The Benefits of Anamu

Anamu. Deni Brown/Dorling Kindersley/Getty Images

Anamu in a plant used in herbal medicine. Also known as Petiveria alliacea, it's long been used in certain systems of folk medicine to strengthen the immune system and fend off sickness. In addition, anamu is said to protect against cancer and treat a range of common health conditions.

Known for its intense, garlic-like odor, anamu contains a variety of compounds thought to influence health. These compounds include several antioxidants, as well as tannins (substances with anti-inflammatory and astringent effects).

Uses for Anamu

In alternative medicine, anamu is typically used for the following health problems:

  • anxiety
  • arthritis 
  • colds
  • depression 
  • diabetes 
  • fever
  • flu 

Anamu is also said to decrease inflammation, alleviate pain, and protect against cancer. Some alternative medicine proponents also claim that anamu can help fight infection, as well as aid in the treatment of food poisoning.

Benefits of Anamu

So far, very few scientific studies have examined the health effects of anamu. Still, some preliminary research indicates that anamu may offer certain health benefits. Here are several findings from the available studies:

1)  Anxiety

Several animal-based studies indicate that anamu may have anti-anxiety benefits. This research includes a rat-based study published in the Journal of Ethnopharmacology in 2012, which found that anamu may help relieve anxiety, lessen depression, and enhance memory. However, the study's authors also observed that anamu may inhibit antioxidant status, which might have a negative impact on health.

More on natural remedies for anxiety.

2)  Immune System

In a preliminary study published in the American Journal of Chinese Medicine in 2012, laboratory tests on cells demonstrated that anamu extract may help stimulate activity in the immune system. 

RELATED: All-Natural Ways to Fight Colds

3)  Pain

Anamu may have pain-reducing benefits, according to a preliminary study published in Phytomedicine in 2002.

In tests on rats, researchers observed that anamu may help lessen pain and reduce several markers of inflammation. 

MORE: Herbs for Pain Management


Because research on the health effects of anamu is so limited, little is known about the safety of taking this herb in supplement form. However, there's some concern that anamu may have adverse effects, due to its potential to decrease the body's antioxidant capacity (as observed in animal-based research).

Because anamu may lower your blood sugar levels, there's also some concern that it may interact with diabetes medications. If you're currently using any type of medicine to treat diabetes, consult your physician prior to using anamu.

Keep in mind that supplements haven't been tested for safety and dietary supplements are largely unregulated. In some cases, the product may deliver doses that differ from the specified amount for each herb. In other cases, the product may be contaminated with other substances such as metals. Also, the safety of supplements in pregnant women, nursing mothers, children, and those with medical conditions or who are taking medications has not been established.

You can get further tips on using supplements here.

Alternatives to Anamu

There are many natural ways to shore up your immune system and fight off illness. For starters, make sure to follow a balanced diet high in immune-boosting foods. Increasing your intake of green tea and incorporating herbs like garlic and ginger into your meals may also help rev up immune function.

Because chronic stress is thought to deplete the immune system, practicing stress-management techniques may help keep your immune system strong. Getting sufficient sleep and working out regularly are also essential for a robust immune system.

Additionally, several herbs may help stimulate immune function and reduce the duration and severity of the common cold when taken at the first sign of cold symptoms. These herbs include astragalus, echinacea, and elderberry. There's some evidence that such herbs may help fight sickness by increasing the production of immune cells.

Where to Find It

Widely available for purchase online, dietary supplements containing anamu are sold in some natural-food stores and other stores specializing in herbal remedies.

Using Amanu for Health

Given the lack of supporting research behind amanu's purported health benefits, it cannot currently be recommended as a standard treatment for any condition. If you're interested in using it for health purposes, make sure to consult your physician before beginning treatment. Self-treating and avoiding or delaying standard care can have serious consequences.


Blainski A, Piccolo VK, Mello JC, de Oliveira RM. "Dual effects of crude extracts obtained from Petiveria alliacea L. (Phytolaccaceae) on experimental anxiety in mice." J Ethnopharmacol. 2010 Mar 24;128(2):541-4.

de Andrade TM, de Melo AS, Dias RG, Varela EL, de Oliveira FR, Vieira JL, de Andrade MA, Baetas AC, Monteiro MC, Maia Cdo S. "Potential behavioral and pro-oxidant effects of Petiveria alliacea L. extract in adult rats." J Ethnopharmacol. 2012 Sep 28;143(2):604-10.

Lopes-Martins RA, Pegoraro DH, Woisky R, Penna SC, Sertié JA. "The anti-inflammatory and analgesic effects of a crude extract of Petiveria alliacea L. (Phytolaccaceae)." Phytomedicine. 2002 Apr;9(3):245-8.

Santander SP, Hernández JF, Barreto CC, Masayuki A, Moins-Teisserenc H, Fiorentino S. "Immunomodulatory effects of aqueous and organic fractions from Petiveria alliacea on human dendritic cells." Am J Chin Med. 2012;40(4):833-44.

Disclaimer: The information contained on this site is intended for educational purposes only and is not a substitute for advice, diagnosis or treatment by a licensed physician. It is not meant to cover all possible precautions, drug interactions, circumstances or adverse effects. You should seek prompt medical care for any health issues and consult your doctor before using alternative medicine or making a change to your regimen.

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