Boerhavia Diffusa: An Ancient Herb for Rejuvenation (Punarnava)

Table of Contents

1. Introduction
2. Vernacular Names
3. Synonyms
4. Distribution
5. Morphology
6. Types of Punarnava
7. Ayurvedic Properties 
8. Chemical Constituent
9. Identity, Purity, and Strength
10. Ayurvedic and Pharmacological Actions
11. Health Benefits
12. General Recommended Doses
13. FAQ's

1. Introduction

Punarnava, also known as Boerhavia Diffusa, is an herb commonly used in Ayurvedic medicine. There are about 40 tropical and subtropical species of Boerhavia, out of which 6 are found in India, namely, Boerhavia diffusa, Boerhavia chinensis, Boerhavia erecta, Boerhavia repens, Boerhavia rependa and Boerhavia rubicund. In Atharva Veda, Punarnava is described as a herb that rejuvenates the entire body. Morphologically, it is observed that the plant dries up during the summer season and regenerates during the rainy season.

Charaka and Sushruta Samhitas used this plant widely for the treatment of many human ailments. Charaka considered it rasayana and Kasahara whereas Sushrut described its shaka as the best pathyashaka in shotha. Charaka included it in asthapana basti Dravya whereas Sushrut in vata sansamana varga.

Fresh leaves and roots are eaten as vegetables in curries and soups by the tribals, and roots and seeds are added to cereals, pancakes, and other food as nutrient sources. Seeds are also served as bird feed; the leaves are given to cattle as fodder to increase milk yield.

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Boerhavia Diffusa Root Powder

2. Vernacular Names

Assamese – Ranga Punarnabha

Bengali – Rakta Punarnava

Kannada – Sanadika, Kommeberu, Komma

Kashmiri – Vanjula Punarnava

Malayalam – Chunanna Tazhutawa

Marathi – Ghetuli, Vasuchimuli, Punarnava

Oriya – Lalapuiruni, Nalipuruni

Punjabi – Itcit, Khattan

Tamil – Mukurattai

Telugu – Atikamamidi

3. Synonyms

Deerghapatrika – It bears extra megaphyllous leaves.

Shilatika – Therapeutically, it is a useful drug.

Shothaghni – It is a potent anti-inflammatory drug.

Shwetmoola – The plant has white roots.

Varshketu – The plant regenerates every year in the rainy season.

Boerhavia Diffusa Leaves


4. Distribution

Punarnava is a creeping and spreading perennial herb with a stout rootstock and many erect or spreading branches. It is found throughout India as weed up to an altitude of 2,000 ft. It grows abundantly in waste places, fields, and marshy places during the rainy season.

5. Morphology

It is a perennial diffuse herb with stout rootstock and many procumbent branches. The leaves are simple, broad, somewhat rough, thick and brittle. The flowers are pink or red.


Simple, opposite or sub opposite, short petiole, broadly, unequal pairs, green above and reddish beneath, ovate or suborbicular shape, acute-obtuse apex, round or subcordate at the base.


Pink, red or purple, small, short-stalked, in irregular clusters of axillary or terminal corymbs.


Ovoid or sub-ellipsoid, rounded above, slightly cuneate below, five-ribbed with glandular, viscid hair, easily detachable, single-seeded, indehiscent with a thin pericarp.

Boerhavia Diffusa Roots

6. Types of Punarnava

Bhavaprakash Nighantu – There are two types, Shweta Punarnava and Rakta Punarnava.

Dhavantari Nighantu – Two types, Punarnava and Krura

Raj Nighantu – Three types, Shweta Punarnava, Rakta Punarnava and Neel Punarnava.

7. Ayurvedic Properties

Rasa (Taste): Punarnava is known to have a bitter (Tikta) and astringent (Kashaya) taste.

Virya (Potency): It is naturally cooling (Sheeta Virya).

Vipaka (post-digestive taste): The post-digestive taste is bitter (Katu).

Dosha Effects: Boerhavia diffusa mainly balances Pitta and Kapha doshas. Its cooling nature helps pacify excess heat in the body.

8. Chemical Constituent

The whole plant contains a large number of active compounds like crystalline acid known as boerhavia acid, flavonoids, alkaloids, proteins, and glycoproteins. Roots mainly contain alkaloids punarnavine, punernavoside, boeravinone A-F, boerhaavic acid. The herb contains large quantities of potassium salts which account for its diuretic properties.

