Ye Xia Zhu (Chamberbitter, Gripeweed, or Phyllanthus urinaria)

What Is Ye Xia Zhu

Ye Xia Zhu is commonly known as Zhen Zhu Cao, Chamberbitter, Gripeweed, or Phyllanthus urinaria L., which is an annual herb belonging to the family Phyllantaceae. It is a relatively practical Chinese herbal medicine, which first appeared in <Shengcao Yaoxing Beiyao> (Essentials of Unprocessed Herbal Medicine Properties) in the 50th year of Kangxi in the Qing Dynasty (1,711 AD).

There are about 874 species of Phyllanthus, which are mainly distributed in tropical and subtropical regions of the world, with only a few species in the northern temperate zone.
Some of these species are common medicinal plants, such as Phyllanthus niruri and Phyllanthus urinaria L.

Phyllanthus urinaria L. prefers warm and moist environments. They often grow in mountain shrubs or sparse forests at an altitude of 200 to 1,000 meters. They are found in tropical and subtropical regions of Asia, northern Australia, and the Americas.

Phyllanthus urinaria

In the summer and autumn, people gather the whole part of Phyllanthus urinaria L, wash them with water, remove impurities, dry them in the sun, cut them into sections, and make them into Chinese herbal medicines.

Ye Xia Zhu contains phyllanthin, 5-demethoxyniranthin, niranthin, phyltetralin, hypophyllanthin, nirtetralin, urinatetralin, lintetralin, isolintetralin, heliobuphthalmin lactone, dextrobursehernin, urinaligran, virgatusin, 4-oxopinoresinol, evofolin B, neonirtetralin, 7′-hydroxy-3′,4′,5,9,9′-pentamethoxy-3,4-methylenedioxy lignin, repandinin A, repandinin B, furosin, geraniin, repandusinic acid A, mallotinin, acetonylgeraniin D, corilagin, isostrictinin, chebulagic acid, phyllanthusiin C, phyllanthusiin B, phyllanthusiin U, macatannin B, excoecarianin, hippomanin A, rutin, quercetin 7-methyl ether, quercetin 3-O-β-D-glucoside, quercitin, rhamnocitrin, urinariaflavone, kaempferol, 4′-methoxyscutellarein, trimethyl-3,4-dehydrochebulate, dehydrochebulic acid trimethyl ester, brevifolin, brevifolincarboxylic acid, methyl brevifolincarboxylate, gallic acid, 3,5-dihydroxy-4-methoxybenzoic acid, methylgallate, ethyl gallate, 3, 3′, 4-tri-O-methylellagic acid, ferulic acid, protocatechuic acid, 2,3,4,5,6-pentahydroxybenzoic acid, p-hydroxybenzaldehyde, ellagic acid, syringin, phyllanthusiin E, phyllanthusiin F, β-amyrin, glochidiol, oleanolic acid, cleistanthol, spruceanol, sesquiterpenes, monoterpenes, β-sitosterol, stigmasterol, cucurbic acid, methyl cucurbate, succinic acid, phyllanthurinolactone, triacontanol, lacceroic acid, and 5-hydroxymethyl-2-furaldehyde.

Generally, the gray-green Ye Xia Zhu with many fruits and slightly fragrant is preferred.

According to the Chinese Pharmacopoeia, the medicinal nature of Ye Xia Zhu is relatively cool, with a sweet and bitter taste. It has a certain therapeutic effect on the pathological changes of the liver and lung meridians.

In traditional Chinese medicine, it is often used to drain dampness to relieve jaundice, clear heat and remove toxins, improve eyesight, remove food retention, and treat jaundice due to damp-heat, difficulty and pain in micturition, stranguria, diarrhea, pus and blood stool, tenesmus, furuncles, carbuncles, acute hepatitis, chronic hepatitis, icteric hepatitis, chronic hepatitis B, drug-related liver injury, cholecystitis, hepatocellular carcinoma, type 2 diabetes, arthritis, edema, urinary tract infection, urinary calculi, enteritis, keratitis, acute conjunctivitis, infantile malnutrition, snake bites, and dog bites.


