Balbas pusa (Orthosiphon aristatus) Herbal Medicine

This article discusses the medicinal uses, health Benefits, side effects and warnings of Balbas pusa or Cat's whiskers..

Cat's whiskers, Balbas pusa (Orthosiphon aristatus ) commonly referred to as Java tea, is a tropical perennial plant that has a peculiar long white or purple, two-lipped flowers with protruding stamens, that give the flower its characteristic cat’s whiskers appearance. Balbas pusa has taken its niche in the folkloric herbal medicine believed to have benefits for kidney and bladder health.


Scientific Name: Orthosiphon aristatus

Also knows as:

Balbas-pusa (Filipino); Kabling-parang (Pilipino); Yaa-nuat-maeo (Thailand); Cat's whisker (English); Indian kidney tea (English); Java tea (English); Kidney tea (English); Mao xu cao (Chinese); pokok misai kucing (Malay)

balbas pusa leaves

Cat's whisker or Balbas pusa (Orthosiphon aristatus) is a tropical herbaceous perennial plant that is native in Southeast Asia usually found in China, Taiwan, Philippines, Thailand and even in Australia. Balbas pusa, commonly referred to as Java tea is a herb used as medicine for many centuries.

Orthosiphon aristatus (balbas pusa) is an erect, slender shrub that can grow 1-2 meters in height. The leaves are semi-deciduous, light to dark green in color and are borne in distant pairs that is about 5-10 cm long.. The stalk is reddish-brown, that is slightly puberulent. The flowers forms a pagoda like shaped with 5-6 cm long stamens that resembles a cat’s whiskers, hence the name 'balbas pusa' in tagalog and 'cat's whisker' in english. The color of the flowers varies from white to purplish.

Balbas pusa (Cat's whisker) Traditional Health Benefits

Balbas pusa or Cat's whiskers is also popularly known as Java tea is widely used as folkloric herbal medicine for centuries. Balbas pusa is known for the following health benefits:

  • renal inflammation, kidney stones and dysuria.
  • liver and bladder problems including bladder stones,
  • urinary tract infection,
  • diabetes,
  • rheumatism and gout.
  • reduction of cholesterol and blood pressure.
  • anti allergic, antihypertensive, and anti-inflammatory
  • diuretic or stimulates urine production

Scientific Studies: Cat's Whisker (Orthosiphon aristatus ) Herbal Medicine

Kidney Stones Treatment. Clinical trials have shown that in 40% of patients with kidney stones of 0.5 cm diameter that was subjected to orthosiphon indicated an improvement in six months. In a similar study, about In 20% of the patients with other kidney complaints were cured and the patients were free of pain and discomfort.

Diabetes Treatment. In a study conducted for Orthosiphon. Results have demonstrated that there is reduction in blood sugar level for non-insulin dependent diabetics after being subjected for treatment in six months. Orthosiphon also acts on hypertension (high blood pressure). It reduces water and therefore as it has no side effects it can be used in place of pharmaceutical diuretics whether these are potassium saving, uricosurics, or others. It also has a significant effect on high renal blood pressure. As a consequence of treating high blood pressure, kidney stones and disorders can also be cured.

Antioxidant and hepatoprotective effects of Orthosiphon stamineus. In a clinical study in rats using methanol/water extract of orthosiphon have shown that orthosiphon exhibited antioxidant, lipid peroxidation inhibition and free radical scavenging activities into he rats' liver. (Basir R, Asmawi MZ, Ismail Z. School of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Universiti Sains Malaysia)

Effects of Orthosiphon stamineus aqueous extract on plasma glucose concentration and lipid profile in normal and streptozotocin-induced diabetic rats. The study has shown that In oral glucose tolerance test, the extract (0.2-1.0 g/kg) significantly decreased plasma glucose concentration in a dose-dependent manner in both normal and diabetic rats. (Sriplang K, Adisakwattana S, Rungsipipat A, Yibchok-Anun S. Department of Pharmacology, Faculty of Veterinary Science, Chulalongkorn University, Bangkok, Thailand)

A long-term study on the efficacy of a herbal plant, Orthosiphon grandiflorus, and sodium potassium citrate in renal calculi treatment. A was performed to compare the efficacy of a herbal plant, Orthosiphon grandiflorus (OG), and the drug sodium potassium citrate (SPC) in treatment of renal calculi. The study has shown that herbal tea prepared from orthosiphon plant taken for 18 months has significant reduction of renal stones and there were strong indications that symptoms related to renal problems has greatly improved. (Premgamone A, Sriboonlue P, Disatapornjaroen W, Maskasem S, Sinsupan N, Apinives C. Department of Community Medicine, Faculty Medicine, Khon Kaen University, Thailand)

Antihypertensive substance in the leaves of kumis kucing (Orthosiphon aristatus) in Java Island Among those thirteen substances, it was found that a major constituent in the water decoction of leaves, methylripariochromene A (5), exhibited a continuous decrease in systolic blood pressure after subcutaneous administration in conscious stroke-prone spontaneously hypertensive rats (Ohashi K, Bohgaki T, Shibuya H. Faculty of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences, ukuyama University, Hiroshima, Japan.)

Balbas pusa (Cat's whisker) Usage, Dosage

Where can I buy Balbas pusa?

Orthosiphon aristatus plant in pots can be bought in some home depot shops or local plant nursery that can be grown in your home garden. Orthosiphon leaves may be available in fresh or dried forms in herbs shops and health stores. This may be prepared in tea bags or in bulk forms. Online stores such as Amazon listed Dried Natural Orthosiphon aristatus 80 G 1 Pack Thai

Balbas pusa or Java Tea Preparation

  • wash fresh Balbas pusa or cat's whisker leaves
  • chop then add in 4 cups of water for every 1 cup
  • let it boil for 10 to 15 minutes
  • Let it steep then strain.
  • Drink half cup of balbas pusa tea also known as java tea three times a day.
  • Balbas pusa tea concoction can be stored in suitable glass container for later consumption.

Dried leaves are more potent. Follow instructions in the label for proper use.

Orthosiphon Use Warnings and Side Effects

Java tea or balbas pusa tea has no known and reported contra indications and side effects with other drugs. While it is generally safe to take java tea or balbas pusa tea, prolonged intake is discourage as this may cause low sodium serum in the body.

Pregnancy and Breast feeding. There are no sufficient studies made to determine the side effects of java tea (balbas pusa tea) taken in medicinal amounts to infants and babies. Stay on the safe side, avoid taking balbas pusa in herbal medicine dosages when pregnant and while breast feeding

Allergies. In rare cases, the herb has caused allergic side effects.

Fluid retention. Don’t use java tea as “irrigation therapy” when fluid retention or edema is due to kidney or heart related problems.

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Article last reviewed: 10.19.2016