Nirgundi (Vitex negundo) Information, Benefits, Uses and Warnings

Details of Vitex negundo(Nirgundi) health benefits and natural remedies according to Ayurveda. Learn how to use Nirgundi tree to treat various diseases.

Nirgundi or Five-Leaved Chaste Tree (Vitex negundo) is an evergreen medicinal deciduous shrub. It is native to India and also found growing in Bangladesh, China, Philippines, Sri Lanka, and Japan. It is usually grown as fencing for agriculture lands as well as the house. The leaves are used as biopesticide and insecticide. The leaves are dried and kept with woolen clothes to repel insects. The smoke from the leaves is used as a mosquito repellent.

The Sanskrit name Nirgundi literally means ‘that which protects the body from diseases’. In English, it is named as Five-leaved Chaste tree as it used to diminish sexual desire. Roman wives whose husbands were abroad with the legions spread the leaves of Vitex negundo on their beds for this purpose. Later, it became known as the chaste (meaning innocent or faithful) berry tree.

Various parts of the tree such as leaves, leaf oil, roots, fruits, and seeds are used in Ayurveda, Unani, Siddha, Homeopathy, and Allopathy for therapeutic purpose. It is used in the treatment of diseases that occur due to vitiation of Vata and Kapha, headache, skin affections, wounds, swelling, asthmatic pains, male and female sexual and reproductive problems.

Leaves are prescribed on inflammatory swellings of joints from acute rheumatism and of testes from gonorrheal epididymitis (inflammation of the epididymis, a tube near the testicles that stores and carries sperm) and orchitis (inflammation of one or both of the testicles). The hot poultice of leaves is applied to affected parts.

The paste of leaves is applied to temples during headache. Juice of leaves was applied topically for removing fetid discharge from wounds and ulcers. A decoction of leaves with long pepper (Piper longum) was prescribed in catarrhal fever.

Nirgundi Taila is used as a massage oil, for cervical adenitis, dressing for venereal sores, chronic ulcers, and skin diseases.

Every part of this plant is used in the form of powder, decoction, oil, leaves the paste for its medicinal qualities. It is used both internally and externally. Vitex reduces sex drive and fertility. Nirgundi is a very good muscle relaxant, pain relieving, an anti-anxiety, anti-asthma, and phlegm reducing.

General Information of Nirgundi

Plant Description: Vitex negundo is a much-branched shrub up to 5 m tall or sometimes a small, slender tree with thin, gray bark.

Leaves: Palmately compound petiole 2:5: 3.8 cm long; mostly trifoliate, occasionally pentafoliate; in trifoliate leaf, leaflet lanceolate or narrowly lanceolate, middle leaflet 5- 10 cm long and 1.6:3.2 cm broad, with 1- 1.3 cm long petiolule, remaining two sub-sessile; in pentafoliate leaf inner three leaflets have petiolule and remaining two sub-sessile; surface glabrous above and tomentose beneath; texture leathery.

Roots: Cylindrical, hard, tough with irregular fractures; external surface rough due to longitudinal, narrow, cracks and small rootlets; cut surface shows cork region greyish brown, middle region greyish-white, and xylem region cream colored; bark thin, easily separate from wood; wood hard, forming a major part of the root.

Flowers: Bluish-purple, small, in peduncled cymes, forming large, terminal, often compound, pyramidal panicles.

Fruit: The fruit is a rounded drupe, 1 to 3 mm in diameter, 1/3rd to 3/4th of its size surrounded by a dull grey cup-like, persistent calyx along with pedicel; calyx cup may show one or two vertical splits; fruit color light brown to black; locules two, each containing two seeds; texture smooth, taste and odour not characteristic.

  • Seeds: 5-6 mm in diameter.
  • Flowering and Fruiting: Between June and December and from September to February.
  • Part(s) used for medicinal purpose: Roots, root, flowers, leaves, bark
  • Plant type / Growth Habit: Shrub / Tree
  • Duration: Perennial
  • Distribution: Throughout the greater part of India, ascending to an altitude of approx. 1500 meter in the outer Himalayas. Philippines, Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Cambodia, China, Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Taiwan, Vietnam
  • Habitat: Warm regions, common in waste places around villages, river banks, moist localities and in the deciduous forests.

