Boerhavia diffusa

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Boerhavia diffusa

 

 

Boerhavia diffusa L., Nyctaginaceae, an important Indian medicinal plant, is a common weed. The leaves and flowers are illustrated.

Boerhavia repens L., which is quite distinct from Boerhavia diffusa, is often confused even by taxonomists and plant collectors mix up the two species. Often they grow together. The leaves and flowers of Boerhavia repens are also illustrated (see Boerhavia repens1).

Named as punarnava in samskrit, Boerhavia diffusa is believed to be a great rejuvenator. The drug punarnava is also sourced by some Ayurvedists from a different species, Trianthema portulacastrum (Aizoaceae). Shvethapunarnava (white punarnava) is the preferred plant, but the flowers of both Boerhavia diffusa and Boerhavia repens are deep pink, while those of Trianthema portulacasstrum are white. Sometimes it is reported that Boerhavia punarnava is the name given to the white flowered variety of Boerhavia diffusa. Obviously, this confusion needs to be clarified.

The root is a diuretic, laxative, expectorant in asthma, used in jaundice, ascites, anasarca, scanty urine, and internal inflammations. It is also reputed to be an antidote to snake venom.

The active constituent is the alkaloid punarnavine.

In western Africa, Boerhavia diffusa is used to treat convulsions, as laxative and a febrifuge. The leaves and roots are expectorant and emetic in large doses. Also used to treat asthma. Boiled roots are used as poultice on abscesses and to extract guinea worms.

Punarnavine, boerhavic acid, reducing sugars, potassium nitrate and tannins including phlobaphens wre extracted from the plant. Punarnavine raises blood pressure and produces diuresis. Particularly useful in cirrhosis of the liver and chornic peritonitis and as an anti-inflammatory. The roots have an anticonvulsant principle.