Plant Profiler

Euphorbia (Euphorbia sp)

Synonyms / Common Names / Related Terms
Amygdaloides latex, asthma spurge, balsam spurge, bisabolane sesquiterpenoid, caper spurge, Christmas flower, dieterpenoids (segetanes, jatrophanes, paralianes), Euphpekinensin, Euphorbia acaulis, Euphorbia alkaloid, Euphorbia antiquorum, Euphorbia balsamifera, Euphorbia capitata, Euphorbia characias, Euphorbia chrysocoma, Euphorbia decipiens, Euphorbia dendroides, Euphorbia dracunculoides, Euphorbia ebracteolata, Euphorbia esula, Euphorbia fischeriana, Euphorbia fischeriana Steud., Euphorbia fulgens, Euphorbia helioscopia, Euphorbia hermentiana, Euphorbia heterophylla, Euphorbia hierosolymitana, Euphorbia hirta, Euphorbia hylonoma, Euphorbia kansui, Euphorbia lagascae, Euphorbia lancifolia, Euphorbia latex, Euphorbia lathyris, Euphorbia leuconeura, Euphorbia marginata, Euphorbia myrsinites, Euphorbia neriifolia, Euphorbia obtusifolia, Euphorbia paralias, Euphorbia pekinensis, Euphorbia peplus, Euphorbia pilulifera, Euphorbia poisonii, Euphorbia pubescens, Euphorbia pulcherrima, Euphorbia rigida, Euphorbia royleana, Euphorbia serpyllifolia, Euphorbia soongarica, Euphorbia sororia, Euphorbia tinctoria, Euphorbia tirucalli, Euphorbia triangularis, Euphorbia variegate, Euphorbia wallichii, Euphorbiaceae (family), ixbut, leafy spurge, Mediterranean spurge, milkweed, petty spurge, pillbearing spurge, poinsetta, poinsettia, radium weed, spotted spurge, snakeweed, thyme-leaves spurge, triterpenes, wolf's milk extract, ZeQi.

Mechanism of Action
  • Constituents: Euphorbia species contain methyl esters and derivatives14 as well as diterpene polyesters4,15 and other terpene compounds16. The oil consists mainly of sesquiterpenes, and a small percentage of monoterpenes and aliphatic compounds. Eleinol (57.5%) was found to be the major constituent among the 24 compounds identified in Euphorbia teheranica Boiss.17 Other constituents found in Euphorbia species include ingenol 3-angelate18, kaempferol, scopoletin, kaempferol 3-O-glucopyranoside, quercetin, vanillic acid, E-p-hydroxycinnamic acid, protocatechuic acid, 6, 7-dihydroxycoumarin, beta-sitosterol, and daucosterol19, jolkinolide B5, 3,7,15-tri-O-acetyl-5-O-nicotinoyl-13,14-dihydroxymyrsinol1, ellagic acid, 3, 3'-di-O-methylellagic acid, 3, 3'-di-O-methylellagic acid-4'-O-alpha-D-arabinfuranoside, 3, 3'-di-O-methylellagic acid-4'-O-beta-D-xylopyranoside, 3, 3'-di-O-methylellagic acid-4-O-beta-D-glucopyranoside, 3, 3', 4'-tri-O-methylellagic acid, 3-O-methylellagic acid-4'-O-beta-D-xylopyranoside, 3, 3', 4-tri-O-methylellagic acid-4'-O-beta-D-glucopyranoside, brevifolin, and ethyl brevifolin carboxylate20, piceatannol6, and octacosyl cis-ferulate, octacosyl trans-ferulate, cholest-5-en-3beta-ylhexadecanoate, chrysophanol, and octadecanoic acid.21
  • Antiarthritis properties: In an in vitro study, a biopolymeric fraction from Euphorbia tirucalli Boiss. showed dose dependent antiarthritic activity and also showed in vivo immunomodulatory capacity.3
  • Anticancer properties: In an in vitro study, Euphorbia lagascae seeds' picetannol and one of its methylated derivatives increased apoptosis in some cancer cell lines.6
  • Anticonvulsant properties: It has been reported that the active alkaloid in Euphorbia fisheriana has anticonvulsant effects and might be useful in patients with epilepsy but the exact mechanism of action is not known9
  • Antidiabetic activities: In an in vitro study, Euphorbia balsamifera was an active peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor activator.11