Common names of Nirgundi

Scientific Name: Vitex Negundo

Sanskrit: Nirgundi, Sindhuvara, Indrasursa, Indranika, Sinduka, Nisinda, Shephali, Indrani, Nirgundika, Renuka, Sindhuvaram, Sinduya, Sugandhika, Surasa, Vrikshaha, Nirgunda, Shveta Sephalika, Suvaha, Nirgundi, Nilika (Kali Newri), Nilapushpi, Nilanirgundi, Shvetasurasa, Bhootveshi (Whitefl Owered Newri), Svetapuspa

  1. Assamese: Pasutia, Aggla-Chita, Pochatia, Aslok
  2. Bengali: Nisinda, Samalu, Nirgundi, Sinduari, Beguna, Nishinda, Nishinde
  3. English: Five-Leaved Chaste Tree, Chinese Chaste Tree, Indian Privet
  4. Gujarati: Nagoda, Nagaol, Nirgari
  5. Hindi: Samhalu, Saubhalu, Nirgandi
  6. Kannada: Bile-Nekki
  7. Malayalam: Indrani
  8. Siddha: Noohi
  9. Tamil: Nirkunnchi, Nallanochi
  10. Telugu: Nallavalli, Vavilli, Tellavavilli
  11. Urdu: Sambhalu, Panjangusht
  12. Arabic: Uslaq
  13. Persian: Panchaguskt, Sisban

Scientific Classification of Vitex Negundo

All plants are scientifically classified into main 7 levels. These levels are the Kingdom, Division, Class, Order, Family, Genus, and Species. A genus comprises of many species and the botanical name consists of Genus (uppercase) followed by Species (lowercase). Genus consists of many species which are closely related and have lots of similarities. Species is the lowest level and represents the group of the same plant.

The botanical name of Nirgundi is Vitex negundo. It belongs to plant family Verbenaceae. The word Vitex is derived from the Latin ‘vieo’ (meaning to tie or bind) because of the flexible nature of its stems and twigs. Below is given a taxonomical classification of the plant.

  1. Kingdom: Plantae (comprising all living or extinct plants)
  2. Subkingdom: Tracheobionta (have lignified tissues or xylem for conducting water and minerals)
  3. Superdivision: Spermatophyta (produce seeds)
  4. Division: Magnoliophyta (flowering plants)
  5. Class: Magnoliopsida (flowering plant producing an embryo with paired cotyledons)
  6. Subclass: Asteridae
  7. Order: Lamiales
  8. Family: Verbenaceae – Verbena family
  9. Genus: Vitex L. – Chastetree
  10. Species: Vitex negundo L. – Chinese chaste tree

About 6 varieties of Vitex genus show nearly same phytochemicals and properties.

Vitex agnus castus (Chasteberry) is a popular treatment for the management of female reproductive disorders including corpus luteum insufficiency, premenstrual syndrome (PMS), menopausal symptoms, and insufficient milk production. The German Commission E, recommends it for following gynecological problems:

  1. Breast Pain
  2. Hyperprolactinemia (elevated serum prolactin)
  3. Luteal phase deficiency
  4. Menopausal symptoms (hot flashes, night sweats, pain during intercourse, increased anxiety or irritability, and the need to urinate more often)
  5. Menstrual irregularities
  6. PMS and Migraine Headaches
  7. Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder (PMDD)
  8. Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS)

In ancient India two varieties of Nirgundi are described, one bearing pale blue flowers (Shweta pushpi), called Sindhuvar, and the other having blue flowers (Pushpa nilika) designated as Nirgundi in Sanskrit.

Constituents of Vitex Negundo

All parts of Nirgundi possess a massive amount of phytochemical secondary metabolites that impart an unparalleled variety of medicinal uses of the plant.

