Phytopharmacology of Bhringaraaja (Eclipta alba)


Phytopharmacology of

Bhringraj/Shweta-Bhringraj/(Eclipta alba)

Introduction

Since the time of Ayurveda till today Bhringraj (Eclipta alba) is a top-notch herb used in hair care industry. Bhringraj (Eclipta alba) is a widely celebrated medicinal plant, especially in India, used singly or in combination with other herbs such as aamalaa, shikaakai for making a vast range of hair care, hair rinse and conditioner products. Bhringraj (Eclipta alba) oil when massaged on to the scalp; imparts a calming effect and promotes a good sleep. [1]

Descriptions of the medicinal properties of the herb by Arab writers are similar to those described by their Indian counterparts. According to J.J. Wood, in hepatic derangements Eclipta prostrata is of greater service than Taraxacum. [2], [3]

The Sanskrit word Bhringraj (Eclipta alba) literally means that which imparts hair the splendid color like that of a humming bee. It has numerous epithets describing its properties of promoting the growth of hair, preventing balding and premature graying and making them black and lustrous.  Kesharaaja, literally means king of the hair or king for hair care, ruler of the hair, unravels its inbuilt qualities regarding the health of the hair, Markava that which prevents premature graying and Keshranjanaa that which imparts beautiful tinge to hair.

According to Waagbhata, a person who consumes a fresh juice of Bhringraj (Eclipta alba) daily for a month and stays on a diet predominantly of milk, is rejuvenated and lives a strong, healthy and happy life of 100 years. [4], [5]

The name of the genus Eclipta (Ek-lip-tuh --) is derived from Greek ‘ekleipo’ meaning ‘deficient’ referring to the absence of calyx; referring to the absence of a pappus (a modified calyx) [6], [7]

Though it is not described by Brihat-trayee in ganas (groups) and wargas (class), in therapeutics it is an important herb. Charaka recommended it for raktapitta. In Raja-Nighantu the blue Bhringraj (Eclipta alba) is extolled to be the best (? One of the best) rasaayana (rejuvenator)

In modern times its hepatoprotective role is well documented.[8]


Other Names

Latin Name : Eclipta alba L,Hassk; Eclipta prostrata L,Eclipta erecta, Verbesina alba, Verbesina prostrata
Sanskrit : Kesharanjanaa, Tekaraaja, Bhringa, Maarkawa, Bhringaja
Assamese : Bhringraj (Eclipta alba), Kehraaj      
Bengali : Bheemaraaja, Kesuriyaa, Kesaree
Gujrati : Bhaangaro, Bhangro  
Hindi :  Bhaangaraa, Bhaangraiyaa
Kannada :  Garujalu, Gurugada, Soppu, Keshawardhanaa (Keshawardhana), Kodigaraju
Malayalam : Kayyonni,  
Marathi : Bhaangaraa, Bhringraj (Eclipta alba), Maakaa
Punjabi : Bhaangaraa
Tamil :  Karisalankanni, Karisalai              
Telugu : Guntakalagara, Guntagalagara  
Urdu : Bhaangaraa  

AKA False Daisy, Yerba de tago, Babri [9]

Taxonomic classification

Kingdom: Plantae
Unranked:  Angiosperm
Unranked:  Eudicots
Unranked:  Asterids
Division:     Magnoliophyta
Class:         Magnoliopsida
Order:        Asterales
Family:      Asteraceae  [10]

Geographical distribution
Although the plant adapts easily to the changing environmental conditions, it prefers clayey soil with plenty of moisture. The seeds require good light and temperatures of 100-350 C to germinate. Germination increases with increasing moisture content in the soil. [11]


Bhringraj (Eclipta alba) is a creeper growing commonly in moist places. It grows as a common weed on the hills and up to the height of 6,000 ft in the Himalayas. Though the plant is widely distributed throughout India, it is more common in areas of upper Gangetic plains, in pasture lands, along roadsides in Chhota Nagpur, all districts of Bihar and Orissa, Punjab, Western India and South India. It is found in China, Thailand, Brazil  and Southwestern America. Now it is cultivated all over the world. [12]


Plant Morphology

Macroscopic Characteristics 

Plant

 



Bhringraj (Eclipta alba) is a moisture-loving creeper. It is an annual, erect or prostrate, much branched, entirely pubescent (covered with hairs), rooting at the nodes. It grows 3 feet tall. The plant flowers in September and fruits in November

According to the colors of the flowers the herb bears; in Ayurveda three varieties of Bhringraj (Eclipta alba) are described:
1.  White (Eclipta alba
2.  Yellow (Widelia calendulacea)
3.   Neela Bhringraj, Neeli Bhringraj  (Indigofera tinctoria) [14]

Probably this is why there are many taxonomic names. In this article the author lays stress on E. alba. In fact Eclipta alba L. and Eclipta prostrata L. are synonyms. In their research works some scholars preferred E. prostrata to E. alba. I have not altered their terminology but honored it.

Although the names Eclipta alba and Eclipta prostrata are used as synonyms by Rechinger (1977) they are two different species.

Among North Indian populations, three morphotypes of Eclipta alba are identified i. e. erect, semi-erect and prostrate. The erect plants are tall and upright while the prostrate variety has all creeping branches. The semi-erect variety has lower parts of branches creeping and tips are ascending. [15]


Roots



Roots of the plant are well developed, cylindrical and grayish in color. A number of secondary branches arise from main root.




Stem 

Stem is short, up to about 7 mm in diameter, flat, round or cylindrical, grayish or brown in color, rough due to hairy branches, node distinct.  

Leaves




Leaves are opposite, sessile, usually oblong and lance shaped, 2.5 to 8.5  cm long, 1.2 to 2.3 cm wide, blackish green in color with white appressed (lying flat or pressed closely against something as hairs on certain plant stems) hairs on both sides and serrated edges. 


Flower




Flower solitary or 2, together on unequal axillary peduncles; involucral bracts (inflorescence in a specialized leaf), about 8, ovate, obtuse or acute, herbaceous, strigose (having short, stiff, appressed hair); white disc flowers tubular, corolla often 4 toothed; stamen 5, filaments epipetalous, free, anthers united into a tube; ovary inferior, unilocular with one basal ovule. In Indian conditions the flowering time is from October to December. 

Fruit



Fruit is achene (a type of simple dry fruit) compressed, narrowly winged and 6-8 mm in diameter, having one black colored seed.


