Vajradanti (Barleria prionitis) Information, Medicinal Uses and More

Know about Barleria prionitis botanical description, medicinal properties, medicinal uses in Ayurveda, It’s health benefits, dosage, contraindications and side-effect of different parts of this plant.

Vajradanti, Peelo Vajradanti, Bajradanti, Katsareya, Kantajati, Kanta sulio, Barleria or Yellow Hedge Barleria are few common names of spiny erect bush Barleria prionitis. It is a medicinal plant native to temperate-tropical Asia and Africa and most commonly used in Ayurveda for dental care, acute-chronic rheumatism and inflammatory condition of joints.

vajradanti plant

Its Sanskrit name is Vajradanti, which literally means one which makes Danta (teeth) as hard as Vajra (diamond). The leaves are boiled with Kattha and used for rinsing mouth. This stops bleeding from gums and makes teeth strong. Barleria is also useful in acute and chronic congestion of the liver, jaundice, urinary and paralytic affections and in cardiac, renal and hepatic dropsy.

General Information

Plant Description:

Barleria prionitis is grown as an ornamental and medicinal plant in Asia. It is an erect, bushy, prickly undershrub reaching upto 0.6-1.5 m high and found throughout hotter parts of the country and also cultivated as a hedge plant.

It can be considered annual or perennial plant.  During the dry season its stems, leaves and flowers die off but the roots remain alive. The vegetation regrows during rainy season.

Stem: Erect, 1-8 mm thick, terete, hard, glabrous, nodes swollen, branching at nodes, young stem grey, slightly four angled, usually with 3-4 divaricate spines at axil of leaf; mature stem cylindrical with longitudinally arranged or scattered dot-like lenticels; externally greyish to light brown; a few mature stem slightly hollow.

Leaf: Oval-ellipsoid shaped; variable in size up to 10 cm long – 4 cm wide, simple, elliptic, acuminate, entire, acute, reticulate, unicostate, glabrous above, glabrous or pubescent beneath; petiole short.

Spines: Pale in colour, 1-2 cm long; present at the base of leaves.

Flowers: Tubular yellow–orange 4 cm long flowers with protruding stalks (stamens). Sessile, often solitary in the lower axils. becoming spicate above; bracts foliaceous, 16 by 4.5 mm, oblong or lanceolate, acute, bristle-tipped, nearly glabrous; bracteoles 1.3 cm long, narrowly linear, subulate (almost spinous), bristle-tipped; calyx,

divided almost to the base, one of the outer sepals rather more than 1.3 cm long, the opposite sepal rather less than 1.3 cm long, 3.4 mm broad, both oblong-lanceolate, mucronate; the 2 inner sepals 1.5 mm wide and as long as the shorter of the outer ones, linear lanceolate, mucronate; corona, 3.2-4.5 cm long, yellow, slightly pubescent outside, glabrous inside, somewhat 2 lipped; upper lip 2 cm long or more, deeply 4 lobed, the lobes oblong-obovate, round; lower lip oblong-obovate, round, entire; tube 1.9 – 2.2 cm long; stamens 2 fertile and 2 staminodes; filaments of the fertile stamens exerted beyond the corona tube, those of the staminode very short. Ovary superior of two fused carpels; style, simple, usually long with two stigma.

Fruit / Seed: Oval-shaped upto 2 cm long seed capsule containing 2 large (8mm long-5mm wide) flat seeds with silky appressed hairs.

Root: Central tap root, with lateral roots. Surface rough due to numerous dot-like lenticels and root scars of fallen roots; external surface greyish-brown, bark thin with smooth internal surface; wood cream coloured; fracture, hard and laminated; odour and taste not characteristic.

  • Part(s) used for medicinal purpose: Root, Leaf, Bark
  • Plant type / Growth Habit: Undershrub
  • Duration: Annual or Perennial
  • Distribution: India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Africa, China, Yemen
  • Habitat: Throughout hotter parts of the country and also cultivated as a hedge plant.

