Botanical name – Boerhavia diffusa Linn.
Family – Nyctaginaceae
Common names –
English – Spreading Hogweed
Hindi – Gadahpurna
Sanskrit – Punarnava
Parts used – Whole Plant
It is pantropical in distribution. It is recorded in floras of India, Malaysia & West Pakistan and in many of the Indian regional flora such as Madras, Tamil Nadu, Carnatic, Goa, Daman & Diu, Nagarhaveli, Eastern Karnataka. It has also been recorded in much of Africa, Tropical and Temperate Asia, Southern North America, Central America, the West Indies, and South America
In India it is found in warmer parts of the country and throughout up to altitude in the Himalayan region. It is perennial, spreading hogweed, commonly occurring abundantly in waste places, ditches and marshy places during rains. The plant is also cultivated to some extent in West Bengal.
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It contains Punarnavine (Alkaloids), ß -sitosterol (Phytosterols), Liriodendrin (Lignans), Punarnavoside (Rotenoids), Boerhavine (Xanthones) and Potassium nitrate (Salts)
The roots contain the Rotenoidsboeravinones AI, BI, C2, D, E and F besides the new Dihydroisofurenoxanthin, Alanine, Arachidic Acid, Aspartic Acid, Behenic Acid, Boerhaavic Acid, Boerhavone, Campesterol, Daucosterol, Beta-Ecdysone, Flavone, 5-7-dihydroxy-3′-4′-dimetho, XY-6-8-dimethyl, Galactose, Glutamic Acid, Glutamine, Glycerol, Glycine, Hentriacontane N,Heptadecyclic Acid, Histidine, Hypoxanthine-9-l-arabinofuranoside, Leucine, Liriodendrin, Methionine, Oleic Acid, Oxalic Acid, Palmitic Acid, Proline, hydroxyl Serine, Sitosterol Oleate, Sitosterol Palmitate
The leaves have potent antibacterial activity against various Gram-negative and Gram-positive bacteria which is due to the presence of phytochemicals present in the leaves . Ethanol extract shows inhibitory effect on gram-positive bacteria like S. aureus, B. subtilis, S. faecalis, M.luteus and also gram-negative bacteria. Methanol extract showed inhibitory effect against some gram-positive and gram-negative bacteria.
An aqueous solution of B.Diffusa leaf extract shows a significant decrease in blood glucose and a significant increase in plasma insulin levels. The reduction in blood glucose produced by the extract is probably through rejuvenation of pancreatic beta-cells or through extrapancreatic action.
It is useful for managing liver problems due to its antioxidant activity which prevents liver cell damage caused by free radicals. Aqueous root extract of B. Diffusa possessed marked hepatoprotective activity against thioacetamide-induced hepatotoxicity and marked protection against a majority of serum parameters like, GOT, GPT, ACP and ALP but not GLDH and bilirubin.
Punarnava possesses powerful analgesic and anti-inflammatory properties which help in reducing joints and muscle pain, thus reducing the chances of Rheumatoid Arthritis and other inflammatory conditions. Local application of the paste of leaves provides relief from pain and inflammation. Ethanol extract of leaves and stem bark exhibited maximum anti-inflammatory effect.