Apamarg (Prickly Chaff) Plant Medicinal Uses and Side eEffects

Chirchita or Prickly Chaff or Apamarga(Achyranthes aspera) herb details. It's medicinal properties, uses details and precautions to take while using this.

Chirchita/Prickly Chaff or Apamarga(Achyranthes aspera) is a very common weed that is distributed throughout India, tropical Asia and other parts of the world. It is used in preparation of Ayurvedic medicines and also as traditional medicine in Asia and Africa to treat various diseases such as leprosy, asthma, fistula, piles, arthritis, wound, insect and snake bite, renal and cardiac dropsy, kidney stone, diabetes, skin disorders, gynaecological disorders, gonorrhoea, malaria, pneumonia, fever, cough, pyorrhoea, dysentery, rabies, hysteria, toothache etc.

prickly chaff in ayurveda

Different name of Prickly chaff

Latin name: Achyranthes aspera Linn.
Family: Amaranthaceae
Sanskrit: Mayura, Mayuraka, Pratyakpushpa, Kharamanjar, Shikhari
Bengali: Apamg
English: Prickly Chaff Flower
Gujrati: Aghedo
Hindi: Chirchita, Latjira
Kannada: Uttarani
Malayalam: Katalati
Marathi: Aghada
Punjabi: Puthakanda
Tamil: Nayuruvi
Telugu: Uttarenu
Urdu: Chirchita
Folk: Chirchitta, Chichidaa, Latjeeraa

Habitat

In India Prickly Chaff Flower, is available throughout the tropical and subtropical regions, under altitude of 4100 meters. This plant grows throughout the tropical and warmer regions of the world. It is also found in many other countries of Asia as well as Africa, America, Europe and Australia. It was reported as an invasive alien species in northern Bangladesh. It was found to be the most prevalent herb in Shivbari sacred grove of Himachal Pradesh and an exotic medicinal plant of district Lalitpur, Uttar Pradesh.

Plant Description

Root – Cylindrical tap root, slightly ribbed, 0.1-1.0 cm in thickness, gradually tapering, rough due to presence of some root scars, secondary and tertiary roots present, yellowish-brown;odour, not distinct.
Stem – 0.3 – 0.5 cm in cut pieces, yellowish-brown, erect, branched, cylindrical, hairy, solid, hollow when dry.
Leaf – Simple, subsessile, exstipulate, opposite, decussate, wavy margin, obovate, slightly acuminate and pubescent due to the presence of thick coat of long simple hairs.
Flower – Arranged in inflorescence of long spikes, greenish-white, numerous, sessile, bracteate with two bracteoles, one spine lipped, bisexual, actinomorphic, hypogynous;perianth segments 5, free, membranous, contorted or quincuncial, stamens 5, opposite, the perianth lobes, connate forming a membranous tube-like structure, alternating with truncate and fimbriate staminodes, filament short;anther, two celled, dorsifixed;single;stigma, capitate.
Fruit – An indehiscent dry utricle enclosed within persistent, perianth and bracteoles,
Seed – Sub-cylindric, truncate at the apex, round at the base, endospermic, brown.

Part Used In Ayurvedic and Folk Medicine

Herb, leaves, seeds, root flower (whole plant)

Energetics: Pungent, bitter-cold-pungent, decreases vaat and kapha, increases pitta
Acts on body Tissues: Plasma, blood, fat, nerves
Acts on body Systems: Circulation, digestion, nervous
Action on Body: Diuretic, expectorant, anti-bilious

Apamarga or Chichidaa plant is used in form of decoction and leaves paste. Its leaves decoction has diuretic activities and useful in dropsy, renal edema and urine retention. The decoction also cures stomach ache, haemorrhoids, boils, skin eruptions.

Its leaves paste is used in treatments of fevers, cough, insect bites, and bee stings. Its leaves juice is useful in skin problems. The seeds are used as expectorant, or mixed with rice water for bleeding hemorrhoids.
Kheer or Payasam is prepared using its seeds in milk for brain diseases. Seeds soaked in water overnight and ground into an emulsion, next morning heals excessive bile secretion.

Plant is used as decoction, powder, paste, oil, infusion for medicinal purpose.

