Eclipta alba (L.) A review on its phytochemical and pharmacological profile

About Authors:
Mithun NM*, Dr.Shashidhara S1

Dept. of Pharmacognosy,
Government college of pharmacy,

Abstract: Eclipta alba (L.) is small branched annual herbaceous plant with a long history of traditional medicines uses in many countries especially in tropical and subtropical regions. The herb has been known for its curative properties and has been utilized as antimytotoxic, analgesic, antibacterial, antihepatotoxic, antihaemorrhagic, antihyperglycemic, antioxidant, immunomodulatory properties and it is considered as a good rejuvenator too. Recent studies showed an antivenom property & corrosion pickling inhibitor action on mild steel in hydrochloric acid. A wide range of chemical compounds including coumestans, alkaloids, thiopenes, flavonoids, polyacetylenes, triterpenes and their glycosides have been isolated from this species. Extracts and metabolites from this plant have been known to possess pharmacological properties. This contribution provides an comprehensive review on ethnomedicinal uses, chemical composition, and the pharmacological profile as medicinal plant. Particular attention is given to antihepatotoxic, analgesic, antioxidant , antihyperglycemic, antiaggresive, wound healing properties and insecticidal effects presented in this review such that the potential use of this plant either in pharmaceutics or as an agricultural resource can be evaluated.

Reference ID: PHARMATUTOR-ART-1002

Eclipta alba (L.) is an annual herbaceous plant, commonly known as false daisy. It is an erect or prostrate, much branched, roughly hairy, annual, rooting at the nodes; the leaves are opposite, sessile and lanceolate. Belonging to family Asteraceae. it is also known as Bhringaraj and Karisilakanni, which is found a common weed throughout India ascending up to 6000 ft. The genus name comes from the Greek word meaning "Deficient," with reference to the absence of the bristles and awns on the fruits. The specific Eclipta alba means white which refers to the color of the flowers. Main active principles consist of coumestans like wedelolactone, desmethylwedelolactone43, furanocoumarins, oleanane & taraxastane glycosides45.

Eclipta alba (L.) has been used in various parts of tropical and sub-tropical regions like south America, Asia, Africa. There are three kinds or Eclipta alba-the white-flowering, the yellow-flowering, and the black-fruiting, but all three grow throughout India by marshes, rivers, and lakes or on the foothills of the Himalayas. It is an active ingredient of many herbal formulations prescribed for liver ailments and shows effect on liver cell generation .It is used as a tonic and diuretic in hepatic and spleen enlargement. It is also used in catarrhal jaundice and for skin diseases1. The alcoholic extract of the plant has shown antiviral activity against Ranikhet disease virus41. The plant is commonly used in hair oil all over India for healthy black and long hair34. The fresh juice of leaves is used for increasing appetite, improving digestion40 and as a mild bowel regulator. It is commonly used in viral hepatitis to promote bile flow and protect the parenchyma and

popularly used to enhance memory and learning . The plant has a reputation as an antiageing agent in Ayurveda42. It is used as a general tonic for debility. Externally it is used for inflammation10' 11, minor cuts and burns and the fresh leaf-juice is considered very effective in stopping bleeding25. Leaf juice mixed with honey is also used for children with upper respiratory infections and also used in eye and ear infections. It is a source of coumestans-type compounds used in phytopharmaceutical formulations of medicines prescribed for treatment of cirrhosis of the liver and infectious hepatitis43. It is widely used in India as a chologuague and deobstruent in hepatic enlargement, for jaundice and other ailments of the liver and gall bladder1. The water extract of Eclipta prostrata (whole plant) exhibited the most potent inhibitory activity against HIV-1 integrase (HIV-1 IN)47. Vedic Guard, a polyherbal formulation is a synergistic combination of 16 medicinal plant extracts contains Eclipta alba as a major ingredient46. Charaka advises taking the juice of eclipta alba with honey to prevent the onset of senility, and its oil as the best medicated massage oils for rejuvenation therapies.

Eclipta alba (L.) contains wide range of active principles which includes coumestans, alkaloids, flavonoids, glycosides, polyacetylenes, triterpenoids. The leaves contain stigmasterol, a-terthienylmethanol, wedelolactone, demethylwedelolactone and demethylwedelolactone-7-glucoside43. The roots give hentriacontanol and heptacosanol44. The roots contain polyacetylene substituted thiophenes.The aerial part is reported to contain a phytosterol, P-amyrin in the n-hexane extract and luteolin-7-glucoside, P-glucoside of phytosterol, a glucoside of a triterpenic acid and wedelolactone in polar solvent extract44. The polypeptides isolated from the plant yield cystine, glutamic acid, phenyl alanine, tyrosine and methionine on hydrolysis. Nicotine and nicotinic acid are reported to occur in this plant44.

