Anamu Herb Powder: Petiveria alliacea Anamu Powder

Petiveria alliacea

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Many biologically active compounds have been discovered in anamu, including flavonoids, triterpenes, steroids, and sulfur compounds. Anamu contains a specific sulfur compound named dibenzyl trisulfide. In a University plant-screening program anamu was one of 34 plants identified with active properties against cancer. The researchers reported that dibenzyl trisulfide was one of two of the active compounds in anamu with anticancerous actions.* Anamu also contains the phytochemicals astilbin, benzaldehyde, and coumarin, all three of which have been documented with antitumorous and/or anti-cancerous properties as well.*

To see photographs of anamu click here. For more complete information about anamu (Petiveria alliacea), please refer to the Database File for Anamu in the Tropical Plant Database. More information on anamu can also be found in the new Anti-Cancerous Guide and the Antimicrobial Guide.

Traditional Uses:* for cancer and leukemia; for immune disorders (to stimulate immune function and immune cell production); for colds, flu, and viruses; for Candida and other yeast infections; for urinary tract infections

Suggested Use: This plant is best prepared as an infusion (tea): Use one teaspoon of powder for each cup of water. Pour boiling water over herb in cup and allow to steep 10 minutes. Strain tea (or allow settled powder to remain in the bottom of cup) and drink warm. It is traditionally taken in 1/2 cup dosages, 1-2 times daily. For more complete instructions on preparing herbs see the Methods for Preparing Herbal Remedies Page.

Contraindications: Methanol extracts of anamu were reported to cause uterine contractions in animal studies, therefore, it is contraindicated in pregnancy.

Drug Interactions: None published. Due to anamu’s natural coumarin content, however, it is conceivable that it might potentiate the effects of coumadin (Warfarin®).

Other Observations:

  • Anamu contains a low concentration of coumarin, which has a blood thinning effect. People with blood disorders, such as hemophilia, should be monitored closely for this possible effect.
  • This plant has been shown to have hypoglycemic effects in mice. People with hypoglycemia should be monitored more closely for this possible effect.




Third-Party Published Research*

All available third-party research on anamu can be found at PubMed/Medline. A partial listing of the published research on anamu is shown below:


Cytotoxic & Anticancerous Actions:
Research published on anamu (and its plant chemicals) reveals that it has antileukemic, antitumorous, and anticancerous activities against several types of cancer cells. In an in vitro study by Italian researchers in 1990, water extracts and ethanol extracts of anamu retarded the growth of leukemia cells and several other strains of cancerous tumor cells. Three years later, they reported anamu was directly cytotoxic to leukemia and lymphoma cancer cells but only inhibited the growth of breast cancer cells. A study published in 2002 documented an in vitro toxic effect against a liver cancer cell line; another in vitro study in 2001 reported that anamu retarded the growth of brain cancer cells (neuroblastoma).
Williams, L., et al. "Implications of dibenzyl trisulphide for disease treatment based on its mode of action." West Indian Med J. 2009 Nov;58(5):407-9.
Urueña, C., et al. "Petiveria alliacea extracts uses multiple mechanisms to inhibit growth of human and mouse tumoral cells." BMC Complement. Altern. Med. 2008 Nov 18; 8:60.
Williams, L., et al. "A critical review of the therapeutic potential of dibenzyl trisulphide isolated from Petiveria alliacea L (guinea hen weed, anamu)." West Indian Med. J. 2007 Jan; 56(1): 17-21.
An, H., et al. "Synthesis and anti-tumor evaluation of new trisulfide derivatives." Bioorg. Med. Chem. Lett. 2006 Sep; 16(18): 4826-9.
Williams, L. A., et al. "In vitro anti-proliferation/cytotoxic activity of sixty natural products on the human SH-SY5Y neuroblastoma cells with specific reference to dibenzyl trisulphide." West Indian Med. J. 2004 Sep; 53(4): 208-19.
Ruffa, M. J., et al. “Cytotoxic effect of Argentine medicinal plant extracts on human hepatocellular carcinoma cell line.” ; J. Ethnopharmacol. 2002; 79(3): 335-39.
Mata-Greenwood, E., et al. “Discovery of novel inducers of cellular differentiation using HL-60 promyelocytic cells.” Anticancer Res. 2001; 21(3B): 1763-70.
Rosner, H., et al. “Disassembly of microtubules and inhibition of neurite outgrowth, neuroblastoma cell proliferation, and MAP kinase tyrosine dephosphorylation by dibenzyl trisulphide.” Biochem. Biophys. Acta 2001; 1540(2): 166-77.
Jovicevic, L., et al. “In vitro antiproliferative activity of Petiveria alliacea L. on several tumor cell lines.” Pharmacol. Res. 1993; 27(1): 105-06.
Rossi, V., et al. “Antiproliferative effects of Petiveria alliacea on several tumor cell lines.” Pharmacol. Res. Suppl. 1990; 22(2): 434.
Yan, R., et al. “Astilbin selectively facilitates the apoptosis of interleukin-2-dependent phytohemaglutinin-activated Jurkat cells.” Pharmacol. Res. 2001; 44(2): 135-39.
Weber, U. S., et al. “Antitumor activities of coumarin, 7-hydroxy-coumarin and its glucuronide in several human tumor cell lines”. Res. Commun. Mol. Pathol. Pharmacol. 1998; 99(2): 193-206.
Bassi, A. M., et al. “Comparative evaluation of cytotoxicity and metabolism of four aldehydes in two hepatoma cell lines.” Drug Chem. Toxicol. 1997 Aug; 20(3): 173-87.

Anti-Sickling Actions
Ameh, S., et al. "Traditional herbal management of sickle cell anemia: lessons from Nigeria." Anemia. 2012; 2012:607436.

Immunostimulant & Antioxidant Actions:
Anamu has been found in both in vivo and in vitro studies to be an immunostimulant. In a 1993 study with mice, a water extract stimulated immune cell production (lymphocytes and Interleukin II). In the same year, another study with mice demonstrated that anamu increased natural killer cell activity by 100% and stimulated the production of even more types of immune cells (Interferon, Interleukin II, and Interleukin IV). Additional research from 1997 to 2001 further substantiated anamu's immunostimulant actions in humans and animals. In one study they reported: "Based on these findings we suggest that P. alliacea [anamu] up-regulates anti-bacterial immune response by enhancing both Th1 function and the activity of NK cells."
Santander, S., et al. "Immunomodulatory effects of aqueous and organic fractions from Petiveria alliacea on human dendritic cells." Am J Chin Med. 2012;40(4):833-44
Williams, L. "Life's immunity as a normal distribution function: philosophies for the use of dibenzyl trisulphide in immunity enhancement and life extension." West Indian Med J. 2010 Oct;59(5):455.
Okada, Y., et al. "Antioxidant activity of the new thiosulfinate derivative, S-benzyl phenylmethanethiosulfinate, from Petiveria alliacea L." Org. Biomol. Chem. 2008 Mar 21; 6(6): 1097-102.
Queiroz, M. L., et al. “Cytokine profile and natural killer cell activity in Listeria monocytogenes infected mice treated orally with Petiveria alliacea extract. Immunopharmacol. Immunotoxicol. 2000 Aug; 22(3): 501-18.
Quadros, M. R., et al. “Petiveria alliacea L. extract protects mice against Listeria monocytogenes infection—effects on bone marrow progenitor cells.” Immunopharmacol. Immunotoxicol. 1999 Feb; 21(1): 109-24.
Williams, L., et al. “Immunomodulatory activities of Petiveria alliaceae L.” Phytother. Res. 1997; 11(3): 251253.
Rossi, V., “Effects of Petiveria alliacea L. on cell immunity.” Pharmacol. Res. 1993; 27(1): 111-12.
Marini, S., “Effects of Petiveria alliacea L. on cytokine production and natural killer cell activity.” Pharmacol. Res. 1993; 27(1): 107-08.