Leaves contain Aucubin aginuside, Alkaloids: Nishindine, Hydrocotylene, Glyoflavonoids, Orientin, Isoorientin, 5-Hydroxy, 3,6,7,31,4 1 pentamethoxy flavone.

Seeds contain hydrocarbons such as n-tritriacontane, n-hentriacontane, n-pentatriacontane and nonacosane. Other constituents of the seeds include ß- sitosterol, phydroxybenzoic acid, and 5 oxyisophthalic acids.

The essential oil of fresh leaves, flowers, and dried fruits δ-guaiene contain guaia-3,7-dienecaryophyllene epoxide; ethyl-hexadecenoate; α-selinene; germacren-4-ol; caryophyllene epoxide; (E)-nerolidol; β-selinene; α-cedrene; germacrene D; hexadecanoic acid; p-cymene and valencene

Ayurvedic Properties and Action of Vitex Negundo

Vitex negundo is known as Indrani, Nirgundi, Nilanirgundi, Surasa, Svetasurasa, Shephali, Sinduvara, Shephalika and Nila in Sanskrit. The white-flowered variety is known as Sindhuvaara and the blue-flowered as Nirgundi or Shephaali.

Nirgundi belongs to the Surasaadi group of herbs of Ayurvedic medicine, considered specific for cough, rhinitis, asthma. This group helps in the cleansing of ulcers.

The leaf is considered astringent, bitter and pungent in taste (Rasa), pungent after digestion (Vipaka), and is hot in effect (Virya). It is pungent in both the initial and post-digestive tastes (Rasa and Vipaka) and gives relief in Vata and Kapha and increases pitta. It is carminative, antiemetic and thermogenic. It is useful in indigestion, low appetite, nausea, and piles.

  1. Rasa (taste on the tongue): Kashaya (Astringent), Katu (Pungent), Tikta (Bitter)
  2. Guna (Pharmacological Action): Laghu (Light), Ruksha (Dry)
  3. Virya (Action): Ushna (Leaf Heating); Sheet (Fruit, Flowers, Seeds Cooling)
  4. Vipaka (transformed state after digestion): Katu (Pungent)
  5. Effect on Dosha: Reduces Vata and Kapha Dosha but increases Pitta (in excess).
  6. Preparations: Infusion, Decoction, Oil
  7. System: Digestive, Circulatory
  8. Tissues: Plasma, Blood, Muscles, Nerves and Marrow, Reproductive

It is an Ushna Virya herb. Ushna Virya or hot potency herb subdues Vata (Wind) and Kapha (Mucus) and increases Pitta (Bile). It has the property of digestion, vomiting, and purging, and gives a feeling of lightness. It is considered bad for sperms and fetus.

It is a Katu Vipak herb. Vipak refers to post-digestive (effect after digestion/cooking of Rasa) effect of tastes after its mixing with digestive juices. It is the long-term effect of the herb. Katu Viapk herb increases dryness in the body. Such foods reduce fertility and Kapha. Excess intake of such foods aggravates Vata and gas in the body. Katu Vipak has a catabolic effect on the body.

Seeds are considered bitter and pungent in taste (Rasa), pungent after digestion (Vipaka), and is cool in effect (Virya). It is pungent in both the initial and post-digestive tastes (Rasa and Vipaka) and gives relief in Vata and Kapha and increases pitta. Seeds are Pittakara, Vatahara, Kaphahara, Dipana, Medhya, Pachana, Garbhapatini, Mukhavaimalyakara and Vishaghna.

Nirgundi Leaves are used therapeutically in Shula, Shopha, Vatavyadhi, Amavata, Kushtha, Kandu, Kasa, Pradara, Adhmana, Pliha Roga, Gulma, Aruci, Krimi, Vrana, Nadi Vrana, Karnashula, Sutika Jvara.

Nirgundi Seeds are used therapeutically in Trishna, Kandu, Daha, Kasa, Netraroga, Daurbalya, Dadru, Klaibya and Gulma.

IMPORTANT FORMULATIONS of seeds are Chandanadi Taila, Pramehamihira Taila, Dashamularishta, Sarasvatarishta, Mahayogaraja Guggulu, Anutaila, Balashvagandhalakshadi Taila, Vasacandanadi Taila.

