DESMODIUM.a (Desmodium adscendens)

A Powerful and Safe Lung and Liver Support

Desmodium adscendens is another wondrous rainforest herb which has been traditionally used by native peoples for a wide variety of conditions including: hepatitis, protection of liver from cirrhosis, muscle, tendon, and spinal pain, rheumatism, asthma (has bronchial-dilating qualities), allergic symptoms and eczema.

Desmodium adscendens (or adscendens) is a vine, which grows wild in the Amazon rainforest of Peru and other South American countries and on the West Coast of Africa as well. It is believed to have been used for thousands of years by peoples native to the areas where it grows for a variety of health issues, including the following: asthma, bronchitis, jaundice, hepatitis, muscle cramps and backache. In Peru it is called Amor Seco or Pega Pega or any of a half dozen other names; in Belize it is know as “Strong Back” herb. It is an herbacious, perennial plant which grows up the trunks of trees. The leaves and stems are the medicinal parts. The therapeutic phytochemicals in Desmodium a. include alkaloids of the family of indolic alkaloids. The plant contains 4 mg/kg of alkaloids expressed in tryptamine. Fatty acids are present in a concentration of up to 3%, which is relatively rich in unsaturated acids.

Research Findings

Desmodium a. has been studied in France, England, Canada and Ghana (one of its countries of origin) including bronchial dilation, relaxation of smooth muscles, anti-histamine effects, and its ability to help normalize elevated liver enzyme levels.

Effects on the Lungs

These studies have shown an inhibition of the contraction generated by histamine on the smooth muscles of guinea pigs. Tests have targeted the ileum and the bronchial muscles, and it has been shown that the relaxation effect on the bronchials is very rapid (within a minute or two). These studies confirm the traditional usage for asthma, so well known that in Ghana the first line of treatment for patients in an acute asthma attack is the use of Desmodium a.

Other effects on the lungs include helping to clear the sinuses, clearing congested nasal passages rapidly, helping to stop a lingering cough after the flu and even helping to clear up snoring.

  • Congestive Heart Failure (Coughing)
  • Chronic Cough
  • Nasal Drip
  • Asthma
  • Bronchial Spasms

Dr. Cherkesian, a licensed acupuncturist and naturopathic doctor who practices in Boca Raton, Florida has found remarkable improvement in his patients with congestive heart failure (CHF) who were coughing a great deal because of the inability of their heart to clear their lungs, despite their taking different pharmaceutical lung-clearing drugs.

Effects on the Liver

The nutritional support provided for people with jaundice and different kinds of hepatitis with Desmodium a. is well established in West Africa. Medical doctors have documented the gradual normalization of elevated liver enzyme levels over a period of months. Improvements in liver enzyme levels are noted even within a week. (For documentation of several cases, see below). This effect takes place because of the indolic alkaloids present in the plant. There are no anti-viral properties against the hepatitis virus in Desmodium a., as there are in Phyllanthus niruri or “Break-Stone” herb). The normalization of elevated liver enzymes—including cases of chronic hepatitis C—is facilitated entirely by the nutrients in the herb which support liver repair.*

Case No. 2
Mr. R.H., male – aged 60


About 6 capsules of 200mg of Desmodium a. per day 10/11/92 to 01/15/93


Conclusion: this seems to be a case of iatrogenic hepatitis which the nutritional support with Desmodium adscendens helped to resolve.

Analgesic Effects on Muscles and Tendons (Anti-spasmodic)

Traditionally used for minor and occasional pain due to trauma and physical injury

The studies are based on taking Desmodium a. capsules, but native peoples use this plant as a juice or a tea (aqueous extract) to get rid of jaundice, hepatitis, relieve asthma, relieve rheumatism and to clear up eczema.*

*This product has not been evaluated by the FDA, and is not intended to diagnose prevent or cure any disease. If you are ill, consult a qualified health care practitioner.


  • Addy, M.E., et al., 1984. “Effects of the Extract of Desmodium adscendens on Anaphylaxis.” Journal of Ethnopharmacology, Vol 11 3:282-292 (1984).
  • Addy, M.E., et al., 1986. “Dose-response Effects of Desmodium adscendens Aqueous Extract on Histamine Response.” Content and Anaphylactic Reactions in the Guinea Pig.” J Ethnopharmacol 18 1: 13-20 (1986).
  • Addy, M.E., et al., 1987. “Effect of Desmodium adscendens Fractions on Antigen- and Arachidonic Acid-induced Contractions of Guinea Pig Airways.” Can J Physiol Pharmacol 66 6: 820-825 (1987).
  • Addy, M.E., et al., 1987. Dose-response Effects of Desmodium adscendens Aqueous Extract on Antigen- and Arachidonic Acid- induced Contractions of Guinea- pig Airways. Phytother Res 1 4: 180-186 (1987).
  • Addy, M.E., et al., 1989. “Effect of Desmodium adscendens Fraction F1 (DAFL) on Tone and Agonist-induced Contractions of Guinea Pig Airway Smooth Muscle.” Phytother Res 3 3:85-90.
  • Addy, M.E., et al., 1989. “Several Chromatography Distinct Fractions of Desmodium adscendens Inhibit Smooth Muscle Contractions.” Int J Crude Res 27 2: 81-91 (1989).
  • Addy, M.E., et al., 1992. “Some Secondary Plant Metabolites in Desmodioum adscendens and Their Effects on Arachidonic Acid Metabolism.” Prostaglandins Leukotrienes Essential Fatty Acids 47 1: 85-91 (1992)
  • Addy, M.E., et al., 1995. “An Extract of Desmodium adscendens Activates Cyclooxygenase and Increases Prostaglandin Synthesis by Ram Seminal Vesicle Microsomes.” Phytother Res 9 4: 287-293 (1995)
  • Boye, G &Ampopo, O, 1990. “Plants and Traditional Medicine in Ghana,” Economic and Medicinal Plant Research. Vol 4, pp 33-34 Academic
    Press Ltd., Devon, England.
  • Brandao, M.,, 1996. “Ethnobotany of the Garifuna of Eastern Nicaragua,” Economic Botany, Vol 50, 1:71-107 (1996)
  • Duke, James & Vasquez, Rudolfo, 1994 Amazonian Ethnobotanical Dictionary, CRC Press Inc.: Boca Raton, FL.
  • Schultes, R.E., an Raffauf, 1990. The Healing Forest. Medicinal and Toxic Plants of the North west Amazonia, R.f. Dioscorides Press: Portland, Oregon.
  • Vaquez, M.R., 1990 Useful Plants of Amazonian Peru. Second Draft. Filed with USDA’s National Agricultural Library, USA.

by Viana Muller, Ph.D. This article may not be reprinted without permission from the author.
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