Xanthium strumarium

scientific name: 
Xanthium strumarium L.
Botanical family: 

Botanical description

Annual monoecious herb 70 cm high. Leaves alternate, 7-12 cm long including petiole, base cordate or reniform, apex acute, 3-5 lobed and dentate, blades, scabrous, with appressed golden glandular hairs, triangular- orbicular 7-12 x 6-12 cm;  inflorescence racemose; male heads globose, numerous florets, female head burrlike with hooked bracts, 2 flowers; Achene, 0.9-1.5cm linear, compressed, beaked, smooth.




kidney pain:

root, decoction, orally1,10

For kidney pain:

Prepare a decoction with 15–20 grams of fresh or dry root (15 roots, 10 cm long)in 1 liter of water (4 cups), boil at least 10 minutes in a covered pot. Leave to cool down and drink 1 cup, 3 to 4 times a day.

Any medicinal preparation must be preserved cold and used within the 24 hours.

According to published and other information:

Use for kidney pain is classified as REC, based on the significant traditional use documented in the TRAMIL surveys, toxicity studies, scientific validation and available published scientific information.

Should there be a notable worsening of the patient’s condition, or should kidney pain persist for more than 3 days, seek medical attention.

The use of this resource can be considered complementary to medical treatment for diuretic effects.

The fluid extract from the root (ethanol 65%) was orally administered to male and female Wistar rats at doses of 25, 200 and 2000 mg/kg in the acute toxic class (ATC) model.  Animal weight was checked at the beginning of treatment, and 7 and 14 days after administration of the extract.  When the 14-day observation period ended, the histopathological studies of the stomach, heart, lungs, kidneys, liver, thymus, brain, suprarenal glands, ovaries and testicles did not show any variations in the animals that received the maximum dosage.  At the end of the study, no signs of toxicity were observed, and there was no mortality7.

The hydroalcoholic extract (50%) from the root administered intraperitoneally to mice in a quantitative toxicity study showed a maximum tolerated dose of 100 mg/kg6.

The hydroalcoholic extract (30%) from the dried root was administered to 10 Balb/c mice at doses of 500, 1000 and 2000 mg/kg of body weight.  The genotoxicity assay in the bone marrow micronuclei test was compared against a positive cyclophosphamide control vehicle (20 mg/kg).  There was no evidence of bone marrow cytotoxity, and no genotoxic effects were observed.  The animals treated did not show loss of body weight or evident toxic signs of systemic action8.

The aqueous extract from the dried fruit showed activity when its general toxic effects were evaluated in oral administration to pigs9.

There is no available information documenting the safety of medicinal use in children or in pregnant or lactating women.

The root contains flavonoids; chalcone; carbohydrates : glucose, fructose; steroids: ß-sitosterol, daucosterol; phenylpropanoids : caffeic acid and inorganic substances : potassium nitrate, potassium sulfate, potassium chloride2.

The fluid extract from the root (1 kg of drug in 1 L of ethanol 65%) was orally administered at doses of 100, 200 and 400 mg/kg to Wistar rats.  The diuretic response was similar to that of the control vehicle (furosemide 5 mg/kg).  Observed variables: urinary discharge (mL/hour) during 6 hours, final volume, concentration of sodium and potassium in urine3.

The tincture of the root (20g of drug in 100 mL of ethanol 45%) orally administered to rats in a single dose of 60 mg/kg caused diuresis significantly higher than the control group (ethanol 45%) and the group treated with hydrochlorotiazide (5 mg/kg) after 2, 4 and 6 hours of observation.  The discharge of electrolytes in urine was significantly higher than in the control group, but lower than the amounts eliminated in the group treated with hydrochlorothiazide4.

The methanolic extract from the dried aerial parts inhibited in vitro (CI50 = 42.8 + 1.3 µg/mL) the proliferation of mesangial cells activated by interleukin-1band interleukin-6, in a study to identify therapeutic agents in immunoglobulin A-induced nephropathy.  It also decreased the production of interleukin-1 and tumoral necrosis factor -a5.

The hydroalcoholic extract (50%) from the root was inactive as cytotoxic and its ED50 = 20 mg/mL in CA9KB cell culture6.




1 CARBALLO A, 1990 Encuesta TRAMIL. Centro de investigación de fitoterapia y medicina tradicional de Topes de Collantes, Trinidad, Cuba.

2 BISHT NP, SINGH R, 1979 Chemical constituents of the stem and roots of Xanthium strumarium. J Indian Chem Soc 56:108-109.

3 JIMENEZ L, LEON MC, HERRERA R, GARCIA G, CADENAS JL, 1999 Efecto diurético de Xanthium strumarium L (guisazo de caballo). Rev Cubana Plantas Med 4(1):22-25.

4 HERRERA R, AGUERO ME, 2000 Efecto diurético de Xanthium strumarium L. en ratas. Archivo Médico de Camagüey (Supl. Med Nat y Trad).

5 KUO YC, SUN CM, TSAI WJ, OU JC, CHEN WP, LIN CY, 1998 Chinese herbs as modulators of human mesangial cell proliferation: preliminary studies. J Lab Clin Med 132(1):76-85.

6 DHAR ML, DHAR MM, DHAWAN BN, MEHROTRA BN, RAY C, 1968 Screening of Indian plants for biological activity: part I. Indian J Exp Biol 6:232-247.

7 JIMENEZ L, LEON MC, HERRERA R, GARCIA G, CADENAS JL, LOPEZ C, 1999 Toxicidad aguda oral del Xanthium strumarium L (guisazo de caballo). Rev Cubana. Plantas Med 4(1):40-43.

8 DIAZ GARCIA GM, 2002 Evaluación del efecto genotóxico del Xhantium strumarium L (guisazo de caballo) (Tesis). Instituto Superior de Ciencias Médicas “Carlos J. Finlay”, Camagüey, Cuba.

9 COLE RJ, STUART BP, LANSDEN JA, COX RH, 1980 Isolation and redefinition of the toxic agent from cocklebur (Xanthium strumarium).J Agric Food Chem 28(6):1330-1332.

10 MOREJON Z, LOPEZ M, GARCIA MJ, BOUCOURT E, VICTORIA M, FUENTES V, MORON F, BOULOGNE I, ROBINEAU L, 2009 Encuesta TRAMIL preliminar a grupos de vecinos en los municipios 10 de Octubre, Lisa, Marianao, Habana del Este (Cojímar) en la Ciudad de la Habana. Laboratorio Central de Farmacología, Universidad de Ciencias Médicas de La Habana, Ciudad de La Habana, Cuba.


The information provided is for educational purposes only for the benefit of the general public and health professionals. It is not intended to take the place of either the written law or regulations. Since some parts of plants could be toxic, might induce side effects, or might have interactions with certain drugs, anyone intending to use them or their products must first consult with a physician or another qualified health care professional. TRAMIL has no responsibility whatsoever towards the user for any decision, action or omission made in relation to the information contained in this Pharmacopoeia.