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Bur Marigold

Scientific Name(s): Bidens pilosa, Bidens tripartita L.
Common Name(s): 3-lobe beggar ticks, Bastard agrimony, Bastard hemp, Beggarticks, Bur (or burr) marigold, Hairy beggar-ticks, Kosendangusa, Lumb, Needle grass, Spanish needles, Sticktights, Water agrimony, Water hemp

Medically reviewed by Last updated on Mar 22, 2021.

Clinical Overview


Several Bidens spp. have been used extensively in traditional medicine. Bur marigold may possess anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, cardiovascular, and cytotoxic activity; however, clinical studies are lacking to support recommendations for use. A B. pilosa extract has been investigated for use in the management of diabetes.


Clinical studies are lacking to provide dosing recommendations.


Contraindications have not been identified.


Avoid use. Information regarding safety and efficacy during pregnancy and lactation is lacking.


None well documented.

Adverse Reactions

Clinical data regarding adverse effects of bur marigold are lacking; however, a small clinical study reported no adverse effects following administration of a B. pilosa formulation for 90 days. Cross-sensitivity to other members of the Asteraceae family may exist.


Clinical data are limited, especially regarding long-term toxicity.

Scientific Family

  • Asteraceae (daisy)


Bur (or burr) marigold is a common name associated with many species of the Bidens genus. Among the more than 200 known Bidens spp., B. pilosa is a representative perennial herb believed to have originated in South America and widely distributed across temperate and tropical regions. It grows upright to an average height of 60 cm to a maximum of 150 cm. The plant prefers full sun and moderately dry soil, but can grow in arid and barren land at low to high elevations. The green opposite leaves are either glabrous or hairy, and are serrate, lobed, or dissected. The plant produces white or yellow flowers and long, narrow, ribbed black seeds. All parts of B. pilosa (the whole plant, aerial parts [leaves, flowers, seeds, stem], and/or roots] have traditionally been used in folk medicine.1, 2, 3 Synonyms of B. tripartita include Bidens comosa and Bidens connate.


Traditional widespread use of B. pilosa has been recorded in the Americas, Africa, Asia, and Oceania.3 Traditional uses include the treatment of high blood pressure and vascular disease, conjunctivitis, cough, diabetes, diarrhea, diuresis, edema, dysmenorrhea, dysentery, fever, gastritis, helminthiasis, hepatitis, inflammation, menstrual irregularities, renal disorders, rheumatism, sore throat, and toothache.2, 4, 5


B. pilosa is rich in flavonoids and polyynes. Aliphatics, terpenoids, phenylpropanoids, aromatics, porphyrins, and other chemical compounds have also been identified.2, 3, 6, 7 The composition of the leaf essential oil has been described and includes borneol, germacrene, caryophyllene, limonene, and muurolol.6

Uses and Pharmacology

Anti-inflammatory activity

In vitro and animal data

Studies using rodent models of induced pain showed antinociceptive properties of extracts of B. pilosa, Bidens bipinnata, and B. tripartita. Similarly, anti-inflammatory activity was demonstrated in models of acute inflammation and suggested to be due to the presence of flavonoids.8, 9, 10 Older studies report anti-inflammatory properties of B. bipinnata and Bidens campylotheca.11, 12 In vitro studies report that B. bipinnata and Bidens frondosa flavonoids inhibit inflammatory cytokines.13, 14, 15 Other studies report B. pilosa extracts inhibit the release of histamine from mast cells.16

Clinical data

Research reveals no clinical data regarding the use of bur marigold as an anti-inflammatory agent.

Antimicrobial activity

In vitro and animal data

The Bidens genus is associated with antimicrobial activity. Screening studies with B. pilosa extracts and essential oils have demonstrated widespread activity against various microbes, including oral pathogens.7, 17, 18 Data regarding activity against fungal species are limited and equivocal2, 19; however, one study reported that cytopiloyne, a polyacetylenic glucoside from B. pilosa, enhanced macrophage activity against Candida infection in mice.20

In vitro antiviral activity against herpes simplex and polio virus has also been reported with extracts of several Bidens spp.21, 22 In one study, treatment with an oral B. pilosa extract increased survival and decreased development of skin infections in mice infected with herpes simplex virus.23

Activity against protozoan parasites (including Plasmodium and Eimeria spp.) has been reported, with increased survival and decreased parasitemia demonstrated in animal studies.24, 25, 26, 27, 28

Clinical data

Research reveals no clinical data regarding the use of bur marigold as an antimicrobial agent.