Seed



Seed 0.2 to 0.25 cm long, 0.1 cm wide, dark brown or black in color, resembling cumin seeds, cuneate (wedge shaped) with a narrow wing, hairy and non endospermic. [16], [17]

Microscopic Characteristics

Root- Mature root show poorly developed cork, consisting of 3-5 rows of thin-walled, tangentially elongated cells; secondary cortex consists of outer one or two rows of tangentially elongated or rounded cells with air cavities, inner secondary cortex of tangentially elongated or irregular shaped, parenchymatous cells with conspicuous air cavities; stone cells found scattered in secondary cortex and cork, in singles or in groups of various shape and  size; pericyclic fibers in tangentially arranged bands of many cells or in singles; secondary phloem consists of sieve elements including phloem fibers traversed by multiseriate phloem rays; phloem rays broader towards periphery, consisting of rounded cells; xylem composed of vessels, fiber tracheids, fibers and xylem parenchyma, traversed by xylem rays; vessels numerous, found scattered throughout wood, in macerated preparation vessels small, drum-shaped, cylindrical elongated with pitted walls and perforations, simple, rarely slightly oblique; fiber tracheids, pitted, with very pointed tips, xylem fibers long with pointed tapering ends and short lumen, a few fibers show peg-like outgrowths towards the tapering ends; xylem parenchyma sparse usually squarish to rectangular having simple pits on their walls, xylem ray distinct, run straight in tangential section, generally 5-32 cells in height and 3-5 cells in width although very rarely uniseriate and biseriate rays also found, ray cells pitted.  
 Stem- Mature stem shows single layered epidermis, externally covered with cuticle, a few epidermal cells elongate to form characteristic non-glandular trichomes, the cork where formed, poorly developed consisting of  rectangular cells; secondary cortex consists of large, rounded or irregular shaped parenchymatous cells having wide air spaces; endodermis single layered consists of tangentially cells; pericyclic fibers distinct, arranged in tangential strands; vascular bundles in a ring, collateral, endarch (xylem whose early development is towards the center), of varying sizes traversed by medullary rays; phloem a narrow strip composed of sieve elements and phloem parenchyma; xylem consists of large number of vessels, xylem fibers and xylem parenchyma; xylem vessels appear evenly distributed throughout the xylem; in macerated preparation vessels barrel-shaped, some elongated with simple perforations, pitted with spiral thickening; xylem fibers with wide lumen, pointed tips and pitted walls, a few often bifurcate and a few other large, peg-like outgrowth; xylem parenchyma rectangular with pitted thickening; xylem rays trirseriate to pentaseriate, normally biseriate and uniseriate, 8-15 cells in height and 3-5 cells in width; centre occupied by a wide pith consisting of isodiametric cells of parenchyma.

Leaf- Petiole- shows single layered upper and lower epidermis consisting of tubular cells, covered with striated cuticle; trichomes of two types, non-glandular, uniseriate, 1-5 celled, warty, and with pointed apical cell; epidermis followed by wide cortex, consisting of 2-5 layered collenchymas on both, upper arid lower side with distinct angular thickening; parenchyma 4-6 layered on upper side and 5-8 layered on lower side consisting of isodiametric, thin-walled cells with intercellular spaces; five vascular bundles central one largest while four others small flanking to either side of central bundle, consists of xylem on dorsal side and phloem on ventral side; xylem vessels arranged in radial rows traversed by xylem rays. 

Midrib- cut at basal region shows both upper and lower single layered epidermis, externally covered with cuticle, a few epidermal cells elongate outwards to form uniseriate hairs; epidermis followed by cortex, consisting of 3-5 layered 22 collenchymatous cells on both sides; section cut at middle region shows 3-4 layered collenchymatous cells on dorsal and 1-3 layered on ventral side, while the section cut at apical region, shows 2 layered collenchymatous cells on both sides, transverse section cut at a basal, middle and apical regions shows 4-6 layered parenchymatous cells on dorsal side and 6-9 layered parenchyma on ventral side, in section cut at basal region 4-6 layered parenchyma on both the sides in the middle region with thin-walled cells and intercellular spaces, 2-3 layered parenchymatous cells on both side in the apical region; section in the basal region shows vascular bundle similar to that of petiole while in the section cut at middle and apical region shows 4 smaller bundles shifting towards lamina.
Lamina- shows a dorsi-ventral structure, epidermis single layered, externally covered with cuticle, followed by single layered palisade parenchyma containing chlorophyll contents; spongy parenchyma irregularly arranged with distinct intercellular spaces and filled with chlorophyll contents; mesophyll traversed by number of veins; anisocytic (of unequal size) and anomocytic stomata ( irregular cell type stomata) present on both surface, more abundant on lower surfaces; stromal index 20.0- 22.5 on upper and 23.5-26.0 on lower surface; palisade ratio 3.8-4.5; hairs stiff, pointed, wide at the base, about 3 celled, uniseriate, middle cells longest, uppermost generally not exceeding the basal cell length, septa thick-walled.

Powder- dark green; shows vessels in large groups or single broken pieces with pitted walls, numerous fibers entire or in pieces, trichomes entire or in pieces, warty, a few attached with epidermal or subsidiary cells, aniscytic or anomocytic stomata. [18]

 Parts Used 
Leaves, roots, seeds and entire plant                  

Phytochemistry

The plant extract is resinous in nature and contains the alkaloid ecliptine. The herb is a rich source of ascorbic acid and thiophene derivatives.
The chief constituents of the herb are coumestan derivatives such as wedelolactone, demethylwedelolactone and desmethyl-wedelolactone-7glucoside. Wedelolactone is classified as a coumestan. Coumestan is a derivative of coumarin. Because of the estrogenic and steroid-like activity of some coumestans, a variety of synthetic coumestans have been developed so as to explore their pharmacological effects.

The other constituents are ecliptal, α and ß-amyrin, luteolin-7-O-glucoside, apigenin, wedelic acid, hentriacontanol, heptacosanol, stigmasterol, polypeptides, polyacetylenes, thiophene-derivatives, steroids, triterpenes and flavonoids, alkaloid ecliptine and nicotine.

The occurrence of mono-, di- and tri- thiophene acetylenes together with a-terthenyl in some species is noteworthy.


The chemical constituents of various parts of the plant

Roots
Thiophene acetylenes, Hentriacontanol, Heptacosanol, Stigmasterol, Ecliptal, Eclalbatin  
       
Stems
Wedelolactone


Leaves
Rich in protein, Wedelolactone, Desmethylwedelolactone,  Desmethyl-wedelolactone-7-glucoside, Stigmasterol

Seed
Sterols, Ecliptalbine

Aerial parts
P-amyrin & Luteolin-7-O-glucoside, Wedelolactone, Apigenin, Cinnaroside, Sulphur compounds, Eclalbasaponins I-VI, Trithienyl aldehyde, Ecliptal, Stigmasterol, ß-Sitosterol, and Volatile Oils.

Whole plant
Resin, Ecliptine, Reducing sugar, Nicotine, Nicotinic acid, Stigmasterol, Triterpene saponin, Eclalbatin, Ursolic acid, Oleanolic acid.     



Recently isolated chemicals:
   
The polypeptides isolated from the plant yield cystine, glutamic acid, phenylalanine, tyrosine and methionine on hydrolysis.

From the dried whole plant, in 1994, Yahara et al, isolated new oleanane tritriterpene glycosides named Eclalbasaponins I-IV; in 1997 they isolated new taraxastane triterpene glycisides named Eclalbasaponins VII-X. In 2001Zao et al isolated triterpenoid saponins named Eclabasaponins XI and XII and in the same year Upadhyay et al isolated Eclabatin and α-amyrin. [19], [20], [21]



Classification of chemical ingredients

Triterpenes       
Eclabalbatin, Ecliptasaponins A-B-C and D, Eclalbasaponins I-XII, Oleanolic acid, α-amyrin, β-amyrin, Ursolic acid, Wedelic acid.

Coumarins
Wedelolactone, Dimethylwedelolactone 7-glucoside, Nor-wedelolactone, Demethylwedelolactone, Isodemethylwedelolactone
.
Alkaloids
Ecliptine, Nicotine, Steroidal Alkaloids.

Sterols
β- glucoside Daucosterol, Stigmasterol-3-O-glucoside, Stigmasterol, β-sitosterol

Hydrocarbons
Dithienylacetylene ester, Ecliptal, α-terthienyl-methanol, Heptacosanol, Hentriacontanol.

Flavonoids
Apigenin, Leuteolin, leuteolin-7-glucoside

Steroids
Diosgenin, Tigogenin, Lansosterol,

Thiopenes
Polyacetylenic thiopenes

Miscellaneous
Nonacosanol, Stearic acid, Lacceroic acid, α-terthienyl 3,4-dihydroxy benzoic acid.


Triterpenes:  Eclabalbatin, Ecliptasaponins A-B-C and D, Eclalbasaponins I-XII, Oleanolic acid, α-amyrin, β-amyrin, Ursolic acid, Wedelic acid.

Coumarins: Wedelolactone, Dimethylwedelolactone 7-glucoside, Nor-wedelolactone, Demethylwedelolactone, Isodemethylwedelolactone.

Alkaloids: Ecliptine, Nicotine, Steroidal Alkaloids.

Sterols: β- glucoside Daucosterol, Stigmasterol-3-O-glucoside, Stigmasterol, β-sitosterol.

Hydrocarbons: Dithienylacetylene ester, Ecliptal, α-terthienyl-methanol, Heptacosanol, Hentriacontanol.

Flavonoids: Apigenin, Leuteolin, leuteolin-7-glucoside

Steroids: Diosgenin, Tigogenin, Lansosterol,

Thiopenes: Polyacetylenic thiopenes

Miscellaneous: Nonacosanol, Stearic acid, Lacceroic acid, α-terthienyl 3,4-dihydroxy benzoic acid. [22]

Identity, Purity and Strength Tests

Foreign matter: Not more than 2 %
Total ash: Not more than 22 %
Acid-insoluble ash: Not more than 11%
Alcohol-soluble extractive: Not less than 5 %
Water-soluble extractive: Not less than 15 %    [23]


(2) Standards accepted by I.P in 2010

Tests Foreign organic matter: Not more than 2 .0 %.
Ethanol-soluble extractive: Not less than 5.0 %
Water- soluble extractive: Not less than 15.0 %
Total Ash: Not more than 22%.
Acid-insoluble ash: Not more than 11%
Heavy metals: 1.0 g complies with the limit test for heavy metals.
Loss on drying:  Not more than 15.0%, determined on 5 g by drying in an oven at 105º.
Microbial contamination: Complies with the microbial contamination tests.
Assay-- Determine by liquid chromatography [24]

(3) Identity, Purity and strength (as per international guidelines)
Foreign matter: Not more than 2 percent
Total Ash: Not more than 10 percent
Acid-insoluble Ash: Not more than 1.5 percent
Sulfated ash: Not more than 20 percent
Alcohol-soluble extractive: Not more than 4 percent
Water soluble extractive: Not less than 8 percent
Loss on drying: Not more than 14 percent [25], [26]

Heavy Metal Analysis (as per international guidelines)

Element              Permissible Limits

Arsenic:                  Not more than 5 to 10 mg/kg
Cadmium:              Not more than 0.03mg/kg    
Lead:                      Not more than 5 to 10 mg/kg                   
Mercury:                Not more than 0.5 mg/kg
Chromium:            Not more than 0.3 mg/kg       [27], [28]

Permissible Microbial Load (as per international guidelines)
Microbial Limits:
Total bacterial count:                                   Not more than 105cfu/g
Total yeast and mould count:                      Not more than 104cfu/g
Bile tolerant gram negative bacteria:           Not more than 104cfu/g  [29], [30]

Specific Pathogens: (as per international guidelines)
Salmonella species:                Absent in 25 g /none
Escherichia coli:                     Absent in 1g / maximum 102 to 104 per gram 
Staphylococcus aureus:         Absent in 1g          
Pseudomonas aeruginosa:     Absent in 1g
Shigella species:                                      
Enterobacter species:            maximum 104 per gram 
Other enterobacteria:            maximum 103 per gram
Aerobic bacteria:                  maximum 105 to 107 per gram  
Mould propagules:               maximum 103 to 105 per gram    
Yeasts and Mould:               maximum 103 to 104 per gram       [31], [32]

 Aflatoxins (as per international guidelines)

Aflatoxin B1, Aflatoxin B2, Aflatoxin G1, Aflatoxin G2                

Preferably Aflatoxins should be below detectable limits (BLD) [33], [34]


Pesticide residues (as per international guidelines)
In recent times various pesticides are used to protect and preserve the food and medicinal values of plants.
To avoid toxicity of herbal medicine, International Society for Standardization of Drugs and World Health Organization (WHO) have laid the guidelines for permissible levels of pesticides in herbal medicines.
In general, the pesticide contamination in any herbal medicine should be less than 1 percent of total intake from all sources, including food and drinking water.
Aldrin and dieldrin are broad spectrum pesticides commonly used in agriculture. The recommended maximum limit of these pesticides is Not more than 0.05 mg/kg. [35], [36]
Radioactive residues (as per international guidelines)
A certain amount of exposure to ionizing radiation of plants cannot be avoided since there are many sources, including radionuclides occurring naturally in the ground and the atmosphere.
The World Health Organization (WHO), in close collaboration with several international organizations, has developed guidelines for permissible and acceptable limits for radioactive residues in herbal medicines.
The amount of radiation in plants depends on intake of radionuclides. Significant risk is associated only with consumption of quantities over 20 kg of plant material per year so that the risk to health is most unlikely to be encountered given the amount of medicinal plant materials need to be ingested. Additionally, the level of contamination might be reduced during the manufacturing process. Therefore World Health Organization (WHO) has not proposed strict limits regarding the acceptability for radioactive contamination. [37]
TLC Pattern
Petroleum ether extract:  Solvant system: Tolune: Acetone: Formic Acid (9:6:1) Rf value (Rf x 100) yellow (70), Spraying system: Iodine vapour: Yellow Rf value 90
Acetone extract: Solvent system: Tolune: Acetone: Formic Acid (9:6:1), Rf value (Rf x 100) 68( Light brown), 58 (Violet), 42 (Brown), Spraying system: Iodine vapour: Rf value (Rf x 100) 68( Light brown), 58 (Violet), 42 (Brown)
Alcoholic extract: Solvent system: Tolune: Acetone: Formic Acid (9:6:1), Rf value (Rf x 100) 35(Light brown), 60 (Violet), 90 (Brown), Spraying system: Iodine vapour: Rf value (Rf x 100) 35(Light brown), 60 (Violet), 90 (Brown)
Methanolic extract: Solvent system: Tolune: Acetone: Formic Acid (9:6:1), Rf value (Rf x 100) 10, (Green), 15 (Green), 20 (Green), 60 (Green), 90 (Green), Spraying system: Day light: Rf value (Rf x 100) 10(Green), 20 (Green), 60 (Green), 90 (Green) [38]

Cytological Identity

32 Chromosome counts in Eclipta alba (L) Hassk [39]

Genetic study

Recently Yadav et al have developed RAPD-based SCAR markers to identify accurately the species: Eclipta alba [40]
                                
With the help of molecular techniques like Random Amplified Polymorphic DNA (RAPD), Amplified Fragment Length Polymorphic DNA (AFLP), Restricted Length Polymorphic DNA (RFLP) and Inter Simple Sequence Repeat (ISSR) etc the identification of plant species has now become very accurate. [41]

TLC identification

Botanists have done High Performance Thin Layer chromatographic identification of E. alba. [42] 


Properties and Pharmacology

Ayurvedic properties

Ganas (Classical Categories) and Wargas


Charak Ganas

                      None

 

Sushruta Ganas

                      None


Dhanvantari Nighantu

Karaweeraadi Warg


Shodala Nighantu

Karaweeraadi Warg


Bhaawaprakaash Nighantu

Guduchyaadi Warg


Raaja Nighantu

Moolakaadi Warg


Shaaligraama Nighantu

Guduchyaadi Warg


Aadarsha Nighantu

Sahadewyaadi Warg

 

Charaka Ganas: None
Dhanvantari Nighantu: Karaweeraadi Warga
Shodala Nighantu: Karaweeraadi Warga
Bhaawaprakaasha Nighantu: Guduchyaadi Warga
Raja Nighantu: Moolakaadi Warga         
Shaaligraama Nighantu: Guduchyaadi Warga
Aadarsha Nighantu: Sahadewyaadi Warga               [43]

  

Energetics


 

Rasa (Taste)

Katu (Acrid, Spicy, Pungent, Piquant)


Virya (Energy State)

Ushna (Hot)


Wipaaka

Katu (acrid, Spicy, Pungent)


Praabhaav

None




Rasa (Taste): Katu (Acrid, Spicy, Pungent, Piquant), Tikta (Bitter)

Weerya/Virya: (Energy State): Ushna (hot)

Wipaaka (End result, Post digestive effect): Katu (Acrid, Spicy, Pungent)

Prabhaawa: (Special quality): None

Gunas (Qualities): Rooksha (Dry), Laghu (Light), Teekshna (Penetrating)

Effects on Doshas:  Kapha- Waata shaamaka

 

Actions on Dhatus and Srotasas

 

Actions on Dhaatus

Rasa (Lymph), Rakta (Blood), Asthi (Bone), Majjaa (Bone marrow), Shukra (Semen)

 

Actions on Srotasas (Systems)

Rasawaha (Lymphatic System), Raktawaha (Hematopoetic System), Annawaha (GI

System), Majjaawaha (Bone marrow), Mootrawaha (Urinary System), Shukrawaha (Male Reproductive System) 

 

 

Actions on Dhaatus (Tissues): Rasa (Lymph), Rakta (Blood), Asthi (Bones), Majjaa (Bone marrow), Shukra (Semen)

 

Actions on Srotas (Systems): Rasawaha (Lymphatic System), Raktawaha (Hematopoetic System), Annawaha (GI System), Majjaawaha (Bone marrow), Mootrawaha (Urinary System), Shukrawaha (Male Reproductive System)


                                    
                                       Ayurvedic Actions                       
                           
Aamahara  
Eradicates free radicles
Balya
Imparting Strength
Chakshushya
Beneficial to eyes
Deepana
Appetizer
Dantya
Beneficial to teeth
Kaphahara/Kaphashaamaka
Expectorant, Reduces phlegm
Keshya
Beneficial for hair
Kushthaghna
Anti-leprotic
Medhya
Nootropic, Memory and intelligence enhancer
Paachana
Digestive or Digestant
Rasaayana
Rejuvenator or Adaptogen
Twachya
Beneficial to skin
Waataanulomana
Carminative, Prokinetic
Yakriduttejaka
Stimulates Liver functions

Aamhara: Eradicates free radicals  
Balya: Imparting strength
Chakshushya: Beneficial to eyes
Deepana: Appetizer                                        
Dantya: Beneficial to teeth
Kaphahara/ Kaphashaamaka: Expectorant, Reduces phlegm
Keshya: Benificial for hair
Kushthaghna: Antileprotic
Medhya/Medhawardhak: Nootropic (Promotes intelligence)
Paachana: Digestive (Digestant)
Rasaayana: Rejuvenator, Adaptogen
Twachya: Beneficial to the skin
Waataanulomana: Prokinetic, Carminative
Yakriduttejaka: Stimulates the functions of the liver [44], [45]

Deepana
Appetizer
Paachana
Digestive
Dantya
Beneficial for teeth
Keshya
Beneficial for hair
Kushtaghna
Allays skin disorders
Medhya
Beneficial for intellectual functions
Pandughna
Anti-anemic
Raktaprasaadaka
Improves the quality of blood
Rasaayana
Rejuvenator
Twachya
Beneficial for skin
Yakritottejaka
Stimulates liver functions

Deepana: Appetizer
Paachana: Digestive
Dantya: Beneficial for teeth
Keshya: Beneficial for hair
Kushtaghna: Allays skin disorders
Medhya: Beneficial for intellectual function
Pandughna: Anti-anemic
Raktaprasaadaka: Improves the quality of blood
Rasaayana: Rejuvenator
Twachya: Beneficial for skin
Yakritottejaka: Stimulates liver function  [46]


Akshirogahrit
Allays ophthalmic disorders
Kaasahara
Antitussive (Fresh juice is antitussive)
Shwaasahara
Antiasthmatic
Krimihara
Anthelmintic
Shophahara
Antiinflammatory
Shiro-aartinut
Relieves headache
Wishghna
Antidote for toxins and poison

Akshirogahrit: Allays ophthalmic disorders
Kaasahara: Antitussive (Fresh juice is antitussive)
Shwaasahara: Antiasthmatic
Krimihara: Anthelmintic
Shophahara: Antiinflammatory
Shiro-aartinut: Relieves headache
Wishghna: Antidote for toxins and poisons [47]

In Ayurveda Bhringraj (Eclipta alba) is said to be astringent and styptic, benevolent to body tissues, blood, alterative, antipyretic, cholagogue, hepatoprotective, laxative, nervine tonic, adaptogenic, and vulnerary.

Modern View     

According to modern science it has anti-inflammatory, analgesic, antioxidant, antibacterial, antiviral, antileprotic, anthelmintic (ovicidal), antimyotoxic, styptic, hepatoprotective, spasmogenic, hypotensive and anticancer properties.

E. alba plant is a rich source of thiophene derivatives which are active against nematodes. Its roots are emetic and purgative.

The herb is cardio-depressant when used for hepatic congestion. It gives symptomatic relief in gastralgia, nausea and vomiting in patients suffering from acid peptic disease

Coumestans possess estrogenic activity [48], [49]

Wedelolactone

Molecular formula: C16H10O7

Structural formula: 






  [50]


Wedelolactone (WDL) belongs to the flavonoids category of phytoestrogens. It was originally extracted from Eclipta alba (Eclipta prostrata). Later extracted from Wedelia chinensi, is a major coumestan ingredient of the herb.

In one study wedelolactone has been shown to inhibit caspase-11 which is a key regulator of proinflammatory cytokine IL-1Beta maturation and pathological apoptosis. It also inhibits IKKy, a kinase that activates NF-kB. Wedelolactone showed antihepato-toxic activity protecting cultured liver cells from the toxicity of CCl4, Phalloidin and Galactosamine. Wedelolactone inhibits 5-LO (lipoxygenase) activity in porcine leucocytosis.  [51]


Previous findings that wedelolactone inhibited IKK activity and caspase-11 expression which resulted in the activation of NF-kB pathway suggested that wedelolactone could be a potential lead compound in anti-inflammatory therapy. However according to some experts the mechanism of anti-inflammatory activity of wedelolactone is unclear

Previous studies have shown that wedelolactone has antihepatotoxic, antiandrogenic and anti- human immunodeficiency activities. In China it has been in vogue to treat septic shock, viral hepatitis and venom poisoning. [52]

Wedelolactone is a potent and selective inhibitor of 5-lipoxygenase an inflammatory chemical, via extremely aggressive oxygen free radical scavenging.

Wedelolactone and demethylwedelolactone exhibit hepatoprotective activity in carbontetrachloride, galactosamine and phalloidin induced liver damage. 

Saxena AK et al reported hepatoprotective effect of ethanol/water (1:1) extract of Eclipta alba (part of the plant used is not mentioned) against carbontetrachloride-induced hepatotoxicity. The extract significantly restored alkaline phosphatase levels. [53]

In Punjab and Gujarat, India Bhringraj (Eclipta alba) has been used externally as antiseptic to treat infected wounds and ulcers in cattle and to treat many microbial infections in rural areas of India. The results of recent studies revealed that wedelolactone may be the main constituent in Bhringraj  (Eclipta alba) responsible for antimicrobial activity of the herb. Studies have also shown that wedelolactone has anti-bacterial, anti-viral and anti-fungal activity. Wedelolactone showed antibacterial activity against S. typhimurium, S. epidermidis, B. subtilis and E. coli. [54]


Wedelolactone induces capsase-dependent apoptosis in prostate cancer cells. [55]

The coumestan wedelolactone inhibits lipopolysachharide-induced proinflammation via NF-kappa B pathway. This anti inflammatory activity of wedelolactone is useful for the treatment of NAFLD. [56] 


Triterpenes:

Triterpenes are a group of saponin compounds. They found in abundance in various plant species. [57]

Eclipta-saponins show Leishmanicidal activity. [58]

Oleanolic acid

Molecular formula: C30H48O3

Structural formula:


   




Oleanolic acid is a naturally occurring triterpenoid widely distributed in food and medicinal plants. It exhibits antiviral, hepatoprotective and anti tumor properties. [59]

Amyrins
Molecular formula: C30H50O
Structural formula:





                                                                


