Boerhaavia diffusa Linn. / Boerhaavia repens
Lal Punarnava, Santh
It occurs abundantly as a weed throughout India, up
to an altitude of 2,000 m in the Himalayas. It is also
cultivated to some extent in West Bengal.
Morphology Description (Habit)
A diffusely branched, pubescent or glabrous,
prostrate herb. The rootstock is stout, fusiform and woody;
the stems are creeping, often purplish, swollen at the
nodes; the leaves are long-petioled, ovate or oblong-cordate,
entire or sinuate; the flowers are red, pink or
white, in small umbels; the fruits are ovate, oblong,
pubescent, five-ribbed, glandular anthocarps.
The roots contain alkaloids (0.05%), triacontanol
hentriacontane, ß-sitosterol, ursolic acid,
5,7-dihydroxy-3,4-dimethyoxy-6,8-dimethyl flavone, and an
unidentified ketone (m p 86°). The roots contain the
rotenoid boeravinones AI, BI, C2 , D, E and F besides the
new dihydroisofurenoxanthin, borhavine and an
antifibrinolytic agent, punarnavoside. Two lignans,
liriodendrin and syringaresinol mono-ß-D-glucoside, have
also been reported in the roots1.
The chloroform and methanol extracts of the roots and aerial
parts of B.diffusa exhibited hepatoprotective activity
against carbontetrachloride intoxication in experimental
rats. The rotenoid, steroid and flavone isolated from the
plant exhibited lowering of enzyme GOT2.B.diffusa
exhibits differential effects on the GABA levels in various
regions of the brain of experimental rats3.
The ethanol extract of B.diffusa (BDE) was administered
daily in a dose of 250mg/kg, body weight p.o., to pregnant
albino female rats during the entire period of gestation.
BDE was found to be devoid of any teratogenic effect as
litter size and survival rate of fetuses were the same as
for the normal control group and no fetal anomaly could be
The roots are credited with anti-convulsant, analgesic,
alzative, laxative, and expectorant properties. They also
have diuretic and hepatoprotective actions.
- Chem Abstr, 1991, 114, 3388; Lami et. al., Chem Pharm
Bull, 1990, 38, 1558; Lami et. al., ibid, 1991, 39, 1551,
1869; Jain & Khanna, Indian J Chem, 1989, 28B, 163; Ahmed
& Chung-Ping Yu, Phytochemistry, 1992, 31, 4382.
- Chakraborti, K.K. and Handa, S.S, Indian Drugs, 1989,
v., 27(3), 161-166.
- Sharma, K. et. al., Conference of Pharmacology and
Symposium on Herbal Drugs. (New Delhi), March 1991, P31.
- Singh, A. et. al., Planta Medica, 1991, v., 57(4),