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punarnava - Boerhaavia diffusa Linn.

punarnava :

Young plant Photograph by: Vinayaraj Used as a Rasayana in Ayurveda, it helps to rejuvenate and heal the body. Furthermore, it comes with hepato-protective, immuno-modulatory, anti-cancer,  anti-diabetic, hypoglycemic, anti-fibrinolytic, anti-inflammatory, diuretic, antibacterial, anti-oxidant, anti-asthmatic, and anticonvulsant properties.

Boerhavia diffusa (BD) Linn. (Nyctaginaceae) is a well-known medicinal plant in traditional Indian medicine as well as other parts of world, for example, Southern American and African continent. Its various parts and especially roots have been used for gastrointestinal, hepatoprotective, and gynecological indications in above mentioned parts of the world and also throughout India. In ayurvedic texts, more than 35 formulations of different types contain it as major ingredient.


This medicinal herb is used since ancient times to treat various ailments. The mention of the plant are found in Charaka Samhita, and Sushruta Samhita

Taxonomical Classification

Kingdom: Plantae - Plants
Subkingdom: Streptophyta
Superdivision: Spermatophyta - Seed plants
Division: Magnoliophyta - Flowering plants
Class: Magnoliopsida - Dicotyledons
Family: Nyctaginaceae
Genus: Boerhavia
Species: Boerhavia diffusa

Allied species:

1. Charak Samhita
Vayahsthapana - Anti-aging group of herbs
Kasahara - Useful against cough
Anuvasanopaga - Group of herbs useful in oil enema
Svedopaga - Useful in sweating treatment
Madhurskanda - Group of herb with sweet taste.

2. Sushrut Samhita

Vidarigandhadi Gana


Sanskrit: Punarnava, Shothagni, Varshabhu
English: Hog weed, Pig weed, spreading hogweed
Hindi: Gadha-cand, Shothagni.Gadhapurana, Gadapurna, Lalpunarnava, Sant, Thikri, Beshakapore, Lal Punarnava
Urdu: Tukhm-i-ispast
Telugu: Atika mamidi, Atikamamidi, Erra galijeru
Bengali: Punarnova, Rakta punarnava
Marathi: Ghetuli, Vasuchimuli, Satodimula, Punarnava, Khaparkhuti
Konkani: Punarnava
Oriya: Lalapuiruni, Nalipuruni
Gujarathi: Dholisaturdi, Motosatodo
Tamil: Karichcharanai, Mukaratte, Mukurattai, Mukkaraichchi
Malayalam: Thazhuthamame,Thavizhama, Chuvanna Tazhutawa
Kannada: Komme,Komme gida, Sanadika, Kommeberu, Komma, Teglame, Ganajali
Punjabi: ltcit (Ial), Khattan
Arabic: handakuki; sabaka
Spanish: Hierba de cabro, Yierba de puerco, Matapavo
Assamese: Ranga Punarnabha
Japanese: Benikasumi
Chinese: Shu shen, Huang xi xin.
French: ipecacuanha de Cayenne (Fr. Guiana).
Burma: parannawa
Nepal: Punarnava
Persian: Atsiz
Sinhalese: Pitasudupala, Pitasudu-sarana


It has two varieties Red Punarnava and White Punarnava.

The name and the properties of White Punarnava are (Punarnava, Shvetmula, Shothaghni, and Dhigrpatrika). White Punarnava is bitter and astringent in taste. It manages Anemia, Vata and Kapha Diseases. This herb promotes digestive fire, removes inflammation and toxins.

The name and properties of Red Punarnava are (Raktapunarnava, Raktapushpa, Shilatika, Shothaghni, Vashketu and Kathillaka). It is bitter in taste and cold in potency. Red Punarnava increases Vata dosha. It binds stool, manages (Kapha and Pitta dosha) related diseases and impurities of blood.


