Parthenium hysterophorus L. (Syn. Tanacetum parthenium (L) Bernh; Chrysanthemum
parthenium Pers.; Matricaria parthenium L, M. parthenoides, M. carpensis, M.
eximia Hort., M. odorata Lam; Pyrethrum parthenium Smith) popularly
known as Congress weed, Carrot weed, Star weed, Fever few, White top, Chatak Chandani,
Bitter weed, Ramphool, Gajarghas, believed to have entered India accidentaly in mid
fifties, is one of the most feared weed species (Rao, 1956). Adverse effects of Parthenium
not only on human beings but also on animal health have been well documented. It is
known to cause asthama, bronchitis, dermatitis and hay fever in man and livestock. The
chemical analysis has indicated that all the plant parts including trichomes and pollen
contain toxins called sesquiterpene lactones. The major components of toxic being
parthenin and other phenolic acids such as caffeic acid, vanillic acid, anisic
acid, panisic acid, chlorogenic acid and parahydroxy benozoic acid are lethal to human
beings and animals. (Mahadevappa, 1977; Oudhia, 1998). In ancient Indian literatures, it
is written that every plant on this earth is useful for human beings, animals and also for
other plants (Oudhia, 1999 a, b and c). although Parthenium is considered as toxic
plant but many medicinal, allelopathic (Oudhia and Tripathi, 1998a; Oudhia et al.,
1997a and b) and industrial (Sastri and Kavathekar, 1990) uses have been well documented
The word Parthenium is derived from Latin word Parthenice :
ancient name suggesting reputed medicinal merits (Bailey, 1960). John Lindley (1838) has
written in his book titled Flora medica that "The whole plant is bitter
and strong-scented, reckoned tonic, stimulating and anti-hysteric. It was once a ppopular
remedy in ague. Its odour is said to be peduliarly disagreeable to bees and that insects
may be easily kept at a distance by carrying a handful of the flower heads. "Parthenium
is reputed Homoeoptathic drug. Homoeopathic system of medicine is based on
"Similia Similibus Curentur" means "Let likes be cured by likes"
(lyer, 1990). In Homoeopathy, it is believed that symptoms produced by any plant can be
cured by using Homoeopathic drug prepared from same plant (Ferrington, 1980). In this way,
the allergies caused by Parthenium can be treated by Homoeopathic drug prepared
from Parthenium. The possibilities of utilizing common Kharif weeds (including Parthenium)
for preparing Homoeopathic drug in order to provide an additional income to the farmers
have been well disussed by Oudhia and Tripathi, 1998b. hamilton (1852) has written in his
book The Flora Homoeopathica that Parthenium is not mentioned by the
Arabian physicians. The Finlanders use an infusion of it in consumptive cases. It is
neither good for meat and medicine, but is commended against the infirmities of the
mother, seeing all stinking things are good against those diseases. It also causeth
blisters on the hands of weeders and reapers. "In the same book it is also mentioned
that" Culpeper, in his Complete English Physician, Gives the following curious
account" Venus commands this herb, and has commended it to succour her sister,
and to be a general strengthener of wombs, and remedy such infirmities as a careless
midwife has there caused. It is also, according to the same author, a special remedy
against Opium when taken too liberally. In Homoeopathy, whole plant, gathered when it
flower, is used for preparing drug. The mother tincture is obtained by expressing the
juices of the whole plant, gathered fresh and mixing it with twenty parts of alchohal
In book Dictionary of Economic Plants in India Parthenium
hysterophorusv. is described as weed found in Poona and is reported to be used as
tonic, febrifuge and emmenagogue. The decoction of root is useful in dysentry (Singh et
al., 1996). Mew et al. (1982) demonstrated that sublethal doses of parthenin
exhibited antitumour activity in mice and that the drug could either cure mice completely
or increase their survival time after they had been injected with cancer cells.
Parthenium is also reported as promising remedy against hepatic
amoebiasis (Sharma and Bhutani, 1988). South American Indians uses the decoction of roots
to cure ambiotic dysentry (Uphof, 1959), whereas parthenin, a toxin of Parthenium, is
found pharmacologically active against neuralgia and certain types of rheumatism
(Dominguez and Sierra, 1970). In book titled Compendium of Indian Medicinal
Plants by Rastogi and Mehrotra, 1991 Parthenium hysterophorus is described as
medicinal plant and reported that parthenin induced dosedependent damage to human
leucocyte chromosomes in vitro. It also induced micronuclei formation in
polychromatic erythrocytes of mice.
In the Caribbean and Central America Parthenium is used as folk
remedy (Navie et al., 1996). It is applied externally on skin disorders and
decoction of the plant is often taken internally as a remedy for a wide variety of
ailments (Dominguez and Sierra, 1970, Morton, 1981). In Jamaica, the decoction is used as
a Flea-repellent both for dogs and other animals (Morton, 1981).
Another species of Parthenium i.e., P. argentatum A. Gray
(common name Guayule) is known as very useful possible petroplants. Stem of this plant
yields a rubber, which can be substituted for that of Hevea for articles, such as
tyres, foot wear, belting and hose, A two-years old plants produced alteast 10% rubber by
dry weight and can be increased with chemical stimulants at the early stages upto 300%.
