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Bur Marigold

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

Medically reviewed by Last updated on Feb 7, 2022.

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.(Bartolome 2013, USDA 2016, Yang 2014) 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.(Yang 2014) 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.(Bartolome 2013, Duke 2002, Kohda 2013)


B. pilosa is rich in flavonoids and polyynes. Aliphatics, terpenoids, phenylpropanoids, aromatics, porphyrins, and other chemical compounds have also been identified.(Bartolome 2013, Duke 1992, Silva 2014, Yang 2014) The composition of the leaf essential oil has been described and includes borneol, germacrene, caryophyllene, limonene, and muurolol.(Duke 1992)

Uses and Pharmacology

Anti-inflammatory activity

Animal and in vitro 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.(Fotso 2014, Pozharitskaya 2010, Shen 2015) Older studies report anti-inflammatory properties of B. bipinnata and Bidens campylotheca.(Wang 1997, Redl 1994) In vitro studies report that B. bipinnata and Bidens frondosa flavonoids inhibit inflammatory cytokines.(Abajo 2004, Bo 2012, Le 2015) Other studies report B. pilosa extracts inhibit the release of histamine from mast cells.(Matsumoto 2009)

Antimicrobial and antiviral activity

Animal and in vitro 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, urinary, vaginal, and water-borne diarrhea-causing pathogens.(Adedapo 2011, Chiavari-Frederico 2020, Njume 2016, Silva 2014) In urine and vaginal secretions collected from postmenopausal women, B. pilosa crude extract exhibited high minimum inhibitory concentrations (MICs) ranging from 13 to 26 mg/mL against Staphylococcus aureus, Enterococcus faecalis, and Pseudomonas aeruginosa, respectively, and a MIC over 100 mg/mL against Escherichia coli. Similarly, in samples collected from postmenopausal women with a diagnosis of recurrent urinary tract infection (UTI), respective MICs for the extract against urine coagulase-negative Staphylococcus species, E. coli, and Proteus mirabilis were 38, 59, and 167 mg/mL, while those against vaginal coagulase-negative and -positive staph, P. mirabilis, and E. coli were 38, 78, 94, and 103 mg/mL. More than 50% of strains from women with recurrent UTIs were multidrug resistant.(Chiavari-Frederico 2020) However, activity of the majority of B. pilosa leaf extracts against water-borne diarrhea-causing organisms exhibited much lower MICs that were less than 1 mg/mL for Shigella boydii, Salmonella typhimurium, Vibrio parahaemolyticus, E. coli, and Klebsiella pneumoniae. Importantly, the extracts were also found to be highly active against probiotic strains with all solvent-extract samples demonstrating MICs less than 1 mg/mL.(Shandukani 2018)

Data regarding activity against fungal species are limited and equivocal(Bartolome 2013, Khan 2001); however, one study reported that cytopiloyne, a polyacetylenic glucoside from B. pilosa, enhanced macrophage activity against Candida infection in mice.(Chung 2016)

In vitro antiviral activity against herpes simplex and polio virus has also been reported with extracts of several Bidens spp.(Chiang 2003, Visintini Jaime 2013) 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.(Nakama 2012)

Activity against protozoan parasites (including Plasmodium, Toxoplasma gondii, and Eimeria spp.) has been reported, with increased survival and decreased parasitemia demonstrated in animal studies.(Andrade-Neto 2004, Brandão 1997, Chang 2016, Chang 2016, Mota 2019, Oliveira 2004, Yang 2019) In vitro studies have demonstrated activity additionally against Trypanosoma brucei and Leishmania species with the crude extract showing strong and moderate activity, respectively.(Ohashi 2018)


Animal and in vitro 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.(Chen 2015, Costa Rde 2008, Huang 2014, Kumari 2009, Nakama 2011, Ong 2008, Shiau 2015, Wu 2004, Wu 2013, Yang 2015)

Cardiovascular activity

Animal and in vitro 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.(Kohda 2013) 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.(Dimo 2003, Dimo 2001, Dimo 2002, Nguelefack 2005)


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.(Chang 2007, Chiang 2004, Chiang 2007, Chien 2009) 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.(Hsu 2009) 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.(Orhan 2016) 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.(Liang 2016)

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.(Yang 2014) 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.(Lai 2015)

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.(Alarcón de la Lastra 1994, Alarcón de la Lastra 1997, Alvarez 1999, Horiuchi 2010, Martín Calero 1996, Tan 2000) A relaxant effect on vascular smooth muscle and contractile tissues of the duodenum has also been documented in rodent studies.(Atta 2005, Frida 2007) In a rat model of colitis, administration of B. pilosa methanolic extract significantly improved macroscopic and histologic colonic damage, colonic oxidative stress markers (ie, MDA, glutathione, myeloperoxidase, leukocyte infiltration), as well as colonic TNF-alpha levels.(Abiodun 2020)


Animal data

Learning and memory was improved in aged rats administered an ethanol extract of B. pilosa compared to control aged rats, with no significant difference in memory improvement compared to control young rats.(Wang 2019)

In a mouse model of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, oral administration of B. pilosa var. radiata grown on the Miyako Islands without agricultural chemicals (Musashino Miyako BP) significantly improved survival time (by 13.5 days; P=0.004) and motor performance (P<0.001) compared to untreated controls. The mechanism involved a suppression of spinal motor neuron degeneration.(Kosuge 2020)

Other uses

Antioxidant activity of Bidens spp. extracts has been reported,(Abajo 2004, Chiang 2004, Lee 2013, Shandukani 2018, Yang 2006) and may account for the hepatoprotective(Abdel-Ghany 2016, Chin 1996, Kviecinski 2016, Pegoraro 2021, Yuan 2008, Yuan 2008) and nephroprotective effects demonstrated in rodent studies. The latter were observed for an aqueous preparation given as either a tea or topical bath.(Pegoraro 2021)

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.(Dieamant 2015) Hair growth activity was also demonstrated with an ethyl acetate extract of B. pilosa and one of its fractions with mechanisms likely related to stimulation of dermal proliferative cells.(Hughes 2020)


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.(Frida 2007)


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.(Lai 2015) 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.(Bartolome 2013, Yang 2014)

Index Terms

  • Bidens comosa
  • Bidens connate



This information relates to an herbal, vitamin, mineral or other dietary supplement. This product has not been reviewed by the FDA to determine whether it is safe or effective and is not subject to the quality standards and safety information collection standards that are applicable to most prescription drugs. This information should not be used to decide whether or not to take this product. This information does not endorse this product as safe, effective, or approved for treating any patient or health condition. This is only a brief summary of general information about this product. It does NOT include all information about the possible uses, directions, warnings, precautions, interactions, adverse effects, or risks that may apply to this product. This information is not specific medical advice and does not replace information you receive from your health care provider. You should talk with your health care provider for complete information about the risks and benefits of using this product.

This product may adversely interact with certain health and medical conditions, other prescription and over-the-counter drugs, foods, or other dietary supplements. This product may be unsafe when used before surgery or other medical procedures. It is important to fully inform your doctor about the herbal, vitamins, mineral or any other supplements you are taking before any kind of surgery or medical procedure. With the exception of certain products that are generally recognized as safe in normal quantities, including use of folic acid and prenatal vitamins during pregnancy, this product has not been sufficiently studied to determine whether it is safe to use during pregnancy or nursing or by persons younger than 2 years of age.

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