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Guinea Hen Weed

Scientific Name(s): Petiveria alliaceae
Common Name(s): Anamu, Apacin, Guine, Guinea hen weed, Mucura, Tipi

Medically reviewed by Last updated on Dec 1, 2021.

Clinical Overview


P. alliaceae has a long history of use in traditional and herbal medicine. However, clinical data are lacking to support use for any therapeutic use.


Clinical data are lacking to provide dosing recommendations.


Data are limited. Use during pregnancy can stimulate contractions of the uterus, potentially resulting in miscarriage. Caution is advised in individuals with blood disorders and in those with hypoglycemia and diabetes.


Avoid use. Information regarding safety and efficacy of P. alliaceae in pregnancy and lactation is lacking. Methanol extracts of anamu can cause uterine contractions, which can lead to miscarriage.


None well documented.

Adverse Reactions

Potential adverse reactions of P. alliaceae are unknown; no adverse reactions have been reported.


No data.

Scientific Family

  • Phytolaccaceae (pokeweed)


P. alliaceae is a perennial herb or shrub native to tropical regions of Central and South America, sub-Saharan Africa, and the Caribbean islands. The plant grows 5 cm to 1.5 m in height.(Duarte 2005, Luz 2016, Raintree 2013) The roots are fusiform, the stem is straight and rigid, and the branches are slender with longitudinal stripes. The simple leaves have an alternating phyllotaxy of elliptic and acuminate shape and an acute apex and base with a slightly wavy margin 7 to 12 cm in length and 3 to 6 cm in width.(Duarte 2005) P. alliaceae flowers are white, sessile, and bisexual with spikes or inflorescences. The cylindrical, achene-type fruits have longitudinal stripes and similar seed dimensions. The roots and leaves have a strong, garlic-like odor that taints the milk and meat of animals that graze on it.(Luz 2016)


Anamu has a long history of use in herbal medicine. In Brazil, the plant has been used in religious ceremonies for centuries. In Brazilian herbal medicine, P. alliaceae is considered an antispasmodic, diuretic, menstrual promoter, stimulant, and sweat promoter. Herbalists and natural health practitioners in Brazil use anamu to treat edema, arthritis, malaria, rheumatism, and poor memory, and as a topical analgesic and anti-inflammatory for skin conditions. Throughout Central America, anamu has been used to relieve birthing pains and facilitate easy childbirth, as well as to induce abortion. In Guatemalan herbal medicine, the plant is called apacin; a leaf decoction is taken internally for digestive conditions, flatulence, and fever and also used externally as an analgesic for muscular pain and skin diseases. Anamu is commonly used in South and Central America as a natural remedy to treat colds, cough, influenza, respiratory and pulmonary infections, and cancer, and to support the immune system. In Cuba, herbalists decoct the whole plant and use it to treat cancer and diabetes, and as an anti-inflammatory and abortifacient.(Luz 2016, Raintree 2013)


The main compounds from P. alliaceae include lipids, flavonoids, and triterpenes. Sulphur compounds known as azufre derivatives are unique to this species.(Luz 2016) Dibenzyl trisulphide, originally thought to be a synthetic compound, was revealed to be a natural product when isolated as a viscous and pungent-smelling oil from Petiveria.(Kim 2006) Several flavonoids (eg, engeletin, astilbin, myricitrin) have been isolated. P. alliaceae root extract contains a large amount of coumarins.(Luz 2016, Suarez 1992) Alkaloids (eg, trans-N-methyl-4-methoxyproline, allantoin) have been found in the stem and leaves of the plant.(De Sousa 1990) The triterpenes isoarborinol and isoarborinol acetate have been isolated from the leaves, and babinervic acid and 3-epiilexgenin A have been isolated from the aerial parts of the plant.(Luz 2016) The root essential oil contains benzaldehyde, dibenzyl disulphide, trans-stilbene, and cinnamaldehyde.(Kim 2006)

Uses and Pharmacology

Ethnobotanical studies show that various parts of the plant have been used therapeutically for CNS, diuretic, antispasmodic, emmenagogic, analgesic, anti-inflammatory, antileukemic, antirheumatic, anthelmintic, antimicrobial, and depurative purposes.(Kim 2006, Luz 2016) Due to its activity on the CNS, P. alliaceae has been used as an anticonvulsant, anxiolytic, anaesthetic, and sedative.(Luz 2016)

