Punarnava (Boerhavia diffusa) belongs to the family Nyctaginaceae which rejuvenates or renews the body and brings back youth. Punarnava is also known by other names like Raktakunda, Varshabhu, Shothaghani, Hogweed, Red Hogweed, Horse Purslance, Pigweed, Red Spiderling and Tarvine. There are two main varieties of Punarnava: The red and the white and both are very beneficial.
Punarnava is being used as a medicinal herb since ages as a pain killer. Various parts of this plant are used for treatment of diseases from fighting cancer to lowering inflammation. The roots, leaves, aerial parts, everything is useful. It is a tropical plant that grows in the form of a creeping weed and is also consumed as a vegetable as it has high nutritional content which includes vitamin C, protein, calcium and iron.
Punarnava has various health benefits.It is widely used to restore health, vitality and stamina. Some of the most commonly known health benefits of Punarnava are listed below:
1. As Liver Support
Punarnava is a prescribed medicine for the treatment of jaundice, hepatitis and other liver disorders like sluggish liver and anorexia.It stimulates the secretion of bile on a regular basis and is used to revitalize the liver and cleanse it. Both leaves and roots have hepatoprotective properties that protect the liver from harmful chemicals. Punarnava promotes liver functioning which in turn increases the hemoglobin in the body, and helps overcome iron deficiency anemia. The herb increases the production of WBCs thus it helps in strengthening the immune system.
Roots of the plants are more effective when taken in a liquid form than powdered form as it is more easily absorbed that way.
A decoction prepared of milk with punarnava may be consumed twice daily to get rid of alcoholic intoxication.
2. Treats Urinary Tract Infections
Punarnava has anti-spasmodic, anti-microbial and anti-inflammatoryproperties which makes it one of the best herbal medicines for Urinary Tract Infections. The herbmay be used during pregnancy as it has no side effects.
3. Treats Respiratory Problems Including Asthma
Punarnava promotes mucous removal from the bronchial tubes and hence it is very effective in treating asthma and other breathing problems. Punarnava is being used since ages as an expectorant and for cleaning nasal congestion. It acts on the Kaphdosh and suppresses mucus formation. The herb has the ability to relax the airways and curb spasms.
4. Treats Obesity
Punarnava finds its place in all slimming formulations as it promotes weight loss due to its property of being a mild laxative and diuretic. It helps in removal of waste products, fatsand excess fluids from the body by promoting urination. There is no loss of potassium or electrolytes from the body with the herb Punarnava. This also helps in preventing kidney stones formationas it speeds up the filtration process of kidneys and flushes out the excessive fluids.
5. Prevents Dropsy and Cures Ascites
The diuretic property of Punarnava, makes it beneficial in curing conditions like Anasarca which is swelling in the body. It helps in treating a condition called dropsy wherein excess fluids gets accumulated in the tissues and body cavities. Punarnava in liquid form is helpful in stimulating the urine secretion. It also helps in curing Ascites, a condition caused due to fluid retention in abdominal lining.
6. Manages Diabetes
Punarnava leaf extracts help in controlling diabetes by controlling the glucose levels in the body. It increases the plasma insulin levels too. Punarnava improves the functioning of kidneys damaged by diabetes.
7. Treats Eye Problems
Punarnava is very useful in treating eye problems like night blindness, glaucoma and conjunctivitis. The fresh juice of the herb roots is put in the eyes for the treatment.
8. Manages Arthritis
Punarnava has excellent anti-inflammatoryproperty which makes it beneficial to relieve pain in joints related to arthritis. A fresh paste of the herb may be applied directly on to the affected area to get instant relief.
9. Protects the Heart
Punarnava is an excellent cardiotonic. It has phenolic compounds that have strong antioxidant properties which help to protect the heart from heart failure. It reduces the workload on the heart by reducing edema.
10. Stomach Disorders / Indigestion
The roots of the plants are very useful in killing intestinal worms. It treats stomach problems like intestinal colic.
11. Supports Male Reproductive System
Seeds of Punarnava are helpful in rejuvenating the male reproductive system. The herb increases libido and quality of sperms. It also treats erectile dysfunction in men.
12. Skin Diseases
Punarnava is an excellent blood purifier. It helps in treating skin diseases naturally. A paste made out of the roots of Punarnava, can be applied on the skin to treat swellings and skin problems. The herb can inhibit fungi which may infect the skin and causes redness, blisters, scaling and fissures.
13. Treating Cancer
The herb has anti-proliferative effect on some cancer cells, which means it helps in preventing the spread of cancer. It helps in reducing tumor formation especially in the lungs.
14. Treating Epilepsy
Punarnava contains a compound called methanolic root extract that has the ability to block calcium channels, thus helps in treating epilepsy. A compound called liriodendron present in its roots have a protective effect against seizures.
In short, Punarnava corrects the digestive system, alleviates fluid retention and is very useful in managing heart diseases. It also benefits in anemia, hernia and respiratory disorders. It can be taken for liver problems and helps in managing lipids and cholesterol levels. It is a most useful herb in relieving abdominal pains and overcoming menstrual problems like clotting and uterine fibroids. It is an excellent remedy for high uric acid levels.
Punarnava is beneficial for the whole body and is a very good addition to a routine diet. The recommended dosage of Punarnava (powder of seeds) is 2 to 3 spoons or 1 to 3 grams twice a day with plain water. The juice extracted by crushing fresh herbs can be taken as 5 to 10 ml two times a day. It may cause burning sensation in the throat if taken without water or on empty stomach.
The herb has been used in Indian, Caribbean, and Nigerian medicines since centuries without any serious side effects. It is readily available in capsule or tablet form in the stores.