The species is widespread as a weed in southern and eastern Asia. In India it occurs throughout the plains, and up to 1 900 m, in the hills [Watt, 1893]. In China it occurs throughout the country, except in the north-west and Tibet [Iconographia, 1974 No. 3298], and in this part of Asia it extends to Korea. In the Philippines it occurs in Luzon, in and about towns at low altitudes [Merrill, 1923]. Confinement to these localities suggests that the species has been introduced at some early date, and has escaped into the wild. It is not known to be in medicinal use now in the Philippines. In the Indo-Chinese region it is found in Vietnam and Cambodia [Lecomte, 1927].
The whole herb contains flavones, homoplantagenin, hispidulin, nepetin, nepetin, nepetrin, and eupafolin and its 7-monoglucoside among them. It also contains protocatechuic acid, 4-hydroxyproprionic acid, volatile oil and saponin. Sterols are few, but there are several terpenes [Fu-chien, 1982:2].
The seeds contain 15% of a fatty oil [Flora Hainanica, 1977].
Anthelmintic properties are reported in the herb, both in India [Council of Scientific & Industrial Research, 1972] and Korea [Perry, 1980].
The plant is reported to be bacteriostatic against Staphylococcus aureus, Aspergillus fumigatus, Phyllody disease, and Pseudomonas [Fu-chien, 1982:2].
The oil from the seeds can contribute to the manufacture of soap in China [Flora Hainanica, 1977]. In India, the mucilaginous properties of this oil cause it to be used to anoint women's hair, hold it in place, and keep it glossy [Watt, 1893].
Pharmacological action of the plant, in experiments with rats is reported as anti-tussive, antiasthmatic, and anti-inflammatory, when used in decoction, and as a cure for bronchitis [Fu-chien, 1982:2].
Medicinal use of the seeds, and of the other above-ground parts of the plant, are distinct. In the Indo-Chinese region of plant provides a tisane against stomach-ache [Lecomte, 1927], and the whole plants and the flowers are reportedly prescribed to treat cholic, cholera, and dysentery [Perry]. In India the leaves are said to relieve toothache; further, the herb is employed there as a diuretic and astringent [Fu-chien, 1982:2].
The mucilaginous seeds have long been used in native medicine in that country to treat gonorrhoea and menorrhagia [Watt, 1893], to which conditions [Chopra, 1958] adds diarrhoea and haemorrhoids. In China [Chiang-su, 1982:2] the plant is used as a febrifuge, detoxifier, diuretic, blood cooler, haemostatic, and for the reduction of swellings. It relieves painful swellings, bleeding piles and inflammation of the mammary gland. A decoction taken hot is used to treat tonsillitis, haemorrhage in pulmonary consumption, and sluggish blood developing slight erythema.
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