Analgesic activity

Animal data

In a study evaluating the antinociceptive effects of P. alliaceae plant extracts in mice, intraperitoneal administration of all tested fractions of P. alliaceae at doses of 100 mg/kg and 200 mg/kg attenuated neurogenic pain induced by chemical stimuli with acetic acid 0.6% (10 mL/kg).(Gomes 2005) Myricitrin, a flavonoid glycoside found in P. alliaceae, is reported to have antioxidant, analgesic, anti-inflammatory, and antinociceptive properties.(Luz 2016)

In analgesia experiments, 3 groups of rats (n=7 per group) were orally administered P. alliaceae extract (31.4 mg/kg body weight), acetylsalicylic acid (100 mg/kg body weight), or agar 1% (control group). Rats were evaluated for ability to support pressure applied to the posterior paw using a Ugo Basile analgesiometer. The analgesia coefficient was calculated for 60, 120, and 180 minutes after treatment. Compared with the prototype drug acetylsalicylic acid, the analgesic effect of the P. alliaceae extract was less potent but more sustained.(Lopes-Martins 2002)

Clinical data

The analgesic effects of P. alliaceae have been evaluated; in a study of patients with hip and knee osteoarthritis, the analgesic effects of tipi tea were not significant compared with a placebo tea.(Ferraz 1991)

Antiamoebic activity

In vitro data

A subfraction of P. alliaceae (isoarborinol) was shown to have dose-dependent antiamoebic activity against Entamoeba histolytica, with a 0.3 mg/mL dose producing 85.2% growth inhibition without toxic effects.(Zavala-Ocampo 2017)

Anticancer activity

Animal and in vitro data

In a critical review, dibenzyl trisulphide, a mitogen-activated protein extracellular regulated kinase 1 and 2 signal transduction molecule, exhibited antiproliferative activity on a wide variety of cell lines. Cytotoxic activity of dibenzyl trisulphide was increased when bound to albumin.(Williams 2007) Cytotoxicity has been shown to be variable for P. alliaceae, depending on the type of extract and the cell line. For example, erythroleukemia, melanoma, and breast adenocarcinoma 4T1 cell lines exhibited IC50 values ranging from 29 to 36 mcg/mL to a hydroalcoholic P. alliaceae extract, while hepatic adenocarcinoma displayed no cytotoxic response to a methanolic extract.(Navarro 2017)

Ex vivo patient data

Primary de novo cells from 26 patients with leukemia (acute myeloid leukemia [AML] and acute lymphoid leukemia [ALL]) were sensitive to treatment with anamu (P. alliaceae) extract; patients were classified as good responders, bad responders, or nonresponders to the cytotoxic activity of the extract. Leukemic cells from some patients with ALL or AML responded better to anamu extract than to methotrexate or idarubicin, respectively. When the extract was combined with chemotherapy, cell response was variable. For the 6 patients in relapse, all were sensitive to ex vivo treatment with anamu extract, and all but 1 response was lost when the extract was combined with chemotherapy.(Ballesteros-Ramirez 2020)

Anticonvulsant activity

Animal data

The anticonvulsant activity of P. alliaceae was evaluated in male Swiss mice administered an aqueous crude extract of P. alliaceae roots (500 mg/kg, 1,000 mg/kg, and 2,000 mg/kg orally), followed 30 minutes later by pentylenetetrazol (75 mg/kg intraperitoneally) or maximal transcorneal electroshock (rectangular pulses of 50 mA) to induce convulsive behavior. Animals pretreated with the high extract doses (1,000 mg/kg and 2,000 mg/kg) showed an increase in convulsive thresholds and decreased induration of convulsions compared with the control group.(de Lima 1991)

Anti-inflammatory effects

Animal data

In a study evaluating the anti-inflammatory effects of P. alliaceae plant extracts in rats with pleurisy, oral administration of a root extract did not reduce the total number of leukocytes at the doses tested. However, the highest dose of extract tested (43.9 mg/kg body weight) reduced numbers of migrating neutrophils, mononuclear cells, and eosinophils; the dose of 31.4 mg/kg body weight also reduced mononuclear cell migration.(Lopes-Martins 2002) A semipurified ethanol extract of P. alliaceae reduced lipopolysaccharide-induced inflammation in mice, with inducible nitric oxide synthase and nuclear factor-kappa beta both being lowered in a dose-dependent manner. The effect of the extract on nitric oxide inhibition was higher than that of the positive control (indomethacin). Reductions were also observed for prostaglandin E2, leukotriene C4, tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF-alpha), interferon-gamma, and interleukin 2 (IL-2), IL-4, IL-6, IL-10, and IL-1 beta.(Gutierrez 2017)

