Acalypha arvensis

scientific name: 
Acalypha arvensis Poepp. & Endl.
Botanical family: 

Botanical description

Annual or perennial plant, up to 50 cm in height, with branches sometimes angling down.  Leaves elongated, ovate, or glandular-punctate, 3 to 7 cm in long.  Flowers, in spikes, 1.5 to 3 cm long, emerging from axillary leaf shoots; capsule 2 mm, pilose.



skin infection:

  leaves, decoction, applied locally1

For skin infections:

Make an decoction, boiling for 5-10 minutes 30 g of fresh leaf in 1 liter of water.  Let sit, and filter.  Wash injury with purified water and soap, and apply the infusion in the form of a wash or a compress to the affected area 3 times a day.

According to published and other information:

Use for skin infections is classified as REC, based on the significant traditional use documented in the TRAMIL surveys, and on available published scientific information.

Do not ingest, due to danger of cyanide poisoning.  If poisoning occurs, seek medical attention.

For topical application, strict hygiene measures should be observed in order to avoid contamination or additional infection.

Should there be a notable worsening of the patient’s condition, or should the skin infection last more than 5 days, seek medical attention.

There is no available information documenting the safety of topical application of the leaf decoction.

The dichloromethane extract of dried aerial parts (5 mg/disk in agar plate), did not showneurotoxic activity againstNeurospora crassa5.

In some plants within this genus, the cyanogenic derivatives in the presence of b-glucosidases provoke acute or chronic hydrocyanic intoxication when administered orally6-7.  Nevertheless, the hydrocyanic acid evaporates during boiling8, as long as this process is carried out in an open container.

There is no available information documenting the safety of use in children or in pregnant or lactating women.

TRAMIL Research9

Preliminary phytochemical screening (leaf)













steroids, terpenoids:



cyanogenic compounds:







No available chemical constituent data for this plant.

There have been reports of the presence of cyanogenic derivatives in this genus (acalyphine), accompanied by a potent b-glucosidase that liberates the hydrogen cyanide found in the leaf at an approximate concentration of 2700 ppm2.

TRAMIL Research9

An aqueous extract of dried leaves in decoction, did not show antimicrobial activity in vitro (1000µg/mL) against Staphylococcus aureus, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Salmonella gallinarum, Escherichia coli, Klebsiella pneumoniae, Candida albicans norMycobacterium smegmatis.

A tincture of 10 g of dried leaves/100 mL of ethanol-water extract (1:1) showed antibacterial activity in vitro against Staphylococcus aureus (30 mL) by disk diffusion assay3.  However, it was inactive against Escherichia coli, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Salmonella enteriditis, Shigella dysenteriae and Candida albicans3.

The aqueous extract from the plant (20 and 40 mg of dry weight/filter paper disk) showed antibacterial activity in vitro against Aeromonas hydrophilla and Bacillus cereus in the agar plate diffusion model4.

The dichloromethane and methanolic extracts of dried aerial parts (5 and 10 mg/disk in agar plate), did not show antifungal effect against Aspergillus fumigatus, A. niger, Cladosporium cladosporioides, Fusarium oxysporum, Microsporum gypseum, Penicillium purpurogenum and Trichophyton mentagrophytes, Candida albicans, Crytococcus neoformans andSaccharomyces cerevisiae5.





1 GIRON L, 1988 Encuesta TRAMIL (Costa atlántica). Centro Mesoamericano de Tecnología CEMAT, Guatemala, Guatemala.

2 DUKE JA, 1992 Handbook of phytochemical constituents of GRAS herbs and other economic plants. Boca Raton, USA: CRC Press.

3 CACERES A, GIRON L, ALVARADO S, TORRES M, 1987 Screening of antimicrobial activity of plants popularly used in Guatemala for the treatment of dermatomucosal diseases. J Ethnopharmacol20(3):223-237.

4 PERUMAL SAMY R, IGNACIMUTHU S, RAJA DP, 1999 Preliminary screening of ethnomedicinal plants from India. J Ethnopharmacol66(2):235-240.

5 FREIXA B, VILA R, VARGAS L, LOZANO N, ADZET T, CANIGUERAL S, 1998 Screening for antifungal activity of nineteen Latin American plants. Phytother Res 12(6): 427-430.

6 POULTON J, KEELER R, TU T, Eds., 1983 Handbook of natural toxins 1. New York, USA: Marcel Dekker.

7 NAHRSTEDT A, 1987 Recent developments in chemistry, distribution and biology of the cyanogenic glycosides. In: Hostettmann K, Lea P, Eds. Biologically Active Natural Products. Oxford, England: Oxford Science Publications:p167-184,213-234.

8 CARRICONDE C, CARRICONDE D, 1987 De Volta às raízes. Impresos (periódicos) del Centro Nordestino de Medicina Popular de Recife, Brasil.

9 SOLIS PN, RODRIGUEZ N, ESPINOSA A, GUPTA MP, 2004 Estudio fitoquímico de algunas plantas TRAMIL con usos en Martinica. Informe TRAMIL. Centro de Investigaciones Farmacognósticas de la Flora Panameña CIFLORPAN, Facultad de Farmacia, Universidad de Panamá, Panamá, Panamá.


The information provided is for educational purposes only for the benefit of the general public and health professionals. It is not intended to take the place of either the written law or regulations. Since some parts of plants could be toxic, might induce side effects, or might have interactions with certain drugs, anyone intending to use them or their products must first consult with a physician or another qualified health care professional. TRAMIL has no responsibility whatsoever towards the user for any decision, action or omission made in relation to the information contained in this Pharmacopoeia.