NaturHeals - Wild Weeds 6 - Bhringraj – Eclipta Alba – False Daisy
Anyone who has every looked for hair growth products in India would have heard about Bhringraj. An Ayurvedic herb, this is one of the most important ingredients in several hair products that deal with hair loss, premature greying, as well as dry and dull hair. But did you know that this herb is actually a weed that farmers are wary of? Bhringraj not only grows in ditches and wastelands but also in paddy fields with other important crops and are usually treated with herbicides. However, the fact that the weed is great for hair and is useful in treating several other major and minor ailments, has made people realize the importance of not weeding it out and cultivating it in the right way. Here is everything you need to know about Bhringraj or Keshraja, the King of Hair.
The scientific name of Bhringraj sis Eliptica Alba, and it belongs to the Asteraceae family. Its scientific name is Bhringraja or Tekarajah. The name Bhringraj means ‘ruler of bees’, as it is quite popular with pollinators. It is called bhangraya in Hindi. Some other names of this weed are kayanthakara, kaikeshi, and gunta galagaraku in Telegu; garage soppu and garga in Kannada, maka in Marathi, bhangaro in Gujarati, bhangra in Punjabi, kannunni in Malayalam, karisalankani in Tamil, and kesuriya in Bengali. The Spanish name of this herb is Yerba de Tago, which means ‘herb that grows in a ditch’. Few other names of Bhringraj are babri, angarak, bungrah, mrkav, thistles, mockhand, and prostrata. It is also known as false daisy in English.
Ideal Soil and Climate
As Bhringraj is a weed, it can grow easily in all kinds of soil, right from sandy to clay soils. It is commonly seen in low water logged areas, damp wastelands, roadsides, and paddy as well as other crop fields. However, for optimum growth of Bhringraj, the plant should be cultivated in red loamy soils that are rich in organic matter and high moisture content. The preferred climate for this herb is tropical, sub-tropical, and temperate regions. It grows best in climate where the temperature is between 25oC to 35oC. Bhringraj is native the South America and India, and it can be found in Thailand, Nepal, and China as well.
Belonging to the sunflower family, Bhringraj is an annual herb that grows up to 30-40 cm. The roots of the plant are cylindrical and greyish. The plant has a long, erect stalk, and the stems are flat. They have distinct nodes and are greenish (sometimes brownish) in colour. The leaves are thick, long, cylindrical, and slightly curly. The leaves have a layer of hair on them (on both sides), which can cause itching when touched. The plant grows solitary flowers that are white in colour and resemble daisies, and hence Bhringraj is called false daisy. The flowers are 6-8 mm in diameter and are sensitive. The fruits of the plant are achene and have only one seed.
Bhringraj is endowed with plenty of bioactive components, phytochemicals, flavonoids, chemical compounds, and alkaloids. It is filled with polypeptides, thiophene derivatives, steroids, wedelolactone, ecliptine, heptacosanole, hentriacontanol, triterpenes, atigmasterol, and coumestans. It also has proteins, calcium, magnesium, vitamins D and E, and iron. The powerhouse of chemicals and nutrients provide Bhringraj with antiviral, antimicrobial, antibacterial, antileprotic, analgesic, hypotensive, antihepatotoxic, antioxidant, ovicidal, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, anticancer, antiaging, and hepatoprotective properties.
Long before Bhringraj became a popular ingredient for hair products, it was a herb used in Ayurveda to treat various health problems. This medicinal weed is considered to be a Rasayana, as it rejuvenates and boosts longevity. Bhringraj has the power of balancing the three doshas of the body: Vatta-Pitta-Kapha. The characteristics of Bhringraj as per Ayurveda are as follows:
- Rasa/Taste: Tikta/Bitter
- Guna/Physical Property: Laghu, Ruksha/Light, Dry
- Virya/Potency: Ushna/Hot
- Vipaka/Metabolic Property: Katu/Pungent (after digestion)
Due to the presence of so many nutrients and chemicals, Bhringraj has the ability to cure an array of diseases and health issues.
