Philippine Herbs: LAGUNDI

In the book The Best 100 Philippine Medicinal Plants by Dr. Jaime Galvez Tan, proponent of traditional and natural medicine, and Dr. Isidro Sia, a pharmacology expert, it shows how plants can be cost-effective remedies, especially in rural areas in the Philippines where modern medicine is not accessible. Lagundi is one of those 1,500 indigenous medicinal plants that have been identified by these experts. This plant is generally used for the treatment of coughs, asthma symptoms, and other respiratory problems.


So what is Lagundi?


Vitex negudo L.

  • Synonym/s: Vitex leucoxylon Blanco ( Quisumbing,1978)
  • Filipino Name:  Lagundi
  • Name/s in Other Philippine Language/s: Dangla(Iloko) (Quisumbing, 1978)


V.negundo is widely distributed in the Philippines. It also occurs in tropical East Africa, Madagascar, India to Japan, and southward through Malaya to Western Polynesia (Quisumbing,1978).


The plant grows at low and medium altitudes, in thickets and in waste places (Quisumbing,1978).


V.negundo is an erect, branched three or shrub, 2-5m high. Its leaves are usually five-foliate, palmately-arranged, rarely with 3 leaflets. The middle leaflet is larger the others and distinctly stalked. The numerous flowers are 6 to 7 mm long and blue to lavender. The fruit is about 4mm in diameter,globose, and black when ripe (Quisumbing,1978).


The first record of the use if V.negundo as medicine was made by a priest, who affirmed that the leaves and seeds were used by Filipinos to disinfect wounds and cleansing ulcers. The leaves are likewise used in aromatic baths to prevent insect bites. Alternatively the seeds are boiled in water and eaten, or the water is drunk, to prevent the spreading of toxin from bites (Quisumbing,1978).

Oil prepared with the juice of plant parts can be can be rubbed onto the sinuses and to scrofulous sores of the neck. It is found to effect marvelous cures of sloughing wounds and ulcers. There is a very noteworthy account of the cure with this oil of an old and deep gangrenous wound in the arm of a patient. This patient was given up by allopathic doctors after three months of medical treatment, cure having been considered hopeless without amputation of the arm, according to Nadkarni as cited by Quisumbing(1978).

A tincture of the root-bark is recommended in cases of rheumatism and irritable bladder. The powdered root is prescribed for hemorrhoids as demulcent, and also for dysentery. In Indo-China a decoction of the root is prescribed for intermittent fevers (Quisumbing,1978).

The leaves are known to reduce inflammatory and rheumatic swellings o the joints and swelling of the testes die to gonorrheal epidymitis and orchitis. They are also effective for sprained limbs, contusions and leech bites; the fresh leaves are put into an earthen pot, heated over a fire, and applied as hot as can be borne without pain; to the leaves are bruise an applied as poultice to the affected part. When smoked, it provides relief of catarrh and headache. A decoction of the leaves as a warm bath in the puerperal state of women who suffer much from after-pains has aso been described (Quisumbing,1978).


A new furan-containing sesquiterpenoid, negunforol (1), a new norlabdane-type diterpenoid, negundoal (2), and two new norursane-type triterpenoids, negundnorins A (3) and B (4), together with two known compounds, 3-formyl -4,5-dimethyl-8-oxo-5H-6,7-dihydronaptho[2,3-b]furan (5) and 3-epicorolosic acid (6) were isolated by Zheng et al. (2012). Evn-50 was also discovered by Hu et al. (2012)




No published toxicological studies were gathered at the time of writing.

Biological Activity
Antitussive and Antiasthma Property

The antitussive and antiasthma effect of V.negundo are attributed to its anti-inflammatory activity. Observations from an experimental study revealed that the fresh leaves of V.negundo have anti-inflammatory and pain-suppressing activities possible mediated via prostaglandin synthesis inhibition, antihistamine, membrane-stabilizing and anti oxidant activities. The antihistamine activity can produce the anti-itching effect claimed in Ayurveda medicine of the herbal medicine ( Dharmasiri et al., 2003)


Anticonvulsant activity
Dharmasiri et al., (2005) conducted a study on the anticonvulsant activity of V.negundo and observed that although it is not as effective as standard drugs in protecting against maximal electroshock seizures in rats, it showed 50% protection in clonic seizures and 24-hours mortality against pentylenetetarazole-induced seizures V.negundo was also found to potentiate the anticonvulsant action of diphenylhydantion and valproic acid, thus it may be useful as an adjuvant therapy along with standard anticonvulsants and can possible be used to lower the requirement of diphenylhydantoin and valproic acid.


Dermatologic Activity
A study evaluated the effects of lyoniresinol, one of the eight lignans purified from methanol extract of V. negundo, on cytoxicity and melanin content in murine B16F10 melanoma cells to delineate the underlying mechanism of tyrosinase inhibition. The results showed that lyoniresinol decreased tyrosinase activity and melanin biosynthesis in B16F10 cells by activating extracellular receptor kinase signaling, which down regulated microphthalmia-associated transcription factor, tyrosinase, but not TRP-1 and TRP-2 protein expression. This suggest that lyoniresinol can perhaps be incorporated into clinical dermatologic use as a skin lightening agent after some more experimental studies (Liu et al., 2013).


