I. Egwuatu Chinyelu
properties of different parts of the plant, Hyptis suaveolens.
researchers on the use of different parts of the plant so as to authenticate the claims by
traditional healers in some parts of the world.
Results: Hyptis suaveolens has been shown to contain vital nutrients: proteins,
carbohydrates, fats, fibre and the phytochemicals: alkaloids, tannins, saponins,
flavonoids, and terpenoids which are responsible for its therapeutic use.
Conclusion: There is need to isolate and identify compounds from the plant which
would serve as food supplements and also used to improve already existing drugs and
formulate new ones.
Plants have always served as food and medicine to man since the beginning of life. Their
nutritional and medicinal potentials have been attributed to the phytochemicals and other
chemical constituents contained in them. Despite their importance, it has been reported that
out of the 250,000 to 500,000 species of existing plants on earth, only about 300 species are
utilized in the food, pharmaceutical, cosmetics and perfume industries . Traditionally used
medicinal plants produce a variety of compounds of known therapeutic properties. Hyptis
suaveolens is one of the important traditional medicinal plant belonging to family lamiaceae
vilayati tulsi in hindi; konda thulasi in Telugu; bhustrena in Sanskrit; daddoya-ta-daji in
Hausa; efiri in Yoruba; nchuanwu in Ibo; and tanmotswangi-eba in Nupe. Hyptis suaveolens
is a very common plant found along roadsides and farmsteads in different parts of the world
mainly in the tropics and subtropics. It is found in French Guiana, Brazil, Venezuela,
Ecuador in Southern America; United States in North America; Bangladesh, China and India
in Asia; Benin, Kenya, Nigeria, Sudan, and Cameroon in Africa. Originally native to tropical
America, Hyptis suaveolens is considered a weed worldwide . The stems of the plant are
four-angled, velvety, having long hairs and gland dots. The leaves are opposite and ovate,
about 2.5 to 10cm long. Leaves are often purple tinged particularly on the margin. The
flowers are auxiliary with long stalk, hairy calyx and about 4mm long. They are often dark
purple and glandular. The corolla is two-lipped, mauve with dark purple lines at the base of
the broad two-lobed upper lip. The seeds are flat and mucilaginous [3,4]. Different parts of
the plant have been used by traditional healers in the treatment of various ailments and
disease conditions. In the northern part of Nigeria, a decoction of the leaves is used for
treating boils, eczema and diabetes mellitus [4,5]. Crushed leaves are applied on the
forehead to treat headaches. Infusion made from the leaves and the inflorescence is used as
stimulant, carminative, diuretic and antipyretic . A decoction of the whole plant is also
used to alleviate diarrhoea and various kidney ailments.
Hyptis suaveolens has been reported to contain basic food nutrients: protein, carbohydrates,
fats and fibre and phytonutrients such as alkaloids, tannins, saponins, flavonoids and
terpenoids [7,8]. The plant is also rich in some mineral elements like potassium (K), calcium
(Ca), magnesium (Mg), nitrogen (N), sodium (Na) and phosphorus (P).
Due to the presence of these chemical substances, the plant has been reported to possess
cancerous, wound-healing and insecticidal properties. So far, there has not been any review
from literature on the efficacy of this plant in all dimensions. Its use as food and medicine
motivated us to write a comprehensive review on the nutritional and medicinal attributes of
this plant that most people may regard as weed.
Studies on the proximate analysis of Hyptis suaveolens leaves conducted by many
protein (10.00-14.22)% carbohydrate(66.61-75.05)%, fat(2.00-4.46)%, and fibre (5.15-
9.04)% [8,9,10] as presented in Tables 1 and 2. The high content of carbohydrate show that
it is a good source of energy and can help in the oxidation of fats. A diet rich in fibre is
desirable because fibre has a physiological effect on the gastrointestinal function. It also has
a biochemical effect on the absorption and re-absorption of bile acids and consequently the
absorption of dietary fats and cholesterol . Thus it can serve as source of nutritional
dietary supplements. Analysis of the protein composition of the seeds showed the presence
of globulins (39%), glutelins (36%), albumins (24%) and prolamins (1%). The content of
branched amino acids is higher in Hyptis suaveolens than in maize and other cereals .