Antioxidant effects

In a study evaluating various activities of common plants used in Costa Rica for traditional medicinal purposes, P. alliaceae had weak antioxidant effects compared with other plants studied.(Navarro 2017)

Anxiogenic/Anxiolytic activity

Animal data

A study evaluated the anxiolytic activity of a lyophilized hydroalcoholic extract of P. alliaceae (aerial parts) in male Wistar rats with acute, stress-induced gastric lesions. After administration of P. alliaceae extracts (200 mg/kg, 400 mg/kg, and 600 mg/kg orally), rats were evaluated using the elevated plus maze test. P. alliaceae extract at a dose of 600 mg/kg increased the percentage of open arm entries on the apparatus. However, it did not alter the percentage of time spent in the open arms or the number of entries to the enclosed arms of the elevated plus maze. Overall, these data indicate that P. alliaceae extract exerts a selective anxiolytic effect, with no effects observed on the spontaneous locomotor activity of the animals.(Audi 2001) In another study, short-term administration of an aqueous crude extract of P. alliaceae roots (500 mg/kg, 1,000 mg/kg, and 2,000 mg/kg orally) reduced the spontaneous locomotor activity of male Swiss mice on an open field test.(de Lima 1991)


Animal data

A methanol leaf extract of P. alliaceae significantly reduced total inflammatory cells and eosinophils in a mouse asthma model. Increases in IL-4, IL-5, IL-13, TNF-alpha, and transforming growth factor-beta observed in controls were reversed with the extract, and the magnitude of anti-inflammatory effects and mucus secretion were similar between P. alliaceae extract and the positive control dexamethasone. Additionally, the antioxidant effects of the extract were similar to the positive control alpha-tocopherol. These results were supported by lung histology.(Rosa 2018)

CNS effects

Animal data

In a study evaluating the antidepressant effect of P. alliaceae extract in female Swiss mice, single doses of P. alliaceae extracts (100 mg/kg or 200 mg/kg orally and intraperitoneally) produced depressant-like effects, as indicated by the increased time of immobility when the mice were subjected to a forced swimming test.(Gomes 2008)


Clinical data are lacking to provide P. alliaceae dosing recommendations.

Pregnancy / Lactation

Avoid use. Information regarding safety and efficacy of P. alliaceae in pregnancy and lactation is lacking. Methanol extracts of anamu can cause uterine contractions, which can lead to miscarriage.(Raintree 2013)


No studies have evaluated herb-herb interactions or herb-drug interactions with P. alliaceae.

Adverse Reactions

Potential adverse reactions of P. alliaceae are unknown; no adverse reactions have been reported.


In animal models of acute toxicity, mice exposed to high levels of a crude aqueous extract of P. alliaceae root (single doses of 800 to 8,000 mg/kg) showed reduced locomotor activity. Mice treated with 8,000 mg/kg doses developed ataxia that was not fatal. In albino rats, a single 4,000 mg/kg dose of the dry crude extract of P. alliaceae leaves was not fatal or toxic after 14 days but produced alterations in leucocyte count, eosinophil differentials, mean corpuscular volume, mean corpuscular hemoglobin values, and hematocrit, as well as signs of hepatic overload.(Fontoura 2005)



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.

