SIGRU (Moringa oleifera)
The Sanskrit word sigru literally means that which possesses sharp (tiksna) attribute. It is also known as sobhanjana meaning-a decorative plant. It has few synonyms in Ayurvedic scriptures, like mocaka – makes free from diseases, tiksnagandha – having pungent odored skin, laghupatra – tiny leaved etc. Bhavaprakasa has mentioned two varieties of sigru viz. white flowered which is pungent and the other red flowered, which is sweet. The white flowered variety is commonly available and used. Raja Nighantu has cited the third variety – blue flowered, which is rare. Maharishi Charka has categorized sigru as krmighna – vermicidal, sirovirecanopaga – adjunct to cleansing nasal therapy and svedopaga adjunct to sweating therapy. Susruta has also mentioned it as sirovirecana – nasal therapy
The plant grows all over India and is also cultivated. An unarmed middle sized tree grows up to 7-8 meters in height. The bark and branches are soft and easily breakable. The leaves tripinnate, compound, 20-40 cm long, with 6-9 leaflets. The leaflets are elliptic and rounded at the apex. The flowers bluish white, in bunches. The fruits, pods, 15-45 cm long, pendulous, grayish-green, triangular and 9-ribbed. The seeds are trigonous, with the winged angles. The plant flowers from January to March and bears-fruits from April to June.
The botanical name of sigru is Moringa oleifera and it belongs to family Moringaceae. The botanical name of madhu sigru (red flowered) is Moringa concanensis. The flowers and fruits of M. oleifera contain amino acids voz. Alanine, arginine, glycine, serine, lysine, threonine, valine, aspartic and glutamic acids. The pods and leaves contain vitamin A, nicotinic acid, ascorbic acid and essential amino acids. The flowers contained traces of alkaloids besides quercetin and kaempferol. The stem exudes a gum, which is a polyuronide consisting of arabinose, galactose and glucuronic acid. The seeds showed the presence of stigmasterol and a new glycoside, morigyne and its structure elucidated. From stems 4-hydroxy mullein, vanillin, octacosanoic acid, sitosterol and sitostenone isolated.
Sigru is sweet and bitter in taste, pungent in the post digestive effect and has hot potency. It alleviates kapha and vata doshas. It possesses light, dry, sharp and laxative attributes. It is diuretic, blood purifier, vermicidal and is a brain tonic. It is used in the diseases like helminthiasis, dermatoses, anemia, filariasis, obesity, hemorrhoids, epilepsy, vaginal diseases, edema, splenic disorders, tumors etc.
The root skin, fruits, skin of the bark, seeds and seed oil is used for medicinal purpose. Sigru is used both externally as well as internally. Externally, the paste of its leaves and bark skin is applied in boils to subside the swelling and inflammation. The seeds have sharp attribute and are pungent, hence, are useful as sirovirecana. The seed powder is blown into the nose with a tube (pradhamana nasya) to alleviate the diseases of the head due to vitiation of kapha dosha viz. chronic sinusitis, rhinitis, migraine, heaviness of head etc. It is also used in epilepsy and unconsciousness. The medicated oil of its leaves – sigrupatrasvarasa siddha taila is used as nasya – nasal administration, in chronic rhinitis. The seed oil – bija taila , is applied externally in rheumatic fever and rheumatic disorders, to alleviate the pain and edema. In conjunctivitis, the anjana herbal preparation applied to the eye, of its leaves juice mixed with honey, is applied. The pulp of the leaves is applied on swollen, inflamed joints, with great benefit.
Internally, sigru is used in vast range of diseases. The fruits pods are used in cooking as vegetable are recommended in loss of appetite. Sigru is beneficial in worms, anorexia, ascites, tumors and abdominal pain. The decoction of sigru is given along with chitraka (Plumbago zeylanica) roots, pippali (Piper longum) fruits and yavaksara in ascites, due to splenic disorders. In ascites, due to vitiation of vata and kapha doses and in anasarca, sigru is extremely useful. In cardiac debility, the herb works well as a stimulant. The herb is salutary in obesity to reduce the excessive accumulated fats in the body. In abscesses of liver and spleen, cervical adenitis, the decoction of sigru is given along with ghee. The decoction of the leaves is diaphoretic and thus, useful in fever. Sigru is the best nervine stimulant useful in facial palsy and paralysis etc. It also reconciles the menstrual cycle and so useful in amenorrhea and dysmenorrheal. Sigru should be sparingly used in pitta constitutions and vitiated conditions of pitta, as it is sharp in attribute and causes aggravation of pitta dosha leading to Rakta pitta. The decoction of its roots is benevolent in urinary calculi.
Classical Ayurvedic Preparations
- Sobhanjanadi lepa
- Syamadi curna