Antihepatitis Activity
A study by Zhou et al., (2011) demonstrated that V.negundo var. heterophylla seeds ethanol extract (VSE) exerted potential effects on immunological hepatitis in mice model, and the mechanism might be partly related to free radical scavenging activity and inhibiting release of inducible nitric oxide synthase. VSE was also noted to show partial effects on acute inflammation.


Antineoplastic Activity
An in vitro study investigated the effect of Evn-50 extracted from V.negundo on human breast cancer cell line MCF-7 and MCF-7/TAM-R cells. The results showed that Evn-50 can inhibit cell growth and induce apoptosis in MCF-7 and MCF-7/TAM-R cells, and it can reverse tamoxifen resistance of MCF-7/TAM-R cells. It was deemed that the mechanism may be related to the downregulation of phosphotylated ERK1/2 in MAPK signal pathway and phosphorylated AKT in AKT signal pathway (Hu et al.,2012).

The antitumor effect of purified vitexin compound 1 (VB1) on choriocarcinoma in citro and in vivo was evaluated. The results of this study showed that vitexin compound 1 significantly inhibited the growth of choriocarcinoma in severe combined immunodeficient mice and reduce the serum of ß-human chorionic gonadotropin levels. Vitexin compound 1 inhibited cell proliferation, induced apoptosis, and inhibited mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) signaling the JEG-3 cell line. This results suggest that VB1 could inhibit choriocarcinoma by inducing cell apoptosis and suppressing the mTOR pathway (Tan et al., 2012).


Anti-inflammatory Activity
The anti-inflammatory effect of V.negundo in carrageenan-induced paw edema in rats was investigated. The results showed that V.negundo leaf oil significantly (P<0.05) reduced the carrageenan-induced paw edema as compared to the placebo group (paraffin oil). However, 1 mg diclofenac diethylamine BP and 7 mg methyl salicytate IP showed the maximum inhibition of paw edema as compared to the V.negundo leaf oil is a potent anti-inflammatory agent (Chattopadhyay et al.,2012).

Another study conducted in India has confirmed the potentiation of anti-inflammatory activity of drugs phenylbutazone and ibuprofen by V.negundo, indicating that it may be useful as an adjucant therapy along with standard anti-inflammatory drugs ( Tandon and Gupta 2006).


Antioxidant Activity
In a study by Nagarsekar et al. in 2011, it was shown that the ethanol extract of V.negundo has stronger reducing potential and ability to scavenge free radicals as compared to the supercritical fluid extract. In also exhibited higher in vivo antilipid peroxidation potential, which correlated well with its radical scavenging potential.


Antifungal Activity
A labdane diterpenoid, named negundol (1a+1b), was isolated from seed extracts of V.negundo. it is an inseparable mixture of two diastereoisomers in a 5:4 ratio. Their structures were identified as (rel 3S, 5S,8R,9R,10S,13S,16S)-3-acetoxy-9, 13-epoxy-16-hydroxy-labda-15, 16-olide (1a), and (rel 3S, 5S, 8R,9R,10S,13S,16R)-3-acetoxy-9,13-epoxy-16-hydroxy-labda-15,16-olide(1b). Compound 1 was found to be an active anti fungal agent with minimum inhibitory concentration (MIC)80 values in range of 16-24 microgram/mL (Zheng et al.,2012).


Cataractogenesis-inhibiting Activity
A study by Pandey et al. (2012) evaluated the antiarthritic activity of agnuside (AGN), a compound isolated from the leaf extract of V.negundo. The results showed that significant antiarthritic activity was observed in the polyarthritis test in rats and this was associated with significant suppression of inflammatory mediators and T-cell-mediated cytokines (Th1/Th2). This study also demonstrated the the effect of AGN is note mediated by the pituitary-adrenal axis. These findings suggest the possible use of AGN as a therapeutic agent in the treatment of arthritis. The mechanism behind its antiarthritic activity is its ability to modulate the host’s immune response.


Antihyperglycemic Activity
An iridoid glucoside was isolated from the leaves of V.negundo. Oral administration of mg/kg BW once daily to diabetic rats for the period of 30 days revered hyperglycemia-induced biochemical changes to near normal levels. This antihyperglycemic effect was comparable with glibenclamide (Sundaram et al.,2012).



For Cough

V.negundo is being promoted by the Department of Health for cough and asthma. It is actually one of the medicinal plant preparations registered with the food an Drug Administration Philippines as medicine and is already available locally commercially in tablet form, teas, and syrup.


The Best 100 Philippine Medicinal Plants by Jaime Z. Galvez Tan, MD, MPH and Isidro C. Sia, MD, PhD

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s