Cressa cretica is a halophytic dwarf shrub found in sandy and saline soil. It is a small plant with woody base and many stems. The leaves of plant are small and condensed. The flowers are very small and white in colour. This plant is distributed throughout the arid tropical regions of the world. Cressa cretica is a medicinal plant and used in many countries for therapeutic purpose.
In some parts of India, Cressa cretica is known as Rudravanti and traditionally roots and leaves are used as aphrodisiac, tonic, expectorant and antibilious agent. In Ayurveda, Rudravanti is believed to exude moisture, since the ground in its neighbourhood is always moist.
Rudravanti is useful in vitiated condition of Vata and Kapha. This medicinal herb is considered exhilarating. It has detoxifying, tonic, expectorant and anti-bilious properties. It has bitter and saline taste and indicated in asthma, bronchitis, dyspepsia, bloating, colic, low appetite, intestinal worms, skin diseases and as a tonic. Cressa cretica is given in case of respiratory ailments due to its bronchodilatory, antitussive, antibacterial, antipyretic, and analgesic effects.
It is important to mention here that botanical identity of Rudanti is controversial. There are few other plants (Astragalus candolleanus, Capparis moonii) which are referred as Rudanti in various states of India.
A small, shrubby, diffuse erect, shrub reaching upto 38cm in height.
- Stem: Much branched and hairy, more or less cylindrical to oval in shape and slightly swollen at nodes.
- Leaves: Simple, numerous, ovate, sessile, very small, acute, numerous, ashy or hoary-pubescent. Leaves on main branches are larger than those on branchlets, the blade 1- 12mm long, lanceolate, ovate or elliptic to scale-like, sessile or shortly petiolate.
- Flowers: small, white or pink, sub-sessile, in the superior axils, forming a many-flowered head.
- Fruit: Ovoid capsules.
- Seeds: Solitary.
- Part(s) used for medicinal purpose: Whole plant
- Plant type / Growth Habit: Herb
- Duration: Perennial
- Distribution: Doab regions, saline soil, Coastal regions of India, Kathiawar (Gujarat), throughout sandy and saline soils; also found in western and central Asia, tropical Africa, Mediterranean region and Australia.
- Habitat: Salt tolerant plant found in sandy semi-arid warm zone.
Cressa cretica is a perennial halophyte. Halophyte is a plant adapted to growing in saline conditions, as in a salt marsh.
Vernacular names / Synonyms
- Scientific name: Cressa cretica
- Ayurvedic: Rudautika, Amrita-srava, Rudanti, Rudantika, Rudravanti, Sanjeevani, Amruthashraava, Rudanthi, Madhushraava, Romaanchika Hindi: Rudravanti, Rudranti
- Bengali: Rudravanti, Rudranti
- Marathi: Khardi, Chavel, Lona, Rudravanti
- Gujrati: Una
- Sindhi: Una
- Siddha/Tamil: Uppu Sanaga
- Folk: Khardi
- Kannada: Kharda
- Malayalam: Alukanni
- Tamil: Uppumarikkolunu
- Telugu: Uppusanaga
- Oriya: Dahna
- Konkani: Chaval
- Arabic: Nedewah, Shuwwayl
- English: Alkali weed, Rosin weed, Cressa
- French: Cresse de Crete, Cresse a feuilles d’hernaiaire
- Poland: Erva molhada
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 plant.
The botanical name of Rudra Vanti is Cressa cretica. It belongs to plant family. 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)
- Super division: Spermatophyta (produce seeds)
- Class: Magnoliopsida (flowering plant producing an embryo with paired cotyledons)
- Subclass: Asteridae
- Order: Polemoniales
- Family: Convolvulaceae
- Genus: Cressa
- Species: Cretica
Other Plants which are known as Rudravanti
1- Astragalus candolleanus Royle, Synonym Astragalus rhizanthus subsp. candolleanus (Benth.) Podlech, Family: Fabaceae / Papilionaceae, is found growing at 1500-3300m in open-inner-dry-stony ground of western Himalaya.
Rudravanti is a sub-erect or prostrate pubescent shrub with 30-60 cm long stem.
- Leaf: Compound, up to 12.5 cm long; leaflets 17-25, 1.2-1.3 cm long, elliptic or oblong, sparsely pubescent or glabrous; stipules 6-7 mm long.
- Inflorescence: Compact raceme, sessile or pedunculate, peduncle 5 cm or less. Bracts exceeding the pedicel. Pedicel 2.5-6 mm long.
- Flower: 1.5-2.5 cm long, yellow, standard longer than the wings and the much shorter keel.
- Fruit: 1.7-2.6 cm long, pubescent, hairs spreading.
This plant has blood purifying, depurative, and expectorant properties. The root powder and decoction is used in treatment of tuberculosis. It is also indicated in blood impurities, diabetes, skin diseases cough and cold.
2- Capparis moonii, Family Cappridaceae, is found growing in deep forests of Konkan and Sri Lanka at 1000 m, above the sea level. It is a woody climber with flagillate branches.
