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Ayurvedic Herbs A-Z

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Ayurvedic Medicine




Latin Name: Boerhavia diffusa
Sanskrit Name: Punarnava
Hindi Name: Lal Punarnava, Beshakapore
English Name: Spreading Hogweed

Parts Used:

Whole herb, root. Each part has a different therapeutic value and must be prepared in its own way for maximum benefits. Found throughout India, especially during the rainy season.

Constituents: Alkaloids, Sterols, Punarnavoside (anti-fibrinolytic agent), Potassium nitrate.1

Traditional Ayurvedic Uses:

The root of this plant is a powerful Rasayana (longevity enhancer). It is good for the kidneys, especially the nephron cells which are damaged by long-term hyperglycemia (diabetes). And it pacifies two of the main laws of physiology (Vata and Kapha).

Punarnava enhances the quality of 6 of the 7 categories of bodily tissues, including nutrient plasma (Rasa Dhatu), blood (Rakta Dhatu), muscle (Mamsa Dhatu), fat (Meda Dhatu), bone marrow and nerves (Majja Dhatu), and reproductive fluids (Shukra Dhatu).

HEART: Fluid congestion, cardiac edema, general edema from heart function deficiency. Difficult breathing from this congestion in the chest is eased. By clearing the excess of avalambhaka and kledhaka kapha from the chest and stomach it opens the channels- especially for rasa and rakta, the circulatory fluids, to flow unimpeded.

KIDNEYS: Any symptoms of nephritis or impaired urinary function. Used in bladder infections and systemic edema. Superb herb for drying excess fluids, swelling, edema and congestion from excess kapha. Specifically useful in ascites, congestive heart conditions, arthritic swellings with pitting and coldness.2

GIT: Increases the digestive fire and is useful in a sluggish digestive system. In small doses it is a mild laxative. Also traditionally used for treating the kapha type of anemia.3

ARTHRITIS: In swollen joints with fluid retention, pitting with kapha imbalance Punarnava can effectively clear the excess fluid.

Contraindications: Diarrhea

Ayurvedic Energetics
Rasa (taste): Pungent, Bitter, Astringent
Virya (action): Heating
Vipaka (post-digestive effect): Pungent
Guna (quality): Dry, Light
Dosha effect: VPK-
Dhatu (tissue): Plasma, Blood, Fat, Nerve, Reproductive
Srota (channel): Digestive, Urinary, Plasma

Ayurvedic Action
Deepana- enkindles appetite, Shothaghna- destroys odema, Kasahara- alleviates coughs, Vyasthapana- promoter of youth and longevity, Chakshushya- benefits the eyes, Arshoghna- reduces haemorrhoids, Mutrala- diuretic, Mutravaha Rasayana- rejuvenative to the urinary system, Ashmarighna-- lithotriptic, Mutrakricchaghna- alleviates dysuria.
(Charake, Sushruta, Ashtanga Hridaya, Bhavapraka

Combinations are Best

The experts at Ayurveda do not recommend the use of single herbs for self-care due to several important reasons:

  1. Single herbs often have unwanted effects over time, which can be canceled by herbs in proper combination.
  2. Herbs in combination are much more powerful.
  3. Good formulas address all co-factors to a health goal for much greater effectiveness.
  4. Expert combinations include herbs that increase assimilation and effective potency of the other ingredients.
  5. Herbs have different effects according to dose, and when mixed with other herbs.

1 Paranjpe
2 Paranjpe
3 Bhavaprakasha

Ayurvedic Basics:


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