Apamarga (Achyranthes Aspera)
The Sanskrit word apamarga literally means that which keeps away the dosas. It has numerous synonyms in Ayurveda, describing its peculiarities like sikhari-having flowers in spikes, kinihimitigates wounds and ulcers, mayuraka has peacock coloured spikes, ksaramadhya-ksara is prepared from it, etc. The plant has been mentioned in several ancient manuscripts of Ayurveda as useful against parasites and miscrobes, and as a diuretic and digestive. There are also references to its useto facilitate delivery by tying the foot to the pregnant women’s loins-and for conceiving for male baby.
Maharsi Caraka has cetegorised it as sirovirecanopage- adjunct to cleansing nasal therapy, vamanopaga-adjunct to emesis, mutra virecaniya- diuretic and krmighna-anthelminitec. It is also classified in many Ayurvedic taxts as kasaghna anti-tussive, chardinasaka-anti-emetic, arsoghna-anti-haemorrhoidal, adhmana nasaka-ameliorates cervical adenitis.
The plant grows all over India in dry region upto -900-1000 metres elevation. It is an erect., small herb, 0.5-1.5 metres in height with quadrangular branches, thickened towards the tips. The leaves 2.5-10 cm long and 5-7 cm broad, rounded at the apex, elliptic obovate and pale beneath. The flowers greenish white, in slender spikes of 30-40 cm length. The fruits small, oblong and grey. The seeds solitary and grey.
The botanical name of apamarga is Achyranthes aspera and it belongs to family Amaranthaceae. The whole plant contains the traces of basic substances e.g. betaine. Achyranthine has been isolated from the plant. The seeds have a saponin which contains oleanolic acid, glucose, galactose, rhamnose and xylose, Two Achyranthes saponins A and B have isolated. Two new saponins C and D are also isolated from fruits. Ecdysterone (polypodine A) and ecdysone from roots are isolated. In the seed-oil linoleic (49.4), oileic (22.6). Palmitic (1.6) , stearic (4.4), beheic (1.5), arachidec (1.6) , myristic (1.2) and lauric (0.4%) acids present.
Apamarga is pungent and bitter in taste (rasa), pungent in the post digestive (vipaka) and has cold potency (virya).. It alleviates kapha and vata dosas. It possesses light (laghu), dry (ruksa) and sharp (tiksna) attributes. It is diuretic, astringent and a blood purifier. It is useful in the diseases, like obesity, piles, phccup, vomiting, abdominal pain, pruritus and diseases due to ama. (Kaiyadeva Nighantu)
The leaves, roots, seeds, the whole plant and pancanga ksara are used for medicinal purposes. The paste of its leaves applied on wounds, alleviates the pain, swelling and distinfect them effectively. The fresh juice of its leaves arrests the bleeding from the wounds and ulcer. In snake and scorpion bites the pulp of the leaves is applied on the site of lesions. The bath with apamarga decoction is recommended in the skin diseases, associated with intense itching. The medicated oil of it is salutary in deafness, tinnitus and to control the ear ache, As a sirovirecana, the seed powder is used nasally to alleviate migraine, heaviness in the head due to kapha dosa, The ksara-an alkali of apamarga, is benevolent in vaginal diseases. The root powder is extremely rewarding to cleanse the teeth and to prevent caries. The medicated threads (ksara sutra) of apamarga are salubrious in anal fistula. The topical application of its seed powder arrests the bleeding in piles. An ophthalmic preparation, anjana, of apamarga roots, is valuable in the treatment of corneal opacities.
Intermally, the plant is beneficial in vast range of diseases. It is a keen stimulant to gastrointestinal system and is effectively used in loss of appetite, distaste, flatulence, piles and worm infestations. The special property of the seeds, as an anorexient, bestows valuable effect, to curb the excessive hunger in obesity. Dyspepsia and hyperacidity repond well with apamarga ksara. The root powder of ksara alleviates the abdominal pain and burning sensation. In higher doses, it induces vomiting; It cleanses the bowels, eliminates constipation and eases the problems like flatulence and heaviness in the abdomen. Apamarga is used in ascites and hepatosplenomegaly, with great benefit. Being mucolytic, it relieves the blockage of phlegm and eases the bronchospasm in asthma, Its ksara is salutary to curb the chest pain in heart diseases. In chronic fever, splenonmegaly responds well to combination of apamarga, pippali, given with the jaggery. In order to reduce the fever due to kapha, thedecoction of whole plant is valuable. Apamarga is commonly useful as a bitter tonic. It is one of the ingredients, to treat urinary stones, as it is diuretic. As an adjunct, it helps in the treatment of cystitis and nephritis. The seeds are recommended with rice water in bleeding piles.
Classical Ayurvedic Preparations
- Apamarga ksara,
- Apamarga siddha taila,
- Agasti-haritaki leha etc.