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Punarnava (Hogweed): Benefits, Nutrition, Uses And Side Effects

Scientifically termed as Boerhavia diffusa, punarnava or hogweed is one of the most beneficial as well as effective therapeutic herbs prescribed in ayurveda. The root, leaves, aerial parts or the whole plant is used for treating various ailments. It is commonly, or more likely, used on a daily basis in countries such as India, Nepal, and Sri Lanka. In the two varieties of the plant (white and red), the white punarnava variety is what is commonly referred to as punarnava [1] . And the red punarnava variety, Trianthema portulacastrum, is normally used to reduce the power of the punarnava roots [2] .

Source: Natureloc

The plant has been used in traditional Indian medicine for centuries, in treating a range of health problems such as abdominal pain to heart conditions. It consists a range of potent bioactive compounds such as hypoxanthine 9-L-arabinofuranoside, serratagenic acid, boeravinone A to F, liriodendron, ursolic acid, and oleanolic acid that can be accorded to the plant's healing properties [3] . The active principle of punarnava is the alkaloid punarnavine, which contains large quantities of potassium salts.

Punarnava is widely used as a measure for treating obesity, with most of the anti-obesity medications having punarnava as one of its ingredients [4] . The extremely beneficial herb is available in the form of decoctions, pills and powder. The plant possesses various benefits that can treat indigestion, asthma, diabetes and even cancer. Highly effective, the herb can be asserted as being the ultimate remedy for ailments. Read on to know more about the amazing and effective benefits the herb can have on your body and mind [5] .

Nutritional Value Of Punarnava

100 grams of punarnava contains 16.1 mcg of total fat and 0.012 mg of iron.

The other nutrients present in the herb are as follows [6] :

  • 226 mg of protein
  • 162 mg of sodium
  • 142 mg of calcium
  • 44.8 mg of vitamin C

Health Benefits Of Punarnava

From preventing the onset of cancer to treating allergies, the herb is a reservoir of health benefits [7] .

1. Treats obesity

The herb is a common ingredient in almost all the herbal slimming formulations. Punarnava helps by stimulating the removal of extra fluids from the body, without losing the necessary potassium or electrolytes. It helps in promoting urination, through which the unnecessary fluids will exit from your body, promoting weight loss [8] .

2. Fights respiratory problems

Acting as an excellent expectorant, the herb helps in clearing out any congestion or blockages. Punarnava has been used in treating asthma due to its ability to relax the airway and curb spasms. A decoction of the herb is the most effective remedy for bronchial asthma. It is used as a natural remedy for treating tuberculosis as well [9] .

3. Protects your liver

It is widely used in treating liver disorders such as jaundice. The hepatoprotective properties of the herb protect your liver from toxins and chemicals and revitalize and cleanse your liver. Punarnava can help restore the health, stamina and vitality of your liver and ward off liver disorders such as hepatitis, jaundice, iron deficiency anaemia, ascites, anorexia and sluggish liver [10] .

4. Treats urinary tract infection

Punarnava has diuretic, antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory and antispasmodic properties which can all be associated with treating UTIs. It can be used in limiting the onset of recurrent urinary tract infections (UTIs), including UTIs during pregnancy as well. The herb is safe to be used on a pregnant mother for UTI as it will not cause any adverse effects on the mother or the infant [12] .

5. Reduces stress

Being an adaptogen, the herb helps in fighting stress. Studies have revealed that the herb extract can combat the biochemical indicators of stress such as increased blood glucose and cortisol. It calms your mind, relieving you of the stress [13] .

6. Fights inflammation

Punarnava possesses anti-inflammatory properties which help in treating inflammation caused by coronary heart disease, rheumatoid arthritis, diabetes, asthma and other ailments. The enzyme secretory phospholipase A2 (sPLA2) in the herb produces inflammatory mediators that can reduce inflammation and pain [14] .

7. Manages diabetes

The leaves of punarnava can help in decreasing the glucose levels in the blood, thereby increasing the plasma insulin levels in your body. The herb aids in controlling your diabetes, however, you must consult your doctor before taking the herbal extract to manage your diabetes [15] .

8. Alleviates eye diseases

Punarnava is widely used for its ability to treat various eye disorders. The leaf extract is used along with honey as an eye drop for ophthalmia. Its root is applied as collyrium for treating eye irritations and infections. The antimicrobial activity possessed by the herb wards off infection-causing germs like E. coli, S. aureus, and P. aeruginosa, thereby protecting your eyes against infections or diseases [16] .

9. Improves kidney health

Punarnava is widely used in treating ailments related to the kidneys. Studies assert that it can aid in kidney regeneration. It helps in limiting the onset of nephrotic syndrome where the excessive protein is excreted in the urine. It is also suggested that the herb can reduce kidney stones, and help reduce the oxidative stress caused by the excessive excretion of oxalate in urine and prevent the calcium oxalate stone from being deposited in your body [17] .

