NIRGUNDI (vitex negundo)
The Sanskrit word nirgundi literally means that which protects the body from diseases. It is one of the herbs mentioned in all Samhitas of Ayurveda and has varios synonyms like sinduka, sephali, sitabhiru, vanaka, bhutakesi, anilamanjiri etc. Two varieties of nirgundi described in Nighantus are white flowered sinduvaraka and blue flowered – suvaha (Bhavaprakasa). The great sage Caraka has categorized nirgundi as krmighna anthelmintic and visaghna – anti – toxin.
The plant grows all over India, in wastelands, upto 1500 meters elevation. Commonly it is cultivated as a hedge plant. A large shrub or rather small tree grows 2-4 meters in height, with quadrangular branches and thin grey bark. The leaves petiolate, smooth, exstipulate, have a typical pungent odor. The flowers are bluish purple in color, lanceolate, in panicles upto 30 cm long. The fruits are ovoid or obovoid, four-seeded drupes, black when ripe.
The botanical name of nirgundi is Vitex negundo and it belongs to family verbenaceae. The leaves contain fragrant, volatile oil and resins. The fruits contain resine, astringent organic acids, alkaloids and a pigment. The plant also contains alkaloids, glycosides, flavonoids, reducing sugars, sterols, resin and tannins. From seeds-n-triacontane, n-hentriacontane, n-pentatriacontane, n-nonacosane, sitosterol, p-hydrobenzoic acid and 5- oxyisophthalic acid isolated. Also, 3, 4- dihydroxybenzoec acid is isolated from seeds. Vanillic acid, p-hydroxybenzoic acid and luteolin are isolated from bark. From essential oil pinene, limonene, camphene, phellandrene, methylheptanone, cumene, linalool, camphor, 4-terpineol, citral, caryophylline oxide, caryophyllene, terpinyl acetate, benzal – dehyde & cinnamaldehyde identified. Nishinaside and regundiside isolated from leaves
Nigundi is pungent, bitter and astringent in taste, pungent in the post digestive effect and has hot potency. It alleviates vata and kapha doshas, but aggravates the pitta dosha. It possesses light and dry attributes. It has antipyretic, anti-arthritic and anti-inflammatory properties and is used in diseases like fever, worms, dermatoses, adenitis and splenic diseases etc
The roots, fruits, flowers, leaves and bark of nirgundi have great medicinal value and are used for medicinal purpose externally as well as internally. Externally, nirgundi decoction is used for steam bath for arthritis, joint pains and sciatica. Particularly, nirgundi is very effective in alleviating the low back pain. The dried leaves when smoked are said to relieve catarrh and headache. Oil prepared with the juice is applied to sinuses and scrofulous sores. Oil is used also as bathing oil for rubbing on the head and in cervical lymphadenitis. The oil is also found to be salutary for sloughing wounds and ulcers. In premature graying of hair and scalp infections like pediculosis and lice, the oil is applied with great benefit. Decoction of nirgundi leaves is an effective gargle in stomatitis and sore throat. The poultice of hot leaves applied on swollen and painful joints, effectively mitigates the pains. Medicated oil is beneficial in suppurative otitis. The tub-bath of the decoction of its leaves is rewarding in sciatica, epididymo-orchitis and uterine inflammations.
Internally, nirgundi is salubrious in vast range of diseases. It is used in vitiated conditions of vata like sciatica, arthritis, headache, spondylosis as a pain killer. The leaves juice is given along with cow’s urine, as a panacea for splenic pathology, associated with ascites. Nirgundi is extremely beneficial in cough, asthma, bronchitis and inflammatory conditions of pleura. Being diuretic, it is valusble in strangury to facilitate the micturition. The skin affections associated with pruritus are effectively ameliorated with nirgundi. The juice of leaves combined with honey, alleviates fever. Nirgundi is an influencial herb in vitiated conditions of vata, like hysteria, epilepsy, insomnia, vertigo etc. and works well as a brain tonic as well. It is a good rejuvenating plant in general debility. It works well as a rasayana with silajita (Black Bitumen).
Classical Ayurvedic Preparations
Visagarbha taila etc.