Thus, it could provide a good supply of almost all the essential amino acids for different age
groups. This medicinal plant therefore, has great potential for benefitting people in countries
suffering from poverty and malnutrition. Though there has not been any report on the
extensive use of this plant as food, it’s use in Asian food recipes as an appetizer due to the
presence of its essential oil has been reported [9,11]. It therefore serves as an edible
aromatic flavouring for food.
Table 1. Proximate analysis of leaves of Hyptis suaveolens from different localities
of Chidambaram(C), Nagapattinam(N) and Tanjore(T) 
Leaves and seeds of Hyptis suaveolens have been shown to contain mineral elements
which are very important in human nutrition. These minerals which include calcium,
potassium, magnesium, nitrogen, and sodium, are required for repair of worn out cells,
strong bones and teeth in humans, building of red blood cells and for body mechanisms. The
presence of these minerals shows that the plant can be used as supplement in diet for
calcium and potassium . Also, Hyptis suaveolens has been shown to contain other metals
like zinc, copper and iron. Zinc plays a vital role in growth, aids the catalytic and regulatory
action of more than 300 enzymes and helps to maintain a healthy immune system. Copper
plays an important role in a wide range of physiological processes in the body which include
iron utilization, elimination of free radicals, development of bone, and production of the skin
and hair pigment called melanin . Iron is used at the active site of many redox enzymes
associated with cellular respiration, oxidation and reduction in plants and animals, and also
plays a vital role in forming complexes with molecular oxygen in haemoglobin and myoglobin
The seed oil of Hyptis suaveolens is liquid at room temperature and has moisture content
and yield of 7.93% and 17.44% respectively. The low moisture content shows that the oil can
be stored for a long time. The physicochemical properties of the seed oil shown in Table
3 showed acid value of 3.3mgKOH/g which falls within the acid value of 0.6 and
10mgKOH/g for virgin and non-virgin edible oil and fats  nearest to other conventional
oils that are used for domestic and commercial purposes. The iodine value of 115.8 fell
within the iodine value for non-drying liquid oils (80-120). This value is very close to that
reported for mustard (108) and cotton seed oil (108) . The saponification value and that
of the unsaponifiable matter shows that it has less impurity.
Studies conducted on the fatty acid profile of the seeds, presented in Tables 4 and 5
linoleic acid (76.08%), and absence of linolenic, palmitolic, and myristic acids . The
polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA) found in the oil could help reduce “bad” cholesterol,
thereby reducing the risk of atherosclerosis and other heart diseases.
State(at room temperature)
Refractive index(at 40
Specific gravity(at 25
Table 4. Fatty acid profile of Hyptis suaveolens seeds 
Palmitic acid (C16:0)
Stearic acid (C18:0)
Myristic acid (C14:0)
Saturated fatty acids
Monounsaturated fatty acids
Polyunsaturated fatty acids
Extracts of various parts of Hyptis suaveolens have been obtained with solvents like
petroleum ether, chloroform, methanol, ethanol, n-hexane, and water using soxhlet
extraction, cold maceration, and steam distillation methods [1,2,8,10] and subjected to
phytochemical screening using standard methods [15,16,17,18]. Results obtained from
various studies revealed that the phytochemicals: alkaloids, flavonoids, terpenoids, tannins,
were always present in the extracts of all parts of the plant, while saponins were present in
some extracts and absent from others. The phytochemical tests of the leaves, stems, and
root of Hyptis suaveolens carried out by some researchers revealed that saponins were
present in the leaves (6.10±0.42%) and stems (10.50±0.79%) of the plant [2,19], but were
absent in the root . Leaves had alkaloids(2.80±0.28%), flavonoids(1.90±0.14%),and
tannins(5.50±0.074%) while stems had alkaloids(1.60±0.00%), flavonoids(0.30±0.14%), and
tannins(0.23±0.07%). The presence of these phytochemicals has been attributed to the
bioactive principles responsible for ethno pharmacological activities of most medicinal plants
Essential oils obtained by hydro distillation from Hyptis suaveolens have been investigated
bicyclogermacrene, beta-phellandrene, 1, 8-cineole were the major constituents, others
including eugenol, beta-caryophyllene, beta-pinene, terpinolene, and 4-terpinol, were also
present as shown in Table 6, [11,23,24,25,26,27,28,29,30].
