Medicinal Uses of Punarnava (Hogweed)

“Always  praised” is the meaning of the Sanskrit name Punarnava. There are many Punarnava benefits, and the herb has been used in indigenous medicine from time immemorial.

‘Punar’ denotes restoring or regaining and ‘nava’ means new. Punarnava, as the name suggests, has the tendency to rejuvenate. This tendency coverts into many Punarnava benefits. Two varieties of the Punarnava plant have been mentioned in the scriptures – Shweta punarnava (white variety) and Rakta punarnava (red variety).

What is the white variety of Punarnava plant?


The white variety of Punarnava plant is commonly used for medicinal purposes and its botanical name is Boerrhavia Diffusa. The Punarnava plant belongs to the family Nyctaginaceae. It is known as ‘hogweed’ in English, ‘Thazhuthama’ in Malayalam and ‘Gandhapurna’ or ‘Sand’ in Hindi. Though the whole plant is used, medicinally the most important part is the root.

Major Formulations Using Punarnava Ayurveda

The Punarnava plant finds uses in many formulations in Ayurveda:

  • Punarnavadi kashayam
  • Punarnavarishtam
  • Punarnava mandooram
  • Punarnavadi guggulu
  • Pathya punarnavadi kashayam
  • Brahma rasayanam
  • Chavanaprasham
  • Sukumara ghritam
  • Dhanwantaram tailam and ghritham
  • Kumaryasavam

Acharya Vagbhata has classified the plant under ‘vidaryadi gana’ and Acharya Charaka has classified the plant under ‘swedopaga’ (adjuvants of fomentation), ‘anuvasanopaga’ (drugs which are adjuvants of anuvasana variety of enema and ‘kasahara’ (drugs which control cough).

Distribution and Description of Punarnava plant

The Punarnava plant grows wild all over the country as a common creeping weed and is specially abundant during the rains.

It is a creeping and spreading perennial herb with a stout root stock and many erect or spreading branches. The leaves are rounded or sub-cordate, whitish beneath; the flowers are pale pink, small and found in irregular clusters. The fruits are small oval shaped, dull green or brownish in colour.

Composition of Punarnava plant

The active principle of punarnava is the alkaloid “punarnavine”. The drug contains large quantities of potassium salts which accounts for its diuretic properties.

Healing and Curative Properties of Punarnava Ayurvedic Medicine

The Punarnava is a cooling, anthelmintic, astringent, diuretic, aphrodisiac, diaphoretic, emetic, expectorant, anti-inflammatory, febrifuge, laxative and tonic.  Apart from these, punarnava is also a cardiac and liver stimulant.

“Punarnava shwetha moola shophaghni deergha pathrika

Katu kashaya anurasa pandughni deepaneepara

Shophaanila gara sleshma haribraghna udara pranuth// “

                                                                                             –  (bhava prakasha)

Medicinal Uses of the Punarnava plant

The Punarnava plant finds many uses in Ayurveda medicine:

  • Swellings/oedema: Take a decoction of the root or whole plant twice a day for increase in urine output and reduction of oedema and swellings caused due to renal or cardiac problems.
  • Eye disorders: Punarnava can be used in a variety of ways by mixing with various substances depending on the cause or the problem.
  • In itching and irritation: Instill a few drops of punarnava mixed with milk.
  • In constant watering of the eyes: punarnava with honey can be instilled.
  • In immature cataract: A few drops of punarnava mixed with oil can be used.
  • In night blindness: with rice wash.
  • In rheumatic disorders:  Prepare curry out of punarnava leaves and include this in your everyday diet. This removes constipation, promotes urination and reduces swelling and pain.
  • In all skin disorders: Make a paste of the root with the supernatant water on curd and apply on discoloured or flaky skin patches associated with itching. A hot poultice of the root can be applied on ulcers, abscesses and other skin conditions to get beneficial results.
  • The usage of punarnava as an ointment for the treatment of leprosy and other skin diseases is dated back to Acharya Charaka’s times.

More Medicinal Remedies with Punarnava

  1. In fever: Prepare a decoction of milk with powdered root of punarnava and drink this twice daily before food. This reduces body temperature and malaise.
  2. As a diuretic: It removes obstruction to urination and is coolant to the urinary symptom therefore useful in cases of dysuria, urinary calculi and burning micturition.
  3. Ascites: A liquid extract of the fresh or dry plant can be given in doses of 5-10 gms or the fresh boiled herb can be given.
  4. Asthma: Punarnava helps in removing the catarrhal matter or phlegm from the bronchial tubes. Powder of the root can be taken in small doses thrice a day to get relief from asthma.
  5. Intestinal colic and worms: Powder of the root is given in doses of 5 Gms thrice a day for the expulsion of intestinal worms as well as to get relief from colic.
  6. Rabies: In Susrutha kalpa sthana it has been mentioned that 1 part of the whole plant punarnava mixed with equal parts of leaves, flower, root of dhattura plant, has to be dried and rolled into pills weighing 2 grams. Consumption of the pill twice daily helps in the treatment of rabies.
  7.  In problems due to alcoholic intoxication/alcoholism: Decoction prepared of milk with punarnava has to be consumed twice daily to get beneficial results.
  8.  To get relief from kapha dosha dominant cough, grind the roots of punarnava with vacha; mix this with honey to get relief.

Dosage

  •  Root powder-3-6 grams
  •  Fresh juice (swarasa) – 5-10 ml

Warning Note: Improper usage of a medicine can lead to adverse effects; hence ensure to use any medication under medical supervision.

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