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Medicinal Plants for Livestock

Petiveria alliacea

[Introduction and Common Names] [Chemical Compounds and Nutritional Value] [Toxicity] [Uses and Efficacy] [References] [Return to medicinal plants list]


Petiveria alliacea (Family Phytolaccaceae), commonly known as anamu, is a herbaceous perennial. P. alliacea can be found in growing in tropical areas of Central and South American, the Caribbean, and Africa. The leaves and roots of the plant have a strong odor. An excellent source of information on this plant is presented on the Raintree Nutrition web site. The Raintree site includes ethnobotanical data, references, and abstracts. Some of the common names for Petiveria alliacea include:

  • Anamu (Dominican Republic)
  • Apacin (Guatemala)
  • Feuilles Ave
  • Herbe Aux Poules
  • Mucura (Peru)
  • Petivere A Odeur Ail

A more complete list of common names can be found on the Raintree site.

Chemical Compounds and Nutritional Value

P. alliacea contains several biologically active compounds. The quantity of compounds varies in the plant parts. Primary compounds in the essential oil of the roots include: benzaldehyde, dibenzyl disulfide, dibenzyl trisulfide, and cis- and trans-stilbene. Some of the compounds in P. alliacea are listed below.

  • benzaldehyde -- root
  • benzoic acid -- root
  • benzyl-2-hydroxyethyl-trisulfide -- leaf
  • coumarin -- root
  • isoarborinol
  • isoarborinol acetate
  • isoarborinol cinnamate
  • isothiocyanates -- seed
  • polyphenols -- leaf
  • senfol -- leaf
  • tannins -- leaf
  • trithiolaniacine -- root


Few data on the toxicity of P. alliacea could be found in the literature. In one study with mice, oral doses did not cause toxicity. However, methanol extracts of the plant do cause uterus contractions, which can lead to abortion - one of its uses in traditional human medicine. Also, extracts have been shown to inhibit mitosis.

Caution should be taken if P. alliacea is fed to animals on a regular basis. The plant can accumulate nitrates and has caused nitrate poisoning in cattle. Also, in studies where cattle were fed P. alliacea regularly (3g/kg bodyweight/day), the cattle suffered several adverse reactions.

Uses and Efficacy

In the Dominican Republic, the roots of Petiveria alliacea are used in treatments for internal parasites in livestock and as an insect repellent. No studies on the anti-parasitic properties of P. alliacea in livestock could be found in the literature. However, when P. alliacea root was applied to soil, populations of Meloidogyne incognita were decreased compared to controls. Also, hexane extracts of the plant showed some activity against the blood protozoa Trypanosoma cruzi in vitro. Studies have shown that crude ethanol extracts exhibit some repellent activity against Boophilus microplus (tick species). Dibenzyltrisulfide, one of the compounds in the roots of P. alliacea, is insecticidal (Cylas formicarius elegantulus and Hypothenemus hampei) and acaricidal (Boophilus microplus).

In other studies, extracts of P. alliaceae: provided some protection against Listeria monocytogenes infections in mice, inhibited inflammation in induced paw oedema in mice, and reduced blood platelet aggragation in vitro.

P. alliacea has been used to treat the following ailments in humans:

  • Abortifacient -- La, Trinidad, and Venezuela
  • Ache (head, tooth) - Dominican Republic, Haiti, and Mexico
  • Antiseptic -- Haiti
  • Aphrodisiac
  • Bite (snake)
  • Cold -- Haiti, Mexico
  • Counterirritant -- Trinidad
  • Cystitis -- Trinidad
  • Decoagulant -- Trinidad
  • Depurative -- Haiti, La, Mexico, Trinidad, and Venezuela
  • Diuretic - Brazil, Haiti, La, and Mexico
  • Emmenagogueue -- Dominican Republic, Guatemala, La, and Mexico
  • Expectorant -- Haiti, La, and Mexico
  • Fever -- Haiti, Mexico
  • Flu - Dominican Republic and Trinidad
  • Head cold -- Trinidad
  • Hysteria - La and Mexico
  • Inflammation - Dominican Republic
  • Insecticide -- Dominican Republic
  • Nerve -- La and Mexico>
  • Paralysis -- Mexico
  • Parturition
  • Pertussis
  • Piscicide
  • Poison (Arrow) -- Brazil
  • Rabies -- Mexico
  • Repellant (Bat) - Panama (Choco)
  • Repellant (Insect) - Dominican Republic, Haiti, and Mexico
  • Rheumatism -- Mexico
  • Rootcanal -- Venezuela
  • Sedative - Brazil and Haiti


Not all of the references in the list below were used in writing this web page. They are included here so that a more complete resource list is available for those interested in the subject area.