The plant name Boerhavia diffusa was named in honor of Hermann Boerhaave, a famous Dutch physician of the 18th century. 
- Punarnava, its Sanskrit name, means


Synonyms in Ayurveda: punarnava, vishakh, kshudrapatra, raktavrintak

  1. Punarnava- punar means again, nava means new
  2. Shophagni - relieves swelling

Rasa: Kashaya Madhura Tikta
Guna: Ruksha
Veerya: Ushna
Vipaka: Maduram
Karma: Pittahara

In Ayurveda, BD has been classified as “rasayana” herb which is said to possess properties like antiaging, reestablishing youth, strengthening life and brain power, and disease prevention, all of which imply that they increase the resistance of the body against any onslaught, in other words, providing hepatoprotection and immunomodulation


Boerhavia diffusa is widespread through much of the tropics and the subtropics and has also become naturalized in parts of the temperate zone
Prefers a sunny position and a well-drained soil. The plant grows wild in a range of soil types.
The plant is a weed of cultivated land and wasteland, often in lawns in drier areas. Although common, it is not a weed of importance. After mechanical cultivation the plant resprouts from its roots but relatively few cultivations are needed to exhaust it




Plants can commence flowering when only 4 weeks old from seed. The plant can flower and produce fruit all year round if sufficient water is available


- Plant has yielded Boerhaavic acid, punarnavine, potassium nitrate, tannins, phlobaphenes.
- Root yields alkaloids (punarnavine), rotenoids (boeravinones A-F), flavonoids, amino acids, lignans (liriodendrons), ß-sitosterols and tetracosanoic, esacosanoic, stearic, and ursolic acids. 
- Seeds yield fatty acids and allantoin. 
- Ash analysis yielded potassium, magnesium, sodium, calcium, nitrate, phosphates, silica and sulphates.
- Studies have yielded ß-sitosterol, a-2-sitosterol, palmitic acid, tetracosanoic, hexacosonoic, stearic, arachidic acid, urosilic acid, among others.
- Phytochemical screening yielded flavonoids, alkaloids, glycosides and sterols in the alcoholic root.
- Study of methanol extract of roots isolated five new and four known rotenoids. 
- Study of yielded alkaloids, tannins, flavonoids, saponin, terpenoid and phenols, and absence of cardiac glycoside in ethanol, chloroform, and petroleum ether extracts. Flavonoids (5.61 g/100g) and phenols (2.471 g/100g) were higher than alkaloids (0.232 g/100g). 
- Study of ethanolic extract of leaves uridine (uridine triacetate) (1), quercetin 3-O-α-D-rhamnoside (2), eupalitin 3-O-β-D- galactopyranoside (3), 3-O-ß-D-glucopyranosyl sitosterol (4), boeravinone B (5), ß-amyrin (6), ß-amyrin acetate (7), and ß-sitosterol (8). 


Important Ayurvedic Formulations

Punarnava Churna
Punarnavadi Guggulu
Punarnavarishta, Punarnavasava
Punarnavaadi Taila
Punarnava Mandoor / Punarnavadi Mandura
Punarnavashtaka Kvatha Churna
Sukumara Ghrita

Parts used for medicinal purpose

Leaves, Root, Seed, ,


Whole plant: 20-30g for decoction
Root: 1-3 g powder; 10-20ml fresh juice


antidote for snake and rat bites


The root can be used as an ipecacuanha (Carapichea ipecacuanha) substitute


Trianthema portulacastrum L as an adulterant of B. diffusa for ayurvedic preparations, 


Two views have been taken on the application of the name Boerhavia diffusa: a broad view regards several Boerhavia taxa (including Boerhavia repens L., and Boerhavia coccinea Mill.) as a single very variable species, whilst another concept restricts Boerhavia diffusa to the taxon with an apparently terminal panicle and accepts the validity of taxa such as Boerhavia repens and Boerhavia coccinea. This last view is followed here, but this implies that some of the literature in which the name Boerhavia diffusa is used may refer to other species

Commercial value:

B. diffusa is widely used as a green leafy vegetable in many Asian and African countries. B. diffusa can be used as a fodder for livestock, but has the potential for contaminating seed stocks, and may harbor pathogens for certain crops, such as eggplants


Stem-greenishpurple, stiff, slender, cylindrical, swollen at nodes, minutely pubescent or n early glabrous, prostrate divericately branched, branches from common stalk, often more than a metre long.