Vernacular names / Synonyms

  1. Scientific name: Barleria prionitis var. dicantha
  2. Sanskrit: Kurantaka, Koranda, Kerandaka, Sahachara, Sahacharah, Saireyaka, Ananta, Bana, Pitapushpaka, Pitasaireyaka, Pura, Udyanapaki, Vira
  3. Assamese: Shinti
  4. Bengali: Kantajati
  5. Gujrati: Kanta-Saerio, Kantasalio, Kanta Shelio
  6. Hindi: Sahachara
  7. Kannada: Sahachara, Mullu gorate, Mullu gorante, Haladi gorate
  8. Kutch: Vajra daul
  9. Malayalam: Kirimkurunji, Karim Kurunni, Chemmulli, Shemmulli, Manjakanakambaram
  10. Marathi: Koranta, Koranti, Piwala Koranta, Koreta
  11. Oriya: Dasakeranda
  12. Punjabi: Sahacar
  13. Siddha: Chemmulli
  14. Tamil: Sammulli, Shemmuli, Varamuli
  15. Telugu: Mulu Gorinta Chettu, Muligoranta
  16. Unani: Katsaraiya, Piyabaasa
  17. Urdu: Pila Bansa, Piya Bansa
  18. English: Barleria, porcupine-flower, Common yellow nail dye, Thorn nails dye, Yellow Hedge Barleria (Barleria acanthoides is known as Vajradanti, Spiny White barleria; Barleria cristata L. is known as Jhinti, Kurabaka, Sahachara, Sahacharah, Crested purple nail dye, Philippine violet)
  19. German: Stachelschweinblume
  20. Myanmar: Leik – Su – Shwe
  21. Philippines: Kukong Manok
  22. Spain:  Espinosa Amarilla
  23. Sweden: Orange Kantax

Scientific Classification

All plants are scientifically classified into main 7 levels. These levels are Kingdom, Division, Class, Order, Family, Genus and Species. A genus comprise of many species and 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 same plants.

The botanical name of Vajradanti is Barleria prionitis. It belongs to plant family Acanthaceae. Below is given taxonomical classification of plant.

  • Kingdom: Plantae (comprising all living or extinct plants)
  • Subkingdom: Tracheobionta (have lignified tissues or xylem for conducting water and minerals)
  • Superdivision: Spermatophyta (produce seeds)
  • Division: Magnoliophyta (flowering plants)
  • Class: Magnoliopsida (flowering plant producing an embryo with paired cotyledons)
  • Subclass: Asteridae
  • Order: Lamiales
  • Family: Acanthaceae (Acanthus family)
  • Genus: Barleria L. (Philippine violet)
  • Species: Barleria prionitis L. (Porcupine flower, Barleria)


  1. Barleria hystrix Linn.
  2. Barleria pubifiora Benth.
  3. Prionitis hystrix.
  4. Prionitis pubiflora.

Constituents of Barleria prionitis

β-Sitosterol, Potassium, Barlerin, Scutellareing-g-rhamnosyl glucoside, Irioids, Barterin and Acetyl barlerin.

It does not contain any alkaloidal principle but a large amount of neutral and acid resins.

Ayurvedic Properties and Action

Sahchara h is sweet, sour and bitter in taste, hot in potency and pungent after digestion (Katu Vipak). It balances Kapha, and destroys poison. It is especially useful in dental problems and gout.

Ayurvedic Name: Saireya (Charaka and Sushruta), Saireyaka (Sushruta), Kuranta, Kurantaka (Bhavaprakasha), Katsaraiya, Sahchara

  • Rasa (taste on tongue): Madhura (Sweet), Tikta (Bitter), Amla (Sour)
  • Guna (Pharmacological Action): Snigdha (Unctuous)
  • Virya (Action): Ushna (Heating)
  • Vipaka (transformed state after digestion): Katu (Pungent)

It is an Ushna Virya herb. Ushna Virya or hot potency herb, subdues Vata (Wind) and Kapha (Mucus) and increases Pitta (Bile).

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 herb.  Katu Vipak herbs, increases dryness in body.

