Bhringaraja: hair herb
Called by many names as bhangara, kesharaja and Eclipta alba (botanically), bhringaraja is prominent among the herbs chosen by Ayurveda for hair-care. Depending upon the colour of its flowers, ancient texts describe bhringaraja to be of three types — white, yellow and blue. Practically, only the first two varieties are found as the blue form seems to be the transformation of the white one at the ripe stage. The whole plant (panchang) is medicinal.
Bhringaraja is pungent and bitter in taste and light, dry and hot in effect. Experts in modern medicine have drawn an alkaloid known as ecliptine from it. Bhringaraja pacifies vata and kapha but aggravates pitta. Ayurveda texts have described bhringaraja as keshya, which means something beneficial for one’s hair. The less known but equally important virtue of bhringaraja is its salutary effect on the liver. It is also carminative, digestive, diuretic and laxative. It helps in blood formation and is a rejuvenator and tonic of immense value.
Both Charaka and Sushruta have mentioned several uses of bhringaraja, whereas another leading light of Ayurveda, Rishi Vagbhatta, has written about bhringaraja kalpa, which is a specific regime for the purpose of rejuvenation only. In case of liver disorders like jaundice, bhringaraja is a promising herb. It is also used in a number of other problems like skin and ophthalmic disease, anaemia, hyperacidity, migraine and non-specific glandular swellings. Some of the common uses of bhringaraja are as under:
Hair and scalp tonic: Since time immemorial bhringaraja is used to prevent hair loss, dandruff and premature greying. Oils prepared with bhringaraja are, therefore, found occupying an important place in the hair-care kit in every Indian home. Though there are many formulations of the famous Bhringaraja Taila, it can be made at home by simply processing one kilogram of its juice in 4 kg of sesame oil.
Liver and spleen disorders: Taking 10 ml of the fresh juice of bhringaraja daily is a good adjunct in the treatment of jaundice and also in the enlargement of the liver and the spleen. It improves appetite and digestion too.
Hyperacidity: Chronic cases of acidity respond well if given 2 gm of the powder of dry bhringaraja, hararh and amla, all crushed in equal parts. Sootshekhara Rasa, the well-known classic ayurvedic, medicine for acidity and ulcer, is actually prepared by stirring the core medicine in the juice of bhringaraja.
A tonic: To gain the tonic effect, ayurvedic texts mention a number of formulations containing bhringaraja. Whereas 10 to 20 ml of its simple juice is prescribed to be taken every morning for at least 40 days, another way of taking 2 gm of triphala churna with 10 ml juice of bhringaraja dissolved in a cup of water daily is described as an anti-aging prescription.
Other uses: Bhringaraja is also used for treating many diseases like leucoderma, migraine and skin disorders. Though it is better to use bhringaraja in its fresh form, in winter, when it is out of season, its powder or decoction can be adopted by procuring it from the pansari shop in the dry form.