Also Read:

  1. Chandanadi tailam for body massage
  2. Dashmularishta for Vitality Strength
  3. Saraswatarishta for insomnia and nervous system
  4. Mahayograj Guggulu For Osteoarthritis

Ayurvedic Action / Karma

  1. Kaphahara: Pacifies Kapha Dosha.
  2. Kapha-Vatahar: Remover of the Humor of Kapha-Vata.
  3. Kasa-shvashar: Gives relief in cough and Asthma.
  4. Krimighna: Destroys worms.
  5. Shothhar: reduces inflammation.
  6. Vatahara: Pacifies Vata Dosha.
  7. Vishaghna: Poison-destroying.
  8. Vranashodhana: Wound cleaning.

Important Medicinal Properties

Vitex negundo is rich in medicinal properties. The understanding of these properties will help us to better utilize this herb. These also indicate the conditions in which we should avoid it. Below is given medicinal properties along with the meaning.

  1. Analgesic: Acting to relieve pain.
  2. Anthelmintic: Antiparasitic, expel parasitic worms (helminths) and other internal parasites from the body.
  3. Antiandrogenic: Androgen antagonists or testosterone blocker drug, counteract the effects of the male sex hormones, testosterone, and dihydrotestosterone.
  4. Anti-asthmatic: Treat or prevent asthma attacks.
  5. Anticatarrhal: Remove excess mucus from the body.
  6. Anti-inflammatory: Reducing inflammation by acting on body mechanisms.
  7. Antimicrobial: Active against microbes.
  8. Appetizer: Improves appetite.
  9. Carminative: Preventing the formation or causing the expulsion of flatulence.
  10. Discutient: Agent or process that disperses a tumor or lesion.
  11. Emmenagogue: Stimulates or increases menstrual flow.
  12. Hepatoprotective: Prevent damage to the liver.
  13. Larvicidal: Kills mosquito larva.
  14. Muscle relaxant: Relax or reduce tension in muscle.

Health Benefits of Nirundi

  1. The leaves have warming action.
  2. It stimulates circulation.
  3. It gives relief in pain and inflammation of muscles and joints.
  4. It is used both internally and externally for rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis, sprains and pain in muscles.
  5. It can be combined with Trikatu to reduce Ama Dosha.
  6. The poultice prepared from the leaves applied externally gives relief in pain in joints, muscles, nerves, and headaches.
  7. It is insecticide, pesticide, and germicide.

Medicinal Uses of Vitex negundo

Vitex negundo is a medicinal tree. It is used in the treatment of Vata and Kapha. The Roots are Tonic, febrifuge, expectorant, diuretic; Fruit is nervine, cephalic, emmenagogue and Dried fruit are vermifuge.  Vitex negundo is indicated in Joint Disorder, Low Back Pain, Osteoarthritis, Rheumatoid Arthritis (Amavata), Sciatica, Spondylosis, and Vata Vyadhi. It is especially useful in rheumatism, rheumatic swellings of the joints and in sprains.

The leaves are generally used as a fomentation in sprains, rheumatism, swelled testicles, contusions. The root is used as Tonic, febrifuge, and expectorant, and the fruit nervine, cephalic, and emmenagogue. The leaves are often placed between the leaves of books to preserve them from insects. The leaves are also used to preserve rice and clothes from insects and to drive them away and the extract from it used as a carminative and emmenagogue. Pillows stuffed with leaves are slept on to remove catarrh and headache (they are also smoked for relief).

Nirgundi Oil is good for sexually transmitted diseases, syphilis, venereal diseases, and other syphilitic skin disorders.

Roots are used for fever, cough, urinary problems, dyspepsia, rheumatism, and also for boils. The powdered root is consumed as an anthelmintic. Flowers are used in the fever, diarrhea and the liver complaints; fruits in headache, catarrh, and coryza.

Arthritis

Nirgundi leaf powder is dried and ground and taken in a dose of one tablespoon, twice a day.

Abdominal gas and pain

Make a decoction of its leaves and drink.

