Leucas aspera – A Review of its Biological activity

Nirmala and Kanchana: Leucas aspera – A Review of its Biological activity



Human beings have used plants as medicine for diverse health issues for thousands of years.1 Plants are widely used in traditional medicine of different countries and are a source of many potent and powerful drugs.2 Leucas aspera Linn. (L. aspera) belonging to the family Lamiaceae is an annual, branched, herb erecting to a height of 15-60 cm widely distributed throughout India. The taxonomic classification and anatomy of this plant were well documented and discussed by many researchers.1,3,4,5 It contains triterpenoids, oleanolic acid, ursolic acid and b-sitosterol, nicotine, sterols, glucoside, diterpenes and phenolic compounds.5 This plant is used in Indian traditional medicines Ayurveda and Siddha. It has various pharmacological activities like Carminative, antihistaminic, antipyretic, and antiseptic. It is used for treating jaundice, anorexia,dyspepsia, fever, helminthic manifestation, respiratory and skin diseases.6 Antimicrobial activity and antioxidant property of this plant is also proved. L. aspera is used as one of the content in IPM (Integrated Pest Management) for controlling Pseudodendrothrips mori 7 and reported as a good insecticide.8 L. aspera is a potent plant to synthesis silver nanoparticles 9 and also reported to have phytotoxic substances.10 Due to the importance of L. aspera in modern medicine as a potential candidate for curing many diseases, the antimicrobial property, antioxidant property and the pharmacological value of this plant is explained in this review.


Identification of antimicrobial agents from different sources to combat microbial resistance is the great interest of current researchers. Antimicrobial susceptibility testing has wide applications in drug discovery, epidemiology and prediction of therapeutic outcome.11 The antimicrobial property of L. aspera was reported and discussed by many researchers (Table 1). Saritha et al., explained the mode of antimicrobial action and suggested that they act to cause pores in the bacterial membranes and leakage of cellular contents. They explained that the detergent properties of phenols and flavonoids from this plant could be the reason for the bacterial membrane damage and the action is time and concentration dependent.12 Gangadharan et al., reported that the phytochemical analysis indicated that ethanol can extract more active principles of the plant than the water for better antimicrobial activity.13 Sarathambal et al., suggested the petroleum ether extract of L. aspera was more effective.14

Bacterial communities that are surrounded in a self-produced matrix of extracellular polymeric substances (EPS) form Biofilm.15 Formation of biofilm in the hostile environment is a survival strategy of bacteria and fungi to adapt to their living environment. Clinical treatment of biofilm infections is difficult as microbes in biofilm are tolerant and resistant to antibiotics and the immune responses.16 Methanol and ethyl acetate extract of L. aspera prevents the Streptococcus pyogenes from forming biofilm.17


Oxidative stress has an adverse effect on human health and lack of antioxidants can quench the reactive free radicals facilitating the development of degenerative diseases, including cardiovascular diseases, cancers, neurodegenerative diseases, Alzheimer’s disease and inflammatory diseases.18 A diet supplement with antioxidant compound may be a solution to avoid the adverse effects of oxidative stress and most of the herbal plants are reported to have antioxidant potential. Antioxidant property of L. aspera was reported by many researchers.19,20,21,22,23,24,25,26,27 The ethanolic extract of L. aspera exhibited very potent antioxidant effect.25 Better antioxidant activity was observed in the petroleum ether extract of L. aspera leaf and the order of the activity is petroleum ether > ethanol > isopropyl alcohol > ethyl acetate > chloroform.26 They also suggested ethyl alcohol or isopropyl alcohol (polar solvent selection) and petroleum ether (nonpolar solvent selection) for the better extraction of phytochemicals. Better antioxidant activity was observed in wild leaf extracts when compared to in vitro callus extract.27 While comparing to ethyl acetate and n-hexane extracts, ethanol extract showed more anti-oxidant activity.19

Table 1

Antimicrobial activity of L. aspera.

