Punarnava is a very important medicinal herb of Ayurveda. Its name is derived from two words, Punar (= once again /regaining/restoring) and Nava (=new, renew or young), so the literal meaning of the name is, one which becomes new or young again. This name signifies the rejuvenating property of Punarnava. It is a Rasayan herb of Ayurveda that renews the body or restores youth.
In Ayurveda, Punarnava is considered bitter, cooling, and pungent. It acts on plasma, blood, muscles, fat, nerves, and reproductive organs. The herb exhibits significant anti-inflammatory, laxative, and diuretic action along with stomachic, expectorant, rejuvenative, diaphoretic, and emetic properties. It is one of the best herbs used for diseases of the liver and kidney. It is very effective in the treatment of dengue fever and very good for curing jaundice and hepatitis b. It is prescribed for urinary problems, kidney-bladder stones, kidney disorders, enlargement of the liver, cirrhosis of the liver, jaundice, dropsy, edema, and similar inflammatory conditions.
Due to its potent anti-fibrinolytic and anti-inflammatory properties, it is used in menstrual disorders like menorrhagia, dysmenorrhea and to stop intrauterine contraceptive device (IUCD) induced bleeding. The anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties of Punarnava is comparable to that of ibuprofen.
Punarnava is a diuretic and decreases urinary albumin, urinary protein excretion, and specific gravity. It is also a urinary antiseptic. The root decoction is recommended for the treatment of urolithiasis. This common medicinal herb is a tonic for the heart, liver, and kidney. It increases plasma insulin levels and improves glucose tolerance, produces significant antioxidant activity.
Whole plant or the roots of Punarnava are used along with other ingredients for the preparation of medicines for anemia, jaundice, asthma, cough, colic, enlargement of the liver, piles, abdominal worms, acute leprosy, heart disease, fistula, blood and skin diseases, anasarca, the liver and spleen diseases, strangury, retention of urine, etc. It is taken along with Gokhru for kidney disorders. It enhances antibody response and reduces Pitta and Kapha.
The leaves and roots of the plant are eaten as vegetables for better health. The plant is cooling and helps to reduce excessive heat in the body.
For medicinal purposes, the juice, decoction, infusion, powder, or paste of the plant are used. During the rainy season, the plant is abundantly available and can be used fresh. Otherwise, the capsules and root powder are also available in the market.
Plant Description: Rakta Punarnava / Lal Punernava or Boerhavia diffusa is a diffuse herb with prostrate or ascending branches. It has well developed, fairly long, somewhat tortuous, cylindrical, 0.2-1.5 cm in diameter, yellowish-brown to brown colored, large fusiform root.
The stem is greenish-purple, stiff, slender, cylindrical, swollen at nodes, minutely pubescent or early glabrous, prostrate divericately branched, branches from the common stalk, often more than a meter long.
The leaves are simple, opposite in unequal pairs. The larger leaves are 2.5- 3.7 cm long, smaller ones 1.2- 1.8 cm long, broadly oval or subrotundate, rounded or subcordate at base, rounded at apex, entire, somewhat undulate, glabrous and green on the upper surface.
Flowers are regular, bisexual, very small, bright purplish-pink, shortly stalked or nearly sessile, 4- 10 in small umbels arranged in small slender long-stalked, corymbose, axillary, and terminal panicles. The perianth is 5-lobed, red or pink. Stamens are 2 – 3, sometimes 1.
The fruit is a one-seeded nut, 6 mm long clavate, rounded, broadly and bluntly 5 ribbed, viscidly glandular.
- Part(s) used for medicinal purpose: Root, leaves, aerial parts, or the whole plant
- Plant type / Growth Habit: Diffuse herb, Weed
- Duration: Perennial / Annual (plant remains dry and dormant during the summer and regenerates from the same old rootstock in the rainy season)
- Distribution: All tropical and subtropical regions of Asia, Africa, and America. Abundantly occur in India as a weed up to an altitude of 2000 m in the Himalayas.
- Habitat: Wastelands. Grows as a weed in warm, sandy waste grounds and especially seen everywhere during the rainy season.