After Dethe livery Care

The leaf decoction is used as a bath after delivery.

Asthma, cough

Take 1/4th decoction three times a day (same as prepared for fever).

Boils and pimples

Grind neem, Karanja, and Nirgundi (Vitex negundo) and apply topically.

Bone fracture

Leaf ground with salt and pepper seeds into a paste is applied for bone fracture.

Burning urination and kidney stone

About two spoon root extract dissolved in tender coconut water is used twice a day for a week.

Chronic fever, intestinal parasites

A root decoction is given.

Common colds (runny nose, watery eyes, etc.)

Pound the leaves. Put 6 tablespoons of the leaves in 2 glasses of boiling water. Boil further for 15 minutes. Cool and strain the mixture, collecting the juice.

Cold, cough, headache, fever

Leaves are boiled in water and the vapor is inhaled twice a day.

Cyclic mastalgia (Cyclic breast pain, usually most severe before a menstrual period)

The dosage range for a liquid alcohol-based tincture or encapsulated tinctures, 4:1 extract is usually around 1 ml for typical dosing, 3 – 4 times a day.

Diarrhea

Dried fruits powder is orally taken with honey in a dose of 5 -10 gm.

Fever, toothaches

Take Nirgundi leaves (6 tablespoons) in water (2 glasses) and boil for 15 minutes. Filter the decoction and divide into three parts. Take thrice a day on a gap of 4 hours.

General PMS and related symptoms relief

The liquid alcohol-based tincture or encapsulated tinctures, 4:1 extract is usually given in a dose of 1 ml for typical dosing, 3 – 4 times a day.

For dried fruit, 0.5 – 1.0 gram taken three times daily has been used, and 3.5-4.5mg/day of dried extract has been used.

Gout, calculus

Intake of root decoction for a period of 2 weeks is effective against gout and calculus.

Hair tonic

The ointment made from leaf juice is applied as a hair tonic.

Headache

Take Nirgundi leaves and grind with water to make a paste. Apply this paste on the forehead.

Hormone replacement therapy

The ethanolic extracts showed estrogen-like activity and propounded its use in hormone replacement therapy.

In strengthening hair, reduce swelling and nausea, curing swollen joints and its pain

Nirgundi leaf powder is taken in a dose of a half teaspoon, twice a day.

Hyperprolactinemia (abnormally high levels of prolactin in the blood)

High levels of prolactin can produce unwanted effects. It may cause oligomenorrhea, amenorrhea, discharge from the breasts, vaginal dryness, or Acne and excessive body and facial hair growth (hirsutism).

The dosage range varies in the research literature, from 20 mg daily to 160 mg of chaste tree berry extract up to 3 times daily.

Menstrual disorders, urinary disorders, indigestion

Dried fruits powder is orally taken in a dose of 5 -10 gm with roasted common salt and warmed water.

Obesity

Leaf juice is extracted and taken in a dose of one spoonful.

Orchitis

Leaf paste along with a paste of pepper is used to treat orchitis.

Pain in ears

Leaves are cooked in mustard oil and filtered. This oil is used as an ear drop.

Pain in muscles

Leaves are smeared with mustard oil, heated and applied on the affected area.

Pile

About 100-150 ml juice is given orally on an empty stomach for 15 days.

Pox wounds

The leaf decoction for washing pox wounds to avoid scars.

Rheumatism

  1. Oil prepared from leaves is applied.
  2. The heated leaf is pressed and tied for rheumatoid arthritis pain and sprains.

Skin disease

A paste of leaves is applied locally as an ointment.

Sprain (Moch in Hindi)

Heat fresh leaves. Apply a poultice of it on the sprained area.

Stammering

Leaf paste with garlic is applied for stammering.

To get rid of mosquitoes

The leaves are also used for fumigating houses to get rid of mosquitoes.

Throat pain, oral ulcers

A decoction of the leaf is used for gargling.

Ulcers, boils, wounds

Boil Nirgundi leaves in water and makes a decoction. Wash affected area with this decoction. or

The leaf juice is used to clean infected ulcers.