  α  Amyrin                                         β Amyrin


Amyrins are a pair of closely related triterpenes. They are designated as α Amyrin and β Amyrin. Each has the chemical formula C30H50O. They are isolated from a variety of plant sources. [60]

Amyrins exhibit anti nociceptive property. [61]


In mice 500mg/kg acetaminophen caused fulminant liver damage. Pre-treatment with α and β Amyrins with 50 and 100 mg/kg at 48, 24and 2 hours before acetaminophen, attenuated acute liver injury as was proved by biochemical and histopathological studies. [62]

Animals pre-treated with the oral dose of 50, 100 and 200 mg/kg of α and β Amyrins block histamine and serotonin receptors and relieve itching. In addition α and β Amyrins at the dose of 100mg/kg prevent degranulation of mast cells and are now known as mast cell stabilizers. Amyrins do not show sedative activity. These properties of Amyrins found in Bhringraj (Eclipta alba) (E. alba) can be exploited to treat pruritus associated with jaundice. These actions are due to the stabilizing action of Amyrins on the mast cell membrane. [63]

Ursolic acid
Molecular formula: C30H48O3





Ursolic acid is a pentacyclic triterpenoid. It is present in many medicinal plants such as Bhringraj (E. alba), basils, apples, cranberries etc. In vitro by inhibiting the STAT3 activation pathway and inducing apoptosis, ursolic acid inhibits the proliferation of various cancer cells. Ursolic acid also inhibits JNK expression and IL-2activation of JURKAT leukemic T cells leading to the reduction in proliferation and T cell activation.

Ursolic acid can serve as a starting material for synthesis of more potent bioactive derivatives such as experimental antitumor agents. [64]

Ursolic acid increases the amount of muscle and brown fat and decrease white fat. By increasing Akt activity in skeletal muscle it inhibits muscle atrophy and promotes muscle growth. Consistent with increased skeletal muscle and brown fat, ursolic acid increases energy expenditure, improves glucose tolerance and decreases fatty liver disease. Thus it is useful in the treatment of obesity. [65]

To take the advantage of these activities Korean sport scientists advise the athletes to consume 450mg of ursolic acid every day. The study of the use of ursolic acid by athletes is recorded in the Korean Journal of Physiology and Pharmacology. [66]

In experimental studies ursolic acid has been shown to target cell cycle proteins, growth factors, kinases, cytokines, chemokines, adhesion molecules and inflammatory enzymes. These targets can potentially mediate the chemopreventive and therapeutic effects. [67]

By inducing cell cycle arrest and apoptosis ursolic acid exhibits anticancer effects in various human cancer cell lines in vitro, especially in gall bladder cancer. [68]

Sterols:
β- glucoside Daucosterol

Molecular formula: C35H60O6

Structural formula: 


     [69]


  β- glucoside Daucosterol is immunomodulator. [70]


Sigmasterol

Molecular formula: C29H48O






Sigmasterol is also known as Wulzen anti-stiffness factor. It plays an important role in the tissue rebuilding mechanisms. It acts as an intermediate in the biosynthesis of androgens. It is also used as the precursor of Vitamin D3. It is also most commonly abused as anabolic steroid in sports. [71]


Some testimonials from modern research

Antioxidant activity

When fed at 50mg/kg and 100mg/kg orally to Charles River Sprague-Dawley CD rats, Eclipta prostrata showed a significant free radical scavenging antioxidant activity.  [72]

Anti-inflammatory activity

Methanol extract of E. alba (Linn.) administered orally at 100mg/kg and 200mg/kg doses to albino Wistar rats showed a significant anti-inflammatory activity in carrageenin and egg white induced hind paw edema. [73], [74]

Immunomodulatory activity

Methanol extract of E. alba (1.6% wedelolactone) at doses of 100 to 500 mg/kg significantly increased phagocytic index and antibody titer. The aqueous extract of E. alba at 0.01or 0.1 % was fed as a diet to fish for 3 weeks. The results showed that nonspecific humoral and cellular immunity increased. [75]

 Antimicrobial Activity

The wedelolactone contained in E. alba shows antibacterial action against Staphylococcus aureus, Staphylococcus epidermidis (at concentration of 15.0 μg /ml), Salmonella typhimurium (at the concentration of 25.0 μg /ml) and E. coli. [76], [77], [78] 


Bhringraj (Eclipta alba) strongly inhibits RNA polymerase activity of HCV replicase in vitro. This activity is attributed to wedelolactone, luteolin and apigenin present in E. alba. These compounds exhibit dose dependent inhibition. [79]

Actions on GI System

E. alba significantly reduces the gastric acid secretion, occurrence of gastritis and gastric ulcers and gastric inflammation. Its potency as anti-ulcer agent is comparable to that of various PPIs. [80]

Hepatoprotective Activity

CCl4 inflicts insult on the liver. The parenchyma undergoes fatty degeneration culminating into cirrhosis and death. CCl4 inhibits the hepatic microsomal drug metabolizing enzymes. In experimental animals the ethanol-water (1:1) extract of E. alba (part of the plant used is not mentioned) significantly restored the loss of hepatic lysosomal acid phosphatase and alkaline phosphatase caused by CCl4. [81]

In another study the ethanolic extract of leaves of E. alba and seeds of Piper longum (50mg/kg body weight) was administered orally once a day for fourteen days. All the biochemical markers of the liver function were restored to normal levels. The triterpenoid eclabasaponin fraction contained in the methanolic extract of the leaves restored the liver functions to normal levels. The coumestan fraction and triterpenoidal saponin fraction contained in the chloroform extract of roots very significantly reduced CCL4 induced increase in lysosomal enzyme levels in the blood. [82]

Treatment with 50% ethanol extract of E. alba protected guinea pigs against mortality from CCl4 induced liver damage.     

Histologically to some extent there is reversal of fatty change. The elevated serum transaminases are restored to near normal levels. Hepatoprotective effects of E. alba have also been reported in rabbits.

In yet another laboratory experiment on mice, Tabassum & Agrawal used 50% E. alba extract at doses of 100 and 250 mg/ 100g body weight for prevention and treatment of paracetamol induced liver damage. Histological studies showed marked reduction in hepatocellular necrosis and fatty change in hepatocytes; and reduction in the levels of elevated serum transaminases in those who had liver damage.

The patients of viral hepatitis when treated with E. alba show marked clinical improvement.

