An Ayurvedic herb, Phyllanthus has been used in connection with secondary hepatitis and other pain, and in Ayurvedic medicine for over 2,000 years. It has a wide number of traditional uses: employing the whole plant for jaundice, gonorrhea, frequent menstruation, and diabetes and using it topically as a poultice for skin ulcers, sores, swelling, and itchiness. The young shoots of the plant are administered in the form of an infusion for the treatment of chronic dysentery.
Phyllanthus also goes by the names Bahupatra and Bhuiamla. It is an herb common to central and southern India; it can grow to 30-60cm in height and blooms with many yellow flowers. All parts of the plant are employed therapeutically. Phyllanthus species are also found in other countries, including China (e.g., Phyllanthus urinaria), the Philippines, Cuba, Nigeria, and Guam.
Phyllanthus primarily contains lignans (e.g., phyllanthine and hypophyllanthine), alkaloids, and bioflavonoids (e.g., quercetin). While it remains unknown as to which of these ingredients has an antiviral effect, research shows this herb acts primarily on the liver. This action in the liver confirms its historical use as a remedy for jaundice.
Phyllanthus blocks DNA polymerase, the enzyme needed for the hepatitis B virus to reproduce. In one study, 59% of those infected with chronic viral hepatitis B lost one of the major blood markers of HBV infection (e.g., hepatitis B surface antigen) after using phyllanthus for 30 days. While clinical studies on the outcome of phyllanthus and HBV have been mixed, the species P. urinaria and P. niruri seem to work better than P. amarus.
Research has utilized the powdered form of phyllanthus in amounts ranging from 900-2,700mg per day for three months. No side effects have been reported using phyllanthus as recommended, and there are currently no well-known drug interactions with phyllanthus.
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 Bharatiya VB. Selected Medicinal Plants of India. Bombay: Tata Press, 1992, pp.235�7
 Thyagarajan SP, Subramanian S, Thirunalasundar T, et al. Effect of Phyllanthus amarus on chronic carriers of hepatitis B virus. Lancet 1988: ii: pp.764�6
 Meixa W, Haowei C, Yanjin L, et al. Herbs of the genus Phyllanthus in the treatment of chronic hepatitis B: observation with three preparations from different geographic sites. J Lab Clin Med 1995;126: pp.350�2
 Reichert R. Phytotherapeutic alternatives for chronic hepatitis. Quart Rev Natural Med 1997;Summer: pp.103�8
Antigen: A substance, usually protein or protein-sugar complex in nature, which, being foreign to the bloodstream or tissues of an animal, stimulates the formation of specific blood serum antibodies and white blood cell activity. Re-exposure to similar antigen will reactivate the white blood cells and antibody programmed against this specific antigen.
Antiviral: Any of a number of herbs, drugs or agents capable of destroying viruses or inhibiting their growth or multiplication until the body is capable of destroying the virus itself. Most antiviral agents are members of the antimetabolite family.
Ayurvedic: Type of alternative medicine in which diet and therapies, such as herbal inhalation and massage, are dictated by individual's body type; 4,000 year-old traditional Indian system believed to be helpful to those suffering insomnia, hypertension and digestive problems.
Chronic: Usually Chronic illness: Illness extending over a long period of time.
Diabetes Mellitus: A disease with increased blood glucose levels due to lack or ineffectiveness of insulin. Diabetes is found in two forms; insulin-dependent diabetes (juvenile-onset) and non-insulin-dependent (adult-onset). Symptoms include increased thirst; increased urination; weight loss in spite of increased appetite; fatigue; nausea; vomiting; frequent infections including bladder, vaginal, and skin; blurred vision; impotence in men; bad breath; cessation of menses; diminished skin fullness. Other symptoms include bleeding gums; ear noise/buzzing; diarrhea; depression; confusion.
DNA: Deoxyribonucleic acid, the large molecule that is the main carrier of genetic information in cells. DNA is found mainly in the chromosomes of cells.
Dysentery: An inflammatory disorder of the lower intestinal tract, usually caused by a bacterial, parasitic, or protozoan infection and resulting in pain, fever, and severe diarrhea, often accompanied by the passage of blood and mucous.
Enzymes: Specific protein catalysts produced by the cells that are crucial in chemical reactions and in building up or synthesizing most compounds in the body. Each enzyme performs a specific function without itself being consumed. For example, the digestive enzyme amylase acts on carbohydrates in foods to break them down.
Hepatitis: Inflammation of the liver usually resulting in jaundice (yellowing of the skin), loss of appetite, stomach discomfort, abnormal liver function, clay-colored stools, and dark urine. May be caused by a bacterial or viral infection, parasitic infestation, alcohol, drugs, toxins or transfusion of incompatible blood. Can be life-threatening. Severe hepatitis may lead to cirrhosis and chronic liver dysfunction.
Hepatitis B: A serious viral infection with the potential for long term consequences. It is caused by a DNA virus that has been found in virtually all body secretions and excretions. However, only blood, saliva, semen and vaginal fluids have been shown to be infectious. Transmission occurs through sexual contact, blood-to-blood contact (blood products, needle sharing, etc.), and from infected mother to infant. Virtually all affected infants and children, and many adults, receive a lesser, even symptom-free, infection. Symptoms, when present, tend to be more severe and prolonged than those for Hepatitis A: initially flu-like, with malaise, fatigue, muscle pain and chest pain on the right side. This is followed by jaundice (slight skin yellowing), anorexia, nausea, fatigue, pale stools, dark urine and tender liver enlargement, but usually no fever.
Herbs: Herbs may be used as dried extracts (capsules, powders, teas), glycerites (glycerine extracts), or tinctures (alcohol extracts). Unless otherwise indicated, teas should be made with one teaspoon herb per cup of hot water. Steep covered 5 to 10 minutes for leaf or flowers, and 10 to 20 minutes for roots. Tinctures may be used singly or in combination as noted. The high doses of single herbs suggested may be best taken as dried extracts (in capsules), although tinctures (60 drops four times per day) and teas (4 to 6 cups per day) may also be used.
Jaundice: Yellow discoloration of the skin, whites of the eyes and excreta as a result of an excess of the pigment bilirubin in the bloodstream.
Milligram: (mg): 1/1,000 of a gram by weight.
Poultice: Soft mass prepared by moistening botanicals or other absorbent substances with oil or water, usually applied hot to the skin.
Ulcer: Lesion on the skin or mucous membrane.
Virus: Any of a vast group of minute structures composed of a protein coat and a core of DNA and/or RNA that reproduces in the cells of the infected host. Capable of infecting all animals and plants, causing devastating disease in immunocompromised individuals. Viruses are not affected by antibiotics, and are completely dependent upon the cells of the infected host for the ability to reproduce.