Kidney tea (biochemistry)

It grows wild on the islands of Southeast Asia and Northeast Australia. In Indonesia, the herb has long been known in traditional national medicine and is used for severe kidney diseases. The Dutch appreciated this remedy and in 1926 included it in their pharmacopoeia. In the USSR, it is cultivated in the subtropics.

The plant is perennial, herbaceous or semi-shrub, up to 1-1.5 m tall. Stem branched, tetrahedral. The leaves are short-petiolate, opposite, almost rhombic in shape with a coarsely serrated edge. Flowers at the tops of the stem and branches sit 3 in the axils of the leaves and form an interrupted false racemose inflorescence. The flowers are irregular, two-lipped, pale purple; 4 stamens, long, protrude strongly from the corolla tube.

Gather young, non-flowering leafy tops with 2-3 pairs of leaves – flushes (Folium Orthospiphonis). Dry raw materials have a brownish-green color. The taste is slightly bitter, there is no smell.

The leaves contain a number of pharmacologically active substances, including triterpene saponins; the agpicone of the main a-sapophonin is ursolic acid, which is a derivative of a-amirin.

In addition to saponins, kidney tea contains mesoinositol, flavonoids, 0.2-0.6% essential oil, a significant amount of phenolcarboxylic and other organic acids and potassium salts.

It is used as a diuretic in kidney diseases accompanied by edema, albuminuria, azotemia, and also in urolithiasis. The diuretic effect is accompanied by increased excretion of urea, uric acid and chlorides from the body.

Triterpene saponins of the lupeol type are found in plants much less frequently than derivatives (b- or a-amirin. They are found in tree-like succulents – numerous tropical species of Lemaireocereus – L. griseus (Hav.) Britt. et Rose (betulinic acid), L. stellatus (Pfeiff.); Brit, et Rose (stellatogenin and turberogenin) and others belonging to the cactus family (Cactaceae).


The plant contains triterpene saponins



Aglycones (sapogenins) in this group of saponins are triterpenes – pentacyclic (mostly) terpenoids with the total formula C 30 H 48 .

There are three main types of triterpene sapogenins: B-amirin, a-amirin, and lupeol.


A large number of sapogenins are derivatives of oleanolic acid. With functional groups, in addition to hydroxyl at C 3 and carboxyl at C 28 , there can also be hydroxyl, aldehyde, carbonyl, ether and lactone groups.

In the carbohydrate chain, there can be from 1 to 10 various monosaccharides (glucose, galactose, xylose, glucuronic and galacturonic acids, arabinoea, etc.). The saponins of some plants of the Araliaceae family may have two independent carbohydrate chains at C 3 and C 28 .


Saponins are natural substances that are glycosides, in which steroids or triterpenes can be aglycones (sapogenins). They are united by similar physical and chemical properties, among which the most characteristic is the ability of their aqueous solutions, when shaken, to foam strongly like soap, forming a stable, long-lasting foam.

In addition to surface activity, most saponins combine hemolytic activity and toxicity to cold-blooded animals.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *