Bhringraj is a widely celebrated medicinal herb that is used extensively for making a vast range of hair care products. It is being used since the ancient times in ayurvedic medicines for the treatment of hair loss, premature graying, etc. Bhringraj is used along with other herbs such as amla, shikakai as a hair rinse and conditioner. It is also used with oils such as coconut oil and sesame oil for the preparation of hair oils for conditioning oil treatment. Bhringraj oil when massaged on to the scalp, gives a calming effect and promotes a good sleep.
Bhringraj is a plant from the family Asteraceae. The Latin name for the plant is Eclipta alba (syn. Eclipta prostrata L.), however it is commonly known as False Daisy and also as yerba de tago. The roots are well developed, cylindrical in shape and greyish in color. The floral heads of the plant are 6-8mm in diameter, solitary, white with a compressed achene and are narrowly winged. It grows in the moist places as a weed all over the world. Bhringraj is native to India, China, Thailand and Brazil.
In India, the plant is known as bhangra, “bhringaraj” or bhringraja. Another plant Widelia calendulacea
is also known by the same name, but Eclipta has white flowers so called white bhangra and Widelia has yellow flower so it is called yellow Bhangra.
In Ayurveda the plant is considered a rasayana for longevity and rejuvenation. Roots of Eclipta alba are emetic and purgative. The herb Bhringraj mainly contains of coumestans i.e. wedelolactone and demethylwedelolactone, polypeptides, polyacetylenes, thiophene-derivatives, steroids, triterpenes and flavonoids.
- Owing to the presence of wedelolactone, it is widely used for the treatment of hepatitis and cirrhosis
- It is also used as an antibacterial, anti-hemorrhagic and also for direct inhibition of IKK complex resulting in suppression of LPS-induced caspase-11 expression
- Bhringraj plant being bitter, hot, sharp, dry in taste and is used in ayurveda for the treatment of Kapha and Vata imbalances
- The extract of the leaf is dispensed along with honey for curing catarrh in infants
- The same leaf extract/juice when boiled with sesame or coconut oil is used for anointing the head to render the hair black and luxuriant
- The traditional Amla Bhringraj oil is used all over India as dye – for blackening of hair
- In case of toothache if the bhringraj plant is rubbed on the gum
- It is also used for relieving headache and with sesame oil in case of elephantiasis
- Recent research has revealed its antihepatotoxic activity and hence it is good for the liver
- It has also been observed that bhringraj renders relief in epigastric pain, nausea and vomiting to ulcer patients
- In Taiwan, entire plant is used as a cure in case of bleeding, heamoptysis, haematuria and itching, hepatitis, diphtheria and diarrhoea
- Bhringraj is also used for as a cooling and restorative herb, which supports the mind, nerves, liver and eyes all over China.
- The black dye obtained from Eclipta alba is also used for tattooing
- It is also used for the treatment of scorpion strings
- Bhringraj is used as anti-venom against snakebite in China and Brazil.