Scientific Name: Boerhavia diffusa
Hindi & Sanskrit: Punarnava
English: Hogweed, Spiderlings
Tamil: Mookkirattai keerai
Even as we live in polluted environments, in conditions similar to gas chambers, eating food whose origins we never know, forever suspecting poison and adulteration in every next thing, there is a plant around us, insignificant and a very common weed which is known in the world of ayurveda and herbal medicine as a wonder drug, renowned for its abilities for detoxification and rejuvenation of human body. Punarnava, which literally means “to bring back to life”, is a creeper that grows in open spaces, commonly found throughout India and all over the tropical and subtropical nations. The plant belongs to the family Nyctaginaceae. It usually grows abundantly after rain. This edible herb, contains many medicinal properties in it that it is used to treat many ailments.
Medicinal value: In Ayurveda, the plant is used in a variety of diseases ranging from skin disorders, liver dysfunction, asthma, intestinal diseases, cough, kidney and heart problems etc. Punarnava herb is most widely used in treatment of renal and urinary problems. Punarnava has excellent anti-inflammatory and diuretic properties. It is used as a heart tonic. The leaves are a natural coolant, laxative, diuretic, anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial by nature.
Other uses: Punarnava has a long history of use by indigenous and tribal people and the leaves are used as a vegetable in several parts of India. The leaves can be cooked and served like any other leafy vegetable dish.
Plant identification: The plant is identified by its purple flowers, leathery purple stem and deep green almost round asymmetric leaves. A ground creeper, the plant propagates through seeds and cuttings, grows luxuriantly in the wild and is mostly difficult to grow in pots.
– Anitha Joy