Bhrngaraja (Eclipta alba)
The Sanskrit word bhrngaraja literally means that which bestows hair the splendid colour like that of a humming bee. It has numerous synonyms describing its properties of promoting the growth of hair and making them black and lustrous. It is the best known herb for preventing balding and premature graying. It has synonyms like kesaraja – king of the hair, markava – which prevents premature graying, kesaranjana – bestows beautiful tinge to hair etc. It is an excellent rejuvenator. In the ancient texts, it has been cited, a person who takes a fresh juice of bhringaraja daily for a month and remains on a diet predominantly of milk, is rejuvenated and lives a strong, healthy and happy life of 100 years. Bhavamisra has mentioned it to be useful in dental and skin diseases.
The plant grows all over India, especially, in moist places, upto an elevation of about 800 metres. An erect annual grows 10-15 cm in height, with flat or round, blackish-chocolaty, much branched, pubescent stems. The leaves are opposite, serrate, 3-5 cm long and blackish-green in colour. The flowers are small penny-sized, white, on a long stalk. The fruits are many seeded and the seeds are black, resemble cumin seeds. The plant flowers in September and fruits in November. Ayurvedic texts describe three vatieties of bhrngaraja according to colours of flowers viz. white, yellow and blue. The white variety is commonly used.
The botanical name of bhrngaraja is Eclipta alba. The yellow bhrngaraja is Wedelia calendulaceae. Bhrngaraja belongs to family Compositae, Asteraceae. From leaves and stems, wedelolactone has been identified in crystalline form. Reducig sugars and sterols have been detected. Stigmasterol and L-terthienyl methanol have been identified (Tetrahedron 1966, 38, 4227). Wedelic cid, apigenin, luteolin and the glucosides of the latter two have been isolated. B-amyrin (0.06), wedelolactone (0.02) and luteolin-7-O-glucoside (0.04%) isolated from aerial parts. (Sci. Pharm. 1981, 49, 262).From roots hentriacontanol, 14-heptacosanol and stigmasterol are isolated. Sisteen new biogenetically closely related polyacetylenic thiophenes (I-XVI) isolated. A large amount of resin and an alkaloid principle ecliptine is isolated. Desmethylwedelolactone – 7O-glucoside is isolated.
Bhrngaraja is pungent and bitter in taste, pungent in the post digestive effect and has hot potency (virya) it alleviates kapha and vata dosas. It possesses light (laghu) and dry (roksa) attributes. It is a rejuvenator, tonic and benefical to eyes, hair and the skin. (Kaiyadeva Nighantu)
The whole plant and seeds have great medicinal value. Bhrngaraja is equally useful both, internally as well as externally. In glandular swellings and filariasis, it is used to mitigate swelling and pain, by applying the paste. The chronic and infected wounds get cleansed and heal better with application of its paste. It also alleviates the dispigmentation of the skin and renders normal colour to the skin. The fresh fuice of the plant is instilled in the ears and eyes in otitis and conjunctivitis to ameliorate pain. The massage with its fresh juice is effective to alleviate headache. The nasal drops of its juice, mixed with milk, are beneficial in migraine. The medicated oils of bhrngaraja are widely used as hair tonic and to prevent hairfall and prematre graying of the hair. Bhrngaraja is the most common ingredient incorporated in numerous market preparations of various hair oils.
Internaly, bhrngaraja is useful in many diseases. It is keen stimulant to digestive system. It augments the appetite and improves digestion. It is an effective cholegouge, hence benevolent in hepatosplenomegaly as well as hepatitis. The fresh juice of the plant (15-30ml) given along with castor oil curbs the tendency for getteing repeated worm infestations. Bhrngarajaas an adjunct relieves mucous and facilitates free breathing in asthma and cough. It is one of the best blood purifiers, stimulates the liver and alleviates the general oedema all over the body. It also augments the haemoglobin percentage in anaemia. The fresh juice of plant with marica (Pipernigrum) fruit powder is recommended in the treatment of anasarca and anaemia. Bhrngaraja augments the acuity of vision and is salutary in night blindness. The seeds are commonly used as aphrodisiac in sexual debility. As bhrngaraja has diuretic property, is beneficial for dysuria. In various skin disorders like urticaria. The plant is used with great benefit. It also works well as a brain tonic. For that purpose, the powder of its dried leaves 1 gm, honey 3gm, rock candy 5 gm and ghee 6 gm mixture is daily recommended. Commonly, the fresh juice of bhrngaraja is used. As it looses its properties on boiling, its decoction is not prepared.
- Bhrngaraja taila
- Sadbindu taila
- Bhrngarajadi curna
- Bhrngaraja ghrta etc.