Root– wel developed, fairly long, somewhat tortuous, cylindrical, 0.2-1.5 cm in diameter, yellowish brown to brown coloured, surface soft to touch but rough due to minute longitudinal striations and root scars, fracture, short, no distinct odour, taste, slightly bitter.

Leaves-opposite in unequal pairs, larger ones 25-37 mm long and smaller ones 12-18 mm long ovate-oblong or suborbicular, apex rounded or slightly pointed, base subcordate or rounded, green and glabrous above, whitish below, margin entire or subundulate, dorsal side pinkish in certain cases, thick in texture, petioles nearly as long as the blade, slender.

Flowers-very small, pink coloured, nearly sessile or shortly stalked, 10-25 cm, in small umbells, arranged on slender long stalks, 4-10 corymb, axillary and in terminal panicles, bracteoles, small, acute, perianth tube constricted above the ovary, lower part greenish, ovoid, ribbed, upper part pink, funnel-shaped, 3 mm long, tube 5 lobed, stamen 2-3.

Fruit-one seeded nut, 6 mm long clavate, rounded, broadly and bluntly 5 ribbed, viscidly glandular.


Stem-Transverse section of stem shows epidermal layer containing multi cellular, uniserite glandular trichome consisting of 9-12 stalked cells and an ellipsoidal head, 150-220 n long, cortex consists of 1-2 layers of parenchyma, endodermis indistinct, pericycle 1-2 layered, thick-walled often containing scattered isolated fibres, stele consisting of many small vascular bundles often joined together in a ring and many big vascular bundles scattered in the ground tissue, intra fascicular cambium present.

Root-transverse section of mature root shows a cork composed of thin-walled tangentially elongated cells with brown walls in the outer few layers, cork cambium of 1-2 layers of thin walled cells secondary cortex consists of 2-3 layers of parenchymatous cells followed by cortex composed of 5-12 layers of thin-walled, oval to polygonal cells, several concentric bands of xylem tissue alternating with wide zone of parenchymatous tissue present below cortical regions, number of bands vary according to thickness of root and composed of vessels, tracheids and fibres, vessels mostly found in groups of 2-8 in radial rows, having simple pits and reticulate thickening, tracheids, small, thickwalled with simple pits, fibres aseptate, elongated, thick-walled, spindle shaped with pointed ends, phloem occurs as hemispherical or crescentic patches outside each group of xylem vessels and composed of sieve elements and parenchyma, broad zone of parenchymatous tissue, in between two successive rings of xylem elements composed of thin-walled more or less rectangular cells arranged in radial rows, central regions of root occupied by primary vascular bundles, numerous raphides of calcium oxalate, in single or in group present in cortical region and parenchymatous tissue in between xylem tissue, starch grains simple and compound having 2-4 components found in abundence in most of cells of cortex, xylem elements in parenchymatous tissue between xylem elements, simple starch grains mostly rounded in shape and measure 2.75-11 n in diameter.

Leaves-Transverse section of leaf shows anomocytic stomata on both sides, numerous, a few short hairs, 3-4 celled, present on the margin and on veins, palisade one layered, spongy parenchyma 2-4 layered with small air spaces, idioblasts containing raphides, occasionally cluster crystal of calcium oxalate and orange-red resinous matter present in mesophyll. Palisade ratio 3.5-6.5, stomatal index 11-16, vein islet number 9-15.

