Hogweed or Punarnava has an important place among therapeutic plants in ayurveda. This herb has anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, and adaptogenic properties. It protects your liver and heart and treats epilepsy, eye diseases, and kidney disorders. It also eases pain and helps manage high blood sugar levels. Thanks to its anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties, punarnava can fight and ease respiratory ailments. It can expel phlegm, soothe the respiratory airway, and protect against inflammation of the mucous membrane. Ayurveda categorizes punarnava as a rasayana that can flush out toxins, balance doshas (tridoshahara), and rejuvenate the body. It also optimizes the immune system function. Punarnava is often a component in anti-obesity formulations. It is believed to stimulate the digestive fire and boost sluggish digestion. It also reduces water retention in the body because of its diuretic effect.
A range of potent bioactive compounds such as hypoxanthine 9-L-arabinofuranoside, serratagenic acid, boeravinone A to F, liriodendron, ursolic acid, oleanolic acid, and punarnavoside may account for its many healing properties.
Steep 1 teaspoon of dried herb in 1 cup of boiled water and cover it for 30 minutes. Drink it 3 times a day, before meals, unsweetened.
Traditional healers use punarnava as an expectorant and for clearing nasal congestion. It can even help tackle asthma – a decoction of the leaves of the Malabar nut plant and punarnava is combined with black pepper and ginger juice and customarily used to treat the condition.4 Animal studies confirm its ability to relax the airway and curb spasms.
Punarnava has potential as an adaptogen which can help you fight stress. In one study, when mice were forced to swim in a limited space, they became immobile after a while. This was a behavioral sign of a mental state resembling depression. But when they were given an extract of the roots of punarnava, they were able to tolerate the stress better and swim longer. The extract also combated biochemical indicators of stress such as increased blood glucose and cortisol.
Inflammation is a normal immune response to infection or injury and plays an important part in healing. However, it is a double-edged sword. If your body is constantly in a fight mode, it can lead to chronic inflammation which is linked to a range of diseases such as coronary heart disease, rheumatoid arthritis, diabetes, and asthma. Punarnava can help counter this. An enzyme known as secretory phospholipase A2 (sPLA2) plays a vital part in producing inflammatory mediators in chronic inflammatory disorders. Research shows that punarnava can inhibit sPLA2 and function as an anti-inflammatory agent.
Punarnava has traditionally been used to treat various liver disorders, including jaundice. Research backs this up. Both the leaves and roots of punarnava have been found to have hepatoprotective properties and may protect your liver from the onslaught of harmful chemicals.
One animal study found that administering an extract of the leaf of this plant protected subjects against liver damage induced with an overdose of acetaminophen, a common pain reliever. The antioxidant property of the leaves may account for this beneficial effect.
Traditional healers use a decoction of punarnava leaves for treating inflammation and pain. And this has been backed up by scientific research too. One animal study found that it reduced abdominal writhing caused by acetic acid by half and was also significantly effective at tackling pain caused by exposure to heat. The exact mechanism through which punarnava worked was not clear. However, the researchers suggested that it has an impact on our endogenous opioid system which consists of neurons that produce opioids in your body and naturally relieve pain.
Punarnava is used in ayurveda for tackling many eye disorders. The leaf juice may be used along with honey as an eye drop for ophthalmia or inflammation. The root is ground up and applied as collyrium to battle eye irritations and infections. It is also part of beneficial formulations. For instance, punarnava root is ground with ghee for a collyrium for corneal opacity; with honey for watering of the eye and swelling; with rice flour water for night blindness. It is also used with other herbs such as turmeric and devakanchana (red verity). Punarnava has demonstrated potent antimicrobial activity against a range of infection-causing germs like E. coli, S. aureus, and P. aeruginosa and this might be one reason it works against infective eye diseases.14 However, lab studies on punarnava’s role in eye health is limited.
Another traditional use of punarnava is for treating kidney disorders and urinary tract and kidney stones. It even finds mention in ancient ayurvedic texts such as Charaka Samhita and Sushruta Samhita for renal conditions. Animal studies show that it may help with kidney regeneration and tackle conditions like nephrotic syndrome where excessive protein is excreted in the urine.
Punarnava may indeed have the ability to reduce kidney stones (anti-urolithiasis). One study found it helped counter oxidative stress associated with the excessive excretion of oxalate in urine and could help prevent the deposition of calcium oxalate stones. Phenolic compounds present in this herb which show antioxidant activity may account for this benefit. A compound known as punarnavine may also have a diuretic effect, that is, it increases urination. And this can flush your kidneys and help prevent the formation of stones.
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