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 it also has mutagenic effects (11). More studies are needed to evaluate the traditional uses.