Geographical distribution:

Global Distribution
India: Assam, Bihar, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Maharastra, Kerala, Odisha, Punjab, Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu, Uttar Pradesh; Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Nepal, Philippines, Thailand, Vietnam, Africa, America, Australia, Pacific Island

Local Distribution
Bongaigaon, Kamrup


Open places near the sea, dry and warm river valleys; at elevations from 100 - 1,900 metres in southern China. Along roadsides, near habitations, in and along cultivated fields and in open cleared patches in forests

Plant conservation:

Not Evaluated (NE)

General Use:

The root can be used as an ipecacuanha (Carapichea ipecacuanha) substitute. Antispasmodic, very astringent, diuretic, emetic, emmenagogue, purgative and sudorific herb, it can be used in a decoction to treat dysentery and a range of other conditions
The boiled roots are applied to ulcers, abscesses and to assist in the extraction of Guinea worm

Therapeutic Uses:

Boerhavia diffusa or Punarnava grows as a weed in waste lands. But it is a valuable and effective medicine. It protects and heals the liver and kidney and reduces body heat. It is excellent rejuvenator that give strength to organs.

Punarnava has significant diuretic properties due to which it is effective in the treatment of urinary diseases, water retention in the body, oedema, swelling, and other condition that are caused due to accumulation of water in the body cavities.

Systemic Use:

The plant is emetic and purgative. It is used in the treatment of various conditions including gastric disturbances, asthma, jaundice, anascara, anaemia and internal inflammation. It has also been used as an antidote to snake venom.

A decoction of the leaves is used to treat jaundice. The leaves are used in a cataplasm for treating indurated liver


- Early studies have reported the diuretic effect of the liquid extract of the dry or fresh plant. The diuretic effect appears prominent on certain types of ascites, i.e., liver cirrhosis. The diuretic effect was attributed to punarnavine, an alkaloid that reported increases blood pressure and urination.
- Considered bitter, cooling, astringent, diuretic, stomachic, laxative, expectorant and emetic.
- Considered abortifacient, analgesic, antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, diaphoretic, rejuvenating, tonic.- Root is considered purgative, anthelmintic, febrifuge.
- Studies have suggested antidiabetic, antitumor, antibacterial, immunomodulatory, adaptogenic, anticonvulsant, analgesic, spasmolytic, renoprotective, antiosteoporotic, radioprotective, antifertility, hepatoprotective, erythropoietic properties.

Clinical trials:

FORMULATION CONTAINING BOERHAAVIA DIFFUSA USING COLD RESTRAINT STRESS MODEL / Sandhya K Desai, Soniya M et al / International Journal of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences
ISSN- 0975-1491 Vol 3, Issue 1, 2011


3. Studies on the Protective Effects of Boerhaavia diffusa L. Against Gamma Radiation—Induced Damage in Mice / K A Manu, P V Leynon, Girija Kuttan / Integrative Cancer Therapies



1. In vitro antidiabetic activity of leaves and seeds of Boerhavia diffusa / Vasundhara C.C.S and Gayathri Devi S* / Pharma Research Library

2. Boerhavia diffusa L. Leaf Extracts Inhibit Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus aureus Biofilms / S. Ramesh*, R. Satish Kumar, K.M. Sucharitha and V. Manivel / Journal of Advanced Clinical Pharmacology, 2014, 1, 8-11
3. ANXIOLYTIC -HYPNOTIC ACTIVITY OF WHOLE PLANT EXTRACT OF BOERHAAVIA DIFFUSA / B. Venkateswarlu and Y. Rama Rao / Inter. J. of Phytotherapy / Vol 3 / Issue 1 / 2013 / 33-36.