  • Anti-oxidation, enhancing superoxide dismutase, catalase, and glutathione peroxidase activities, inhibiting lipid peroxidation.
  • Reducing acetaminophen or LPS-induced liver injury in mice and protecting the liver [1].
  • Inhibiting a-glucosidase activity and reduces the rate of glucose absorption, thereby inhibiting postprandial hyperglycemia [2].
  • Draining dampness to relieving jaundice, and treating yellowish complexion and xanthoderma caused by the accumulation of damp heat in the liver and gallbladder.
  • Clearing heat and promoting diuresis, treating heat stranguria and urolithic stranguria caused by damp-heat in the urinary bladder.
  • Treating diarrhea, pus and blood stool, and tenesmus caused by the downward flow of damp-heat into the large intestine.
  • Clearing heat and removing toxins, treating carbuncles and sores caused by heat toxins accumulation, snake bites, and dog bites.
  • Improving eyesight and treating redness, swelling, and pain of the eyes caused by wind-heat attacking the upper.
  • Invigorating the spleen, treating infantile malnutrition caused by weakness, excessive consumption of greasy and sweet food, dysfunction of the spleen in transport, or retention of food transforming into heat.
  • Its aqueous extract has antiviral activity against HSV-1 and HSV-2 [3].
  • Its extract inhibits HBV replication and expression in a HBV transient transfection model in vitro [4].
    The ethyl acetate and n-butanol fractions of its methanolic extract have antiviral activity against enterovirus 71 and coxsackievirus A16 in vitro [5].
  • Its chloroform and methanol extracts have anti-Helicobacter pylori activity. The chloroform extract potently inhibits H. pylori adhesion and invasion of gastric epithelial AGS cells, whereas the methanol extract has a moderate effect. The chloroform extract attenuates H. pylori-induced NF-κB activation with subsequent release of IL-8 [6].
  • Its decoction has a certain inhibitory effect on Staphylococcus aureus, Shigella flexneri, hemolytic streptococcus, typhoid bacillus, and Pseudomonas aeruginosa.
  • Its aqueous and dichloromethane extracts against a chloroquine-resistant Plasmodium falciparum strain (W2) in vitro [7]. Its methanolic extract also has potent anti-malarial activity toward chloroquine-sensitive (CQS) strains of P. falciparum [8].
  • Its ethanolic extract has antioxidant and cardioprotective effects against doxorubicin toxicity in H9C2 cardiac myoblasts [9].
  • Its aqueous extract can inhibit the proliferation of Lewis lung cancer cells, human myeloid leukemia HL-60 cells, melanoma MeWo cancer cells, and the metastasis of breast cancer cells MCF-7 cells and lung cancer A549 cells [10].
  • Studies have shown that corilagin attenuates LPS-induced acute lung injury in mice by attenuating pro-inflammatory mediators and oxidative stress [11].
  • Studies have shown that corilagin significantly reduced the serum levels of TC, TG, and LDL-C, increased the HDL-C levels, decreased the intimal thickening in the thoracic aorta, and reduced the formation of foam cells in an HFD-induced rabbit atherosclerosis model. Moreover, corilagin suppressed the proliferation and migration of ox-LDL-induced VSMCs and reduced LOX-1, MyD88, NF-κB, MCP-1, and TNF-α mRNA and protein expression in vivo and in vitro. Corilagin exerts antiatherosclerotic effects in vivo and in vitro [12].


Side Effects

  • At present, there is no literature report that Ye Xia Zhu has toxic effects, and no data is showing that taking it at the prescribed dose can cause serious adverse reactions.

Precautions and Warnings

  • The dosage of Ye Xia Zhu should be controlled at 15-30g.
  • It can be made into decoctions, pills, or mashed for external use.
  • People who are allergic to Ye Xia Zhu should not take it.
  • Patients with weakness due to yang deficiency should not take it.
  • Patients with severe stomach problems should not take it.
  • Women should not take it during periods of menstrual disturbance.
  • Pregnant and breastfeeding women should take it under medical supervision.
  • Children, the elderly, and the infirm should take it under medical supervision.