More about guinea hen weed

Related treatment guides

Anamu. Raintree Tropical Plant Database. Updated February 11, 2013. Accessed October 2021.
Audi EA, Vieira de Campos EJ, Rufino M, et al. Petiveria alliacea L.: Plant drug quality control, hydroalcoholic extract standardization and pharmacological assay of lyophilized extract. Acta Farm Bonaer. 2001;20(3):225-232.
Ballesteros-Ramírez R, Aldana E, Herrera MV, et al. Preferential activity of Petiveria alliacea extract on primary myeloid leukemic blast. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2020;2020:4736206. doi:10.1155/2020/473620633488744
de Lima TC, Morato GS, Takahashi RN. Evaluation of antinociceptive effect of Petiveria alliaceae (Guiné) in animals. Mem Inst Oswaldo Cruz. 1991;86(suppl 2):153-158. doi:10.1590/s0074-027619910006000351841991
De Sousa JR, Demuner AJ, Pinheiro JA, Breitmaier E, Cassels BK. Dibenzyl trisulphide and trans-N-methyl-4-methoxyproline from Petiveria alliacea. Phytochemistry. 1990;29(11):3653-3655.
Duarte MR, Lopes JF. Leaf and stem morphoanatomy of Petiveria alliacea. Fitoterapia. 2005;76(7-8):599-607. doi:10.1016/j.fitote.2005.05.00416242265
Ferraz MB, Pereira RB, Coelho Andrade LE, Atra E. The effectiveness of tipi in the treatment of hip and knee osteoarthritis—a preliminary report. Mem Inst Oswaldo Cruz. 1991;86(suppl 2):241-243. doi:10.1590/s0074-027619910006000541842010
Fontoura MCP, Silva SN, Abreu IC, Goncalves JRS, Borges MOR, Borges ACR. Effect of Petiveria alliacea L. in the intestinal secretion and motility of rodents. Revista Brasileira de Plantas Medicinais. 2005;7(2):37-43.
Gomes PB, Noronha EC, de Melo CT, et al. Central effects of isolated fractions from the root of Petiveria alliacea L. (tipi) in mice. J Ethnopharmacol. 2008;120(2):209-214. doi:10.1016/j.jep.2008.08.01218778763
Gomes PB, Oliveira MM, Nogueira CR, et al. Study of antinociceptive effect of isolated fractions from Petiveria alliacea L. (tipi) in mice. Biol Pharm Bull. 2005;28(1):42-46. doi:10.1248/bpb.28.4215635161
Gutierrez RMP, Hoyo-Vadillo C. Anti-inflammatory potential of Petiveria alliacea on activated RAW264.7 murine macrophages. Pharmacogn Mag. 2017;13(suppl 2):S174-S178. doi:10.4103/pm.pm_479_1628808377
Kim S, Kubec R, Musah R. Antibacterial and antifungal activity of sulfur-containing compounds from Petiveria alliacea L. J Ethnopharmacol. 2006;104(1-2):188-192. doi:10.1016/j.jep.2005.08.07216229980
Lopes-Martins RA, Pegoraro DH, Woisky R, Penna SC, Sertié JA. The anti-inflammatory and analgesic effects of a crude extract of Petiveria alliacea L. (Phytolaccaceae). Phytomedicine. 2002;9(3):245-248. doi:10.1078/0944-7113-0011812046866
Luz DA, Pinheiro AM, Silva ML, et al. Ethnobotany, phytochemistry and neuropharmacological effects of Petiveria alliacea L. (Phytolaccaceae): a review. J Ethnopharmacol. 2016;185:182-201. doi:10.1016/j.jep.2016.02.05326944236
Navarro M, Moreira I, Arnaez E, et al. Proanthocyanidin characterization, antioxidant and cytotoxic activities of three plants commonly used in traditional medicine in Costa Rica: Petiveria alliaceae L., Phyllanthus niruri L. and Senna reticulata Willd. Plants (Basel). 2017;6(4):50. doi:10.3390/plants604005029048336
Rosa MPG, Jose MMF. Petiveria alliacea suppresses airway inflammation and allergen-specific Th2 responses in ovalbumin-sensitized murine model of asthma. Chin J Integr Med. 2018;24(12):912-919. doi:10.1007/s11655-018-2566-530341485
Suarez LEC, Monache FD. 6-C-formyl and 6-C-hydroxymethyl flavanones from Petiveria alliacea. Phytochemistry. 1992;31(7):2481-2482.
Williams LA, Rosner H, Levy HG, Barton EN. A critical review of the therapeutic potential of dibenzyl trisulphide isolated from Petiveria alliacea L (guinea hen weed, anamu). West Indian Med J. 2007;56(1):17-21. doi:10.1590/s0043-3144200700010000417621839
Zavala-Ocampo LM, Aguirre-Hernández E, Pérez-Hernández N, Rivera G, Marchat LA, Ramírez-Moreno E. Antiamoebic activity of Petiveria alliacea leaves and their main component, isoarborinol. J Microbiol Biotechnol. 2017;27(8):1401-1408. doi:10.4014/jmb.1705.0500328621111

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