NaturHeals - Wild Weeds 10 - Satyanashi – Argemone Mexicana – Mexican Prickly Poppy
Ask any farmer and he will tell you what nuisance weeds are. Weeds can grow anywhere, including on farmlands, and ruin the growth of crops. Weeds can cause major losses in the agricultural sector. But did you know that it is not possible to dismiss all the weeds as a nuisance or dangerous? This is because, in reality, there are some weeds that come with numerous health benefits. Satyanashi is one of them.
An invasive weed found all around the world, Satyanashi is the Indian name for Argemone Mexicana. The meaning of Satyanashi is devastating, and it seems like an unfitting name for a weed that is used as a medicine. However, Satyanashi is so-called because its seeds are toxic for human and animal health. The seeds of Satyanashi resemble that of mustard seeds and if its oil is diluted with mustard oil, it can lead to a serious illness (even fatal) called epidemic dropsy. Still, traditional medicine has used this plant to cure several health issues for a long time
Agremone Mexicana's allelopathic effect is extremely harmful to seedlings awaiting germination, especially for wheat, mustard, fenugreek, sorghum, finger millet, tomato, and cucumber important crops in India. The allelochemical cinnamic and benzoic acids inhibit germination & seedling vigour. Hence the name Satyanashi in India. Here you will find all the information about Satyanashi, a toxic but healing weed.
Different Names of Satyanashi
The botanical or scientific name of Satyanashi is Argemone Mexicana Linn. It belongs to the Papaveraceae family. In Sanskrit, the weed is known as Hemavati, Swarnakshiri, Brahmadandi, and Hemadugdha. Apart from Satyanashi, the Hindi names of this plant are Shilakanta, Pila-dhatura, and Bharbhand. It is called Darudi in Gujarati, Shialkanta in Bengali, Daruri or Dhotara in Marathi, Dhaturi in Rajasthani, Ponnumatty, Brahmdantu, and Kantankattiri in Malayalam, Karukkansedu and Kudiyott in Tamil, Brahmdadidandu in Telegu, and Kantakusham in Oriya. Mexican poppy, Mexican thistle, yellow thistle, and Prickly poppy are some of its English names.
Ideal Soil and Climate
As a weed, Satyanashi can grow well in most kinds of soils, even nutritionally poor soils. However, it prefers light sandy soil for optimum growth. Moist and well-drained soil are also ideal soil requirements for this plant. It requires good sunlight to grow and does not do well in shaded areas. This is the reason why it is commonly found in tropical and warm climates. The plant is native to Mexico but can also be found in other parts of Central America, South America, Africa, Asia, and Australia. While it grows rapidly as a weed in agricultural zones, roadsides, railways, riverbanks, grasslands, and waste lands, it is also used as an ornamental plant in urban areas.
The Satyanashi plant grows up to 2 ft.x1 ft. 8 inches. This perennial plant is an annual herb that stands erect and is branched and glabrous. It has a firm taproot and a stem with scattered prickles. The leaves of this plant are thistle-like and do not have any leaf stalks. The upper surface of the leaf is bluish-green in colour and has grey-white veins on it. The flowers are yellow and grow solitarily on the tip of the branches. The fruit is in the shape of an ovoid capsule and contains almost 400 seeds. The seeds are brownish-black and almost spherical in shape and have a network of veins. The plant oozes out yellow/orange latex when cut.
Satyanashi is made of numerous alkaloids, including protopine, berberine, protopine hydrochloride, dihydrosanguinarine, and sanguinarine. Apart from alkaloids, the plant also contains flavonoids, terpenoids, phenolics, long-chain aliphatic compounds, and some aromatic compounds. It is also made of amino acids, fatty acids, and phenolic. The presence of certain alkaloids makes it a medicinal herb as well as poisonous. Hence, it is extremely important to ensure that the by-products of Satyanashi are taken only under the supervision of a doctor.
Satyanashi has numerous health benefits. It has analgesic, antispasmodic, anti-cancer, anti-HIV, hallucinogenic, antibacterial, anti-fungal, antioxidant, wound healing, antipyretic, anti-microbial, sedative, and anti-allergic, antioxidant, cytotoxicity, anti-inflammatory, laxative, diuretic, metric, anodyne, and anti-diabetic properties. Here are some of the health issues that can be treated with Satyanashi.
Skin Problems: The antibacterial, anti-fungal, and anti-inflammatory properties of Satyanashi’s yellow latex help in treating an array of skin infections and problems. Applying this latex or oil to the affected area can get rid of warts, boils, itching, ringworm, sores, infections, ulcers, and eczema. It also helps in healing wounds and cuts. The yellow latex of the Satyanashi plant also acts as a mosquito repellent as well as an antidote for insect bites, including snake and scorpion bites.
Pain Relief: Satyanashi is used as a pain killer, as it contains alkaloids similar to those found in opium poppy. This is the reason why the entire plant is used for relieving different types of pain, including muscle pain, stomach pain, rheumatic pain, etc.
Difficulty Passing Urine: The diuretic properties of Satyanashi make it a great medicine to relieve people who have difficulty passing urine. Satyanashi oil acts as a diuretic, making it possible to pass urine without pain and at the same time to get rid of toxic substances from the body.
Eyesight Issues: Satyanashi is a herb that can help in curing an array of eye problems. It is used for treating red eyes, swollen eyes, and such other types of eye diseases. It is also used to treat an eye condition called ophthalmic, which is caused due to inflammation of the eyes. The juice of Satyanashi is used for treating corneal opacities, glaucoma, and even cataract. Applying a kajal or kohl made with Satyanashi is best for preventing dryness of the eyes and also for the general good health of the eyes.