  • Anti-eczema properties: Several studies show that Euphorbia has an irritating effect on the skin.8,7 In theory, this might be useful to "burn off" eczema and warts. One clinical trial also reported that taking Euphorbia acaulis orally as a tablet might be useful for treating eczema.10
  • Anti-inflammatory properties: Ethanol extracts of whole plant Euphorbia prostrata and its partitioned fractions may demonstrate anti-inflammatory properties, as seen in carrageenan animal models.22 Furthermore, acute inflammatory studies of fractions using histamine and bradykinin-induced pedal edema indicated a selective inhibition of histamine-induced edema, suggesting suppression of the first phase of the acute inflammatory reaction.
  • Antimicrobial properties: Euphorbia is reported as having antibacterial activity against pathogenic strains of Gram-positive and Gram-negative bacteria in animals.23 It is suggested that the rootstock extracts had better anti-bacterial properties than leaf extracts. Glucocerebrosides found in methanolic extracts from the plant Euphorbia peplis L. are theorized to contribute to antifungal and antitubercular activity.24
  • Antioxidant properties: In an animal study, mice with chronic oral treatment of a polysaccharide extract from Euphorbia kansui had elevated enzymatic activities of superoxide dismutase and glutathione peroxidase accompanied by a corresponding decrease in malondialdehyde after strenuous exercise.2
  • Antispasmodic properties: Euphorbia is reported as having antispasmodic actions.25
  • Antitumor properties: Euphorbia is reported as having anti-tumor properties. Of 12 terpene compounds derived from the roots of Euphorbia kansui eight of these compounds showed significant inhibition of cellular proliferation at low concentrations in Xenopus embryo cells.16 Four of the terpenes inhibited cellular proliferation only at higher concentrations. It was also found that most of the diterpene compounds that inhibited cellular proliferation also inhibited topoisomerase II activity. Another species, Euphorbia tirucalli L., significantly enhanced survival and concurrently reduced tumor growth in the peritoneal cavity in mice.13 It is thought that the modulatory effect of Euphorbia tirucalli L. on myelopoietic response and on the levels of prostaglandin E(2) may be related to its antitumor activity as a possible mechanism for the regulation of granulocyte and macrophage production and expression of functional activities. Jolkinolide B, a constituent of Euphorbia fischeriana, significantly decreased in the proliferation of three cancer cell lines, possibly by arresting the cell cycle in the G1 phase and subsequently inducing apoptosis.5
  • Antitussive properties: It has been reported that Euphorbia helioscopia has antitussive properties and might be useful in patients with chronic bronchitis12 The exact mechanism of action is not known.
  • Hormonal properties: One animal study suggested that Euphorbia tirucalli L may decrease prostaglandin E(2) levels, which were dramatically increased in tumor bearing mice.13
  • Myelopoiesis properties: Treatment with varying doses of Euphorbia tirucalli L. in tumor-bearing mice with myelosuppression concomitant with increased numbers of spleen CFU-GM stimulated marrow myelopoiesis and reduced spleen colony formation, with no dose-dependent differences observed.13 The changes produced by the tumor in total and differential marrow cell counts were restored by the treatment with Euphorbia tirucalli L.