Venom

The methanolic root extract possessed potent snake venom neutralizing the effect.

The Dosage of Vitex negundo

  1. The recommended dosage for therapeutic purpose is given below:
  2. Dried fruit extract daily: 40 mg
  3. Dry leaves extract 300-600 mg, twice a day.
  4. Fluid extract ([1:1] g/mL): 0.5-1.0 mL daily.
  5. Fruits: 3-9 fruit in decoction.
  6. Leaf decoction: 50-100ml, twice a day.
  7. Leaf juice: 10-20 ml, twice a day.
  8. Leaf powder: 1.5-3g, twice a day.
  9. Root Bark Powder: 3-6 grams, twice a day.
  10. Seeds Powder: 1-3 grams, twice a day.
  11. Tincture: 40 drops

The decoction is prepared by boiling 10-20 grams of coarse powder in one glass water till water reduces to a half cup. The decoction is ready, filter this and drink.

Contraindications, Interactions, Side-effects, and Warnings Vitex negundo

Patients with known allergy/hypersensitivity to the Vitex (Verbenaceae) family or any chaste tree berry constituents, or to members of the Verbenaceae family, should avoid the use of this plant.

Caution is recommended with dopamine agonists and hormone replacement therapy due to the current understanding of the mechanisms of action. It has been suggested that chaste tree might potentiate the actions of dopaminergic agonists such as bromocriptine (Parlodel), pergolide (Permax), and others due to dopaminergic effects of the chaste tree. It also might interfere with the action of dopamine antagonists such as antipsychotics, such as metoclopramide (Reglan).

People with schizophrenia or where dopamine levels are affected should use Vitex under supervision of health professionals.

Experimental data on animals and human studies have reported that phytocomponents of Vitex exhibit hormonal activities and may affect the pharmacological effects of hormonal medications.

With potential or adverse cardiac activity due to cardiac glycosides, Nirgundi should be used with caution in patients with heart problems.

It should be taken cautiously by women of childbearing age. Vitex promotes the production of progesterone in the second half of the cycle. Also known as a contraceptive, it should not be taken before ovulation, as it may delay or prevent ovulation.

Because the chaste tree seems to have hormonal effects and might affect estrogen levels, women with hormone-sensitive conditions should avoid the chaste tree. Some of these conditions include breast, uterine, and ovarian cancer, and endometriosis and uterine fibroids.

Due to hormone regulating activity, it has also been suggested that chaste tree can interfere with the efficacy of oral contraceptives and hormone replacement therapy.

There is some evidence that using chaste tree during in vitro fertilization procedures might prevent an ensuing pregnancy despite having a viable embryo.

Leaves intake reduces sexual libido.

Vitex may decrease the effect/effectiveness of oral contraceptives or female hormone replacement therapy.

People with hormone-dependent conditions as endometriosis, fibroids or cancers of the breast, uterus, and prostate should not take Vitex nigundo.

Changes in menstrual flow can also occur when the chaste tree is first started. Allergic reactions can occur in some people but typically resolve spontaneously when the chaste tree is stopped.

It must not be taken during pregnancy.

The use of Vitex is contraindicated in pregnancy and lactation due to unknown effects in early pregnancy and possible hormonal effects through breast milk. Chaste tree can have uterine stimulant properties and should be avoided during all stages of pregnancy.

Chaste tree is thought to be a dopamine agonist and inhibit prolactin secretion. This might result in decreased breast milk production. However, this is controversial. Some clinicians actually use low doses of the chaste tree to increase milk production with some reports of success. Small doses may increase milk production in females and high doses may decrease it.

Used with the standard dosing range, Chaste tree berry appears to be safe. The side effects associated with Vitex extracts are mild, reversible, and infrequent. They include gastrointestinal upset, urticaria, fatigue, headache, dry mouth, tachycardia, nausea, and agitation in less than two percent of patients.

One Comment

  1. I wish I could recognise plants given here since many are all around but due To ignorance could not use plants for better use
    Is there suitable book or guide for hat can help in this regards

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