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Family Solanaceae
Physalis minima Linn.
K'u chi

Other scientific names  Common names   
Physalis pubescens Blanco  Amansit (Ilk.)  Unti (Tag.)
Physalis eggersii O.E. Schulz  Amanti-ti-ugsa (Bon.)  Unti-untihan (Tag.) 
Physalis lagascae Roem. & Schult. Itlog-gagamba (Tag.)  Pygmy groundcheery (Engl.)
Physalis divaricata D. Don. Lapak-lapak (Sul.)  Sunberry (Engl.)
  Pantug-pantugan (Tag.)  Tinkling bell grass (Engl.)
  Takla (Sub.)  K'u chi (Chin.)
  Tultullaki (Ilk.)   

Unti-untian shares a confusing phonetic similarity with Kama-kamatisan, Solanum nigrum (onti, konti, kunti).

Taxon confusion
Physalis, a genus of the family Solanaceae consists of about 100 species. Among these, Physalis minima has been confused with P. angulata (putokan). Some compilations list them as synonyms, as other list thedm as separate species. In Bangladesh, the two have long been misidentified. A critical examination separates them as species. (See below: sources)

Am erect, branched, hairy annual herb, growing up to 0.8 meters high. The branches are terete and often tinged with puple; the ultimate ones slightly angular. Leaves are ovate, 6 to 12 cm long, 4.5 go 7 cm wide, with pointed tips, rounded or slightly heart-shaped base, nearly entire or faintly undulately lobed margins. Flowers are solitary, axillary, aboout 8 mm long. Corolla is pale yellow, with 5 large, purple spots at the base inside. The fruit is round, fleshy and edible, about 1 cm in diameter. The inflated and accrescent calyx is ovoid, aboout 3 cm long, 2 cm in diameter, green, with 5 prominent and alternating slender and purplish ribs.

Common in open, waste places at low altitudes up to 1,600 meters.

Properties and constituents
Bitter tasting, cooling in effect.
Fruit is alterative, diuretic, aperient.
Plant is considered appetizer, antipyretic, antitussive, diuretic, laxative, expectorant, purgative and tonic.

Parts utilized
Roots, leaves, fruits.

Fruit is edible.
Root is used as vermifuge.
Root extract used for fever.
Decoction of roots also used for diabetes.
Poultice of leaves, oiled and heated, applied to ulcers.
Decoction of leaves used for gonorrhea; also, diuretic.
Used for colds and fever, swelling pain of the throat, bronchitis.
Fruit used for gout and also used to infuse vigor.
Plant paste made with rice water used to restore flaccid breasts.
Poultice of fruits used for headaches and intestinal pains.
Dosage: use 15 to 30 gms dried material in decoction. Pounded fresh material may be used as poultice or decoction of the same may be used as wash for eczema infection.
Juice of leaves, mixed with mustard oil and water, used for earaches.

In India, used for dysuria, ascites, ulcers, cough, bronchitis, pruritus and erysipelas. Used as a tonic, diuretic and purgative; as a remedy for spleen disorders.

Antifertility: Study of extract of P minima on female albino rats exhibited variations in ovarian and uterine weights and significant histopathologic changes in the histoarchitecture of the female reproductive system.
Antimicrobial: Antimicrobial activity of Rauvolfia tetraphylla and Physalis minima leaf and callus extracts: Leaf and callus extracts of R. tetraphylla and P. minima inhibited bacterial and fungal growth.
Phytochemicals / Withaphysalin D: Study yielded Withaphysalin D, a new withphysalin.
Anti-Inflammatory / Analgesic: Study of the whole plant of Physalis minima on rats showed marked anti-inflammatory and analgesic activities. The antipyretic activity was insignificant. Results showed PM as a potential candidate as an antiinflammatory and analgesic agent.
Cytotoxic / Anti-Cancer: (1) In the study, the chloroform extract of Physalis minima exhibited remarkable cytotoxic activities on human lund adenocarcinoma cell line in time- and dose-dependent manners. Its apoptotic effect suggests potential for development as an anticancer drug. (2) Study yielded a novel withanolide, withaphysalin P with six other new withaphysalins 1-7 and three known withaphysalins 8-10. Some compounds showed moderate cytotoxic activity against two human cancer cell lines – colorectal-carcinoma and nonsmall-cell lung cancer.
Hypoglycemic / Alpha-Glucosidase Inhibition: Physalis minima extract showed in-vitro inhibitory activity of intestinal alpha glucosidase enzyme maltase with decrease intestinal absorption of monosaccharides through inhibition of disaccharide hydxrolysis.
Apoptotic Effects / Anti-Breast Cancer: A chloroform extract of Physalis minima produced significant inhibition against human T-47D breast carcinoma cells. It induced apoptotic cell death via p53-, caspase-3-, and c-myc-dependent pathways.


Last Update Sept 2010

Photo © Godofredo Stuart / StuartXchange

Additional Sources and Suggested Readings
Antifertility Effects of the Petroleum Ether Extract of Physalis Minima on Female Albino Rats
Pharmaceutical Biology / 1999, Vol. 37, No. 4, Pages 269-272
Antimicrobial activity of Rauvolfia tetraphylla and Physalis minima leaf and callus extracts
African Journal of Biotechnology Vol. 5 (10), pp. 946-950, 16 May 2006

Withaphysalin D, A New Withaphysalin from Physalis minima Linn. Var. Indica / Mahendra Sahai and Isaac Kirson / J. Nat. Prod., 1984, 47 (3), pp 527–529 / DOI: 10.1021/np50033a022
Anti-inflammatory, analgesic and antipyretic activities of Physalis minima Linn / Murad Ali Khan et al / Journal of Enzyme Inhibition and Medicinal Chemistry, Volume 24, Issue 3 June 2009 , pages 632 - 637
/ DOI: 10.1080/14756360802321120
Cytotoxic Activities of Physalis minima L. Chloroform Extract on Human Lung Adenocarcinoma NCI-H23 Cell Lines by Induction of Apoptosis / Ooi Kheng Leong et al / Oxford Journals Medicine Evidence-based Compl. and Alt. MedicineeCAM Advance Access10.1093/ecam/nep057
Cytotoxic Withaphysalins from Physalis minima / Lei Ma et al / Helvetica Chimica Acta • Volume 90 Issue 7, Pages 1406 - 1419 / 10.1002/hlca.200790143 DOI

Alpha-Glucosidase Inhibitory and Hypoglycemic Activities of Physalis Minima Extract / Sathis Kumar, Raju S N et al / Pharmacognosy Journal, Dec 2009, Vol 1, Issue 4, Pp 273-278.
Apoptotic effects of Physalis minima L. chloroform extract in human breast carcinoma T-47D cells mediated by c-myc-, p53-, and caspase-3-dependent pathways / Ooi K L, Tengku Muhammad et al / Integr Cancer Ther. 2010 Mar;9(1):73-83. Epub 2010 Feb 11.
PHYSALIS ANGULATA L. (SOLANACEAE)-A NEW ANGIOSPERMIC RECORD FOR BANGLADESH / Nahid Sultana, M A Hassan et al / Bangladesh J. Bot. 37(2):195-198, 2008 (December) - Short communication

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