The plant is a small herb that grows wild in the wastelands of India. It possesses many medicinal properties that help in different activities. The most important part that is being employed as medicine is the Kshara or the alkali. It is one of the common alkalie or Kshara that is being commonly considered for internal use among the class. The botanical name of the plant is Achyranthes aspera Linn. The name Achyranthes is the word that is taken from the two words of Greek namely Achyro which means Chaff and the word Anthes which means Flower and apsera  which is again a latinised word for rough and very short stiff or hard petals. India is the largest producer of the plant while Indonesia is the largest consumer of this plant.

PLANT DETAILS

BOTANICAL NAME

Achyranthes aspera Linn

FAMILY

Amaranthaceae

NOMENCLATURE

VERNACULAR NAMES
  • Kannada – Uttarani
  • Malayalam – Katalati
  • Tamil – Najurivi
  • Telugu – Apamargam
  • Hindi – Chirchita, Apamarg
  • English – Prickly chaff flower
SANSKRIT SYNONYMS
  • दुर्ग्रह (Durgraha)  – Difficult to touch due to thorns
  • अधः शल्य  (Adhahashalya) – The thorns are directed downwards.
  • खरमञ्जरी (Kharamanjari) – A tough and long inflorescence
  • प्रत्यक्पुष्प (Pratyakpushpi) – The flowers have an upward direction
  • क्षवक (Kshavaka) – Used as Nasya to treat diseases
  • किणिही (Kinihi) – A sour tasting fruit
  • मयूरक (Mayuraka) – The inflorecence and the flowers are strong and grows above the level of the plant.
PLANT IMAGE
Apamarga
Click image to enlarge
SAMHITA CLASSIFICATION
  • Charaka Samhita – शिरोविरेचन (Shirovirechana), क्रिमिघ्न (Krimighna) & वमनोपग (Vamanopaga).
  • Sushruta Samhita – अरकादि (Arkadi)
NIGHANTU CLASSIFICATION
  • Dhanvantari Nighantu – Guduchyadi and Kshrashtaka Varga
  • Bhavaprakasha Nighantu – Guduchyadi Varga
  • Raja Nighantu – Shatahvadi Varga
  • Kaiyadeva Nighantu – Aushadhi Varga
BRIEF MORPHOLOGY

The plant is variable based on habitat. The general features are; An erect stiff perennial herbs which grows upto 6 feet height and is with a woody base. The stem is often tinged with red or purple. The leaves are simple, rounded, acuminate tip, glabrous or pubescent dark green above and paler below. Inflorescence is spike with hairy rachis with greenish white flowers tinged with purple red. The length of the spike may be upto 75cms. As the flowers age they bend and become pressed to the spike. The fruits are capsule, small, one seeded, reddish purple or straw coloured with pointed tips.

PHARMACOGNOSY OF OFFICIAL PART
MACROSCOPY

YET TO BE COMPILED

MICROSCOPY

YET TO BE COMPILED

PART USED AND POSOLOGY
PART USED
पञ्चाङ्ग (Whole plant), पत्र (Leaves), तण्डुल (Spikes), मूल (Roots) and बीज (Seeds)
DOSE

स्वरस (Fresh Juice) – 5 to 10ml gms क्वाथ (Decoction) – 10-15ml, बीज चूर्ण (Powder) – 1 to 3 gms, भस्म (Ash) – 1 to 2 to 16grains.

PHYTOCHEMISTRY

The plant contains number of phytochemicals that are useful in treat medicinal conditions. They include major compounds like fatty acids, triterpenoids, alkaloids, ketones, D-glucuronic, Betaine, Achyranthine and amino acids. The plant especially the seeds have high amount of potash in them. 

रसपञ्चक कर्म PROPERTIES AND USES AS PER AYURVEDA
गुण (Properties)
  • रस (Rasa) – कटु (Katu), तिक्त (Tikta)
  • गुण (Guna) – लघु (Laghu), रूक्ष (Ruksha), तीक्ष्ण (Teekshna)
  • वीर्य (Veerya) – उष्ण (Ushna)
  • विपाक (Vipaka) – कटु (Katu)
  • प्रभाव – None
कर्म & प्रयोग (Action & Indications)
  • दोषकर्म (Doshakarma) – कफवातशामक (Kaphavatashamaka) कफपित्तशामक (Kaphapittashamaka)
  • धातुकर्म & मलकर्म (Dhatukarma and Malakarma)  – Main actions – दीपन, पाचन, रोचन, मेदोहर (Deepana, Pachana, Rochana, Medohara
  • Other Actions – रक्तप्रसादन, हृद्य, रक्तशोधक, मूत्रल, व्रणशोधन, विषघ्न, शिरोविरेचक, अर्शोघ्न (Raktaprasadana, Hridya, Raktashodhaka, Vishaghna, Shirovirechaka, Arshoghna)
  • प्रयोग (Prayoga)  – Mainly वमी, शूल, हक्क, अर्श, कण्डु, उदर, अपची, हृद्रुज (Vami, Shula, Hikka, Arsha, Kandu, Udara, Apachi, Hridruja) also useful in  कर्णरोग, अरुची, क्रिमि, शोथ, अश्मरी, शिरोरोग, दद्रु, दौर्बल्य etc (Karnaroga, Aruchi, Krimi, Shotha, Ashmari, Shiroroga, Dadru, Daurbalya, etc)
AYURVEDIC FORMULATIONS
CLASSICAL
  1. अपमार्ग क्षार तैल
  2. अपमार्ग क्षार
PROPRIETARY
  1. Amla caplets
  2. Amla Juice
  3. Herbal Max amla extract Capsule
  4. Diabex
AGRONOMY
ENVIRONMENT

The plant generally grows as a weed. It flowers all the year when there is sufficient water supply. It grows like an annual generally but under protected conditions it grows like a perennial. It grows in any soil in the Tropical and Subtropical regions.

