Viral Hepatitis and Phyllanthus
Phyllanthus amarus is the most studied species in the genus Phyllanthus genus of tropical plants. These plants have a long history of use in Ayurvedic medicine, including for the treatment of hepatitis.
Effect of Phyllanthus on Viral Hepatitis
Phyllanthus amarus may help treat chronic hepatitis B, and possibly acute hepatitis as well.
Research Evidence on Phyllanthus
P. amarus has undergone considerable evaluation as a as a treatment for chronic hepatitis B, and a bit of study for acute hepatitis. Based on the results of these studies, the current scientific consensus is that the herb is not helpful for hepatitis.
One study clearly found benefits. In this 30-day double-blind, placebo-controlled trial of 60 people with chronic hepatitis B, treatment with phyllanthus (200 mg 3 times daily) dramatically increased the odds of full recovery.2 In the treated group, almost 60% were hepatitis B–negative at follow-up, as compared to only 4% in the placebo group. (These results are considered unreliable because of the high drop-out rate in the placebo group.)3
Another double-blind, placebo-controlled trial enrolled 57 people with acute hepatitis B to see whether treatment with P. amarus (300 mg 3 times daily for 1 week) could improve speed of recovery. 4 The results showed no benefit. However, because acute hepatitis B usually lasts a month or more, the duration of treatment in this study was oddly short.
One highly preliminary study suggested that P. urinaria, a related species, might be more effective against hepatitis than other species of phyllanthus.5 However, a subsequent double-blind, placebo-controlled study failed to find benefit.6
How to Use Phyllanthus
The usual dose of P. amarus used in studies is 600 to 900 mg daily.
Types of Professionals That Would Be Involved with This Treatment
Ayurvedic practitioners support their patients with a combination of herbs, lifestyle modifications (including diet), and a variety of other methods. In the United States, there is no widely accepted licensure for the practice of Ayurvedic medicine. Graduates of schools such as the following are generally regarded as well-qualified: The Ayurvedic Institute, California College of Ayurveda, and the American Institute of Vedic Studies.
Side Effects and Warnings
There are no indications that P. amarus is toxic when used at recommended doses, but comprehensive safety studies have not been performed. ^ In double-blind studies, significant side effects have not been reported. Safety in pregnant or nursing women, or individuals with severe liver or kidney disease, has not been established.
- Calixto JB, Santos AR, Cechinel Filho V, Yunes RA. A review of the plants of the genus Phyllanthus: their chemistry, pharmacology, and therapeutic potential. Med Res Rev. 18(4):225-58.
- Thyagarajan SP, Subramanian S, Thirunalasundar T, et al. Effect of Phyllanthus amarus on chronic carriers of hepatitis B virus. Lancet. 1988;2:764–766.
- Berk L, de Man RA, Schalm SW, et al. Beneficial effects of Phyllanthus amarus for chronic hepatitis B, not confirmed. J Hepatol. 1991;12:405–406.
- Narendranathan M, Remla A, Mini PC, Satheesh P. A trial of Phyllanthus amarus in acute viral hepatitis. Trop Gastroenterol. 20(4):164-6.
- Wang M, Cheng H, Li Y, et al. Herbs of the genus phyllanthus in the treatment of chronic hepatitis B: observation with three preparations from different geographic sites. J Lab Clin Med. 1995;126:350–352.
- Chan HL, Sung JJ, Fong WF, Chim AM, Yung PP, Hui AY, Fung KP, Leung PC. Double-blinded placebo-controlled study of Phyllanthus urinaris for the treatment of chronic hepatitis B. Aliment Pharmacol Ther. 18(3):339-45.