Ayurvedic Action

  • Kasahar: Gives relief in cough.
  • Keshya: Herb which makes hair stable and promotes growth e.g. Bringraja or Yashtimadhu.
  • Mutral: Promotes urination.
  • Vatahar: Pacifies Vata.
  • Vishahara: Destroyer of poison

Chief Indications

  1. Danta Roga (Gum and teeth problems)
  2. Kandu (Itching)
  3. Kushta (Chronic skin diseases)
  4. Mutra Roga (obstinate urinary disorders)
  5. Palita (Hair greying)
  6. Vatarakta (Gout)

Ayurvedic Formulations

  1. Ashtavarga Kvatha Churna
  2. Nilikadya Taila
  3. Prabhanjana Vimardanam Thailam
  4. Rasnairarnadi Churna
  5. Sahacharadi Taila

Important Medicinal Properties

Barleria prionitis 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. Anticatarrhal:  Remove excess mucous from the body.
  2. Antidontalgic: Gives relief in toothache.
  3. Anti-inflammatory: Reducing inflammation by acting on body mechanisms.
  4. Antirheumatic: Alleviating or preventing rheumatism.
  5. Antiseptic: Capable of preventing infection by inhibiting the growth of infectious agents.
  6. Appetizer: Improves appetite.
  7. Astringents: Constrict tissues; styptic.
  8. Cholagogue: Promotes the discharge of bile from the system, purging it downward.
  9. Diaphoretic: Promote sweating.
  10. Diuretic: Promoting excretion of urine/agent that increases the amount of urine excreted.
  11. Emollient: Soothing and softening effect on the skin or an irritated internal surface.
  12. Expectorant: Promotes the secretion of sputum by the air passages, used to treat coughs.
  13. Thermogenic: Heating

Medicinal Uses of Barleria prionitis

Pila Vajradanti is used in Ayurveda for variety of ailments such as gout, rheumatism, Vata Roga, dental problems, gingivitis, stomatitis, pyorrhea, burns, ascites, oedema, wounds, nocturnal ejaculation, cracking of heels, urinary problems, ulcers, chronic skin diseases, cough, fever, migraine, and neurological disorders. It is rich in potassium and hence the water extract of plant significantly increases the urination and sodium elimination. This action helps in urinary problems, stones, oedema etc.

1- Asthma

Leaf juice + sugar is given.

2- Anasarca (extreme generalized edema)

Fresh juice of the bark is given.

3- Arthritis, reducing fat in the body, Obesity

The bark powder is taken in dose of half teaspoon twice a day.

4- Bleeding gums

The juice of the leaves is applied on bleeding gums.

5- Body pain

Leaf paste is applied.

6- Boils

A paste of the root is applied.

7- Cough, catarrhal affections, fever with phlegm

Leaf juice 2 tablespoons + honey is given, twice a day.

8- Cracked feet

The leaf juice or leaf paste is applied.

9- Eczema, itching

The paste of leaves is applied topically.

10- Greying of hair

Medicated oil prepared by boiling plant part is oil is used for scalp massaging.

11- Gout, rheumatism, swellings, inflammatory condition of joints

A plant decoction is prepared and taken internally in dose of 50-100 ml.

12- Increase spermatogenesis

Dried powder of plant is taken in dose of 6 gm with honey.

13- Lymph node swellings

Root paste + rice washed water is applied.

 14- Mouth ulcers

The shoot tips are chewed.

A decoction of the root is used as a mouthwash.

 15- Oral Care

  • The leaves are boiled in water and used for rinsing mouth.
  • The twigs are chewed.
  • A decoction of the root is used as a mouthwash.

16- Otitis

Leaf juice is dropped in ears.

17- Rat-bite poisoning

Root decoction is given.

18- Rheumatic fever

Powder of shade dried plant with cow milk is taken orally.

19- Ringworm, fungal infection

Root powder + lemon juice, applied topically.

20- Skin allergy and chilblains

The leaf paste is externally applied on skin.

21- Strengthening the gums, tooth-ache due to caries

A tooth paste made of the astringent leaves and common salt is used.

22- Stomach disorders, urinary affections

Leaf juice is given.

23- Toothache, Gum problems

Root is chewed as tooth brush.

24- Toothache due to cavity

The leaf is bruised or juice extracted is in kept in the tooth cavity with or without Akarkara root.

25- Watery swelling and pain all over the body

Root and leaf (20 gm each) are made into decoction in water. Decoction is taken with cardamom powder twice a day for three days.

Dosage of Barleria prionitis

The leaf juice is given internally in dose of 5-20ml.

A decoction prepared from the plant is given in dose of 50-100ml.

Contraindications, Interactions, Side-effects and Warnings Barleria prionitis

  1. The leaves and flowering tops are diuretic, rich in potassium salts.
  2. It is heating and drying in nature.
  3. It increases urination.

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