Ortosifón: properties and contraindications

Orthosiphon is used in alternative medicine to stimulate the elimination of liquids and fats. It works? Here we detail it.

Last update: November 30, 2021

The orthosiphon, also known as cat’s mustache, is a herbaceous plant with a scientific name Orthosiphon aristatus. It usually grows in soils in southern China, Southeast Asia, and Australia. However, it has also been introduced in some regions of Central America and northern South America. Belongs to the family labiatae or lamiaceae, of which basil is also part.

In its countries of origin, this species is used for ornamental purposes, due to its striking white flowers. It is also used in the form of tea or extracts for various medicinal purposes. This time we tell you what its main applications are, what the evidence says and what its contraindications are.

Uses and properties of orthosiphon

Orthosiphon leaves are often used to make herbal teas. In fact, in the market it is known as java tea. It is important to note that other parts of the plant have toxic components. Therefore, they are not edible.

In any case, the evidence on the safety and efficacy of this plant is still limited. Thus, it is not a first-line treatment and should be used with caution. Let’s see its most frequent uses.


As mentioned in a review article published in Journal of Medicinal Food, orthosiphon has diuretic properties that are used to stimulate the elimination of liquids and fight inflammation. In particular, substances known as sinensetine and tetramethoxy flavones would be responsible for this effect.

Bladder problems

Due to its ability to stimulate the flow of urine, extracts from this plant are believed to aid in bladder cleansing. In fact, is a popular remedy for conditions such as cystitis. In a study on mice reported in Phytomedicine, the ortosifón was useful to fight an infection of the bladder and the urinary system.

This plant would have diuretic properties, so it could help in the treatment of urinary infections.


Java tea is not a first-line diabetes treatment. However, evidence suggests that it may have a hypoglycemic effect that helps reduce high glucose levels. It is important to use it in moderation, only as a preventive plan. In case you are taking medication for diabetes, it is better to avoid its consumption.


In folk medicine, orthosiphon is considered a “fat burning” ingredient. Nevertheless, to date there are no studies or scientific references to support this effect. On the contrary, it has been made clear that the tea of ​​the plant does not serve to burn the accumulated fat reserves. Even so, it seems to be an ideal supplement to lose weight.

Through Planta Medica it was reported that an ethanolic extract of the leaves helped reduce body weight gain. It was even useful to lower high levels of cholesterol and triglycerides. Despite these results, more research is required.

For now, the slimming effects of the plant are explained in its diuretic qualities. By stimulating the elimination of liquids, it also helps to reduce kilos. However, this only happens when it is included in the framework of a healthy diet and a physical exercise plan.

Other possible benefits of orthosiphon

By tradition, this plant has also been given other medicinal applications. In any case, it must be borne in mind that these are uses that have not been sufficiently investigated. They cover the following:

  • Respiratory diseases.
  • Nervous system disorders.
  • Fungal infections
  • Osteoarthritis, arthritis and gout.
  • Skin disorders
  • Arterial hypertension.
  • Gallstones

Side effects and contraindications of orthosiphon

Java tea is considered safe when consumed orally, in moderation, for up to 8 weeks. In any case, some may have the following side effects:

  • Stomach ache.
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Dizziness

Likewise, it must be considered that the plant and its derivatives are contraindicated in the following cases:

  • Pregnancy and breastfeeding.
  • Renal insufficiency.
  • Chronic heart disease.
  • Dyspepsia.
  • Kids.
  • People who are taking medication.

Regarding the latter, it is essential to consider that can cause interactions if taken concurrently with diabetes drugs, antihypertensives, lithium or diuretic drugs, among others. The ideal is to consult the doctor or pharmacist.

Diabetic patients should not drink Java tea. There is a risk of drug interactions.

Dosage and presentations

The orthosiphon dose depends on factors such as age, health, and the purpose of use. For now, there are no exact guidelines that determine precisely how it should be consumed. Thus, it is important to read the supplement label and follow its directions.

Capsule presentations can be taken in amounts of 2 to 3 a day. As for the extract, between 30 and 50 drops are suggested. If you prefer to ingest it in tea, opt for the following recipe.


  • 1 tablespoon of orthosiphon leaves (10 grams).
  • 1 cup of water (250 milliliters).


  1. Pour the leaves of the plant into a cup of boiling water.
  2. Cover the drink and let it rest for 10 minutes.
  3. Consume 1 cup a day.

What should you remember about the orthosiphon?

Orthosiphon tea and extract they are used as adjuvants to stimulate the elimination of retained fluids. In addition, it is believed that it can promote weight loss and alleviate some health problems. However, the evidence on its safety and efficacy remains insufficient. Therefore, it must be used with care, only in a timely manner.

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