Vernacular names / Synonyms
Scientific name: Boerhavia diffusa
Sanskrit: Bhauma, Kathillaka, Krishnakhya, Krura, Lohita, Mandalpatrika, Nava, Navya, Nila, Nilapunarnava, Nilavarshabhu, Nilini, Pravrishenya, Punarbhava, Punarnava, Raktakanda, Raktapatrika, Raktapunarnava, Raktapushpa, Raktapushpika, Raktavarshabu, Sarini, Shilatika, Shonapatra, Shophagni, Shothagni, Shyma, Swatapunarnava, Vaishakhi, Varshabhava, Varshabhu, Varshaketu, Vikasvara, Vishaghni, Vishakarpara
- Assamese: Ranga Punarnabha
- Bengali: Rakta punarnava
- English: Hogweed, Pigweed, Spreading Hogweed
- Gujrati: Dholisaturdi, Motosatodo
- Hindi: Gadhapurana, Gadapurna, Lalpunarnava, Sant, Thikri, Beshakapore, Lal Punarnava
- Kannada: Komme gida, Sanadika, Kommeberu, Komma, Teglame, Ganajali
- Kashmiri: Vanjula Punarnava
- Malayalam: Thazhuthama, Thavizhama, Chuvanna Tazhutawa
- Marathi: Ghetuli, Vasuchimuli, Satodimula, Punarnava, Khaparkhuti
- Oriya: Lalapuiruni, Nalipuruni
- Punjabi: licit (Ial)
- Tamil: Karichcharanai, Mukaratte, Mukurattai, Mukkaraichchi
- Telugu: Atika mamidi, Atikamamidi, Erra galijeru
- Sinhalese: Pitasudupala, Pitasudu-sarana
Chief Indication of Punarnava Root Powder
- Ascites (accumulation of fluid in the peritoneal cavity, causing abdominal swelling)
- Biliousness (excess secretion of bile used by a disorder of the liver or gallbladder)
- Chronic alcoholism (dependence on alcohol)
- Dropsy, Oedema (swelling of soft tissues due to the accumulation of excess water)
- Diabetic Nephropathy (damage to kidneys caused by diabetes)
- Hemorrhage (flow of blood from a damaged blood vessel)
- Intestinal colic (severe abdominal pain associated with a malfunction in the intestines)
- Jaundice (yellowing of the skin or whites of the eyes, arising from excess of the pigment bilirubin and typically caused by obstruction of the bile duct, by the liver disease, or by excessive breakdown of red blood cells.)
- Kidney stones (stones in the kidney)
- Liver diseases (Diseases of the liver)
- Nephrotic syndrome (kidney disorder causing the body to excrete too much protein in urine)
- Obesity (overweight), Rheumatism
- Urinary tract infections UTIs
- Wasting diseases
All plants are scientifically classified into main 7 levels. These levels are the Kingdom, Division, Class, Order, Family, Genus, and Species. A genus comprises many species and the botanical name consists of Genus (uppercase) followed by Species (lowercase). Genus consists of many species that 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 Punarnava is Boerhavia diffusa. Boerhavia Genus’s name is given in honor of Hermann Boerhaave, a famous Dutch physician of the 18th century, and diffusa indicates the spreading nature of the plant.
Genus Boerhaavia consists of 40 species distributed in tropical and subtropical regions and warm climate. Among 40 species of Boerhaavia, 6 species are found in India, namely B. diffusa, B.erecta, B. rependa, B. Chinensis, B. hirsute, and B. rubicunda.
- Boerhavia diffusa is a dicot and belongs to the plant family Nyctaginaceae or the four o’clock family. This plant is also known as spiderlings as this plant grows low and spreads like a spider web. Below is given taxonomical classification of the 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)
- Class: Magnoliopsida (flowering plant producing an embryo with paired cotyledons)
- Subclass: Caryophyllidae
- Order: Caryophyllales
- Family: Nyctaginaceae – Four o’clock family
- Genus: Boerhavia L. (distributed in the tropical, subtropical, and temperate regions of the world)
- Species: Boerhavia diffusa L. (indigenous to India)
- Boerhavia glabrata Blume
- Boerhavia repens L.
- Boerhavia procumbens Banks ex Roxb. (Gadha-poorna)
In Ayurvedic texts, two types of Punarnava are mentioned Rakta or Red and Shwet or White. There is no doubt that Rakta Punarnava is Boerhavia diffusa. But the identity of Shvet Punarnava is confusing.
In some books, Trianthema portulacastrum is considered Shveta punarnava as it has a whitish plant body and it is used as the substitute for Boerhavia diffusa or Rakta Punarnava.