Table No. 1

Parts containing chemical constituents:




Chemical constituents



Wedelolactone[1.6%], Desmethylwedelolactone,Desmethyl-wedelolactone-7-glucoside, stigmasterol



Hentriacontanol, Heptacosanol& Stigmasterol, Ecliptal, Eclalbatin.


Aerial parts

P-amyrin & Luteolin-7-O-glucoside, Apigenin, Cinnaroside, Sulphur compounds, Eclalbasaponins I-VI






Sterols, Ecliptalbine (alkaloid)


Whole plant

Resin, Ecliptine, Reducing sugar, Nicotine, Stigmasterol, Triterpene saponin, Eclalbatin,Ursolic acid, Oleanolic acid


Coumestan is an organic compound that is a derivative of coumarin. Coumestan forms the central core of a variety of natural compounds known collectively as coumestans. Coumestans, including a coumestrol and phytoestrogen are found in a variety of plants. Because of the estrogenic activity of some coumestans, a variety of syntheses have been developed that allow the preparation of coumestans so that their pharmacological effects can be explored. The major coumestan isolated from Eclipta alba includes wedelolactone 0.5-0.55% and desmethylwedelolactone14.

Terpenoids and their glycosides:
Taraxastane triterpene glycosides, named eclalbasaponins VII-X were isolated, along with four oleanane glycosides eclalbasaponins I-VI. The structures of eclalbasaponins VII-X were characterized as 3β, 20β,16β and 3β, 20β, 28β trihydroxytaraxastane glycosides, and their sulphated saponins15. Two oleanane-type glycosides eclalbasaponin I and eclalbasaponin II along with the ubiquitous steroid, stigmasterol were isolated from an n-hexane extract of the stem bark of Eclipta prostrata. From the whole part of Eclipta alba Hassk., six new triterpene glycosides, named eclalbosaponins I-VI, were isolated these structures were characterized as echinocystic acid glycosides and those of V -VI were revealed to be sulphated saponins17.

Contemporary clinical tests showed that the herb contains the alkaloid ecliptine. Bioassay-guided fractionation of the MeOH extract of Eclipta alba using three yeast strains (1138, 1140, and 1353) resulted in the isolation of eight bioactive steroidal alkaloids (1-8), six of which are reported for the first time from nature. The major alkaloid was identified as (20S)(25S)-22,26-imino-cholesta-5,22(A)-dien-3P-ol (verazine, 3), while the new alkaloids were identified as 20-epi-3-dehydroxy-3-oxo-5,6-dihydro-4,5-dehydroverazine (1), ecliptalbine [(20R)-20-pyridyl-cholesta-5-ene-3P,23-diol] (4), (20R)-4P-hydroxyverazine (5), 4P-hydroxyverazine (6), (20R)-25P-hydroxyverazine (7), and 25β-hydroxyverazine (8). Ecliptalbine (4), in which the 22,26-imino ring of verazine was replaced by a 3-hydroxypyridine moiety, had comparable bioactivity to verazine18.

Volatile oils:
The volatile components were isolated from the aerial parts of this plant by hydrodistillation and analysed by GC-MS. A total of 55 compounds, which were the major part (91.7%) of the volatiles, were identified by matching mass spectra with a mass spectrum library (NIST 05.L). The main components were as follows: heptadecane (14.78%), 6,10,14-trimethyl-2-pentadecanone (12.80%), w-hexadecanoic acid (8.98%), pentadecane (8.68%), eudesma-4(14),11-diene (5.86%), phytol (3.77%), octadec-9-enoic acid (3.35%), 1,2-benzenedicarboxylic acid diisooctyl ester (2.74%), (Z,Z)-9,12-octadecadienoic acid (2.36%), (Z)-7,11-dimethyl-3- methylene-1,6,10-dodecatriene (2.08%) and (Z,Z,Z)-1,5,9,9-tetramethyl-1,4,7-cycloundecatriene (2.07%)19.

From the whole plant of Eclipta alba, a new triterpene saponin, named eclalbatin, together with alpha-amyrin, ursolic acid and oleanolic acid were isolated. The structure of eclalbatin has been established as 3-O-beta-D-glucopyranosyl-3-beta-hydroxy-olean-12-en-28-oic acid, 28-O-beta-D-arabinopyranoside (1) on the basis of chemical and spectral data20. Dasyscyphin C was isolated from Eclipta prostrate which were studied on the HeLa cells for the anticancer activity12.

Eclipta alba is a plant used in folk & traditional medicine for cirrohosis and infectious diseases1. It is believed to prevent aging and rejuvenate hair, teeth, bone, memory, sight, hearing. The plant was known to possess significant antifungal and insecticidal properties. The biological properties of the plant are treated under two subheadings: (i) pharmacological properties (ii) insecticidal properties and other biological properties.



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