Did you know that according to a report by the World Health Organization (WHO), 80% of the population prefers traditional herbal medicine for primary health concerns – for obvious reasons. It’s cheaper and safer to use than the antibiotic counterparts. In such a scenario, it becomes imperative to get a better understanding of one of the most useful herbs known to Ayurvedic medicine: the Achyranthes Aspera herb. Let’s deep-dive to understand this natural and organic medicine nature offers to us so readily.
Commonly found in the pan-tropical regions, Achyranthes Aspera (Scientific name) is essentially a weed that belongs to the Amarnath or Amaranthus family, Plantae (kingdom), and Caryophyllales (order). It is also commonly known by many names: Chaff-Flower, Prickly Chaff Flower, Devil’s Horsewhip, Apamarg (Sanskrit name), and Chirchita (Hindi name) to list a few.
Aparmarg‘ Appearance: How to Identify the Plant from the Inside Out?
The Apamarg plant is small, upright, and a perennial herb that is typically seen with a woody base about 2 m in height. The purple-coloured angular stem is an easy identifier. The flowers have greenish-white undertones whereas the seeds have reddish-brown hues. There are two types of Apamarg plants available:
- White Apamarg or Shweta whose botanical name is Achyranthes Aspera
- Red Apamarg or Rakta whose botanical name is Puppalia Lappace
It may also come in handy to note that this notorious plant’s fruits (often accompanied with stings) tend to stick to the person’s leg or dress. So next time something seems itchy and sticky, you know what that is!
Top-7 Multi-faceted Uses of Achyranthes Aspera
Lying at the heart of Ayurvedic culture and folk medicine, the Chirchita plant has, over the years, successfully doubled up as a “wonder” herb. How so? To put it simply, all components of the Apamarg plant are useful in some way or another. Here are top-7 ways in which you can use this plant as a cure and a boon for holistic well-being, for enforcing practical lifestyle changes, and for treating ailments across the disease spectrum:
- The juice is used in the mixture of wall plaster.
- Its leaves are used in the “Ganesh Patra” puja done on Ganesh Chaturthi day and the leaf pulp is used for treating scorpion bites.
- The herb is used to treat various skin disorders such as Edema.
- The seeds are used in cases of hydrophobia, snake-bites, ophthalmia, and cutaneous diseases.
- The flowering spikes mixed with sugar and made into pills are given to people bitten by mad dogs.
- The plant ashes produce potash which is used in washing clothes.
- The plant is also used in obstetrics and gynaecology, including abortion, induction of labor, and cessation of postpartum bleeding as well as for treating malaria.
Note: Research into its chemical constitution suggests that the plant possesses important medicinal properties such as anti-periodic, purgative, laxative, anti-allergic, anti-septic, among others.
The Holistic Benefits of Chirchita Along with Dosage & Treatment
The benefits of the Apamarg plant have been mentioned in the shlokas (Vedas) as well as you can see above. The Achyranthes Aspera plant is an effective herb for detoxifying the body both internally and externally. Let’s look at the examples below to understand its comprehensive health advantages:
- Ano-rectal diseases: Use the alkaline ash of Achyranthes Aspera along with other herbs to prepare “Kshara Sutra” – a unique surgical thread with anti-septic herbal coatings that can help patients suffering from anorectal ailments as well as fistula and abscess. Use only 0.5-2g of Kshara in divided quantities per day.
- Ear pain and infection: Wash leaves of the Apamarg plant, grind and extract the juice and finally, put a few drops in the ear for relief.
- Eye infection: Take the fresh root of the Chirchita plant, clean carefully, grind it with rose water and apply in the infected area.
- Mouth ulcers: Wash the leaves and chew.
- Migraine: Grind the ripe seed of Apamarga to make a fine powder. Smell this powder when the migraine kicks in.
- Back pain: Rub the leaves in the affected areas for immediate relief.
- Enlarged spleen: Use the plant in powdered form (2 tablespoons) mixed with milk and butter twice a day.
- Cold, cough, and fever: For cold and cough, boil Apamarga leaves in water for 15 minutes, then strain it and drink. To treat fever, take 1 tablespoon of Apamarg leaves’ juice mixed with jaggery (Gur).
- Diarrhoea: Grind Apamarga leaves to a powder and mix with honey or misri (a form of sugar) twice a day. Alternatively, drink 5-10 ml of fresh leaf juice every three hours.
- Paralysis: Use the root powder and mix with a glass of milk.
- Insomnia: Drink the juice of rough chaff tree to address insomnia.
- Obesity: You can use ingest oral Chirchita pills twice a day after food for two months to reduce obesity, control cholesterol, and lose weight.
- Urinary stones: An excellent diuretic, this plant is useful in treating urinary retention, water retention, kidney and bladder stones. Grind the plant (along with the roots), add 5 g to 200 ml of water, boil it to a fourth of the quantity, strain it and drink.
- Natural birth: According to Baba Ramdev, pregnant women should place the Apamarg’s roots near the navel once their ninth month begins for a normal childbirth delivery. He claims this works 99% of the time! Additionally, according to Acharya Balkrishna, Chirchita also works wonders for women who are unable to conceive. All they have to do is take 10 gm of the plant’s root and leaves and mix it with 200 ml of milk and cook it. Then for the first four days of their periods, they have to drink it on an empty stomach. If they do this for a period of 3 months, they’re sure to see the difference.
In addition to these benefits, it is also used to treat inflammation, diabetes, hypertension, wounds, ulcers, asthma, rheumatism, scabies, etc. Additionally, a fresh piece of the root can be used as a toothbrush! What’s more, a recent study suggests that the aqueous extracts from the plant can act as a promising therapeutic substitute for killing cancer cells.
Note: The plant has a pungent and bitter taste so be mentally prepared before consuming it in various forms.
Apamarg Side Effects: An Honest Account
The Apamarg plant should be used with great care as it can cause some side effects as mentioned below:
- An overdose can induce vomiting and nausea-like symptoms.
- Pregnant and lactating mothers should refrain from ingesting this plant entirely. They can apply it on their body but should not consume it in any form.
- It is not suitable for people undergoing infertility treatment.
It may be interesting to know that since Apamarg is an antidote to snake-poison, it is closely associated with the God Shiva. It is also believed that application of the Chirchita’s root (in a paste form) at the brow chakra can open the Shiva-Netra or eye of Shiva.
Now that you know the diverse benefits of this multi-purpose plant, get ready to embrace it and start a new journey of living a healthy life.