1Ethanol extract23Bacillus subtilis, Bacillus megaterium, Staphylococcus aureus, Salmonella typhi, Salmonella paratyphi, Shigella dysenteriae, Vibrio cholera, Pseudomonas aeruginosa
2Ethanol extract12Escherichia coli
3Plant extracts (root, stem and flower)30Staphylococcus aureus, E. coli, P. aeruginosa, Salmonella typhimurium, Salmonella choleraesuis and Shigella flexneri
4Aqueous extract of the whole plant31S. aureus, E. coli and P. aeruginosa
5Ethanol extract13Klebsilla &, S.aureus,
6Methanol leaf extract32Candida tropicalis, Candida albicans, Trichophyton mentagrophytes, Microsporum gypsum, Microsporum nanum, Aspergillus flavus, Epidermophyton floccosum, Penicillium sp.
7Chloroform extract14V. cholerae and S. typhi
8Methanol extract20Bacillus cereus, B. megaterium, B. subtilis, P. aeruginosa, S. paratyphi, S. typhi, Shigella dysenteriae, Shigella sonnei, S. aureus,
9Aqueous extracts33Salmonella mgulani, Salmonella bovis, Salmonella worthington
10Ethyl acetate and methanol extracts of L. aspera34Plasmodium falciparum
11Methanol extract35S. typhi, S. aureus, Klebsiella vulgaris, S. dysenteriae, Shigella boydii, E. coli
12Volatile oil36P. aeruginosa, Haemophilus influenza and Candida albicans
Table 2

Pharmacological value of L. aspera

1Aerial partsHydroalcoholic extractArthritis, anti-arthritic activity37
2LeafHydroalcoholic extractHepatoprotective activity38
3Aerial partsMethanol extractUlcer protective effect39
4-Ethyl acetate fractionAnticancer activity40
5-A-amylase inhibitorDiabetes41
6LeavesAqueous suspensionAnabolic effect 42
7RootsMethanol and petroleum ether extractsAnalgesic activity43
8-Hydro-ethanol and aqueous extractChemoprotective effect44
9-Nano-particles of L. asperaAnticancer activity45
10-Ethanol extractAntiepileptic activity46
11Whole plantEthanol extractCytotoxic activity47
12Whole plantAqueous and alcoholic extractsAntiinflammatory action48
13Shoot system including stem, leaves and flowerEthanol extractAntiinflammatory activity49
14Whole plantAqueous extractHepatoprotective24
15LeafMethanol ExtractCytotoxic Activities21
16-Ethanol extractAntidiabetic activity50
17LeafEthanol extractAntidiabetic activity51
18Whole plantMethanol ExtractAntihyperglycemic activity52
19Whole plantsEthanol extractCytotoxic effect23
20RootEthanol extractCytotoxic effect and antinociceptive activity22
21RootEthanol extractCentral nervous system depressant activity53
22LeafTriterpenoid from methanol extractAntivenom activity54
23LeafMethanol leaf extractAntivenom activity55
24Aerial partsEthanol extractAntipsoriatic activity56
25-DiterpenesActivity Inhibiting Prostaglandin-Induced Contractions57
26Whole plantsEthanol extractAnti-inflammatory activity58
27 Whole plantsMethanolic extractAnti-mutagenic activity59
28 Whole plantsEthanol extractAnthelminthic activity60


The Ethno medicinal use to cure cold, cough, and skin disorders by a village population in India supports its medicinal value.28 Several researchers reported the use of L. aspera for treating different health issues (Table 2). Phytochemicals and trace elements present in this plant are responsible for its use as medicine for many diseases. Major elements identified in the L. aspera include Carbon, Oxygen, Calcium, Silica, and Aluminum. Apart from this presence of Iron, Sodium, Potassium, Phosphorus and Chlorine were also identified.29 Yashvanth et al., also reported that no harmful heavy metals were detected in their study.


L. aspera is a common plant found as weed throughout the Indian subcontinent. Its antimicrobial potential recorded by the researchers proves that it has broad spectrum antimicrobial activity. The antioxidant potential of this plant proves that it is one of the natural sources of antioxidant and it can be used as a preventive medicine. Alcoholic extracts showed better activity than aqueous extracts. The research on the pharmacological value of this plant proves that it has valuable compounds for curing many diseases and thus it is a promising plant for future advanced medicine.


[1] Conflicts of interest CONFLICT OF INTEREST None.



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