Hair Problems: Bhringraj is an elixir for all kinds of hair problems including hair fall, alopecia, premature greying, dryness, and split ends. One of the main reasons for hair fall is imbalance of Vatta. By balancing the Vatta dosha in the body, Bhringraj helps in preventing hair fall. Moreover, the keshya property of the herb aids in stimulating the hair follicles, which leads to rapid hair growth. On the other hand, the Rasayana property of Bhringraj helps in managing premature greying. Prolonged used of this herb aids in the overall good health of the hair.
Skin Infections: Just like hair, Bhringraj has proved effective in maintaining skin health as well. The antimicrobial, antifungal, and antibacterial properties of the herb assist in curing a range of skin infections like boils, acne, pimples, eczema, etc. It is also effective in treating minor skin allergies and damages caused due to prolonged exposure to sun. It works well for dry skin, psoriasis, and dermatitis as well. Its antiaging properties help in preventing wrinkles and fine lines. It helps in keeping the skin healthy and radiant.
Wounds and Cuts: The Rasayana property of Bhringraj makes it an effective medicine for treating wounds and cuts. Bhringraj helps in healing the wounds quickly and at the same time aids in reducing swelling and bringing the skin back to a normal texture. Bhringraj is a great treatment for cracked heels also. Cracked heels usually occur due to the imbalance of Vatta, which leads to less moisture and dryness in the heel area. Regular use of Bhringraj can soften the heals and get rid of the pain associated with it.
Bites and Stings: Along with wounds and cuts, Bhringraj is also helpful in treating bites and stings of insects and snakes, including that of scorpions. The anti-inflammatory, antibiotic, and pain relieving qualities of the herb aid in inhibiting the venom of these insects including that of scorpions, rattlesnakes, and other venomous snakes. While this herb can help to save the lives of people, medical intervention is still necessary.
Gastro-Intestinal Problems: Bhringraj is a known herb for improving overall gastro-intestinal health. The carminative and digestive properties of this weed make it an effective treatment for problems like digestion, constipation, and even loss of appetite. It also helps in treating dysentery completely. The herb not only helps in getting rid of the symptoms of dysentery like nausea, heart burn, and burning pain, but also flushes out the bacteria that causes it, from the digestive system.
Ulcers: Apart from constipation, indigestion, and dysentery, Bhringraj is also effective in treating different types of ulcers. As Bhringraj has anti-inflammatory, anti-microbial, and anti-ulcer properties, it is considered to be an effective treatment for peptic ulcers, gastric or stomach ulcers, canker sores, ulcerative colitis, etc. Moreover, the bioactive components in the herb help in tissue regeneration as well.
Diabetes: The bitter, appetizer, and digestive properties of Bhringraj help in controlling the blood sugar level in the body. Bhringraj helps in decreasing the breakdown of starch into glucose, thus keeping the blood sugar low. In most cases, diabetic patients are given a combination of Bhringraj along with Bermuda grass and liquorice weed for the effective balancing of blood sugar levels.
Liver Disorders: Liver disorders are mostly caused by imbalance of Pitta dosha in the body. As Bhringraj helps in balancing Pitta, it aids in the treatment of several liver disorders like fatty liver and liver enlargement. Apart from balancing the doshas, the herb detoxes the liver, promotes bile flow, and boosts its cell regeneration too. It also improves the functioning of the liver by removing toxins from the body. It strengthens the liver, protects it from harmful chemicals, and enhances its overall health. Bhringraj is quite effective in treating jaundice.
Heart Issues: Bhringraj is not only an effective herb for treating heart diseases but also for preventing several heart issues. The strong anti-oxidative properties of this medicinal weed aid in regulating cholesterol, controlling high blood pressure, strengthening the heart muscles, and preventing lipid build up, thus preventing the chances of blood clots, heart blocks, and even heart attack. It can also help in managing heart palpitations.
