Knobweed : proven benefits, uses


The scientific name of the knobweed  is Hyptis capitata Jacq.

Scientific names Common names
Clinopodium capitatum (Jacq.) Sw. Arbaka (Maranao)
Hyptis capitata Jacq. Bababañga (Bon.)
Hyptis decurrens (Blanco) Epling Botonesan (Tag.)
Hyptis mariannarum Briq. Kambali (Tag.)
Hyptis rhomboidea M.Martens & Galeotti Kombar-kombaran (Tag.)
Hyptis rhomboidea M.Martens & Galeotti Leng-leñga (Bon.)
Mesosphaerum capitatum (Jacq.) Kuntze Liñga-liñgahan (Tag.)
Mesosphaerum rhombodeus (M.Martens & Galeotti) Kuntze Palapasagi (P. Bis.)
Pycnanthemum decurrens Blanco  Palopalot (Ilk.)
Thymus virginicus Blanco Pansi-pansi (Bik.)
Tabaku-tabaku (Ilk.)
Tarotabako (Bik.)
Tetetei (Bon.)
Tultulisan (Ilk.)
Turukan (Tag.)
Bachelor’s button (Engl.)
Buttonweed (Engl.)
False ironwort (Engl.)
Knobweed (Engl.)
Other vernacular names
CHAMORRO: Batunes, Botones.
JAPANESE: Iganigakusa
POHNPEIAN: Pawehs, Pwetepwet.
SPANISH: Biojo, Cartagena amarilla, Chirrite, Cordon de fraile.
TAHITIAN: Maa uupo.
YAPESE: Pathpath.

Botonesan / knobweed is a stout, erect, nonaromatic, hairy, annual herb, about 0.5 to 1.5 meters high, with green or purplish 4-angled stems. Leaves are lanceolate, 8 to 14 centimeters long, with toothed margins. Flowers are numerous, crowded in long-peduncles, growing up to 10 centimeters in length and the heads 1to 2 centimeters in diameter with basal involucres of hairy bracts. Calyx is green, 4 millimeters long, accrescent, 8 millimeters long in fruit. Corolla is white, 6 millimeters long.


– In all or most islands and provinces, grown as a weed in settled areas, occurring in open, waste places, fallow rice paddies, etc.

– Introduced from Mexico.


• Contains alkaloids, camphor, cyanogenic glycosides and alkaloids.

• Study isolated two new compounds: a lignan and a pyrone; with no alkaloids.

• Yields ursolic acid (3β-hydroxyurs-12-en-28-oic) (UA) (4), a pentacyclic triterpene. (8)

• Alcoholic extract of air-dried leaves yielded a glavonol glucoside. On Hydrolysis, it yielded kaempferol, glucose, and rhamnose. (see study)


– Tonic, stimulant, carminative, vulnerary.

– Studies have suggested cytotoxic, antioxidant, antinociceptive properties.

knobweed Flower Head

Parts utilized

Leaves, roots

Folkloric traditional medicine remedies, benefits and uses of knobweed

– In the Philippines, decoction of leaves used to clean wounds.

– Decoction of roots used for amenorrhea.

– Used by the Maranaos for dry cough and tooth aches; gas pains in infants and convulsions in children.

– In Malaysia, used for stomach ache; the young leaves are pounded into a paste and applied to the affected areas.

– In Martinique, used as tonic and excitant.

– In Antilles, used as a stimulant.

– In Costa Rica, plant decoction held in mouth to alleviate toothaches. Also drunk for gastrointestinal distress. In Jamaica, plant decoction used as cold remedy. In El Salvador, plant used as tonic and stimulant. (see study)

– In Bangladesh, leaf juice is taken orally for malaria. Root and leaf paste is applied to cuts and abrasions to prevent infection.

Science proven benefits and uses of knobweed


Study isolated five triterpene acids including new hyptatic acids. Hyptatic acid A and 2a-hydroxyursolic acid demonstrated in vitro cytotoxicity in human colon HCT-8 tumor cells.

Oleanolic Acid / Pomolic Acid / Anti-HIV Activity:

Oleanolic acid was identified as anti-HIV principle from several plants, including Hyptis capitata. Study also isolated pomolic acid from H capitata, also identified as an anti-HIV agent.

Antinociceptive / Antioxidant:

An ethanolic extract of H. capitata showed antinociceptive activity with significant reduction of acetic acid induced writhing in mice and mild to moderate antioxidant activity in DPPH free radical scavenging assay.



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