2.3 Disease Prevention and Treatment
2.3.1 Antioxidant activity
The antioxidant activity of the methanol extract of the leaves of Hyptis suaveolens has been
evaluated in vitro by 1,1-diphenyl-2-picrylhydrazyl (DPPH) radical scavenging activity using
gallic acid; a potent free radical scavenger and butylated hydroxyanisole (BHA); a known
antioxidant, as reference standards . The antioxidant activity was expressed as IC
value was calculated using log dose inhibition curve. Lower absorbance of the
reaction mixture indicated higher free radical activity. The percent DPPH scavenging effect
was calculated using the equation:
DPPH scavenging effect (%) = 100 x A
was the absorbance of the control reaction and A
was the absorbance in
Result obtained from their research Table 7 showed that Hyptis suaveolens exhibited strong
value of 14.04µgmL
. This value was
comparable to those obtained for gallic acid and BHA (0.4 and 1.15µgmL
), thus proving
extract could be attributed to the presence of flavonoids which are known to be potent
Also, the antioxidant activity of Hyptis suaveolens oil has been determined by means of the
acid) free radical decolourization assay . The antioxidant activity of Hyptis suaveolens oil
determined by the DPPH method expressed as IC
was 3.75mgmL-1 whereas the TEAC
change at 750nm in a reaction mixture containing an oil sample with that containing Trolox)
determined by the ABTS assay was 65.02mM/mg. The results indicated that Hyptis
suaveolens oil possesses antioxidant activity.
Table 6. Composition of Hyptis suaveolens oil 
Table 7. DPPH free radical scavenging activity of methanol extracts of Hyptis
against certain fungi such as Aspergillus niger, Candida albicans, Rhozophus stolonifera,
bioactive agents of the plant were more effective in inhibiting growth of isolates than
griseofulvin, an antifungal drug. Antibacterial activity of this plant against certain bacterial
strains such as Klebsiella pneumoniae, Staphylococcus aureus, Escherichia coli,
been studied [2,32]. Results from these researches Table 8 indicated that whole plant
extracts gave the highest antimicrobial activity in comparison with the stems and roots in
chloroform and methanol extracts.
2.3.3 Antidiarrhoeal activity
Diarrhoea is one of the main causes of high mortality rate in developing countries where
over five million children under the age of five die annually from severe diarrhoeal diseases.
Three to five billion cases occur annually , and approximately five million deaths are
accountable to diarrhoea .
It is most prevalent in crowdy living conditions coupled with poor hygiene; a major contributor
therefore result in death if treatment is not given . Studies on the antidiarrhoeal activity of
ethanol extract of Hyptis suaveolens leaves against an experimental model of castor oil
induced diarrhoea in mice has been reported  using method described by . Oral
administration of the extract (250 and 500) mg/Kg showed significant (P=.010) and dose
dependent inhibitory activity against castor oil induced diarrhoea. There was significant delay
of onset of diarrhoea on administration of the plant extract. The antidiarrhoeal activity of the
plant extract at higher dose (500mg/Kg) was comparable to that of the antimotility drug,
loperamide at a dose of 50mg/Kg. Further studies are necessary to isolate and characterize
the active principles responsible for the antidiarrhoeal effect and to understand its
mechanisms of action.