It is due to the phenolic compounds in the herb that possess antioxidant activity. The diuretic property of the herb aids in the removal of toxins from your body by flushing it out through your urine [18] .

10. Cures impotence

The seeds of the herb are extremely beneficial in treating sexual health and reproductive problems in men. It helps to rejuvenate the male reproductive system by increasing one's libido as well as the quantity and quality of semen. Punarnava is used as a herbal remedy for erectile dysfunction as well [19] .

11. Manages anaemia

The herb is used in treatment as it not only encourages the formation of the red blood cells but also aids the anaemic patients suffering from appetite loss and weakness. The rich content of iron in punarnava can be accorded to this benefit [20] .

12. Prevents cancer

Punarnavine found in the herb is asserted to be an alkaloid that possesses anti-cancer properties. Studies have pointed out that punarnava is considered one of the best herbs for cancer treatment. The alkaloid aids in enhancing one's immune response and prevents the metastatic progression of B16F-10 melanoma cells, according to a study [21] . This can be supported by the herb's hepato-protective, choleretic, cardiokine, anti-cancer and antioxidant properties [22] .

13. Improves heart health

The herb is ascertained to possess cardiotonic properties. It helps improve the function of your heart, thereby limiting the onset of heart failure. It prevents the oxidative stress caused by free radicals, protecting your heart from cardiac hypertrophy. The phenolic compounds in the herb have strong antioxidant properties, further contributing towards protecting your heart [23] .

14. Prevents skin diseases

Punarnava is widely used in the treatment of infections affecting your skin. The antimicrobial and antifungal properties of the herb help in killing the germs that can cause skin irritations. It is also known to ward off Microsporum gypseum, a fungus that causes redness, fissures, scaling, and blisters [24] .

15. Tackles epilepsy

Studies reveal that the roots of punarnava can be used in the treatment of epilepsy. The compound known as liriodendron present in the plant possesses anticonvulsant activity due to the high calcium channel antagonistic property possessed by punarnava. By blocking the calcium channels, the seizures can be limited or even controlled [25] .

Uses Of Punarnava

Rich with anti-inflammatory, diuretic, antioxidative, antiarthritic, antibacterial, and spasmolytic properties; the herb has various uses. It is used in treating and managing the following [26] :

  • Swellings or oedema
  • Eye disorders
  • Itching and irritation
  • Constant watering of the eyes
  • Immature cataract
  • Night blindness
  • Rheumatic disorders
  • Skin disorders
  • Rabies
  • Problems due to alcoholic intoxication and alcoholism
  • Intestinal colic and worms

It is also used as a muscle strengthener and fodder for livestock [27] .

Dosage Of Punarnava

The normal recommended dosage of the herb is about 2-5 teaspoons twice a day (general average). Punarnava should be consumed with water. The root powder dosage is 3 to 6 grams and the decoction dosage is 5 to 10 ml [28] .

*Caution: You must talk to an Ayurvedic specialist or a physician before using the medicine.

Punarnava In Ayurveda

The herb is one of the most widely used one in ayurveda. Due to the plethora of benefits and medicinal properties punarnava hold, it can be applied in the treatment of various ailments. It finds uses in many formulations in Ayurveda such as punarnavadi kashayam, punarnavarishtam, punarnava mandooram, punarnavadi guggulu, pathya punarnavadi kashayam, brahma rasayanam, chavanaprasham, sukumara ghritam, dhanwantaram tailam and ghritham, kumaryasavam and so much more [29] .

In ayurveda, punarnava is used for the treatment of insomnia, cataracts, asthma, tuberculosis, ophthalmic disorders, kidney disorders, ascites, fever, intestinal colic and worms, rabies, alcoholic intoxication and alcoholism, rheumatic disorders, kapha dosha dominant cough, itching and irritation, jaundice, arthritis, urinary tract infections, weight loss, water retention, heavy menstruation, clotting and uterine fibroids, and glaucoma [30] .

Side Effects Of Punarnava

  • The herb may increase blood pressure and affect the functioning of the heart [31] .
  • If consumed in an empty stomach or without water, it may cause a burning sensation in the throat.
  • Individuals with ethanol-related allergies will have severe reactions.
  • It can cause uterine contractions in pregnant women.
  • It may cause drowsiness.


  • The herb should not be administered to children younger than 12 years [32] .
  • It contains self-generated alcohol and should not be consumed before driving.
  • It cannot be consumed with alcohol.
  • Overdosing on punarnava will cause various medical problems.
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Story first published: Friday, March 22, 2019, 17:33 [IST]
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