  1. Lodhi, M. A., Hussain, J., Abbasi, M. A., Jassbi, A. R., Choudhary, M. I., and Ahmad, V. U. A new Bacillus pasteurii urease inhibitor from Euphorbia decipiens. J Enzyme Inhib Med Chem 2006;21(5):531-535. 17194023
  2. Yu, F., Lu, S., Yu, F., Feng, S., McGuire, P. M., Li, R., and Wang, R. Protective effects of polysaccharide from Euphorbia kansui (Euphorbiaceae) on the swimming exercise-induced oxidative stress in mice. Can J Physiol Pharmacol 2006;84(10):1071-1079. 17218972
  3. Bani, S., Kaul, A., Khan, B., Gupta, V. K., Satti, N. K., Suri, K. A., and Qazi, G. N. Anti-arthritic activity of a biopolymeric fraction from Euphorbia tirucalli. J Ethnopharmacol 3-1-2007;110(1):92-98. 17088037
  4. Valente, C., Ferreira, M. J., Abreu, P. M., Pedro, M., Cerqueira, F., and Nascimento, M. S. Three new jatrophane-type diterpenes from Euphorbia pubescens. Planta Med 2003;69(4):361-366. 12709905
  5. Luo, H. and Wang, A. Induction of apoptosis in K562 cells by jolkinolide B. Can J Physiol Pharmacol 2006;84(10):959-965. 17218961
  6. Ferreira, M. J., Duarte, N., Gyemant, N., Radics, R., Cherepnev, G., Varga, A., and Molnar, J. Interaction between doxorubicin and the resistance modifier stilbene on multidrug resistant mouse lymphoma and human breast cancer cells. Anticancer Res 2006;26(5A):3541-3546. 17094479
  7. Eberle, M. M., Erb, C., Flammer, J., and Meyer, P. [Dermatitis and conjunctivitis after contact with Euphorbia myrsinites (wolf's milk extract)--a case report]. Klin Monatsbl Augenheilkd 1999;215(3):203-204. 10528288
  8. Lin, L. J., Marshall, G. T., and Kinghorn, A. D. The dermatitis-producing constituents of Euphorbia hermentiana latex. J Nat Prod 1983;46(5):723-731. 6655474
  9. Liu, Y. X., Wang, M. Z., and Sun, X. F. [Clinical analysis of 72 epileptic patients treated with alkaline extract of Euphorbia fisheriana]. Zhongguo Zhong Xi Yi Jie He Za Zhi 1994;14(5):282-4, 261. 7950213
  10. Agrawal, D. K., Chandra, J., and Raju, T. V. Clinical studies of Euphorbia acaulis, Rox b. in cases of eczema--a preliminary report. Indian J Dermatol 1971;16(3):57-59. 4935910
  11. Rau, O., Wurglics, M., Dingermann, T., Abdel-Tawab, M., and Schubert-Zsilavecz, M. Screening of herbal extracts for activation of the human peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor. Pharmazie 2006;61(11):952-956. 17152989
  12. Ghen, Y., Tang, Z. J., Jiang, F. X., Zhang, X. X., and Lao, A. N. [Studies on the active principles of Ze-Qi (Euphorbia helioscopia L.), a drug used for chronic bronchitis (I) (author's transl)]. Yao Xue Xue Bao 1979;14(2):91-95. 506714
  13. Valadares, M. C., Carrucha, S. G., Accorsi, W., and Queiroz, M. L. Euphorbia tirucalli L. modulates myelopoiesis and enhances the resistance of tumour-bearing mice. Int Immunopharmacol 2006;6(2):294-299. 16399635
  14. Yu, F. R., Lian, X. Z., Guo, H. Y., McGuire, P. M., Li, R. D., Wang, R., and Yu, F. H. Isolation and characterization of methyl esters and derivatives from Euphorbia kansui (Euphorbiaceae) and their inhibitory effects on the human SGC-7901 cells. J Pharm Pharm Sci 2005;8(3):528-535. 16401398
  15. Duarte, N. and Ferreira, M. J. Lagaspholones A and B: two new jatropholane-type diterpenes from Euphorbia lagascae. Org Lett 2-1-2007;9(3):489-492. 17249794
  16. Miyata, S., Wang, L. Y., Yoshida, C., and Kitanaka, S. Inhibition of cellular proliferation by diterpenes, topoisomerase II inhibitor. Bioorg Med Chem 11-24-2005;16314107
  17. Feizbakhsh, A., Bighdeli, M., Tehrani, M. S., Rustaiyan, A., and Masoudi, S. Chemical constituents of the essential oil of Euphorbia teheranicaBoiss., a species endemic to Iran. Journal of Essential Oil Research 2004;Jan/Feb
  18. Ogbourne, S. M., Hampson, P., Lord, J. M., Parsons, P., De Witte, P. A., and Suhrbier, A. Proceedings of the First International Conference on PEP005. Anticancer Drugs 2007;18(3):357-362. 17264770
  19. Zhang, X., Wang, H., Sheng, J., and Luo, X. A new guaiane diterpenoid from Euphorbia wallichii. Nat Prod Res 2006;20(1):89-92. 16286316
  20. Shi, X. H., Du, X. L., and Kong, L. Y. [Studies on chemical constituents in roots of Euphorbia soongarica]. Zhongguo Zhong Yao Za Zhi 2006;31(18):1503-1506. 17144466
  21. Ruan, H. L., Zhou, X. F., Zhang, Y. H., Pi, H. F., Wu, J. Z., and Sun, H. D. Ferulic acid esters from Euphorbia hylonoma. Fitoterapia 2007;78(1):72-73. 17067756
  22. Singla, A. K. and Pathak, K. Anti-inflammatory studies on Euphorbia prostrata. J Ethnopharmacol. 1989;27(1-2):55-61. 2615426
  23. Natarajan, D., Britto, S. J., Srinivasan, K., Nagamurugan, N., Mohanasundari, C., and Perumal, G. Anti-bacterial activity of Euphorbia fusiformis-A rare medicinal herb. J Ethnopharmacol. 10-31-2005;102(1):123-126. 16159702
  24. Cateni, F., Zilic, J., Falsone, G., Hollan, F., Frausin, F., and Scarcia, V. Preliminary biological assay on cerebroside mixture from Euphorbia nicaeensis All. Isolation and structure determination of five glucocerebrosides. Farmaco 2003;58(9):809-817. 13679173
  25. Hellerman, R. C. and Hazleton, L. W. The antispasmotic action of Euphorbia pilulifera. J Am Pharm Assoc Am Pharm Assoc 1950;39(3):142-146.15405492

Licensed by Natural Standard Copyright © 2010 by Natural Standard Corporation. All Rights Reserved.

back to Plant Profiler
back to top