The alcoholic extract of E. alba shows antiviral activity against Ranikhet disease virus. [83]
                          
Two studies by Dixit and Achar (1979 and 1981) reported efficacy of E. alba for the treatment of jaundice due to viral hepatitis in adults and in children. [84], [85]    

In my opinion E. alba, Piper longum (Pippalee), Picrorhiza kurroa (Kutakee), Phyllanthus niruri / Phyllanthus amarus (Bhoomyaamalakee, Bhui Aamalaa)  and many other hepatoprotective drugs from plant kingdom should be tried either singly or in combinations in patients with hepatitis B and C infections, alcoholic liver disease, NASH, cirrhosis of the liver etc.

The other species E. prostrata is also hepatoprotectant. In rats the alcoholic extract of aerial parts of this plant (Dose: 62.5 to 500mg/kg) restored the liver functions to normal following CCl4 induced liver injury. When administered orally or intraperitoneally the extract did not show toxicity. In mice the lethal dose was greater than 2g/kg. 

Stigmasterol and alpha-terthenyl are hepatoprotectants.

Researchers from Chandigarh, India have reported Eclipta alba to be effective in converting the HbsAg positive patients to HbsAg negative. [86], 87]

In another Indian study Eclipta alba extract and its isolates; wedelolactone, luteolin and apigenin exhibited anti HCV activity in vitro and in cell culture system. It was further established that the inhibition of HCV replication in cell culture system was via inhibition of HCV replicase activity in the cell. Researchers suggest, standardized extract of Eclipta alba or its isolates can be used as an alternative and/or complimentary treatment against HCV. [88]


Hypolipdimeic effect:

According to Kumari et al, the alcoholic extract of all parts of E. prostrata exhibited a dose-dependent activity in albino rats when compared to standard drugs. The activity was assessed by studying the lipid profiles of serum, liver and heart of the control and drug-treated animals. [89]


Charles River Sprague-Dawley CD rats were fed experimental diets supplemented with 0 mg (control), 25 mg (E25), 50 mg (E50), or 100 mg (E100) of a freezedried butanol fraction of E. prostrata per kilogram of diet for 6 weeks. Serum triacylglyceride and total cholesterol levels were significantly lower in the E50 and E100 groups by 9.8% to 19.0% and by 10.7% to 13.4%, respectively, and low-density lipoprotein–cholesterol levels were significantly reduced in the same groups by 10.3% to 13.0% compared with the untreated control group [90]

Culinary uses
 Not used routinely. In some countries it is included in diet to prevent breast and prostate cancer.

Toxicity

Use of E. alba can cause severe chills in some patients.

The maximum lethal dose was found to be 5000mg/kg bodyweight. [91]


Even after prolonged use E. alba does not show signs of toxicity. The plant extract per se does not have genotoxic potential but can modulate ethenylestradiol induced genotoxicity in cultured human lymphocytes. [92]

Drug Interactions

Not reported

Medicinal Actions and Uses

Traditional Uses

In folk medicine a black dye obtained from E. alba is in vogue for dyeing hair and tattooing. Externally it is used to treat athlete foot, eczema and dermatitis, hair loss and to prevent graying of hair. Its leaves are used to treat scorpion sting. It is used for the treatment of jaundice (infective hepatitis, now viral hepatitis) and ascites (due to cirrhosis of the liver). It is believed by folk to rejuvenate hair, teeth, bone, improve memory, sight and hearing. Thus the herb prevents and retards aging in general.

In Taiwan E. alba is used to arrest bleeding anywhere in the body especially hemoptysis, hematemesis, bleeding piles and hematuria. It is used for diarrhea and infective hepatitis. Externally it is used to allay itching and some skin allergies.

In China E. prostrata is a cooling and restorative herb. It is used for its actions on the mind, nerves, liver, kidney and eyes. 
In China and Brazil it is used to promote hair growth, to improve hair color, and as anti-snake venom medicine. [93]
  
Usages in Ayurveda

In Ayurveda the plant is considered a Rasaayana (Adaptogen) for rejuvenation of hair, teeth, bones, memory, sight, hearing and body systems imparting longevity.

It is used to promote deep sleep.

It is used for the hair care and to improve complexion.

It is used to relieve gastralgia, nausea and vomiting. 
The Roots are used as emetic and purgative.

It is strongly recommended for the treatment of jaundice, ascites and enlarged 
spleen (probably due to portal hypertension and not due to any other cause). It is especially rejuvenating for hair, skin and teeth. According to Ayurveda the liver is the controller of hair, nails, skin and teeth. Hence by improving the liver functions Bhringraj (Eclipta alba) acts as rejuvenator for these tissues.

Bhringraj (Eclipta alba) improves iron metabolism and improves the quality of the blood.
Acting as appetizer it increases bile flow from the liver into the intestines. [94]

By sedating the nervous system it relieves headache and vertigo.

It reduces BP and edema

It has been used in night blindness and myopia to improve vision.

It is useful in skin disorders and improves complexion. [95]


It is used to relieve dysuria and improve kidney function.

The leaves are used to treat Dysfunctional Uterine Bleeding (DUB) and repeated abortions.

It is used to treat scorpion stings.
Recently nasal instillation (nose drops) of Bhringraj (Eclipta alba) Tailam (Bhringraj (Eclipta alba) Oil) along with administration of Kaasis Bhasma internally has been used to treat premature graying of hair (Palitam, palitham). Vide infra (Additional Information)

Indications mentioned in Ayurvedic texts:

Dhanwantaree Nighantu: Shotha (edema), Aama (for scavenging free radicals), Kapha (expectoration), Paandu (anemia), Kushtha (leprosy), Kandu (itching)

Shodala Nighantu: Shwitra (leucoderma), Akshiroga (ophthalmic disorders)

Bhawaprakaasha Nighantu: Krimi (helminthiasis), Kaasa (cough), Shwaasa (dyspnea), Shotha (edema), Aama (for scavenging free radicals),  Paandu (anemia), Kushtha (leprosy), Netraroga (ophthalmic disorders), Shiroroga (ailments of the head)

Kaiyadeva Nighantu: Netraroga (ophthalmic disorders), Shiroroga (ailments of the head), Krimi (helminthiasis), Kaasa (cough), Shwaasa (dyspnea), Shotha (edema), Kushtha (leprosy), Shotha (edema), Aama dosha (for scavenging free radicals),  Paandu roga (anemia).