- Leaves: oblong and obtuse or subacute with a callour tip.
- Flowers: 6 to 12, white in colour, glabrous, 10 to 13 cm in diameter with arbicular sepals and glabrous ovary.
- Seeds: Seeds are many and of the size of a large bean.
Capparis moonii is used in treatment of tuberculosis. It also possess anti-haemorrhagic activity and helps in bleeding disorders or Rakta-pitta.
Constituents of Cressa cretica
The plant contains n-octacosanol, scopoletin, umbelliferone, isopimpinellin, beta-sitosterol and its –D (+)-glucoside and quercetin.
Important Medicinal Properties
Cressa cretica 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.
- Alterative: Alter favorably the course of an ailment.
- Anthelmintic: Expel parasitic worms (helminths) and other internal parasites from the body.
- Antibacterial: Active against bacteria.
- Antibilious: Remove the excess bile from the body.
- Antifertility: Fertility reducing
- Antifungal: Active against fungus.
- Anti-inflammatory: Reducing inflammation by acting on body mechanisms.
- Antitussive: Prevent or relieve a cough.
- Carminative: Preventing the formation or causing the expulsion of flatulence.
- Depurative: Purifying agent.
- Digestive: Digestant.
- Diuretic: Promoting excretion of urine/agent that increases the amount of urine excreted.
- Expectorant: Promotes the secretion of sputum by the air passages, used to treat coughs.
- Stomachic: Stimulates gastric activity.
- Thermogenic: Increase heat in body through metabolic stimulation.
- Tonic: Restore or improve health or well-being.
- Intestinal worms
- Joint pain
- Skin problems, leprosy
- Urinary discharges
Ayurvedic Properties and Action
Rudanti is astringent, bitter in taste (Rasa), pungent after digestion (Vipaka), and is hot in effect (Virya).
It is an Ushna Virya herb. Ushna Virya or hot potency herb, subdues Vata (Wind) and Kapha (Mucus) and increases Pitta (Bile). It has property of digestion, vomiting and purging, and gives feeling of lightness. It is considered bad for sperms and fetus.
- Rasa (taste on tongue): Katu (Pungent), Tikta (Bitter)
- Guna (Pharmacological Action): Laghu (Light), Ruksha (Dry)
- Virya (Action): Ushna (Heating)
- Vipaka (transformed state after digestion): Katu (Pungent)
- Dhatu (tissues): Plasma, marrow and nerves
- Shrotas (channel): Digestive, respiratory, nervous, and urinary
Rudravanti is pungent in both the initial and post-digestive tastes (Rasa and Vipaka) and hot in effect (Virya). 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 Viapk herbs, increases dryness in body. Such foods reduce fertility and Kapha.
- Dipan / Deepana (promote appetite but do not aid in digesting undigested food)
- Pachak (digestive)
- Vidahi (spicy, things which cause burning sensation)
- Kapha-Vata har (Remover of the Humor of Kapha-Vata)
- Pitta vardhak (increases pitta)
- Ruchikarak (improve taste)
- Krimighna (destroys worms)
- Shulaghna (gives relief in pain)
- Mutrala (promote the secretion of urine)
- Shvas (benefits breathing)
- Ama nashak (toxin digester)
- Anulomna (takes vata / wind downward, mild laxative)
Medicinal Uses of Cressa cretica
Cressa cretica is used in treatment of asthma, constipation, leprosy and urinary discharges. It has acrid, bitter, thermogenic, alterant, anthelmintic, expectorant, carminative, digestive, stomachic, anti-bilious, expectorant, antimicrobial, bronchodilatory, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, antitussive, antifungal, antibacterial and emetic properties. The plant show cough and asthma reducing properties in dose dependent manner.
Whole plant is dried. This is burnt and the ash is mixed in coconut oil. The paste thus prepared is applied externally.
2- Numbness in feet
The leaves paste is applied externally.
The plant is soaked in water and macerated. This water is taken as a tonic.
4- As emetic
The crushed dry leaves are taken with sugar.
The plant is dried and burnt. This is mixed in coconut oil to make paste. This paste is applied twice a day on affected body part.
The decoction of plant is used.
7- Other Uses
The plant is used as fodder for sheep and goats in Saudi Arabia.
- The plant paste is applied as antiseptic.
- The plant is used in toothpaste making in Madagascar.
- It is soil binder along the coasts.
Dosage of Cressa cretica
The recommended dosage of 1-3 grams twice or thrice a day.
Contraindications, Interactions, Side-effects and Warnings Cressa cretica
Cressa cretica has male contraception properties.
Oral administration of a methanolic extract of Cressa cretica at a dose level of 100 mg/kg/day for a period of 60 days caused a significant decrease in the weight of testis, epididymis, seminal vesicle and ventral prostate.
The administration reduced the fertility of male rats by 100%. There was a marked reduction in the number of primary spermatocytes, secondary spermatocytes and spermatids.
It reduces serum testosterone levels.
Do not take salt while on treatment.