

Description: The little tree plant is an erect 7.5-10.0 cm tall, simple woody erect stemmed, annual or three year life spanned herb which usually sprouts out with the first rains. The unipinnate 5.0-12.5 cm long leaves are touch sensitive, fascicled or almost whorled at the top of the stem and the petioles are swollen at the base. The leaves consist of 6-15 pairs of oblique, oblong leaflets of which the terminal pair is the largest. The numerous small, yellow or purple flowers crowded at the apices are shortly pedicelled, five petalled with capsules ovoid or oblong, covered by sepals. Each petal has a red streak at the centre. Fruits are ellipsoid. The seeds have obliquely transverse tubercular ridges. Propagation and Habitat: The propagation is usually through the seeds that fall on the ground, remain dormant through summer and germinate with the on-set of rains. Hence the plant is found patches. A common weed of the tropical greenhouses the seeds do get transported along with the soil, weeded foliage and compost to different places. The plant is eaten by grazing animals and the seeds do get dispersed through their dung. Cultivation is by sowing of collected seeds. The small tree plant is found in wet lands of tropical India, Nepal, South Asia and Africa. Normally it grows under the shades of trees and shrubs, in grass lands at low and medium altitudes.

Important Chemical Constituents

Alambusha possesses two biflavones: cupressuflavone and amentoflavone; three flavonoids: luteolin 7- methyl ether, isoorientin and 3’-methoxyluteolin 7-O-glucoside; two acids: 4-Caffeoylquinic acid and 5-Caffeoylquinic acid, 3’, 8”-biapigenin, proanthocyanidins and some phenolic compounds.

Useful Parts

Usually the whole plant is used as medicine. Sometimes only the root or the leaves or only the flowers are used. The plant is ideal for medicinal use when it has just entered the flowering phase.

Ayurveda Qualitative Analysis

Ayurveda classifies and categories drugs on a qualitative basis, after analysing the Rasapanchakas or the five quality attributes viz. rasa (taste), guna (property), vipaaka (final transformation of quality after primary and secondary digestion) veerya (potency) and prabhaava (unexplainable special quality).

The Rasapanchaka of Alambusha is

Rasa: Thiktha (bitter) and Kashaya (astringent)

Guna: Laghu (light), Sara (flowing)

Vipaaka: Katu (pungent)

Veerya: Sheetha (cool and soothing)

Prabhaava: Lekhaneeya (scraping), Anulomaka (ensures proper peristalsis) and Garbhaashaya Shodhaka (activates and regulates uterine contractions and cleans the uterus of the accumulated secretions)

Dosha Action and Therapeutic Usage

The drug is Kaphahara and Vaataanulomaka. Due to its bitter astringent tastes and pungent post digestion conversion it is kaphahara and has got selective scraping action on the unwanted cells that inhabit the body and hence is anti-tumorous, anti-metastatic, anti-angio-genetic and menagogue.

It activates the uterus after child birth inducing contractions and expelling the lochia and other secretions thereby cleaning up the uterus. With its Vaataanulomana action the herb corrects the direction of all the muscular movements of the body. The astringent bitter tastes and the cold potency makes the plant an excellent antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, anti-spasmodic, anti-oxidant, skin disease curing and wound-healing herb.

The specific action of the herb on the uro-genital tract helps in treating conditions like diabetes, varicocele and gonorrhoea. It is also a proven radio-protective, chemo-protective, immune-modulatory and cardio-protective.

Diseases and formulations:

Alambusha is used in the treatment of

  • Stomach ache

  • Asthma

  • Phthisis

  • Insomnia

  • Convulsions

  • Cramps, chest

  • Complaints

  • Inflammations

  • Malignant tumours

  • Snake bites for envenomation

  • Diabetes

  • Urinary tract diseases

  • Varicocele,

  • Gonorrhoea,

  • Lithiasis

  • Chronic skin diseases

It is an excellent remedy to overcome the side effects and regain health for cancer patients recovering from chemotherapy and radiation therapy.

It is also used in amenorrhoea and to induce proper lochia discharge post childbirth.


A few formulations with Alambusha are:

  • Samanga Choornam

  • Kathakakhadiradi Kashaya

  • Manasamithra Vatakam

  • Chembaratyadi Thailam

  • Dashapushpa Thailam.

Dosage, Contra-indications, Side effects and Purificatory Process:

The paediatric dosage of the juice is 2.5 to 5 ml while the adult dosage varies between 15 to 20 ml per day. The paste is 10g per day. The usual adjuvants for the paste and juice are milk, buttermilk and honey.Alambusha is contra indicated for internal use during pregnancy, threatened abortion, vomiting, elderly people and in those with excessive general weakness.

Alambusha should always be used under medical supervision since it has the side effects of nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea and fatigue. Since it is a way side weed, care should be taken to collect the plant from a clean hygienic place. If the plant is to be regularly used it is always advisable to maintain a pot or a small ground patch of the plant in the garden.

Alambusha should always be washed clean, cleared of pest infestations and used. For internal use and for wounds sterilize and use.

Few home remedies

  • The whole plant paste with butter is applied if bitten by hornets, wasps, bees or any other insects.

  • 20g paste of the leaves of the small tree plant with buttermilk arrests diarrhoea.

  • 300 ml of decoction of the whole plant twice daily on empty stomach for 45 days is helpful in varicocele and male infertility.

  • 20 ml of the fresh juice or 200 ml of decoction with jaggery given for two weeks post childbirth cleans the uterus and keeps the womb healthy.

  • Fresh juice 20 ml in adults and 10 ml in children with one or two pinches of Pippali (long pepper) and honey relieves cough chest congestion and asthma.

  • One teaspoon of the plant ash mixed with lime juice is a good remedy for spasmodic headache and bloating.

  • The seed powdered and mixed with warm water is applied on the abscess to induce and promote suppuration.

  • The whole plant is dried and powdered and 20g of this powder is mixed with 20g each of turmeric powder and amla powder and taken on empty stomach for diabetes.

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