9. Identity, Purity, and Strength

For Root

Foreign Matter – Not more than 2%

Total Ash – Not more than 10%

Acid-insoluble ash – Not more than 0.8%

Alcohol-soluble extractive – Not less than 4%

Water-soluble extractive – Not less than 10%

(Source: The Ayurvedic Pharmacopeia of India 2001)

10. Ayurvedic and Pharmacological Actions

Ayurveda – It classics attributes shothaghna, sara, deepan, rochna, pandughna, mutravirechana, anulomana, hridya, raktavardhana, Kasahara, vrishya, netrya and jwaraghna.

Doshakarma – Kapha pittahra

Dhatukarma – Shothaghana, rasayana

Malakarma – Mutravirechan, swedopaga.

Pharmacological – It possesses antioxidant, diuretic, anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, hypoglycemic, antiestrogenic, anticonvulsant, adaptogenic, antifertility, and insecticidal.

11. Health Benefits

The herb has been indigenous medicine since ancient times, it is a laxative and produces a cooling sensation. Medicinally, the most important part of the herb is the root. The roots are beneficial in different health ailments like inflammation, abdominal problems, dyspepsia, anemia, jaundice, diabetes, loss of appetite, cough, heart disease, piles, skin problems, fever, asthma, calculus, conjunctivitis, and constipation.  

12. Therapeutic Uses

External Uses

Conjunctivitis – the application of root paste of Punarnava with honey, helps to reduce inflammation and redness.

Obstructed Labor – Punarnava root lubricated with oil is introduced into the vagina to expel the fetus in Obstructed Labor.

Internal Uses

Anemia – Daily intake of Punarnava leaf juice or two tablets of Punarnava mandoor or decoction of Punarnava is also useful in anemia.

Edema – Daily intake of decoction or paste of Punarnava root mixed with ginger paste gives relief in all types of inflammatory disorders. Or intake of Guggulu with a decoction of Punarnava, Devdaru, and ginger is beneficial in ascites and edema.

Skin Problems – The root of Punarnava is an effective remedy for several skin problems. A paste of the root can be applied as a dressing for oedematous swellings. A hot poultice of the root can be applied with gratifying results to ulcers, abscesses, and similar skin problems. It is also used for extracting guinea-worms.

Calculus – Daily use of a decoction of Punarnava, Gokhru, Varun bark, and Pashanbheda increases urine output, breaks stones, and expels out gravels.

Stomach Disorders – The roots are useful in strengthening the stomach and promoting its actions. The root powder in doses of 5 grams, thrice a day is useful in killing or expelling intestinal worms.

Internal Abscess – To get rid of the internal abscess, a decoction of Punarnava and Varun bark should be used daily.

Jaundice, Hepatitis – The decoction of Punarnava root or powder helps in the expulsion of excessive pitta from the body; thus, it gives relief in hepatitis, jaundice, hepatomegaly, skin disease, and other liver problems.

Rejuvenator – To attain rejuvenation of the entire body, one should take a fresh paste of Punarnava root 20gm with milk for a fortnight, 2 months, 6 months, or a year.

Heart Disease – heart diseases associated with pedal edema, breathlessness, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, decoction, or Punarnava root powder with Kutki, Chirata and Ginger.

13. General Recommended Doses

Juice – 5 to 10 ml

Decoction – 50 to 100ml.

14. Precautions

  • If you are on medication, please consult your doctor first before using Punarnava.
  • It is not safe for pregnant ladies.
  • It is not recommended for children under age 12.
  • Do not overdose on Punarnava, it may cause a medical emergency.
  • Do not take after or with drinking alcohol, it may cause drowsiness.

    15. Frequently Asked Question

    Q - How can take Boerhavia Diffusa?

    Boerhavia Diffusa can be used with milk, water, honey, and ghee. Roots juice mixed with honey and ghee is used as an ointment. Mix Boerhavia Diffusa root powder with honey and water and make a small tablet.

    Q - Which part of the Boerhavia Diffusa is used for eyes?

    Roots powder or fresh root juice mixed with milk, honey, and ghee is used for eyes disorders like cataracts, eye alignments like night blindness and conjunctivitis, itchy eyes, and watering eyes. Here are some uses.

    • Root powder with ghee is used for the treatment of corneal opacity.
    • Root powder with honey is used for watering eyes.
    • Root powder with oil or milk is used for itchy eyes.

    Q - What are the properties of Boerhavia Diffusa?

    Boerhavia Diffusa has laghu, ruksha property. It aggravates the vata dosha and suppresses the pitta dosha. It works like Deepana (Enhance appetite), Shothaghna (Reduce oedema), Kasahara (Alleviates cough), Vayasthapana (Promoter longevity), Rasayana (Rejuvenative), Hridaya (Nourishes the heart), Stambhana (stop bleeding and excessive secretions), Chakshushya (Benefits the eyes), Arshoghna (Reduces haemorrhoids), Grahihara (Alleviates dysentery), Shula prashamana (Alleviates colic), Mutrala (Diuretic), Mutravaha rasayana (Rejuvenation of the urinary system), Ashmarighna (Lithotriptic).

