Punarnava, The Anti-cancer and Anti-diabetic Weeds

March 21, 2013

Boerhaavia diffusa

Punarnava, or known as Boerhaavia diffusa Linn. has a long history of use in Ayurvedic herbal medicine, for the treatment of cancer, jaundice, dyspepsia, inflammation, enlargement of spleen, abdominal pain and as an anti-stress agent. Punarnava grow as weeds, and their origin have not been determined, because the plants are widespread in many places around the world.

Punarnava have so many common names, such as, erva toustao, hog weed, pig weed, atikamaamidi, djambo, etiponia, thazhuthama, thikri, katkatud, mamauri, ndandalida, oulouni niabo, touri-touri, punerva, purnoi, ghetuli, mahenshi, santi, spiderling, tellaaku, tshrana, biskhapra, and etc. But, according to Ayurveda, the Indian people had been used the roots, leaves and seeds of punarnava as folk medicine.

Herbal medications based on the extract of punarnava roots are also sold in several online Ayurvedic shops. Just like what I have found here on Amazon.com.

Punarnava Root Powder 1/2 lb.
Punarnava Root Powder 1/2 lb.

Also a beauty product which contains the extract of punarnava.

VLCC Punarnava Astringent 100ml
VLCC Punarnava Astringent 100ml

The Scientific Studies on Anti-cancer and Anti-diabetic Properties of Punarnava


Punarnavine, an alkaloid derived from Boerhaavia diffusa, is believed to be an anti-cancer agent. The study has indicated that punarnavine could enhance the immune response, and inhibit the metastatic progression of B16F-10 melanoma cells in mice. (Manu KA, et al. 2007) Moreover, the extract from the whole plant of punarnava also possess radioprotective effect against gamma radiation induced damage in mice. (Manu KA, et al. 2007)

Boeravinones, compounds isolated from the roots of punarnava, have been found potentially to inhibit the drug efflux activity of BCRP (breast cancer resistance protein), a multidrug transporter responsible for cancer cell resistance to chemotherapy. (Ahmed-Belkacem A, et al. 2007) Punarnava show antiproliferative and antiestrogenic properties against MCF-7 breast cancer cell lines, in which are potential in the treatment of breast cancer. (Sreeja S, et al. 2009)


When compared to glibenclamide (anti-diabetic drug), the aqueous solution of punarnava leaf extract is shown more prominent result. A significant decrease in blood glucose and significant increase in plasma insulin levels.

The study is also shown a significant reduction of glycosylated haemoglobin and an increase the total of haemoglobin level, in normal and alloxan induced diabetic rats treated with punarnava leaf extract. (Pari L, et al. 2004) Another study to demonstrate the antihyperglycaemic and renoprotective effect of punarnava in experimental diabetic rats, had shown better result when compared to the treatment using metformin (hypoglycaemic drug). (Singh PK, et al. 2011)

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