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Cat's whiskers / Orthosiphon

Cat's whiskers / Orthosiphon
© Sertürner Bildarchiv

Botanical name

Cat´s whiskers - Orthosiphon aristatus (Blume) Miq.

Family

Labiatae (Lamiaceae)

Useful information about the plant

The Cat's whiskers is native to tropical areas of Asia and has spread to the East Indies, Indochina and Indonesia. It is also cultivated in Java and Sumatra. The plant owes its name to the four strikingly long stamens, which stick out, as long as a pen, looking like a cat's whiskers sticking out from the white to pale purple flowers lip. The flowers are in spike-like flowery whorls, which is expressed by the epithet: Lat "aristatus" (= with ears). The genus name Orthosiphon comes from the Greek and means "upright tube." The perennial, herbaceous plants will grow up to 60 inches and has purple, four-sided stems that are coarsely toothed with pointed leaves, arranged in decussate.

Medicinally used plant parts (drug)

The dried leaves and twigs are used. The drug is imported from Indonesia. In the trade the drug is also known as "Indian kidney tea" or "Java tea".

Ingredients of the drug

Orthosiphon leaves contain caffeic acid derivatives (including rosmarinic acid) and lipophilic flavonoids (including sinensetin) and oxygenated diterpenes (including Orthosiphol and Orthosiphon).

Descriptions of the quality

The quality of Orthosiphon leaves (Orthosiphonis folium) is specified in the European Pharmacopoeia (Ph. Eur.).

Medical Application

Recognised medical use

For flushing bacterial and inflammatory diseases of the urinary tract and renal gravel (Commission E) for flushing the urinary tract, especially with inflammations and renal gravel, and support in eliminating bacterial infections of the urinary tract (ESCOP).
The HMPC has classified Orthosiphon leaves as a traditional herbal medicinal product (see traditional use).

Traditional use

Orthosiphon leaves are categorised by the HMPC as a traditional herbal medicine (§ 39a AMG). Based on many years of experience Orthosiphon leaves can therefore be used to increase urine output and for flushing the urinary bladder in a supportive way with mild symptoms.
Traditionally used to support the excretory function of the kidneys (traditional use acc. to § 109a).

Medicinal herbal preparations in finished drug products

  • cut Orthosiphon leaves as tea
  • dried extracts in tablets, capsules and instant teas

Dosage

Prepared drug: see package insert;
Tea infusion: drink a cup of Orthosiphon leaf tea 2 to 4 times a day; average daily dose of 8-12 grams of the drug. Good to combine with other drugs such as restharrow, goldenrod herb, birch leaves and nettle leaves (Bladder and Kidney, Diuretic tea).

Preparation of a tea infusion

Pour 150ml of boiling water over 2 to 3g finely chopped Orthosiphon leaves and strain after 10 to 15 minutes.

Advice

Plenty of fluids must be drunk with a flushing therapy! A flushing therapy with Orthosiphon leaves must not be performed in the presence of oedema due to impaired heart and kidney function. Seek medical advice if during the treatment the following adverse effects occur: fever, urinary retention, seizures during urination or blood in urine.
There are no studies on the safety ingesting Orthosiphon leaves during pregnancy and whilst breast-feeding, and for use in young people under 18 years old and children.

Side effects

None known

Interactions

None known

References

Drug monographs

HMPC, Commission E, ESCOP

Further reading

Wichtl: Teedrogen und Phytopharmaka, pg. 478
Schilcher: Leitfaden Phytotherapie, pg. 191
Van Wyk: Handbuch der Arzneipflanzen, pg. 222
Kommentar zum Europäischen Arzneibuch (Orthosiphon leaves, no. 1229)

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