Medicinal herbs are becoming more and more popular these days with a larger number of the population looking for alternatives and remedies that are devoid of side effects and health problems. In fact, in India, there are over 6000 plants that have been recognized for their medicinal and therapeutic values. One such plant that is used widely in traditional Ayurvedic medicine is the Acalypha indica. It holds a highly valued place in traditional Siddha medicine practiced in many parts of India. Apart from India, Acalypha indica is also found extensively in many other countries like India, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Yemen, South Africa and also the tropical regions of Africa.
It is also known as Indian acalypha, Indian nettle, Indian Copper leaf or three-seeded mercury. It is known in various names across regions – Kuppikhokli (Hindi), Kuppigida (kannada), Kuppameni (Malayalam), Haritamanjari (Sanskrit), Poonamayakki,Kuppaimen (tamil), Ricinelle des Indes, oreille de chatte, herbe chatte (French) Re dai tie xian cai (Chinese) Maraotong (Philippines)
Composition of Acalypha indica
Chemical analysis of Acalypha indica shows that the plant contains phenolic compounds, steroids, flavonoids, saponins and tannins. It contains an alkaloid, acalyphine along with cyanogenic glycoside, inositol, resin, triaetomamine and volatile oils.
Health benefits of Acalypha indica
Acalypha indica has been used widely in Indian Ayurvedic medicine for treating various ailments. The leaves, roots and young shoots of Acalypha indica are found to have powerful medicinal value. It is also used in various alternative medicinal form in Philippines, Malaysia and other south east asia.
Remedy for skin problems
A paste made from the leaves of Acalypha indica, when applied on the affected areas is useful for relieving skin conditions like eczema, scabies, sores and wounds. Because of its antibacterial properties, Acalypha indica is used as a remedy for relieving acne and pimples. A mixture of turmeric and the paste of Acalypha indica leaves are found to be helpful in soothing acne.
Acalypha indica has antibacterial properties
Research indicates that the extracts obtained from the roots and leaves of Acalypha indica have antibacterial properties and is capable of inhibiting the growth of three strains of pathogenic bacteria namely Staphylococcus aureus, Bacillus subtilis,and Klebsiella pneumonia. Acalypha indica has been found to exhibit significant anti-microbial activity against bacteria and fungi. Because of this property, it is effective in wound healing. In fact studies conducted on rats showed that the extracts of this plant on topical application helped in healing wounds faster.
Acalypha indica has antioxidant properties
Studies show that the root extracts of Acalypha indica shows significant antioxidant properties due to the presence of high levels of phenolic compounds and flavonoids in the plant.
Anti-diabetic activity of Acalypha indica
According to various experiments conducted in rats, Acalypha indica helped in lowering blood glucose levels significantly. It is considered that the polyphenols and steroids contained in this plant play an important role in this anti-diabetic activity.
Acalypha indica for eye infections
The leaf sap Acalypha indica is used as eye drops in some countries for getting rid of eye infections. Ground leaves of this plant in water can also be used for the same purpose.
Cardio protective role of Acalypha indica
According to studies, Acalypha indica contains active metabolites that are capable of protecting the tissues of the heart from damage and also cardiovascular diseases.
Acalypha indica for respiratory problems
Acalypha indica contains flavonoid, terpenoid and steroid types of compounds that make it useful as an analgesic and anti-inflammatory agent. Acalypha indica helps in removing phlegm from the respiratory tract and hence is useful in treating cough and breathing difficulties. Two or three teaspoons of the juice of this herb act very fast and provide immediate relief from these conditions.
Acalypha indica for gastro intestinal problems
The leaves of Acalypha indica have laxative properties and hence a decoction of the leaves is used effectively in treating constipation. Fresh leaves of this plant are often used as a suppository to induce motion in small children suffering from constipation.Leaves of Indian nettle has been traditionally used in treatment of intestinal worm. A mixture of garlic and the juice obtained from the leaves of Acalypha indica is a good remedy for killing and eliminating intestinal worms.
Acalypha indica for hepatic dysfunction
Studies show that ethanol extract of Acalypha indica displays liver protecting properties because of its antioxidant effect and hence is useful for treating hepatic dysfunction.
Acalypha indica for rheumatism
Acalypha indica is a popular remedy for treating rheumatism. The leaves of the plant are crushed and the juice extracted is combined with onion and lime. This mixture when applied on the affected areas provides relief from the pain and symptoms caused by rheumatic arthritis.
Acalypha indica has diuretic properties
Acalypha indica is a potent diuretic which helps in increasing the production of urine. This helps in preventing water retention and is useful for preventing urinary tract infections and in lowering high blood pressure.
Acalypha indica helps in removing unwanted hair
Acalypha indica is a good remedy for getting rid of unwanted hair. For this, the dried leaves of Acalypha indica should be ground to a fine powder. Make a paste of this powder with warm water and apply it on the hair to be removed. Allow the paste to dry and then gently exfoliate your skin and wash thoroughly.
A few remedies using Acalypha indica
For Headaches – Apply the juice of the leaves on the pain affected area.
For stomach infections- Grind a few leaves with a few pods of garlic and eat it with rice. In the Philippines, decoction of acalypha indica leaves is used for dysentery.
For muscular pain – For getting relief from muscular pain, extract the juice of a few leaves of Acalypha indica. Combine this with an equal amount of sesame oil and heat till the oil remains and all the water evaporates. Let the oil cool to lukewarm temperature and then apply it to the affected area.
For Intestinal parasites and constipation – Take a few leaves of this herb and soak them in water for few hours. Strain the water and take 2 teaspoonful of it. Make sure not to drink too much as it can lead to vomiting. This remedy is also effective for removing phlegm and in getting relief from other respiratory problems. Another remedy using Acalypha indica to get rid of intestinal parasites is to dry the leaves and make a powder out of them. Take ½ teaspoon of this powder with lukewarm water. An anal suppository of crushed leaves is used to relax constricted sphincter anal muscle and relive constipation.
For wounds and itching- Combine together a paste of Acalypha indica leaves with turmeric and apply on the affected area. Leaves mixed with common salt applied to scabies.
For getting relief from piles – Take equal amounts of Acalypha indica leaves and holy basil leaves and make a fine powder out of them. Having a teaspoon of this powder with ghee 2 or 3 times a day can provide relief from piles.
For bed sores – Take a few dried leaves of Acalypha indica and grind them into a fine powder. Applying this powder on the affected areas of the skin will provide relief from bed sores.
The countless medicinal properties and curative uses of Acalypha indica make it very important as an effective medicinal plant. The entire plant has been used in homoepathic and ayurvedic medicines for decades. However, more scientific studies are still required to utilize Acalypha indica for all its potential abilities as a medicinal plant.Image Credits: Wikimedia - Prenn