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15 November 2020 | Publications on White Heads | Eclipta prostrata |

photo Back in December 2015, I did a survey of the publications related to Eclipta prostrata (White Heads) in the online PubMed database that housed millions of citations of biomedical articles. I wanted to know how many publications in there were on this herb and the trend over time. Subsequently in May 2016, I updated the count.

I used the following 5 key terms to search for the articles in PubMed.

  • Eclipta prostrata: The accepted botanical name of the plant.
  • Eclipta alba: A commonly used synonym of Eclipta prostrata.
  • Ecliptae Herba: The accepted name of the plant in traditional Chinese medicine.
  • Er Zhi Wan or Erzhi Pill: A traditional Chinese medicine prescription that contains equal amount of Eclipta prostrata and another herb known as Nu Zhen Zi (Ligustrum lucidumis).
  • Wedelolactone: A compound found in this plant that has potential medicinal effect.

The search was limited to articles with the above key terms in the title of the publication and they had to be English language articles. After completed the search, I tabulated the count of the 110 articles found in blocks of 10 years. The first paper with the key term appeared in 1978 [1].

About 4 years later in October 2020, I decided to do another survey in the same website using the same key terms. The latest total count had jumped to 203, an addition of 93 articles which was an indication of increase interest of this herb and its constituents in the biomedical research community over time.

photo Interestingly, the synonym Eclipta alba was found in 54 titles including 4 of them in this year while 57 titles used the accepted botanical name of the plant, Eclipta prostrata. Eclipta alba was assigned as a synonym of Eclipta prostrata in 1981. It made me wonder why so many of these researchers were still using an out-dated botanical name of the plant. Further search showed that there was still dispute over the 2 names in some quarters. A number of publications still considered Eclipta prostrata and Eclipta alba as 2 different plant species. In 2007, an article published in a Thailand by 2 Japanese author indicated Eclipta prostrata and Eclipta alba as 2 different species [2-4]. Similar separation was seen in another article published in 2017 by a group of Korean authors. There was even a side-by-side pictures of the 2 plants in another publication in 2016 by a dentistry faculty in Thailand. But, I could not really tell the difference in the 2 pictures.

Over the last decade, the related number of related publications increased by 4 times from 34 (year 2000 to 2009) to 137 (year 2010 to 2019). The article count for year 2020 alone up to this point was 20. Obviously, there were many more publications out there that were not included in the PubMed database. However, those that managed to get into this database were considered to be of a better quality and from more reputable journals.

I would not be updating the article listing in the May 2016 survey page with the current survey listing because it would be was too time consuming to do so. Moreover, anyone could do the same search in the PubMed database to obtain the list of articles.

I no longer keep this plant in my pot since it could be found almost everywhere these days.


[1] Ma-Ma K, Nyunt N, Tin KM. The protective effect of Eclipta alba on carbon tetrachloride-induced acute liver damage. Toxicol Appl Pharmacol 1978;45(3):723-728.

[2] Umemoto S, Koyama H. A new species of Eclipta (Compositae: Heliantheae) and its allies in eastern Asia. Thai For Bull (BOT) 2007;35:108-118. | Read article |

[3] Kim I, Park JY, Lee YS, Lee HO, Park HS, Jayakodi M, Waminal NE, Kang JH, Lee TJ, Sung SH, Kim KY, Yang TJ. Discrimination and authentication of Eclipta prostrata and E. alba based on the complete chloroplast genomes. Plant Breed Biotech 2017;5:334-343. | Read article |

[4] Nguyen TT, Choonate S, Puengsurin D, Srichan R, Mala S, Surarit R. Effects of Eclipta prostrata and Eclipta alba on survival, proliferation, migration of periodontal ligament cell. M Dent J 2016;36:165-173. | Read article |

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