Euphorbia hirta / Spurge Herb

NIMH Herb Mark

Euphorbia hirta is a medicinal plant widely used in traditional medicine across tropical Asia against various diseases, including respiratory disorders. Other species of the genus Euphorbia also show medicinal importance and are being used in traditional medicine. Euphorbia hirta contains a wide variety of phytochemicals, including reducing sugars, alkaloids, terpenoids, flavonoids, tannins, steroids, fats, proteins, gums, oils, mucilage, saponins, glycosides, cardiac glycosides, coumarins, anthraquinones and phenolic compounds. A milky juice exudes from all the species of Euphorbia upon breaking. This juice is toxic and hence was used on arrows for hunting purposes in old times.

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Euphorbia hirta belongs to the family Euphorbiaceae and genus Euphorbia. Euphorbia hirta is frequently known as the “asthma plant”. It is distributed throughout the hotter parts of India and Australia, often found in waste areas along roadsides. It is a slender- stemmed, annual hairy plant with many branches from the base to top, spreading up to 40 cm in height, reddish or purplish in colour. Leaves are opposite, elliptic oblong, dark green above, pale beneath, 1- 2.5 cm long, blotched with purple in the middle, and toothed at the edge. The fruits are yellow, three-celled, hairy, keeled capsules, with wrinkled seeds.

Euphorbia hirta is a medicinal plant widely used in traditional medicine across tropical Asia against various diseases, including respiratory disorders. Other species of the genus Euphorbia also show medicinal importance and are being used in traditional medicine. Euphorbia hirta contains a wide variety of phytochemicals, including reducing sugars, alkaloids, terpenoids, flavonoids, tannins, steroids, fats, proteins, gums, oils, mucilage, saponins, glycosides, cardiac glycosides, coumarins, anthraquinones and phenolic compounds. A milky juice exudes from all the species of Euphorbia upon breaking. This juice is toxic and hence was used on arrows for hunting purposes in old times.

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