CULTIVATION

The propagation of the plant is through seeds. Generally as a weed, the germination occurs in June. But is also cultivated as a food crop in China. The germination of seed is not dependent on light, shade or dark conditions and is cultivated in slightly acid and sandy soils. The seeds sown are around 12 to 16 Kg per Acre. The best sowing time is March and August with seeds has to be kept immersed in water for 24 hours before sowing it.

HARVESTING

The plant usually flowers during the month September and October and the fruiting time is October to January. An average of 3000 to 9500 seeds are produced in 1 plant. If the harvest is for the plant, the best time is summer season while for the roots it is best during the end of rainy or just before the start of winter season. The best time of the day to harvest is noon. 

STORAGE

On harvesting, the plant is dried in shady places. Care should be taken not to break the plant during harvest and drying. On drying it is kept in closed airtight jars away from light and preferably at -80 deg. C. 

VARIETIES AND SUBSTITUTES OR ADULTERANTS
VARIETIES

General classification it is of two types based on the colour of the stem namely

  1. रक्त (Red)
  2. श्वेत (White)
ADULTERANTS

NO KNOWN ADULTERANTS

SUBSTITUTES

Other species namely Achyranthes bidentata or Achyranthes porphyistachys and Achyranthes argentea are also being considered as the substitutes to the main species. In China roots of Cyathula prostrata (L) Blume is also used as a substitute.

TOXICITY
TOXIC SYMPTOMS
  • As such there is no proved toxicity of the plant.
ANTIDOTE
  • Not Applicable as such. 
शोधन or PURIFICATION METHOD
  • NOT NECESSARY
THERAPEUTIC USES

EXTERNAL USES –

The paste of fresh leaves is applies over insect bites. Paste of whole plant is useful as an application over the scorpion bites, insect bites as well as in snake bites. The fresh leaves are crushed and applied over the inflammatory lesions. The juice extracted from fresh leaves are applied over the wounds to heal. Fine powders are blown into the nostrils through a tube [Pradhamana Nasya] to reduce heaviness of head. The kshara or Alkali extract of the plant is used as an application while treating Fistula. 

INTERNAL USES – 

The pills made from the flowering spikes and sugar is useful in the treatment of Alarka Visha or Rabies disease. The juice of leaves is useful in the treatment of dysentery and diarrhoea by giving it internally. Large doses of leaf juice will fasten the labour pains or may also cause abortion. The ash powder is mixed with honey is when given internally is helpful in the treatment of cough, asthma and other similar diseases. The root powder extract is applied over the affected tooth to treat toothache. In China the dried or fresh roots are stir-fried in rice, wine or used as fresh one itself. The leaves are used as food equal to Spinach along with the main food in Tanzania.

CONTROVERSY (IF PRESENT)

YET TO BE COMPILED

LIST OF RESEARCH STUDIES
  1. Praveen Kumar Srivastava. Achyranthes aspera: A potent immunostimulating plant for traditional medicine. International Journal of Pharmaceutical Sciences and Research. 2014;5(5):1601-1611. Published 2014 May 14. 
  2. Jadav HR, Galib R, Prajapati PK. Pharmaceutical standardization of Apamarga kshara. J Ayurveda Integr Med. 2015;6(4):290-294. doi:10.4103/0975-9476.172387
  3. Sanger, *Rupesh K., Singh, D., Kumar Gakkhar, A., & Chaubey, S. (2016). REVIEW OF APAMARGA (ACHYRANTHES ASPERA LINN.) IN VEDIC VAANGMAYA & SAMHITA GRANTHS. International Journal of Ayurveda and Pharma Research4(7). Retrieved from https://ijapr.in/index.php/ijapr/article/view/383
  4. Rehman R, Melki D, Shehzad A, Nadeem F, Khalid T. Commercial Importance, Medicinal Value and Therapeutic Potentials of Chaff Flower (Achyranthes aspera)–A Review. International Journal of Chemical and Biochemical Sciences 2018;14: 62-70. 
  5. Raymakers, J. & Schmelzer, G.H., 2001. Achyranthes L.. In: van Valkenburg, J.L.C.H. and Bunyapraphatsara, N. (Editors): Plant Resources of South-East Asia No 12(2): Medicinal and poisonous plants 2. PROSEA Foundation, Bogor, Indonesia. Database record: prota4u.org/prosea

The video on APAMARGA emphasises on the various aspects of the plant especially with respect to its cultivation and its characteristics for identification such that they are preserved for the future generations. 

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