  • Asmus, R.M.F. and Ferraz, S. 1988. Antagonistic effects of some plant species, mainly legumes, on Meloidogyne javanica. Fitopatologia Brasileira. 13 (1): 20-24. (Portuguese)
  • Ayala, J.R., Cruz, A.M., Miranda, Z. 1994. Effects of the aqueous extract of Canavalia ensiformis, Bursera graveolens, Petiveria alliacea, and Parthenium hysterophorus on sorghum germination. Technical note. Cuban Trypanosoma cruzi. J of Ethnopharmacology. 62 (2): 107-115.
  • Caceres, A., B. Lopez, S. Gonzalez, I. Berger, I. Tada, and J. Maki. 1998. Plants used in Guatemala for the treatment of protozoal infections. I. screening of activity to bacteria, fungi and American trypanosomes of 13 native plants. J of Ethnopharmacology. 62(3): 195-202.
  • Carrillo, C.M., Chinchilla, E.A., Gonzalez, L.A., Toledo, R.A., and Zambrana, H.G. 1997. The prevention of fowl cholera, with aqueous extracts of plants, in poultry production. Agronomia Mesoamericana. 8(2): 152-158. (Spanish)
  • Elisabetsky, E. and Castilhos, Z.C. 1990. Plants used as analgesics by Amazonian caboclos as a basis for selecting plants for investigation. International Journal of Crude Drug Research. 28 (4): 309-320.
  • Germano, D.H.P., Sertie, J.A.A., Bacchi, E.M. 1995. Pharmacological assay of Petiveria alliacea. II: Oral anti-inflammatory activity and gastrotoxicity of a hydroalcoholic root extract. Fitoterapia. 66(3): 195-202.
  • Germano, D.H.P., Caldeira, T.T.O., Mazella, A.A.G., Sertie, J.A.A., and Bacchi, E.M. 1993. Topical anti-inflammatory activity and toxicity of Petiveria alliacea. Fitoterapia. 64 (5): 459-462.
  • Giron, L.M., Freire, V., Alonzo, A., and Caceres, A. 1991. Ethnobotanical survey of the medicinal flora used by the Caribs of Guatemala. J of Ethnopharmacology. 34(2-3): 173-187.
  • Guerra, M. de O., Maia, J.G.S., Peters, V.M., and Cabral, J.A. daS. 1988. Screening of Amazon native plants with a potential for inhibiting fertilization in rats. Acta Amazonica (Suplement). 18 (1-2): 129-134. (Portuguese)
  • Johnson, L., Williams, L.A.D. and Roberts, E.V. 1997. An insecticidal and acaricidal polysulfide metabolite from the roots of Petiveria alliacea. Pesticide Science. 50(3): 228-232.
  • Malpezzi, E.L.A., Davino, S.C., Costa, L.V., Freitas, J.C., Giesbrecht, A.M. and Roque, N.F. 1994. Antimitotic action of extracts of Petiveria alliacea on sea urchin egg development. Brazilian Journal of Medical and Biological Research. 27(3): 749-754.
  • Mansingh, A. and L.A.D. Williams. 1998. Pesticidal potential of tropical plants - II. Acaricidal activity of crude extracts of several Jamaican plants. Insect Science and its Application. 18(2): 149-155.
  • Monache, F. delle and Suarez, L.E.C. 1992. 6-C-Formyl and 6-C-hydroxymethyl flavanones from Petiveria alliacea [leaves]. Phytochemistry. 31(7): 2481-2482.
  • Odeyemi, O. 1993. Insecticidal properties of certain indigenous plant oils against Sitophilus zeamais Mots. Applied Entomology and Phytopathology. 60 (1&2): 19-27.
  • Olaifa, J.I. and Akingbohungbe, A.E. 1987. Antifeedant and insecticidal effects of extracts of Azadirachta indica, Petiveria alliacea and Piper guineense on the variegated grasshopper, Zonocerus variegatus. :405-418.
  • Olaifa, J.I., Erhun, W.O., and Akingbohungbe, A.E. 1987. Insecticidal activity of some Nigerian plants. Insect Science and its Application. 8(2): 221-224.
  • Oluwole, F.S. and Bolarinwa, A.F. 1998. The uterine contractile effect of Petiveria alliacea seeds. Fitoterapia. 69(1): 3-6.
  • Ponte, J.J. da, A. Franco, and J. Silveira Filho. 1996. Preliminary investigation on the nematicide potential of Guine's plants (Petiveria alliacea). Fitopatologia Venezolana. 9(1): 14-15. (Spanish)
  • Ponte, J.J. da, Franco, A., and Menezes, R.N. 1980. Preliminary report on the potentiality of "tipi" (Petiveria alliacea) as nematicide. Fitopatologia Brasileira. 5(3): 440-441. (Portuguese)
  • Quadros, M.R., A.R.M. Souza Brito, and M.L.S. Queiroz. 1999. Petiveria alliacea L. extract protects mice against Listeria monocytogenes infection - effects on bone marrow progenitor cells. Immunopharmacology and Immunotoxicology. 21 (1): 109-124.
  • Ruiz, A. 1972. Clinical, morphological, histochemical and clinical pathological studies of anamu (Petiveria alliacea) poisoning in cattle. Dissertation Abstracts International. 33B(1): 490.
  • Sabori, I., Cabrera, M., Lopez, C., and Muina, M. 1992. Identification of the shade plants, green cover plants and weeds susceptible to root-knot nematodes. Revista Baracoa. 22(1): 21-28. (Spanish)
  • Sousa-J-R-de. Demuner-A-J. Pinheiro-J-A. Breitmaier-E. Cassels-B-K. 1990. Dibenzyl trisulphide and trans-n-methyl-4-methoxyproline from Petiveria alliacea. Phytochemistry. 29(11): 3653-3655.
  • Souza, Brito A.R.M. and Souza, Brito A.A. 1993. Forty years of Brazilian medicinal plant research. Journal of Ethnopharmacology. 39 (1): 53-67.
  • Trheebilcock, P.E., Villafane, A.F., Gil, P.A. 1978. Nitrate poisoning in cattle. Revista Instituto Colombiano Agropecuario. 13 (1): 119-125. (Spanish)
  • Villar, R., Calleja, J.M., Morales, C., and Caceres, A. 1997. Screening of 17 Guatemalan medicinal plants for platelet antiaggregant activity. Phytotherapy Research. 11(6): 441-445.
  • Williams, L.A.D., T.L. The, M.T. Gardner, C.K. Fletcher, A. Naravane, N. Gibbs, and R. Fleishhacker. 1997. Immunomodulatory activities of Petiveria alliacea L. Phytotherapy Research. 11(3): 251-253.