But now Boerhavia verticillata has been identified as Shwet Punarnava.
Constituents of Boerhavia diffusa
This plant contains large quantities of potassium nitrate and alkaloid Punarnavin. Punarnavoside, a new anti-fibrinolytic agent, has been isolated from the root. Punarnavoside is also reported to have diuretic, anti-inflammatory, and antibacterial properties. A lignan isolated from the roots exhibited a significant calcium channel antagonistic effect.
- Alkaloids: Punarnavine-1, Punarnavine-2
- Phytosterols: β-Sitosterol, β-Sitosterol-D-glucoside, Sitosteryl oleate, Sitosteryl palmitate
- Flavonoids: C-methyl flavone, Kaempferol, Quercetin
- Rotenoids: Boerhaavinone A, Boerhaavinone B, Boerhaavinon C, Boerhaavinone D, Boerhaavinone E, Boerhaavinone F
- Lignans: Liriodendrin, Stringarsionol, Mono-D-glucoside, β-D-glucoside
- Rotenoids: Punarnavoside
- Salts: Potassium nitrate
Proteins and fats are also present in the herb. The herb contains 15 amino acids, including 6 essential amino acids, while the root contains 14 amino acids, including 7 essential amino acids.
Ayurvedic Properties and Action
In Ayurveda, Punarnava refers to the dried, matured whole plant of Boerhaavia diffusa. This medicinal herb is used since ancient times to treat various ailments. The mention of the plant is found in Charaka Samhita and Sushruta Samhita.
Punarnava is astringent, bitter, sweet in taste (Rasa), sweet after digestion (Vipaka), and is cool in effect (Virya). It is a Sheet Virya herb. Sheet Virya or Cool potency herb subdues Pitta (Bile) and Vata (Wind), gives nourishment to the body, and supports the building of the body fluids.
- Rasa (taste on the tongue): Kashaya (Astringent), Madhura (Sweet), Tikta (Bitter)
- Guna (Pharmacological Action): Ruksha (Dry)
- Virya (Action): Ushna (Heating)
- Vipaka (transformed state after digestion): Madhura (Sweet)
It is Madhur Vipak (digests into sweet) and has a building, moistening, and nourishing effect on the body. Such herbs are cooling and reduce swelling, decreases Pitta, and have an anabolic effect on the body.
Karma / Action
- Anulomna: Anulomna means one which promotes excretions and favor discharge. Takes vata / wind downward, mild laxative
- Kaphahara: Pacifies Kapha Dosha
- Mutral: Diuretics, increase the flow of urine
- Mutrakrcichraghna: Alleviates Dysuria
- Pittahar: Reduces Pitta
- Shothagna: Reduces swelling and inflammation, relieve edema
- Shleshmahar: Reduces phlegm.
- Rasayana: Improve the quality of the tissues.
- Vishhar: Antidote to toxins.
Important Ayurvedic Formulations
- Punarnava Churna
- Punarnavadi Guggulu
- Punarnavarishta, Punarnavasava
- Punarnavaadi Taila
- Punarnava Mandoor / Punarnavadi Mandura
- Punarnavashtaka Kvatha Churna
- Sukumara Ghrita
Important Medicinal Properties
Boerhavia diffusa is rich in medicinal properties. The understanding of these properties will help us to better utilize this herb. It has significant anti-jaundice properties and is an effective medicine for liver diseases and edema.
Below are given medicinal properties along with the meaning.
- Antioxidant: The evaluation of the antioxidant potential of ethanolic extract of Boerhavia diffusa showed that it possessed significant levels of enzymatic and non-enzymatic antioxidants. It possesses a preventive and productive role to maintain cell survival, cellular interaction, and maintenance of cell membrane architecture.
- Antiasthmatic: It promotes the removal of the catarrhal matter and phlegm from the bronchial tubes.
- Anti-inflammatory: Used to reduce inflammation
- Antifibrinolytic: Treat excessive bleeding as in menorrhagia or to help in the control of bleeding during surgery. Punarnavoside is a proven antifibrinolytic agent. Due to its antifibrinolytic and anti-inflammatory properties, it is recommended for the treatment of IUD menorrhagia.
- Anti-nociceptive: Reduces sensitivity to painful stimuli.
- Anti-estrogenic: Suppresses or inhibits estrogenic activity.
- Anti-convulsant: Prevent or reduce the severity of epileptic fits or other convulsions.