4. Rotenoids from Boerhaavia diffusa as Potential Anti-inflammatory Agents / Khemraj Bairwa, Ishwari N. Singh , Somendu K. Roy, Jagdeep Grover, Amit Srivastava, and Sanjay M. Jachak * / J. Nat. Prod., 2013, 76 (8), pp 1393–1398 / DOI: 10.1021/np300899w


6. Sub-chronic Toxicity Studies of the Aqueous Extract of Boerhavia diffusa Leaves / Orish Ebere Orisakwe, Onyenmechi Johnson Afonne, Mary Adaora Chude, Ejeatuluchukwu Obi, Chudi Emma Dioka / Journal of Health Science, Vol 49, Issue 6 (2003) /

7. Nutritive and anti-nutritive properties of Boerhavia diffusa L. / G R Juna Beegum, S Suhara Beevy, V.S. Sugunan / Journal of Pharmacognosy and Phytochemistry (2014); 2(6): pp 147-151


It has a lot of iron in it, and is also used widely as a laxative. Due to this, pregnant women should avoid using this herb. Punarnava should not be given to children who are under 12 years of age.

Toxicity studies:

Punarnava has a short list of side effects. It can increase the blood pressure and thereby affect the functioning of the heart. If you have any ethanol related allergies, then you must not use this herb as it will be an allergenic for you

Use in other system of medicine:

Edibility / Nutrition
- A neglected and underutilized vegetable.
- Leaves used as vegetable. 
- Good source of vitamins C, B2 and B3.
- In southeastern Nigeria, leaves are cooked and eaten as vegetable.
- Roots in powder, decoction or infusion, used as laxative.
- Root juice used for asthma. 
- Used as diuretic, in strangury, gonorrhea and other internal inflammations.
- In moderate doses, used in asthma; in large doses, used as emetic.
- Infusion of whole plants used as mild laxative and febrifuge in children; also used for convulsions.
- Used to regulate menstruation.
- In the Gold Coast, used in the treatment of yaws.
- In the Antilles, used as a stimulant , tonic, vermifuge, emetic, sudorific and as antispasmodic.
- In Martinique, roots used for snake bites.
- In Uruguay, roots considered antidysenteric and emetic.
- In Ayurveda, considered bitter, cooling, astringent to bowels; used for biliousness, leucorrhea, anemia, asthma. Leaves used in dyspepsia, tumors, abdominal pains and splenic enlargements. Roots used as diuretic, expectorant, vermifuge, analgesic and to improve renal and hepatic functions.
- Punarnava is used in many eye disorders. Leaf juice with honey is dropped into the eyes for chronic ophthalmia. Also used for cataract. Fresh root juice used for night blindness and conjunctivitis. 
- In Chinese traditional medicine, used to move blood and break up stasis, regulate menses, strengthen the bones and tendons; for pain, malnutrition, dysmenorrhea, vaginal discharge.
- In Nigeria, used for boils, epilepsy, convulsions, guinea worms, asthma, fever, constipation.
- In Nepal, used for snakes bites, headaches, pain, hemorrhoids, jaundice, gout, asthma, round worms, excessive menstruation, cough and hemoptysis.
- In India, used for asthma, cough, urethritis, edema, ascites, nephritis; also used for insomnia


Boerhavia diffusa is a herbaceous perennial plant with vigorous, many-branched stems growing from a taproot; up to 2 metres long the stems can be erect or procumbent. The stems branch mainly from the base, they are prostrate when young, becoming ascending to erect when flowering.
A very popular medicinal plant, especially in India, where it is widely used in Ayurveda. Medicines containing this plant are sold worldwide. The plant is gathered from the wild and is also sometimes used as food.
Spreading hogweed is used in traditional medicine in several parts of its range, but is especially popular in India where it is a part of the Ayurvedic tradition. The whole herb, including the root, is used and it is said to be bitter, diaphoretic, diuretic, emetic, expectorant, laxative and stomachic

Ayurvedic Formulations:

Common Ayurvedic Formulations of punarnava with their Indications
Brahma Rasayana
Sukumaram Kashayam

Photos of punarnava -

KEY WORDS: punarnava Boerhaavia diffusa Linn.

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