Gum Problems: Most dental and gum problems usually happen due to bacterial infections. The anti-bacterial properties of Satyanashi have the ability to deal with all kinds of dental and gum problems. This herb can bring relief to people suffering from cavities, toothache, etc.
Asthma: Satayanashi’s anti-allergic and antispasmodic properties have the potential of curing asthma, breathlessness, whooping cough, bronchitis, and such other chest conditions. The herb has a purgative effect and helps in getting rid of unwanted phlegm or saliva that gets accumulated in the chest area. Applying Satyanashi oil to the chest area can bring relief to people suffering from chest pain as well.
Malaria: While Satyanashi is quite popular as a mosquito repellent, it also serves as an effective treatment for malaria. The anti-parasite elements of Satyanashi help in reducing the symptoms of malaria-like muscle aches, tiredness, headache, fever, etc. Generally, a tea made of Satyanashi is consumed to treat the symptoms of malaria.
Impotency: Satyanashi is an effective treatment for reversing male infertility. The root and seeds of the plant have the ability to restore healthy bodily functions, including increasing sperm count in men. Apart from improving sperm count, Satyanashi also helps in improving the quality of the sperm. Along with treating infertility, Satyanashi also aids in improving sex drive in men.
Stomach Problems: The anti-inflammatory properties of Satyanashi make it a great treatment for various stomach issues. The purgative and diuretic abilities of the herb help in getting rid of the toxins from the body, thus relieving problems like flatulence, diarrhoea, nausea, colic, and vomiting. It also reduces inflammation in the body. Apart from this, the anthelmintic properties of this herb help in eliminating internal parasites, which make it a great cure for worm infestation in the stomach. By maintaining good health of the gut, Satyanashi also helps in preventing chronic illnesses.
Apart from the health issues mentioned above, Satyanashi is useful in curing several other illnesses, which are as follows:
- It is an effective medicine for treating jaundice, which is a liver disease.
- Application of Satyanashi oil on the scalp can help in getting rid of head lice.
- It is a great remedy for treating Syphilis disease, gonorrhoea, and even leprosy.
- The juice of Satyanashi has the ability to lower blood sugar in the body, proving it to be effective for treating diabetes.
- Snuffing the powder of Satyanashi can help in regaining the power of smell.
- It is also an effective way of reversing bad breath.
Uses of Satyanashi
The entire plant of Satyanashi, including its leaves, seeds, roots, fruits, and flowers is used for making medicines. Here are some of the ways in which this herb is used.
- The powder of the herb’s root along with warm milk or water is used for treating asthma. The juice of the plant is also used for relieving asthma and cough.
- Applying Satyanashi mixed with ghee and milk in the eyes can cure several eye problems, including dryness, glaucoma, etc.
- For stomach pain, consuming Satyanashi powder along with milk and ghee can bring immense relief.
- Jaundice is treated by giving Satyanashi oil along with Tinospora juice.
- For skin treatments, the oil, milk, or latex from the plant can be directly applied to the affected area, be it cuts, wounds, ulcers, boils, ringworm infections, etc. You can also boil a batch of fresh Satyanashi leaves to make a concoction to be applied to the affected area to treat skin problems.
- Diabetic people can make a decoction using 3 Satyanashi leaves along with pepper cloves to control high blood sugar. This decoction should be consumed every day.
- Boiling crushed roots of Satyanashi can help in curing the condition of painful urination and difficulty in passing urine.
The main side effects caused by Satyanashi are through its seeds. The seeds of the plant are highly toxic when taken internally. It is used as an adulterant in mustard oil, which when consumed can prove fatal. Hence, the seed oil of Satyanashi should be used externally only. Similarly, the roots of the plant have two toxic alkaloids, which cause potent narcotic effects. Consuming them directly can cause side effects like nausea, vomiting, limb swelling, breathlessness, etc. The most severe side effects of this herb are cardiac arrest and death. When used in excess quantities, the herb can cause diarrhoea, dysentery, irritable bowel syndrome, abdominal pain, colitis, etc. Hence, Satyanashi should not be consumed without the proper guidance of the doctor. Moreover, pregnant women, lactating mothers, and children should avoid the consumption of this herb.
Planting and Harvesting
Planting and caring for Satyanashi is quite easy. You can directly sow the seeds in the land, as there is no need to transplant them. In fact, it is best not to transplant them, as the saplings are delicate and can easily break. The best time to sow the seeds of Satyanashi is 5-7 weeks after early spring when the temperature is 13o-16oC. The seeds should be sown at the spacing of 8 to 36 inches. After planting, the seeds start germinating in 2 weeks. Yellow flowers start appearing mid-summer to early autumn.
Ensure that the seeds receive full sunlight to germinate faster. As it is a weed, the Satyanashi plant can grow uncontrollably. To prevent this, it is best to get the poppies deadheaded before the seeds are set.
The plant is ready for harvest when it reaches the height of 24 to 36 inches. It is extremely crucial to wear gloves while harvesting, as the prickles, can cause harm. Once harvested, the leaves can be used fresh or dried to be used later.
As Satyanashi has so many health benefits, there is a huge demand for this herb by agricultural companies like Jaivik Farms. But it is difficult to find organically grown Satyanashi. This is why we urge farmers to plant, grow, and harvest weeds like Satyanashi without the use of any chemicals or herbicides. We not only train farmers to indulge in organic farming of these weeds but are also ready to buy the final products from them. After all, what would be better than having a natural way of treating minor and major health problems?