- Anti-stress: Prevent or reduce stress.
- Diuretic: The plant is rich in potassium nitrate and hence possess diuretic properties. It increases the secretion and discharge of urine as it is effective in controlling excessive fluids filled in the body cavity. The decoction of the whole plant is given for edema, inflammation, nephrotic conditions, jaundice, ascites, and scanty urine.
- Hepatoprotective: This activity is confirmed in many animal studies. Leaf juice is given in jaundice.
- Laxative: Root decoction is given as a laxative.
- Hypoglycemic: It increases plasma insulin levels and improves glucose tolerance.
Health Benefits of Punarnava
- It is non-toxic, mild, cooling, and well-tolerated.
- It is diuretic and promotes urination.
- It is effective in edema or abnormal accumulation of fluid in the interstitium, located beneath the skin and in the cavities of the body.
- It cleanses the kidneys and helps to get rid of the kidney stones.
- It protects the nephrons of the kidney from damage.
- It is a laxative and helps the body to get rid of waste material.
- It cleanses the body by flushing out the toxins due to its diaphoretic, diuretic, and laxative action.
- It has anthelmintic action and kills intestinal worms.
- It is an excellent tonic for the liver and kidney.
- It improves appetite and digestion.
- It cures edema and helps in obesity.
- It balances Vata, Pitta, and Kapha.
- It cures anemia and gives nourishment to each and every tissue and cell of the body.
- It is a very good nerve rejuvenator and helps in sciatica, nervous weakness, and paralysis.
- It increases serum protein level and reduces urinary protein extraction.
- It significantly decreases blood glucose levels but increases plasma insulin levels. This helps to better control the sugar levels in the blood.
- It is an excellent medicine for Urinary-renal disorders.
- It is cooling and reduces fever.
- It is effective in liver disorders (jaundice, hepatitis, cirrhosis, anemia, flukes, detoxification, chemical injury, etc).
- It gives relief in menstrual disorders (pain, cramps, excessive bleeding, uterine spasms, water retention).
- It has Antistress, Adaptogenic, and Immunomodulatory properties.
Medicinal Uses of Boerhavia diffusa – Punarnava
Boerhavia diffusa or Punarnava grows as a weed in wastelands. But it is a valuable and effective medicine. It protects and heals the liver and kidney and reduces body heat. It is an excellent rejuvenator that gives strength to organs.
Punarnava has significant diuretic properties due to which it is effective in the treatment of urinary diseases, water retention in the body, oedema, swelling, and other condition that are caused due to accumulation of water in the body cavities.
There are many studies that confirm the effectiveness of the whole plant and root decoction of Punarnava to expel kidney stones. In the case of stones, equal quantities of Punarnava roots and Gokhru seeds are boiled in water and taken empty stomach.
Punarnava is either a single drug or in combination with other herbs. The paste of the plant, decoction of roots, or decoction of the whole plant is given as a medicine. The leaf extracts have hepatoprotective, antioxidant, antinociceptive, antibacterial, and antidiabetic properties. Root parts show potent alternative, cardiac Tonic, hematinic, laxative, expectorant, and diuretic properties.
In many cases, the decoction of roots (asthma, edema, anemia, jaundice, ascites, anasarca, internal inflammation, etc.) is preferred over plant decoction.
Asthma, bronchitis, menstrual problems
- The root decoction is given twice a day for one month. Or
- Powder of the root is given in doses of 5 grams thrice a day. Or
- Dried plant powder is smoked as a cigarette once a day for one month. Or
- Root powder 3 grams + Turmeric half a gram, consumed twice a day.
A paste of roots + milk is applied topically.
Body heat, scanty urination, swelling of legs
The plant/root powder is taken for one week.
The whole plant of Punarnava + seeds of Gokhru / Tribulus Terrestris + Puttura / Aerva lanata is made into a decoction and given internally.
Dengue fever, malaria
Punarnava + Giloy decoction is given.
Dropsy (Edema), ascites, Oedema during pregnancy, Anasarca (generalized body swelling)
- Punarnava produces diuresis in cases of oedema and ascites, especially due to the liver, peritoneal, and kidney ailments.
- The fresh boiled herb should be given or liquid extract of the fresh or dry plant can be given in doses of 4 to 6 grams. Or
- Punarnava leaves vegetable is consumed to reduce edema.
Decreased urine production
The root decoction is given with sugar and milk at night after food.