Leaf yields an essential oil (Sastry and Kavathekar, 1990).
The above mentioned uses of Parthenium clearly indicate that in
present, although Parthenium is considered as unwanted plant, but as its new uses
are coming at very rapidly, it will become a boon for the human beings, animals and crops,
Bailey, L.H. (1960). Manual of cultivated plants (Revised Edition), Pbl.
The Macmillian Company, New York p. 987.
Dominguez, X.A. and Sierra, A. (1970). Isolation of a new diterpene
Alchohol and parthenin from Parthenium hysterophorus. Planta Medica 18,
Ferrington, E.A. (1980). Clinical Materia Medicia (Fourt Edition). Pbl.
B. Jain Publishers Pvt. Ltd., New Delhi, Fourth p. 826.
Hamiton, E. (1852). The flora Homoeopathica (Reprint Edition (1997). Pbl.
B. Jain Publishers Pvt. Ltd., New Delhi, pp. 147-149.
Iyer, T.S. (1990). Beginners guide to Homoeopathy (Reprint Edition). Pbl.
B. Jain Publishers Pvt. Ltd., New Delhi, p. 2.
Lindley, John (1838). Flora medica. (Indian Repring, 1985). Pbl.
Ajay Book Service, New Delhi, p. 462.
Mahadevappa, M. (1977). Ecology, distribution, menace and management
of Parthenium. In : Proc. Of First International Conference on Parthenium
Management (Vol-1), UAS, Dhar-wad pp. 1-12.
Morton, J.F. (1981). The puzzling whitetop. Parthenium
hysterophorus-noxious weed, health hazard, folk-Remedy, flea repellent, Upublished
report, University of Miami, Florida.
Mew, D., Balza, F., Towers G.H.N. and Levy, I.G. (1982). An-titumour
effects of the Sesquiterpene Lactone Parthenin. Plant Medica 45 : 23-27.
Navie, S.C., McFadyen, R.E., Panetta, F.D. and Adkins, S.W. (1966).
The Biology of Austrialian Weeds 27. Parthenium hysterophorus L. Plant
Protection Quaterly 11(2) : 76-88.
Oudhia, P. (1998). Parthenium : A curse for the biodiversity
of Chhattisgarh Plain. In : Abstract National Research Seminar on Bio-chemical Changes.
An Impact on Environment, R.D. Govt. P.G. College Mandla (M.P.) 30-31 July p. 26.
Oudhia, P. (1999a). Medicinal weeds in groundnut fields of
Chhattisgarh (India). International Arachis Newsletter 19 : 62-64
Oudhia, P. (1999b). Studies on allelopathy and medicinal weeds in
chickpea fields. International Chickpea And Pigeonpea Newsletter 6 : 29-33.
Oudhia, P. (1999c). Medicinal weeds in rice fields of Chhattisgarh
(India). International Rice Research Notes. 24 (1) : 40.
Oudhia, P., Kolhe, S.S. and Tripathi, R.S. (1997a). Allelopathic
effect of white top (Parthenium hysterophorus L.) on chickpea. Legume Research. 20
(2) : 117-120
Oudhia, P., Kolhe, S.S. and Tripathi, R.S. (1997b). Allelopathic
effect of Parthenium hysterophorus L. on germination of Linseed. Indian J. Plant
Physiol.2 (4) : 327-329.
Oudhia, P. and Tripathi, R.S. (1998a). Allelopathic effects of Parthenium
hysterophorus L. on Kodo, Mustard and problematic weeds. In : Proc. First International
Conference on Parthenium Management, (Vol-II), UAS, Dharwad pp. 136-139.
Oudhia, P. and Tripathi, R.S. (1998b). The possibilities of preparing
Homoeopathic drugs from the obnoxious weeds of Chhattisgarh. Bhartiya Krishi Anusandhan
Patrika. 13 (1/2) : 53-57.
Rastogi, Ram. P. and Mehrotra. B.N. (1991). Compendium of Indian
medicinal plants (Vol-II) (1970-79). Pbl. Central Drug Research Institute, Lucknow and
Publications and Information Directorate, New Delhi p. 514.
Rao, R.S. (1956). Parthenium : A new record for India J. Bombay
Nat. Hist. Soc. 54 : 218-220. Sastry, Tenjarla, C.S. and Kavathekar, K.Y.
(1990). Plants for reclaimation of wastelands. Pbl. Publications and Information
Directorate, CSIR, New Delhi, p. 684.
Sharma, G.L. and Bhutani, K.K. (1988). Plant based antiamoebic drugs.
Part II. Amoebicidal activity of Parthenin isolated from Parthenium hysterophorus.
Planta Medica. 54 : 20-22.
Singh, U. Wadhwani, A.M. and johri, B.M. (1996). Dictionary of
Economic Plants in India. Pbl. Indian Council of Agricultural Research, New Delhi,
p. 165. Uphof, J.C. (1959). Dictionary of economic plants. p. 267 (Englemann Weinheim).