Boerhavia diffusa or Punarnava belongs to the family Nyctaginaceae . This is also known as spiderlings as this plant grows low and spreads like spider web. Boerhavia diffusa is identified by name Punarnava in India. Ayurvedic texts immensely praise the medicinal properties of this plant. This herb is very well known for its anti-inflammatory and diuretic properties. Globally this herb can be found in Africa, NorthAmerica. South America, China , India and Myanmar.
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Boerhavia diffusa or Punarnava in Ayurveda
This ayurvedic herb is known by different names in various languages of India. They call it Atikamamidi in Telugu, Itsit in punjabi, pananua in assamese, Mukaratte- Kirai in Tamil, punarnova in Bengali, Ghetuli in marathi, Satodi in gujarati, komme in kannada, talutama in malyalam, Spreading Hogweed, horse purslane, Red Hogweed, pigweed, Tarvine and Red spiderling, in English
Synonyms of spiderling plant in texts of ayurveda
It is called as Punarnava or Punarbhu (Punar + nava). Punar means – once again, nava means – becoming new. When the plant dies once in a year, it again spurts back from roots like a new plant. It is considered as the best anti-ageing herb. Since it makes us young again with good energy and stamina it is known as punarnava. Shilatika, Katilla, Kathillaka, Jatila, Shivatika, Varhsabhu, Vruscheera, are other names. Shophaghni and Shothaghni are other synonyms which means the herb which reduces pain and swelling.
Types of Punarnava or Hogweed
Texts of ayurveda mention three types of Punarnava.
- Shweta Punarnava – The white variety , which has white coloured stem and flower. It is also known as Varshabhu .
- Rakta Punarnava – The red variety , which has red coloured stem and flower
- Nila Punarnava – The Blue variety of punarnava (raja Nighantu)
The red variety of this herb is used in ayurvedic treatment.
Chemical Composition of Punarnava
This plant contains T. Portulacastrum- Trianthemine and ecdysterone. Hentriacontane, B-sitosterol, Oxalicacid, D- glucose, Punarnavoside, Punarnavine-1, Punarnavine-2 Boeravinones A,B,C etc. are other important constituents. b-Sitosterol, a-2-sitosterol, palmitic acid, ester of b-sitosterol, tetracosanoic, hexacosonoic, stearic, arachidic acid, urosilic acid, Hentriacontane, b-Ecdysone, triacontanol are also present. It has two rotenoids known by Boeravinones G and H. These chemical components are responsible for anti-inflammatory, analgesic and rdejuvinative properties exhibited by this herb.
Ayurveda Medicinal Properties of Punarnava
Ayurveda acharyas explain medicinal properties of this herb as follows.
According to text Bhava Prakaasha
In Dhanvantari Nighantu, it is explained as
The juice of this plant has varied taste. – It has Madhura rasa (sweet taste), Kashaya Rasa (astringent taste ) and Tikta rasa (bitter taste). It is light to digest (laghu) and reduces moisture content (rooksha) of body. After digestion (vipaka) it gets pungent taste or Katu rasa. It increases body heat (ushna veerya). It balances Kapha dosha and Vata dosha.
The whole plant is utilised for medicinal purpose.
Ayurveda Health Benefits and Uses of Punarnava
Rejuvenates Liver and Digestive System
This herb is used in ayurvedic liver detox . When used it helps to improve anemia. It eliminates body toxins and increases appetite. Use of this herb helps to boost digestion power and improves taste. Punarnava also reduces stomach pain and colic.
Punarnava acts as a carminative, increases appetite, digests ama (body toxin) and reduces abdominal pain. It also used in natural ayurvedic remedies for constipation.
It helps in jaundice or hepatitis. It is employed in Brazilian herbal medicine to stimulate the emptying of the gallbladder and for all types of liver disorders
Improves Heart Health
This is praised as hrudrogajit, which means the herb which helps to overcome diseases of heart. Since this is an excellent diuretic , it helps to lower blood pressure and reduces load on heart.
Improves Lung Health
This herb is recommended in treatment of cough, expectoration of sputum and cold. It boosts immunity of lungs and strengthens it. It clears the lungs and reduces cough, asthma etc.
Helps in Female reproductive problems
Punarnava is eulogised as “Raktapradaradoshaghna” which means it helps in conditions like excessive bleeding during menstrual cycle or PCOD (PCOS) or Menopause. It is also used to treat painful menstruation. This is widely used as ayurvedic treatment for PCOS or PCOD. Boerhavia diffusa is used as an active ingredient in ayurvedic preparations for menorrhagia.
A skin friendly herb
Since this herb detoxifies liver, improves blood health and heals wound fast , it is used in ayurvedic remedies for acne and pimple. It detoxifies skin and clears it of infections. Its root decoction (Kashaya or kadha) is used in treating snake bites, rat bites etc. It is very useful in skin diseases like scabies. It is considered as an excellent natural remedy for guinea worms
Good for Men
It rejuvenates male reproductive system and acts as an aphrodisiac. This increases libido, duration of hard erection and helps to improve sperm quality. It is used in Ayurveda Vajikarana Therapy. Seeds of punarnava are used as ayurvedic medicine and treatment for erectile dysfunction. It is also used to improve sperm count and motility naturally.
Effective in Kidney Stones
Since this plant has effective diuretic properties, it is used in treatment of kidney stones along with other herbs like gokshura or tribulus terrestris. This plant cleanses the kidneys and helps to get rid of renal calculi (kidney stones). Ayurvedic doctors prefer this herb to treat cystitis and UTI
Body Rejuvenation :
It rejuvenates whole body and gives a new life and health (Hence the name Punarnava (New again)). It strengthens the body and normalizes doshas. This helps to boost the immunity to diseases.
Thus the plant punarnava acts on all important organ systems and rejuvenate them, giving a new life . Hence the name punarnava.
Shothagni is another synonym for Boerhavia diffusa . Shotha means inflammation. The plant which acts as an enemy to inflammation is shothagni. This plant is known to reduce inflammation in rheumatoid arthritis or amavata and joint pain. It is widely used in inflammation of liver, kidney and joints.
A Note of Caution
- Cardiac patients should use this herb under the supervision of a qualified doctor.
- Since it acts as a diuretic, patients with high Blood Pressure and kidney disorders should consult their doctors before using.
- This is safe to use during lactation period and in kids.
- Consult your gynaecologist before using this in pregnancy.
Consult Dr.Savitha Suri for ayurvedic remedies. Email [email protected] . WhatsApp + 91 6360108663
Author : Dr. Savitha Suri Consultant Ayurvedic Physician
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