The Latin name of Punarnava is Boerhavia diffusa or Boerhaavia diffusa and it belongs to Nyctaginaceae family. Commonly known as Hog or Pig Weed, Spreading Hog Weed, Tar Vine and Horse Purslane Punarnava is an important herb in Ayurveda that has varieties of medicinal properties.
Punarnava is a weed that grows in different regions of India. The herb was discovered by ancient Ayurvedic sages who used it to add an all new life to the human beings by not only treating several of health ailments but also keeping them at bay. It is thus they named the herb ‘Punarnava’ where punar means regaining/restoring and nava stands for newer healthy standards. Some also describe the word Punarnava as the herb that becomes new every year.
Punarnava also grows in Brazil where it is called as Erva tostao, the herb used in kidneys and liver malfunctioning.
According to Ayurveda, the properties of Punarnava are bitter, astringent, cooling and purifying. Punarnava has been classified as tridoshaghna, the herb that can pacify all the elemental energies or humors (called as doshas in Ayurveda) namely vata, pitta and kapha. The roots of Punarnava are potent diuretic that are used to prevent and get rid of extra cellular fluid in the body.
Ayurveda describes 5 prime properties of the herb Punarnava mentioned below…
Paandughni: Paandu in Ayurveda is anemia. Punarnava is useful in treating different types of anemia wherein the hemoglobin level is low.
Shofaghna: Shofa stands for inflammatory conditions. The herb was prescribed by ancient Ayurvedic practitioners in various edematous conditions. This function of the herb is believed to be due to its specific action on kidneys. The herb rejuvenates the kidney that expels extra fluids from the body.
Vayasthaapan: Vaya in Ayurveda means the age of the person. Sthaapana stands for reestablishing. The herb of Punarnava has powerful rejuvenating and revitalizing properties that make it as an anti-aging ingredient used in Ayurvedic formulas.
Hridya: Hriday is the heart. Hridya means cardiac tonic to be used in various ailments including heart stroke, high cholesterol and lipid levels. In contemporary medical system also, cardiac patients are generally prescribed with diuretics and anti hypertensive medicines. Punarnava has multiple benefits in patient with cardiac diseases.
Anoovasanopag: The herb of Punarnava can be used in Anoovasana basti, therapeutic enema. The oil extracted from the herb is used as main constituents in such enema used to treat several health diseases.
Homemade liver tonic
Ayurvedic practitioners in India prescribe a recipe of homemade liver tonic for those with weak liver functioning. Below is the simple recipe that can help rejuvenating the hepatic cells and make them healthier…
100 gm. of Punarnava Root Powder (available in Ayurvedic stores)
1.6 liter of water
30 gm. of Indian gooseberry powder (Amalaki powder, available with Ayurvedic stores)
Boil the water in large vessel. Once it starts bubbling, simmer the flame and put Punarnava root powder and stir. Boil till it turns one forth (nearly 400 ml.). Allow natural cooling and when it turns to a room temperature, finish the recipe adding Amalakipowder.
Divide this decoction in two and take once at a time. Said this, 200 ml twice a day is the recommended dosage. Take this every alternate day for a month.
Research based functions of Punarnava:
Punarnava showed good results in restoring the hepatic cells’ health in case of acetaminophen induced liver damage and lipid peroxidation. In a study, results indicated that leaf extracts from Boerhaavia diffusa has hepatoprotective properties against acetaminophen-induced liver damage that can be mediated by augmentation of antioxidant defense (1).
Research was done to evaluate antibacterial activities of some plant extracts used in folk medicine. Boerhaavia diffusa was one of the herbs that showed potent antibiotic action (2).
Another research on Boerhaavia diffusa leaf extract (BLEt) revealed substantial reduction in thiobarbutric acid reactive substances and hydroperoxdides. The results also suggested that BLEt has potent antidiabetic properties and can serve as antioxidant agent in Alloxan induced diabetic mice (3).
Research based data showed that fresh leaves’ juice of Boerhaavia diffusa contain the active ingredient possessing antinociceptive principle and hence can be used as a significant antinociceptive agent in these pain models. Though the mechanism responsible for the analgesic effect of Boerhaavia diffusa fresh leaves is not yet known, but it seems have influence on the opioid system (4).
1. Antioxidant activity and hepatoprotective property of leaf extracts of Boerhaavia diffusa Linn against acetaminophen-induced liver damage in rats in Food Chem Toxicol. 2010 Aug-Sep;48(8-9):2200-5 by Olaleye MT, Akinmoladun AC, Ogunboye AA, Akindahunsi AA at Department of Biochemistry, School of Sciences, Federal University of Technology, Akure, Nigeria.