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The pharmacological potential of Phyllanthus niruri

Introduction Phyllanthus niruri is a traditional shrub of the genus Phyllanthaceae with long-standing Ayurvedic, Chinese and Malay ethnomedical records. Preliminary studies from cell and animal model have provided valuable scientific evidence for its use.

Aim This review aims to summarize selected scientific evidence on the pharmacological properties of P. niruri over the past 35 years while identifying potential areas of further development of this herb as an economical adjunct.

Methods The review covers literature pertaining to the evidence base therapeutic potential of P. niruri spanning from 1980 to 2015 available on PubMed.

Results Evidence suggests that the extracts of P. niruri possess hepatoprotective, antiviral, antibacterial, hypolipidaemic, hypoglycaemic, analgesic, anti-inflammatory, cardioprotective, anti-urolithiatic and antihyperuricaemic properties due its novel bioactive compounds.

Conclusion Scientific evidence suggests that there is strong pharmacological potential in developing P. niruri as a drug to be used in liver disorders and in antiviral therapy. Despites this, large-scale heterogeneity in study protocol and unstandardized reporting standards limit the ability for valuable comparison and may mask the ability to replicate these studies. Thus interpretation of findings should be performed with caution and further studies should be performed in line with best practices. More cheminformatics, toxicological and mechanistic studies would aid the progress to clinical trial studies.