    Q - What are the health benefits of Punarnava?

    Punarnava has a variety of potential health benefits, including:

    • Diuretic properties: Punarnava may help to increase urine output and reduce swelling caused by fluid buildup.
    • Anti-inflammatory properties: Punarnava may help to reduce inflammation throughout the body.
    • Antioxidant properties: Punarnava contains compounds that act as antioxidants, which can help to protect against oxidative stress.
    • Cardiovascular benefits: Punarnava may help reduce high blood pressure and cholesterol levels, lowering the risk of heart disease.

    Q - What are the uses of Punarnava?

    Punarnava has been used to treat a variety of health conditions, including:

    • Edema (swelling caused by fluid buildup)
    • Arthritis
    • Respiratory disorders, such as asthma and bronchitis
    • Liver and kidney disorders
    • Urinary tract infections
    • Skin disorders, such as eczema and psoriasis.

    Q - What are the side effects of Punarnava?

    Punarnava is generally considered safe when used as directed, but it may cause side effects in some people. Common side effects include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and abdominal discomfort. It may also interact with certain medications, so it is important to talk to your healthcare provider before using Punarnava if you are taking any medications.

    Q - How is Punarnava typically consumed?

    Punarnava can be consumed in a variety of ways, including:
    Capsules or tablets: Punarnava supplements are available in capsule or tablet form.

    • Tea: Punarnava tea can be made by steeping the plant's roots or leaves in hot water.
    • Powder: Punarnava powder can be added to smoothies or other beverages.
    • Topical application: Punarnava can be applied topically to the skin to treat skin disorders.

    Q - Is Punarnava safe for pregnant or breastfeeding women?

    It is not recommended for pregnant or breastfeeding women to use Punarnava without consulting a healthcare provider. It may have potential side effects and interactions with medications, and there is limited research on its safety during pregnancy or breastfeeding.

    Q - Can Punarnava be used for weight loss?

    Punarnava may have some diuretic properties that can aid in weight loss by reducing fluid buildup and bloating, but it should not be used as a primary weight loss method. It is important to maintain a healthy diet and exercise routine to achieve sustainable weight loss.

    Q - What are the benefits of using Boerhavia Diffusa powder?

    Boerhavia Diffusa powder, derived from the Boerhavia Diffusa plant, is believed to offer several potential health benefits. Some commonly reported benefits include anti-inflammatory properties, antioxidant effects, and potential support for kidney health. It is also believed to have diuretic properties and may aid in detoxification.

    Q - How do I use Boerhavia Diffusa powder?

    Boerhavia Diffusa powder is typically consumed orally. The exact dosage and usage instructions may vary, so it's recommended to follow the instructions provided by the manufacturer or consult a healthcare professional for guidance. The powder can be mixed with water, juice, or added to smoothies or other beverages.

    Q - Can Boerhavia Diffusa powder help with weight loss?

    Boerhavia Diffusa powder is not specifically known as a weight loss supplement. While it may have diuretic properties that could contribute to temporary weight loss by reducing water retention, it is not a substitute for a healthy diet and regular exercise. If you are interested in weight loss, it's important to focus on a well-balanced diet, physical activity, and consult a healthcare professional for personalized advice.

    Q - Is Boerhavia Diffusa powder safe for long-term use?

    Boerhavia Diffusa powder is generally considered safe for short-term use when consumed in recommended dosages.

    Q - Is Boerhavia Diffusa powder effective for managing diabetes?

    Boerhavia Diffusa powder has been traditionally used in Ayurvedic medicine for its potential effects on blood sugar levels. Some preliminary studies suggest that it may have hypoglycemic properties and could potentially help manage diabetes.

    Q - Can Boerhavia Diffusa powder help with kidney health?

    Boerhavia Diffusa has been traditionally used to support kidney health in Ayurvedic medicine. It is believed to possess diuretic properties and may help flush out toxins from the body.

    Q - Can Boerhavia Diffusa powder be used for detoxification?

    Boerhavia Diffusa powder is often associated with potential detoxification benefits due to its diuretic properties, which may aid in eliminating waste products from the body through increased urine production.

    Q - Are there any alternative forms of Boerhavia Diffusa for consumption?

    Boerhavia Diffusa is available in various forms, including capsules, tablets, liquid extracts, and teas. While Boerhavia Diffusa powder is one of the common forms, these alternatives provide different ways to incorporate the herb into your routine.


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