Anti-inflammatory & Pain-Relieving Actions:
Other research suggests anamu's traditional use as a remedy for arthritis and rheumatism has been validated by documenting analgesic, antinociceptive (pain-relieving), and anti-inflammatory properties. One research group in Sweden reported that anamu possesses COX-1 inhibitory actions. Another research group in Brazil documented significant anti-inflammatory effects in rats using various models, and researchers in 2002 noted a significant analgesic effect in rats. The analgesic and anti-inflammatory effects were even verified when an ethanol extract was applied topically in rats.
de Morais Lima, G., et al. "Database Survey of Anti-Inflammatory Plants in South America: A Review" Int J Mol Sci. 2011; 12(4): 2692–2749.
Gomes, P. B., et al. “Study of antinociceptive effect of isolated fractions from Petiveria alliacea L. (tipi) in mice.” Biol. Pharm. Bull. 2005; 28(1): 42-6.
Lopes-Martins, R. A., et al. “The anti-inflammatory and analgesic effects of a crude extract of Petiveria alliacea L. (Phytolaccaceae).” Phytomedicine. 2002; 9(3): 245-48.
Dunstan, C. A., et al. “Evaluation of some Samoan and Peruvian medicinal plants by prostaglandin biosynthesis and rat ear oedema assays.” J. Ethnopharmacol. 1997 Jun; 57(1): 35-56.
Germano, D., et al. “Pharmacological assay of Petiveria alliaceae. Oral anti-inflammatory activity and gastrotoxicity of a hydro alcoholic root extract.” Fitoterapia. 1993; 64(5): 459-467
Germano, D. H., et al. “Topical anti-inflammatory activity and toxicity of Petiveria alliaceae.” Fitoterapia. 1993; 64(5): 459-67.
de Lima, T. C., et al. “Evaluation of antinociceptive effect of Petiveria alliacea (Guine) in animals.” Mem. Inst. Oswaldo Cruz. 1991; 86 Suppl 2: 153-58.
Di Stasi, L. C., et al. “Screening in mice of some medicinal plants used for analgesic purposes in the state of Saõ Paulo.” J. Ethnopharmacol. 1988; 24(2/3): 205–11.

Wound Healing Actions:
Schmidt, C., et al. "Biological studies on Brazilian plants used in wound healing." J. Ethnopharmacol. 2009 Apr 21; 122(3): 523-32.

Antimicrobial & Antiparasitic Actions:
Many clinical reports and studies document that anamu shows broad-spectrum antimicrobial properties against numerous strains of bacteria, viruses, fungi, and yeast. In a 2002 study, anamu inhibited the replication of the bovine diarrhea virus; this is a test model for hepatitis C virus. A Cuban research group documented anamu's antimicrobial properties in vitro against numerous pathogens, including E. coli, Staphylococcus, Pseudomonas, and Shigella and, interestingly enough, their crude water extracts performed better than any of the alcohol extracts. A German group documented good activity against several bacteria, Mycobacterium tuberculosis, several strains of fungi, and Candida. Anamu's antifungal properties were documented by one research group in 1991, and again by a separate research group in 2001. Its antimicrobial activity was further demonstrated by researchers from Guatemala and Austria who, in separate studies in 1998, confirmed its activity in vitro and in vivo studies against several strains of protozoa, bacteria, and fungi.
Kim, S., et al. “Antibacterial and antifungal activity of sulfur-containing compounds from Petiveria alliacea L.” J. Ethnopharmacol. 2006 Mar; 104(1-2): 188-92.
Kubec, R., et al. “The lachrymatory principle of Petiveria alliacea.” Phytochemistry. 2003 May; 63(1): 37-40.
Ruffa, M. J., et al. “Antiviral activity of Petiveria alliacea against the bovine diarrhea virus. Chemotherapy 2002; 48(3): 144-47.
Benevides, P. J., et al. “Antifungal polysulphides from Petiveria alliacea L.” Phytochemistry. 2001; 57(5): 743-7.
Caceres, A., et al. “Plants used in Guatemala for the treatment of protozoal infections. I. Screening of activity to bacteria, fungi and American trypanosomes of 13 native plants.” J. Ethnopharmacol. 1998 Oct; 62(3): 195-202.
Berger, I., et al. “Plants used in Guatemala for the treatment of protozoal infections: II. Activity of extracts and fractions of five Guatemalan plants against Trypanosoma cruzi.” J. Ethnopharmacol. 1998 Sep; 62(2): 107-15.
Hoyos, L., et al. “Evaluation of the genotoxic effects of a folk medicine, Petiveria alliaceae (Anamu).” Mutat. Res. 1992; 280(1): 29-34.
Caceres, A., et al. “Plants used in Guatemala for the treatment of dermatophytic infections. I. Screening for antimycotic activity of 44 plant extracts.” J. Ethnopharmacol. 1991; 31(3): 263-76.
Misas, C.A.J., et al. “The biological assessment of Cuban plants. III.” Rev. Cub. Med. Trop. 1979; 31(1): 21–27.
Von Szczepanski, C., et al. “Isolation, structure elucidation and synthesis of an antimicrobial substance from Petiveria alliacea.” Arzneim-Forsch 1972; 22: 1975–.
Feng, P., et al. “Further pharmacological screening of some West Indian medicinal plants.” J. Pharm. Pharmacol. 1964; 16: 115.

