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Friday, July 29, 2011

MEDICINAL PLANTS (4): BALBAS PUSA (Orthosiphon stamineus Benth.)

Lately, another herb caught the attention of herbalists and even herbal supplements manufacturers. While grown mostly as an ornamental, Balbas Pusa (Cat's whiskers- Orthosiphon staminea) has been found to be an effective diuretic and some claim that it also relieves toxins from the system. As of now, I can identify a commercial preparation, Ren- -in, containing a large percentage of balbas pusa in a 500mg capsule and promoted as a kidney supplement.

Balbas pusa is “endemic in the warm areas of south Asia and is described as follows: Slender, smooth or hairy undershrub, 30-60 cm high. Leaves in distant pairs, narrowed into the stalk, ovate, 5-10 cm long, pointed at both ends, coarsely toothed margins. The flowers are borne in very lax racemes. The calyx is bell-shaped, with a naked throat and two slender lower teeth. Corolla is 2.5 cm long, smooth, white or purplish, slender in the tube, and thrice as long as the calyx. Nutlets are oblong and compressed.” (

My first encounter with Balbas Pusa was in 2004 when we went down with high blood sugar levels mainly due to our diet. Despite medications, our blood sugar level was in the range of 200 to 220 mg/dL which was twice the normal levels. We followed the advice of the doctor but more than that my friend Pet M. gave us tea out of balbas pusa with cuttings for planting to boot. Together with ampalaya capsules, balabas pusa tea and glibenclamide, our blood sugar level went down dramatically to the normal 105-115 mg/dL range, and was maintained in that level until now.

Balbas pusa however is best known for its diuretic properties. A light tea consumed about one to two liters per day is effective on relieving kidney discomforts. “It is a source of essential oils and flavones) –listed in the Philippine Pharmacopeia 1 as a traditional medicinal plant for bacterial and inflammatory diseases of the lower urinary tract and approved by the German Commission E for urinary tract infections and for kidney and bladder stones.A study by Matsuraba et al (1999) in laboratory animals had shown that the leaves contain Methylripariochromene A (MRC) which causes increased urinary volume and the excretion of sodium, potassium and chlorides which subsequently lower the blood pressure, vasodilatation.  These findings indicate that MRC decreases cardiac output and induce a diuretic effect”. A blog post by Dr. Emil Aligi (

In that blogsite, you can also read the comments and contributions of readers who have first hand experience with the plant as tea or directly eaten.

Literature on balbas pusa abound in the internet. Just goggle the word balbas pusa or orthosiphon and you'll get quite a mass of information on the plant and its uses. It may not be included yet in the list of herbal plants approved for use as herbal supplement by the Department of Health, but a capsule supplement had already been commercialized. One can also buy dried leaves for tea making at the Chinese drugstores and in Quiapo. But why buy when you can grow it both in pots and in plant boxes as ornamentals. Its flowers are a beautiful accent in a landscape. You can just harvest a handful when you need to make your tea or you can also air dry them in batches by hanging them in an indoor clothes line.

So the plant can be both a home remedy and an opportunity for commerce. Should one be interested, all he needs would be more research as to its product form and how he can sell in the open market. Meanwhile those interested to use this herb can simply look for some cuttings and plant them directly. This plant is easy to start on pots placed in partial shade for a week or so.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for your great information, the contents are quiet interesting.I will be waiting for your next post.
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