Petiveria alliacea

Health Care Professional Information

Scientific Name
Petiveria alliacea L
Common Name

Anamu, mucura, apacina, guinea henweed, pipi, tipi

Clinical Summary

Petiveria alliacea, commonly known as Anamu, is a perennial shrub prevalent in South and Central America, some areas in Africa and southeastern United States. It has been widely used in folk medicine to treat inflammation, infection, and as an anticancer agent. Extracts of this herb demonstrated antimicrobial, antifungal (1) (2), antiviral (3), antiprotozoal (4), and immunomodulatory (5) (17) properties in vitro. Data on its cytotoxic effects are conflicting (6) (7) (14).

The whole plant extracts also caused anxiolytic effects whereas an extract of aerial parts showed anxiogenic properties (15); the root extracts showed anticonvulsant effects in mice (16).
Although Petiveria extract exhibited anti-inflammatory and analgesic effects in animals (8), it did not show any benefits in patients with osteoarthritis when compared to placebo (9).

In vitro and in vivo assays showed that Petiveria has mutagenic effects (11). More studies are needed to evaluate its traditional uses.

Purported Uses
  • Cancer
  • Diabetes
  • Inflammation
  • Pain
  • Infection
  • Petiverina
  • Resinous Acid
  • Coumarins
  • Benzyl-2-hydroxyethyl trisulfite
  • Trithiolaniacine· Dibenzyl trisulfide
Mechanism of Action

Dibenzyl trisulphide, one of the active ingredients of Petiveria alliacea, causes disassembly of microtubules in neuroblastoma cells resulting in inhibition of cell proliferation (12). Oral administration of a root extract of Petiveria alliacea to rats resulted in reduced migration of neutrophils, mononuclear cells and eosinophils to the site of inflammation, thereby exerting an anti-inflammatory effect (8). The root extract of Petiveria alliacea exhibited antimitotic effect in vivo (13) and extracts from its leaves and stems showed hypoglycemic effects in mice (10). The polysulphides of Petiveria alliacea were shown to have antifungal and antibacterial activities (1) (2). Methanolic extracts of Petiveria alliacea showed active inhibition of bovine viral diarrhea virus (BVDV) replication in vitro (3).

Petiveria alliacea also demonstrates anticancer effects. In one study, it was shown to mediate changes in glycolytic enzyme expression causing a decrease in glucose uptake and lactate production, thereby inducing apoptosis in breast adenocarcinoma cells (18).

Herb-Drug Interactions
  • Antidiabetic drugs (Petiveria alliacea may have additive hypoglycemic effect.)
Herb Lab Interactions

Petiveria alliacea may lower blood sugar level (10).

Literature Summary and Critique

A small study of Petiveria alliacea did not find any benefit in patients with osteoarthritis(9). Clinical trials are needed to evaluate its health benefits.

Dosage (Inside MSKCC Only)
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  1. Kim S, Kubec R, Musah RA. Antibacterial and antifungal activity of sulfur-containing compounds from Petiveria alliacea L. J Ethnopharmacol 2006. 104(1-2):188-92.
  2. Benevides PJ, Young MC, Giesbrecht AM, et al. Antifungal polysulphides from Petiveria alliacea L. Phytochemistry 2001. 57(5):743-7.
  3. Ruffa MJ, Perusina M, Alfonso V, et al. Antiviral activity of Petiveria alliacea against the bovine viral diarrhea virus.Chemotherapy 2002. 48(3):144-7.
  4. Caceres A, Lopez B, Gonzalez S, 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. 62(3):195-202.
  5. Queiroz, M.L., M.R. Quadros, and L.M. Santos, Cytokine profile and natural killer cell activity in Listeria monocytogenes infected mice treated orally with Petiveria alliacea extract. Immunopharmacol Immunotoxicol 2000. 22(3):501-18.
  6. Ruffa MJ, Ferraro G, Wagner ML, et al. Cytotoxic effect of Argentine medicinal plant extracts on human hepatocellular carcinoma cell line. J Ethnopharmacol 2002. 79(3):335-9.
  7. Mata-Greenwood E, Ito A, Westerburg H, et al. Discovery of novel inducers of cellular differentiation using HL-60 promyelocytic cells. Anticancer Res 2001. 21(3B):1763-70.
  8. Lopes-Martins RA, Pegoraro DH, Woisky R, et al. The anti-inflammatory and analgesic effects of a crude extract of Petiveria alliacea L. (Phytolaccaceae).Phytomedicine 2002. 9(3):245-8.
  9. Ferraz, M.B., et al., The effectiveness of tipi in the treatment of hip and knee osteoarthritis—a preliminary report. Mem Inst Oswaldo Cruz 1991. 86 Suppl 2:241-3.
  10. Lores RI, Cires Pujol M. Petiveria alleaceae L. (anamu). Study of the hypoglycemic effect. Med Interne 1990. 28(4):347-52.
  11. Hoyos LS, Au WW, Heo MY, et al. Evaluation of the genotoxic effects of a folk medicine, Petiveria alliacea (Anamu). Mutat Res 1992. 280(1):29-34.
  12. Rosner H, Williams LA, Jung A, Kraus W. Disassembly of microtubules and inhibition of neurite outgrowth, neuroblastoma cell proliferation, and MAP kinase tyrosine dephosphorylation by dibenzyl trisulphide. Biochim Biophys Acta 2001. 1540(2):166-77.
  13. Malpezzi EL, Davino SC, Costa LV, et al. Antimitotic action of extracts of Petiveria alliacea on sea urchin egg development. Braz J Med Biol Res 1994. 27(3):749-54.
  14. Urueña C, Cifuentes C, Castañeda D, 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.
  15. Blainski A, Piccolo VK, Mello JC, de Oliveira RM. 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.

  16. Gomes PB, Noronha EC, de Melo CT, 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.

  17. Santander SP, Hernández JF, Barreto CC, 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.
  18. Hernández JF, Urueña CP, Cifuentes MC, et al. A Petiveria alliacea standardized fraction induces breast adenocarcinoma cell death by modulating glycolytic metabolism. J Ethnopharmacol. 2014 May 14;153(3):641-9.

Consumer Information

How It Works

BOTTOM LINE: Petiveria alliacea has not been shown to treat cancer in humans.

Petiveria alliacea (Anamu) is an herb found in South and Central America, some areas in Africa and southeastern United States. It has been widely used in folk medicine. Studies done in laboratories and in animals have shown that Petiveria alliacea can prevent certain infections, reduce inflammation and pain, and regulate cancer cell growth. However, this has not been confirmed in humans. A small study done in patients with osteoarthritis did not show benefits of Petiveria alliacea compared to placebo.

Purported Uses
  • To treat cancer
    Laboratory studies showed that Petiveria alliacea can be toxic to some cancer cells but more data is needed. It has not been studied in humans.
  • To reduce swelling and pain
    One small clinical trial found that Petiveria alliacea is no more effective than a placebo in arthritic patients with hip and knee pain.
  • To treat infections
    Laboratory studies showed that Petiveria alliacea can inhibit viral, bacterial, and other microbial growth. This has not been studied in humans.
  • To treat diabetes
    Petiveria alliacea extract has been shown to reduce blood sugar in mice. Human data are lacking.
Research Evidence

A small study of Petiveria alliacea did not find any benefit in patients with osteoarthritis. Clinical trials are needed to evaluate its health benefits.

Do Not Take If
  • You are taking antidiabetic drugs (Petiveria alliacea may have additive effects).
Side Effects
  • May lower blood sugar level
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