Sedative, Antidepressant, & Anticonvulsant Actions:
de Andrade, T., et al. "Potential behavioral and pro-oxidant effects of Petiveria alliacea L. extract in adult rats." J Ethnopharmacol. 2012 Sep 28;143(2):604-10.
Gomes, F., et al. "Central effects of isolated fractions from the root of Petiveria alliacea L. (tipi) in mice." J. Ethnopharmacol. 2008 Nov 20; 120(2): 209-14.

Anxiogenic Actions:
de Andrade, T., et al. "Potential behavioral and pro-oxidant effects of Petiveria alliacea L. extract in adult rats." J Ethnopharmacol. 2012 Sep 28;143(2):604-10.
Blainski, A., et al. "Dual effects of crude extracts obtained from Petiveria alliacea L. (Phytolaccaceae) on experimental anxiety in mice." J Ethnopharmacol. 2010 Mar 24;128(2):541-4.

Hypoglycemic Actions:
Lans, C. A. "Ethnomedicines used in Trinidad and Tobago for urinary problems and diabetes mellitus." J. Ethnobiol. Ethnomedicine. 2006 Oct 13; 2: 45.
Lores, R. I., et al. “Petiveria alliaceae L. (anamu). Study of the hypoglycemic effect.” Med. Interne. 1990; 28(4): 347–52.

Insecticidal Actions:
Rosado-Aguilar, J., et al. "Acaricidal activity of extracts from Petiveria alliacea (Phytolaccaceae) against the cattle tick, Rhipicephalus (Boophilus) microplus (Acari: ixodidae)." Vet Parasitol. 2010 Mar 25;168(3-4):299-303.

Non-Toxic Actions:
García-González, M., et al. "Subchronic and acute preclinic toxicity and some pharmacological effects of the water extract from leaves of Petiveria alliacea (Phytolaccaceae)." Rev. Biol. Trop. 2006 Dec; 54(4): 1323-6.

Chemical Constituents Identified:
Musah, R., et al. "Discovery and characterization of a novel lachrymatory factor synthase in Petiveria alliacea and its influence on alliinase-mediated formation of biologically active organosulfur compounds." Plant Physiol. 2009 Nov; 151(3): 1294-303.
Musah, R., et al. "Studies of a novel cysteine sulfoxide lyase from Petiveria alliacea: the first heteromeric alliinase. Plant Physiol. 2009 Nov; 151(3): 1304-16.

* The statements contained herein have not been evaluated
by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is
not intended to treat, cure, mitigate or prevent any disease.
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Last updated 12-31-2012