2.3.4 Anthelmintic activity
An in vitro anthelmintic activity of whole plant extracts of Hyptis suaveolens has been
investigated . In their research, ethanol and aqueous extracts of the plant were
investigated for activity against the Indian adult earthworm; Pheretima posthuma and
assay was carried out using the method described by , . Different concentrations
(25, 50, and 100mg/ml) of each extract were studied in activity, based on time of paralysis
and time of death of the worm as presented in Table 9. Time for paralysis was noted when
no movement of any sort could be observed except when the worms were shaken vigorously
and death was concluded when the worms lost their motility followed with the fading away of
their body colours. Extracts of Hyptis suaveolens were found to exhibit significant
anthelmintic activity at highest concentration of 100mg/ml.
Studies on the evaluation of antidiabetic activity of the aerial parts of Hyptis suaveolens have
been reported [4,40]. Aqueous, methanol and ethanol extracts of the plant have been used
to monitor the effect on alloxan-induced diabetic rats. The blood glucose concentration was
assayed at time intervals, using chlorpropamide as standard as presented in Table 10.
Results showed that there was significant (P=.05) reduction in the blood glucose
concentration indicating that Hyptis suaveolens possesses antidiabetic activity, which
might be related to the presence of tannins, terpenoids and flavonoids. Acute toxicity studies
on the methanol extract of the plant also indicated that it can be considered as relatively safe
, having obtained an LD
of 2154.1mg/Kg body weight in rats.
The anti-inflammatory activity of two diterpenes, suaveolol and methyl suaveolate isolated
from leaves of Hyptis suaveolens by column chromatography and repeated preparative thin
layer chromatography has been reported . The anti-inflammatory activity of the
compounds was tested as inhibition of croton oil-induced dermatitis of mouse ear. Doses
ranging from 0.1 to 1µmol/cm
were administered in comparison to those of the non-steroidal
percentage of the oedema reduction in mice treated with the tested substances compared to
control mice. ID
(dose giving 50% oedema inhibition) values of the tested compounds were
showed that suaveolol (ID50=0.17µmol/cm
) and methyl suaveolate (ID
were only two to three times less active than indomethacin (ID50=0.26µmol/cm
). The anti-
inflammatory properties of the diterpenes were considered to be contributors to the
antiphlogistic activity of extracts of Hyptis suaveolens, thus confirming the use of Hyptis
The wound healing activity of Hyptis suaveolens has been attributed to the presence of
flavonoids and triterpenoids . These compounds possess astringent and antimicrobial
properties which may be responsible for wound contraction and increased rate of
P=time taken for paralysis (min); D=time taken for death of worms (min).
Table 10. Effect of methanol extract of Hyptis suaveolens leaves on blood glucose
level of alloxan-induced diabetic rats 
Botanical insecticides have long been touted as alternatives to synthetic chemical
insecticides for pest management because they pose little threat to the environment and
human health . Hyptis suaveolens has been reported to be effective against infestation
by the pink stalk borer, Sesamia calamistis on maize; it has been used for control of
Trogoderma granarium (Coleoptera: Dermestidae) in stored groundnut [43,44]. Other reports
have shown that methanolic extracts of the plant were effective in the biological control of
crops. The essential oil has also been reported to be effective against the adult granary
weevil Sitophilus granaries . A protease inhibitor isolated from the seeds of Hyptis
suaveolens has been reported to have a high activity against the intestinal trypsin-like
proteases from different insect pests, particularly against the insect Prostephanus truncatus,
a most important insect pest of maize. Research conducted on its use for protection against
mosquito bites has shown that it is as effective as DEET (N, N-dimethyl-3-methyl
benzamide), one of the well-known arthropod repellents [45,46]. The ability of Hyptis
suaveolens to act as an effective insecticide or pesticide has been attributed to its essential
oils. However, it is advised that in cases where it has been employed by method of mixed
cropping, caution should be applied since Hyptis suaveolens is a fairly prolific plant and may
compete with crops for space, water and nutrients.
Though numerous studies have been conducted on different parts of Hyptis suaveolens,
there is still need to isolate and identify new compounds responsible for its pharmacological
properties. Studies should also be extended to the edibility of the plant since research has
shown that it is rich in vital nutrients that are needed for growth and proper functioning of the
Authors have declared that no competing interests exist.
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