The root powder is given to stop diarrhea.
Root powder 3 grams + milk is taken.
- Root paste with fresh milk is applied. Or
- Root paste + Ghee is applied in the eyes to reduce swelling.
The leaves are eaten as vegetables.
Root paste is applied topically to treat Hydrocele.
The roots are consumed in large doses (above 5 grams).
Insomnia / Sleeplessness, jaundice, kidney diseases
The decoction of the whole plant is taken in a dose of 50-100ml.
Inflammatory conditions, rashes, urticaria
Root powder 1 teaspoon + Sonth dry ginger 1 gram, is given.
The root powder is taken in a dose of 3 grams.
Kidney and bladder stones
- Decoction prepared from Boerhaavia diffusa + Aerva lanata (L.) Juss. ex Schult / Pashanabhedha (each one-foot long piece) is taken for one month. Or
- The root powder is boiled in water and taken as tea.
Punarnava root powder/ decoction is given.
The root powder in a dose of 500 mg, twice daily for 15 days is given.
Take root powder 4 grams with hot water.
A decoction of Punarnava (Boerhavia diffusa) + Danti (Baliospermum montanum) + Dravanti (Croton tiglium) + Vrschikali (Pergularia extensa) should be given.
- The paste or decoction of the leaves and roots is given.
- According to Ashtanga Hridaya, the paste of Punarnavaa (20 g) is taken with milk daily.
Whole plant decoction is given.
Leaves juice is given.
A paste of the root can be applied on oedematous swellings.
Stomach ache, colitis
- Two teaspoonful extract of the Whole plant of Punarnava + one teaspoonful of honey, is given twice a day. Or
- A powder of the root is given in doses of 5 grams thrice a day.
The root powder is taken in a dose of 3 grams with Go mutra.
To increase lactation
Boil half teaspoon roots in a cup of milk. Filter and drink.
A hot poultice of the root can be applied.
The whole plant of Punarnava + seeds of Gokhru / Tribulus Terrestris + Yava / Barley / Hordeum vulgare is made into a decoction and given internally.
Urinary infection, kidney problems, and water or edema in hands and legs
The whole plant of Punarnava + seeds of Gokhru / Tribulus Terrestris + Kokilaksah / Asteracantha longifolia is made into a decoction and given internally.
- The root decoction is given. Or
- A powder of the root is given in doses of 5 grams thrice a day.
The Dosage of Boerhavia diffusa
- The Decoction is taken in a dose of 50-100 ml. The decoction is prepared by boiling herb 10-30 grams of the herb in one glass of water till water reduces to half a cup. This is filtered and taken.
- Fresh juice of the plant is taken in a dose of 10-20 ml.
- The root powder is given in a dose of one teaspoonful.
- Punarnava as a single herb is available online and in the market.
- Himalaya Punarnava (each capsule contains 250 mg extract of Punarnava) 60 Capsules, Price/MRP Rs 135.00 /-
- Morpheme Punarnava (Boerhavia Diffusa 500mg), 60 Capsules, for Rs. 449.00 / –
- Healthvit Punarnava Powder (Boerhavia Diffusa 250 mg) 60 Capsules, Rs. 310.00 /-
- Carmel Organics Truu Punarnava Root Powder 100g, Rs. 189.00 /-
- Dark Forest Punarnava (Spreading Hogwood) Powder 200g, Rs. 299.00 /-
- Planet Ayurveda’s Punarnava Capsules (Boerhavia Diffusa 500mg) 60 Capsules, Rs. 1100.00 /-
- Natures Velvet Punarnava 500 mg, 60 Capsules, Rs. 599.00 /-
- Banyan Botanicals Punarnava Powder
Contraindications, Interactions, Side-effects, and Warnings
- It is a diuretic.
- It is a laxative.
- In larger doses it causes vomiting.
- It is not a toxic plant.
- Market samples of Rakta punarnava (Boerha Avia diffusa) are often found adulterated with Trianthemaportula portulacastrum. Boerhavia diffusa is cool in potency. But Trianthema portulacastrum (also known as Vaesabhu, Shwet Punarnava), is hot in potency.
- Toxicological studies conducted on Punarnava demonstrated the absence of teratogenic and mutagenic effects. The ethanol extract was administered twice daily in pregnant female albino rats during the entire period of gestation. It did not cause any teratogenic effect or fetal abnormality.