Clinically proven properties of Prickly Chaff Flower

  • Antibacterial and antifungal
  • Larvicidal, kils larve of Boophilus microplus (cattle tick) and mosquitoes (Aedes aegypti and Culex quinquefasciatus).
  • Antifertility and Spermicidal activity, whole plant has shown abortifacient effect (causing abortion) in mice. The aerial parts of the plant were reported to prevent pregnancy in adult female rats. The extracts of leaves, roots, and seeds of the plant have been used forcontrol of fertility, in placental retention, and inpostpartum bleeding. Root of A. aspera was found to contain a protein showing spermatotoxicity when administered orally to Swiss male albino mice.
  • Immuno-stimulant, increase immunity by increasing phagocytic function.
  • Hypoglycaemic and Hypolipidemic activity. The alcoholic extract of A. aspera was found to lower serum cholesterol (TC), phospholipid (PL), triglyceride (TG) and total lipids (TL) in triton induced hyperlipidemic rats.
  • Anti-inflamatory, Anti-asthmatic and Antioxidant, Anti-spasmodic activity.
  • Diuretic, Saponins from the plant have shown diuretic activity. The active compound responsible for the Apamarga diuretic property is achyranthine, marketed as Cystone, a polyherbal formulation from Himalaya.
  • Anti-snake venom activity has proven experimentally.
  • Cardiac activity, Apamarga contains Achyranthine, the water soluble alkaloid which showed lowering of blood pressure, depression of heart and increase in rate and amplitude of respiration in anaesthetized dogs.

Uses of Apamarga or Prickly Chaff for oral care

  • Toothache
  • Tooth cavity
  • Gum problem, Swollen Gums
  • Infection in mouth
  • Pyorrhoea
  • Mouth ulcer

How to use Apamarga or Prickly Chaff Flower for oral care

  • Take thick stem of apamarga and remove all leaves.
  • Wash it and use as datun(Tooth brush) to clean teeth.
  • Since it is a seasonal herb so you may not get it all over the year. So wash fresh stems and dry in shade to remove moisture. This dried stem can be stored for future use. Just soak these stems in water few hours before use. Or you may use fresh roots of apamarga and chew frequently.
  • Its regular use makes teeth and gums strong and healthy. This herb is non-toxic and can be used by any person.

Ayurvedic Remedies

Here are few remedies that can be done at home using Apamarg (Achyranthes aspera) to cure various ailments.

  • Ear pain, Infection in ear

    Take fresh leaves of Apamarg and wash to remove dirt. Grind and extract its juice. Put few drops in ear to cure infection of ear.

  • Eye problem, redness in eye

    Take fresh root of Apamarg and clean it carefully to remove dirt and soil. Grind it with rose water and apply in eyes to cure eye infection.

  • Mouth ulcer

    Chew few clean, fresh leaves of Apamarg.

  • Migraine

    Grind ripe seed of Apamarga to make powder. Smell this powder while suffering from migraine.

  • Back ache

    Take leaves of Apamarga and rub on affected areas on back.

  • Boils, wounds, eczema

    Extract Apamarga juice and rub on affected areas.

  • Wound

    Extract leaves juice and use this to wash wounds to heal quickly.

  • Insect bites

    Apply fresh leaves juices at affected areas.

  • Kidney problem, pneumonia

    Take apamarga panchang (5 gm) in water (200 ml) till volume reduces to 50 ml, filter and drink.

  • Enlargement of spleen

    Prepare powder of whole plant. Take this powder (2 tbsp) with butter milk twice a day.

  • Bleeding piles

    Take fresh leaves of Apamarg and wash to remove dirt. Grind with water and make paste. Mix til oil in this paste and apply this on affected areas.

  • Cold and cough

    Boil leaves of Apamarga in water and cook for 15 minutes. Strain and drink lukewarm.

  • Fever

    Take apamarga leaves juice (1 tbsp) with gur.

  • Cholera

    Take root powder of Apamargah (1 tbsp). Add in glass of water and drink.

  • Diarrhoea, dysentery

    Dry Apamarga leaves in shade and grind to make powder. Take this powder with honey or misri twice a day.  Or take fresh leaves juices (5-10 ml) every three hours to cure diarrhoea.

  • Abdominal pain

    Extract leaves juice and take (2 tbsp) with glass of water.

  • Dropsy

    Take Apamarga panchang (4 tbsp) and boil in water (200 ml). Cook for twenty minutes. Strain and drink.

  • Paralysis

    Prepare root powder of herb. Take this with glass of milk.

Precaution when using Prickly chaff

Do not use Apamarga in pregnancy. It can cause abortion. In Orissa, tribal women use its root juice to avoid unwanted pregnancy. In Bastar, the root is inserted through vagina for inducing abortion.
Apamarga also shows sperm killing properties in experiments when taken orally. So use it cautiously.

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