Madanaphala Nighantu: Kushtha (leprosy), Netraroga (ophthalmic disorders), Shiroroga (ailments of the head). [96]

Therapeutic recommendations mentioned in Ayurvedic texts:

Charaka Samhitaa:

Graying of hair: Bhringraj (Eclipta alba) Taila (Ch. Chi-26/264)

Sushruta Samhitaa:                                         

Inflammations caused by nail scratching-Bhringraj (Eclipta alba) swarasa (the juice of fresh leaves) (Su. Kalpasthaana-8/56)

Kaasa-Shwaasa (cough-dyspnea)- Oil (?Sesame oil) cooked with 10 times fresh juice of Bhringraj (Eclipta alba), when used judiciously alleviates cough and dyspnea (Su. Uttarsthaana -51/30)

Psoriasis- Tagara (Tabernaemontana coronarea ), Kushtha (AkA Pushkaramoola, Saussurea lappa/ Saussurea costus), Apaamaarga (Achyranthes aspera), pounded with Bhringraj (Eclipta alba) juice for local application (Su. Kalpasthaana -8-54)

Ashtaanga Hridayam:    

Those who drink the fresh juice of Bhringraj (Eclipta alba) leaves for one month and consume milk as staple food attain a life of 100 years endowed with strength and vigor (Ashtaanga. us.-34/136)  

Shaarngadhara Samhitaa:

Iron ore and Saariwaa (Hemidesmus indicus L.) are made into bolus, mixed in oil (?Sesame oil) and Bhringraj (Eclipta alba) swaras (juice) and boiled to the consistency of oil. It is applied to get rid of dandruff, premature graying of hair, pruritus and alopecia. 

Nimba beeja (seeds of Citrus limonum) are macerated with Bhringraj (Eclipta alba) juice and decoction of wood of Asana (Pterocarpus marsupium) tree to make paste. The paste is cooked in Sesame oil. Few drops of this oil are instilled in each nostril. During the treatment the patient consumes rice and milk as staple diet. This cures premature graying of hair in men.

Chakradatta:

To relieve gastritis, hyperacidity and vomiting mix Hareetakee (Terminalia chebula) powder, Bhringraj (Eclipta alba) and old jiggery and consume small pills frequently.

For healthy hair- Cook Sesame oil with Bhringraj (Eclipta alba) juice, paste of triphalaa, Neelotpala (Nymphaea stellata Wild), Saariwaa (Hemidesmus indicus L.) and slag of iron (partially vitreous by-product of smelting iron ore). Use this hair oil daily. This hair oil makes the hair curled, dense and firm. [97]


Usages in Siddha Medicine

In many afflictions E. alba is used as in the Ayurvedic system. Some different uses are mentioned here.

Its leaves are steeped in boiling water. The steam arising from it is used to treat piles.

Paste made by leaves ground in sesame oil is applied on the body part inflamed due to filariasis. 

The juice of entire plant is given to treat hepatomegaly, splenomegaly, indigestion, jaundice etc. in the dose of 20-30 ml twice a day.

Paste made from leaves is rubbed well and bandage applied at the site of scorpion bite. 

Usages in Modern Medicine

In modern times E. alba is a precious herb in hair care and cosmetic industry.  

In southern Thailand E. alba fresh plant is used as self medication by HIV positive patients. There it is also used to treat giardiasis.

In some countries it is used to treat dyslipidemia, edema and paronychia.   

Extract of E. prostrata is used to treat lethal and myotoxic effects of South American rattlesnake venom.  

Alas! Despite the data accumulated from various animal studies E. alba is underused in clinical practice in modern medicine. More studies are warranted to unravel its therapeutic potentials in hepatology.

Preparations and dosages

Fresh juice: For hematuria, 5-15 ml twice a day. For common cold in infant 2-3 drops with equal quantity of honey or mixed with goat’s milk. To expel intestinal worms, given in the morning with 15 ml. of castor oil. 

Powder: As adaptogen given orally for a month with honey, 2-5 grams. Also used for anemia, dropsy and jaundice. The powder of the root is given internally in the dose of 5 gram daily for diseases of the liver, spleen and skin diseases.
Powder of the whole plant: 3 to 5 grams
Tincture: 0.5 - 3 ml. daily.
Infusion: 100- 200 ml. daily.
Seeds: 0.5 to 1.5 G
Decoction: Is used orally to treat leprosy. Decoction with black pepper and sugar is used as anti-inflammatory
Bhringraj (Eclipta alba) Ghana Sattwa: For viral hepatitis 1g three times a day
Bhringraj (Eclipta alba) watee (Tablet): For viral hepatitis 1g three times a day 600 mg. three times a day [98]


Medicated oil: In hair care and cosmetic industry, it is massaged on to the scalp, to impart calming effect and to promote good sleep. It is rubbed on the head to relieve headache. It is massaged on the affected part to relieve lymphedema. Modern Bhringraj (Eclipta alba) oils are enriched with natural proteins, polysaccharides, vitamin E, minerals, peppermint oil, mint leaf extract and many other nutrients for hair care.

Bhringraj (Eclipta alba) seeds promote spermatogenesis, hence is used for virilisation. [99]


The mixture of roots leaves and Ajamoda is useful in all urinary disorders. [100]



Bhringraj (Eclipta alba) ghrita (Medicated ghee): Dose not found
   

Important Combinations

Bringaraaja taila, Shadbinu taila, Bhringraj (Eclipta alba)adi choorna [101]

With honey the leaf extract is used to treat catarrh, urinary problems and to expel worms in infants and children. [102]


Kayyanyadi Tailam: Swaras of Bhringraj (Eclipta alba), Amritaa and Dhaatree 8%, Yashti (Kalka) 2.26% Tailam 84% Milk 5% Anjana (Patrapakam) 0.58%

Grahani Mihira Tailam: 12gm Bhringraj (Eclipta alba) in 4 litres of Tailam. Recommended for fever, hyperacidity, respiratory disorders
Nilibrngadi Tailam: Bhringraj (Eclipta alba) Swaras 768 ml in 6.5 litres of oil. To be used externally for headache
Nilakadya Tailam: Contains Bhringraj (Eclipta alba) 12 gm in 3 litres of oil. Used as oil massage, usually before bath.    [103]   



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Comments

Unknown said…
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