Respiratory Problems: The anti-microbial and anti-inflammatory properties of Bhringraj make it an effective way of treating an array of respiratory problems. Right from cough and colds to more serious issues like asthma and bronchitis, Bhringraj is one of the best medicines for all these respiratory issues. It helps in keeping infections at bay and enhances the passage of air to and from the lungs. This herb is used for treating coughing, wheezing, and shortness of breath.
Brain Functioning: Popularly known as a brain tonic, Bhringraj is used for enhancing memory, improving sleep, and boosting problem-solving and other cognitive abilities. The neuroprotective elements of Bhringraj aid in strengthening as well as nourishing the nervous system. In fact, it is due to these elements that Bhringraj is considered to help in preventing memory loss, including Alzheimer’s disease. Bhringraj helps in boosting concentration, memory capacity, alertness, and calmness.
Apart from the medicinal benefits provided above, Bhringraj is also used in treating toothache, general aches and pains, blood purification, urinary tract infections, dehydration, and bacterial infections. It also helps in enhancing the immunity of a person.
Uses of Bhringraj
All parts of Bhringraj, including its roots, stems, leaves, flowers, and fruits, are used to make medicines and other health products. Bhringraj is available in the form of oil, powder, paste, juice, tablets, and decoction. Different diseases need different types of medicines or products that are using Bhringraj.
- Bhringraj hair oil is used for hair fall and grey hair as well. Application of the oil on the forehead can help to get rid of headache.
- Apart from oil, one can also use hair products like shampoos with Bhringraj for dealing with problems like hair fall, premature greying, etc.
- The juice of Bhringraj is used for treating digestive issues, improving vision, curing skin diseases, lowering blood pressure, and boosting hair growth.
- The churna of Bhringraj along with ghee and milk or water is ideal for enhancing kidney and liver health, improving digestion, and supporting heart health.
- Bhringraj powder is used for treating diabetes.
- Jaundice is treated by consuming crushed leaves of Bhringraj mixed with black pepper.
- The extract of Bhringraj leaves is a great cure for toothache.
- The paste of the herb is applied on wounds, skin infection, and insect bites.
- To boost your immunity, you can consume the paste of Bhringraj mixed with honey.
Although there are no major side effects of Bhringraj, over consumption or higher dosage of the herb can cause certain problems. If you do not take the correct dosage of this herb, you may experience swelling, itching, redness, low blood pressure, frequent urination, heartburn, etc. It is also important to patch test before applying Bhringraj oil on your scalp. People who take blood thinners and diuretics should avoid using this herb. The same applies to pregnant women and nursing mothers.
Planting and Harvesting
As there is high demand for medicines and other health products made with Bhringraj, there is also a demand for Bhringraj plants made in the organic way. To cultivate the Bhringraj plant, you can use seeds or stem cuttings, although seed germination is more effective. The best time to sow the seeds is between February and March. Sow the seeds in a well-prepared soil at a spacing of 20x20 cm. The soil should be irrigated as and when required. The sapling would be ready to be transplanted in April-May. No herbicides should be used, and weeding should be done manually, if necessary.
It takes around 3 months for the plant to reach full maturity. The plant would be ready for harvest in August, during the early flowering stage. Once harvested, the parts of the plant should be cleaned thoroughly and dried in shade. They should be then packed in gunny bags. Extreme care should be taken during the storage phase to prevent fungal infection. As the leaves and stems of Bhringraj can cause itchiness, it is important to wear long sleeves and gloves for protecting your skin while harvesting the plant.
Jaivik Farms is an agro-based organization that is constantly on the lookout for farmers who can provide them with herbs like Bhringraj planted, cultivated, and harvested in the organic way. We discourage the use of herbicides and pesticides and eager to support farmers who are ready to cultivate these medicinal weeds without using any harmful chemicals. We believe that taking care of our soil and growing chemical-free plants and herbs is a moral responsibility not only to our fellow human beings and future generations but also to our Mother Earth.