Petiveria alliacea

Petiveria alliacea

Petiveria alliacea

Common Names

  • Anamu
  • Mucura
  • Apacina
  • Guinea henweed

For Patients & Caregivers

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

Petiveria alliacea (Anamu) is an herb found in South and Central America, and in some areas of Africa and the southeastern United States. It has been widely used in folk medicine. Studies done in laboratories and in animals have shown that P. 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 P. alliacea compared with placebo.

  • To treat cancer
    Laboratory studies showed that P. 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 P. alliacea is no more effective than a placebo in arthritic patients with hip and knee pain.
  • To treat infections
    Laboratory studies showed that P. alliacea can inhibit viral, bacterial, and other microbial growth. This has not been studied in humans.
  • To treat diabetes
    P. alliacea extract has been shown to reduce blood sugar in mice. Human data are lacking.
  • You are taking antidiabetic drugs: P. alliacea may have additive effects.
  • May lower blood sugar level
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For Healthcare Professionals

Petiveria alliacea L

Petiveria alliacea, commonly known as Anamu, is a perennial shrub prevalent in South and Central America, and in some areas of Africa and the 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 cause anxiolytic effects, whereas an extract of aerial parts showed anxiogenic properties (15), and 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 compared with placebo (9).

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

  • Cancer
  • Diabetes
  • Inflammation
  • Pain
  • Infection

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 P. alliacea root extract to rats resulted in reduced migration of neutrophils, mononuclear cells and eosinophils to the site of inflammation, thereby exerting an anti-inflammatory effect (8). P. alliacea root extract exhibited antimitotic effect in vivo (13) and extracts from its leaves and stems showed hypoglycemic effects in mice (10). The polysulphides of P. alliacea were shown to have antifungal and antibacterial activities (1)(2). Methanolic extracts of P. alliacea showed active inhibition of bovine viral diarrhea virus (BVDV) replication in vitro (3).

P. 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).

  • Antidiabetic drugs: P. alliacea may have additive hypoglycemic effects.

May lower blood sugar level (10).


  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. 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.

  5. 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.

  6. 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.

  7. 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.

  8. 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.

  9. Lores RI, Cires Pujol M. Petiveria alleaceae L. (anamu). Study of the hypoglycemic effect. Med Interne 1990. 28(4):347-52.

  10. 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.

  11. 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.

  12. 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.

  13. 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.

  14. 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.

  15. 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.

  16. 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.

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