In vitro and animal data

Limited animal and multiple in vitro studies demonstrate potential cytotoxic activity of extracts of B. pilosa and other Bidens spp., with some studies suggesting activity related to polyyne content. Human cancer cell lines, including colon, oral, liver, breast, cervical, and leukemia have been studied.29, 30, 31, 32, 33, 34, 35, 36, 37, 38

Clinical data

Research reveals no clinical data regarding cytotoxic activity of bur marigold.

Cardiovascular activity

In vitro and animal data

In an in vitro study evaluating the effects of B. pilosa extracts on endothelial cells, B. pilosa inhibited reactive oxygen species production and enhanced nitric oxide production, suggesting benefit in maintaining vascular homeostasis.5 In a series of studies in rats, B. pilosa extract exerted a hypotensive effect; researchers suggested that in addition to vasodilatory actions, B. pilosa may possess smooth muscle relaxant properties, possibly resulting from its calcium antagonist action and beta receptor stimulation.39, 40, 41, 42

Clinical data

Research reveals no clinical data regarding cardiovascular activity of bur marigold.


Animal data

In a series of experimental studies in mice, the butanol fraction of a B. pilosa extract prevented the development of diabetes in nonobese diabetic mice models; researchers suggested that T-cell modulation by the chemical constituent cytopiloyne was involved.43, 44, 45, 46 Further study demonstrated that B. pilosa extract improved glucose tolerance, decreased glycosolated hemoglobin (HbA1C) levels, and protected islet structure in mice, possibly via stimulation of insulin secretion.47 In a study to identify and evaluate the subextracts of B. tripartita, ethyl acetate and n-butanol subextracts had the greatest antihyperglycemic effects in normal and diabetic rats; ethyl acetate subextracts had higher levels of phenol, chlorogenic acid, and luteolin.48 Another study evaluated the antiobesity effect of B. pilosa and verified that B. pilosa effectively reduced fat content, adipocyte size, and body weight in rodents.49

Clinical data

B. pilosa has traditionally been used as an antidiabetic herb in the Americas, Africa, and Asia; however, clinical studies are lacking to support this use.3 In a small pilot study, a B. pilosa extract reduced the level of fasting blood glucose and HbA1C in men with hyperglycemia, but it increased fasting serum insulin in healthy patients over 90 days.50

GI effects

Animal data

The antiulcerogenic activity of bur marigold extracts has been studied in rodents, with equivocal findings. While increased GI mucous production was demonstrated in some experiments, a protective effect on induced gastric lesions was demonstrated in most reported studies.51, 52, 53, 54, 55, 56

Clinical data

Research reveals no clinical data regarding use of bur marigold for treatment of gastric ulcer.

Other uses

Antioxidant activity of Bidens spp. extracts has been reported,15, 43, 57, 58 and may account for the hepatoprotective effects demonstrated in rodent studies.59, 60, 61, 62, 63

One in vitro study demonstrated a protective effect of B. pilosa extract on collagen and elastin degradation that was closely related to an increase in the expression of growth factors.64

A relaxant effect on vascular smooth muscle and contractile tissues of the duodenum has been documented in rodent studies.65, 66


Clinical studies are lacking to provide dosing recommendations.

Pregnancy / Lactation

Avoid use. Information regarding safety and efficacy during pregnancy and lactation is lacking. B. pilosa leaf extract has traditionally been used to enhance myometrial contractile activity during labor, and in vitro studies report estrogenic-like and oxytocic-like activities on rodent uterine muscle tissue.66


None well documented.

Adverse Reactions

Clinical data regarding adverse effects of bur marigold are lacking; however, a small clinical study reported no adverse effects following administration of a B. pilosa formulation for 90 days.50 Cross-sensitivity to other members of the Asteraceae family may exist.


Animal studies suggest that short-term consumption of B. pilosa aqueous extract is safe; daily doses of up to 1 g/kg body weight for 28 days in rats did not produce adverse effects. Clinical data in humans are limited, especially regarding long-term toxicity.2, 3

Index Terms

  • Bidens comosa
  • Bidens connate


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