Botanical Name: Achyranthes Aspera
Indian Name: Chirchita
Origin, Distribution and Composition
Rough chaff is an erect and stiff annual herb which grows densely upto 50 cm in length. It has numerous branches; almost round and slightly ribbed stem, light green or light pink in colour and covered with short, stiff and slightly rough hair. Its branches have thorns which are pointed downwards. The leaves of the plant are simple, egg-shaped and green. The flowers are small and face downwards. Old flowers are found at the bottom and fresh ones on the upper portion.
The herb occurs in temperate and sub-tropical Himalayas from Kishtwar to Sikkim and Khasi hills at 1200 to 1820 metres, Bihar, Konkan, Nilgiris and Travancore hills. Its seeds and the dried plant are available with grocers and dealers of raw drugs throughout India.
The ash of the herb contains a high proportion of potash and is an antacid. It is an important constituent of alkaline medicine which is useful in counteracting acidity.
Healing Power and Curative Properties
Rough chaff is one of the important herbs used by villagers in preparing mixed greens. The leaves are tasteless but assume a mild bitter taste after cooking. They also have soft cellulose.
Rough chaff is used to treat asthma. The method prescribed in Ayurveda is as follows. The leaves of the plant should be plucked in pitch darkness with no light on the plant at the rime of plucking. This is because the presence of light destroys the curative effect of the leaves. After plucking, 25 grams of the leaves are ground with two grams of black pepper on a stone. Six pills are made of the paste which are dried in a dark room the same night. The asthma patient has to take one pill with water on the ninth night of the second half of the lunar month, and continue to follow the procedure for 6 days upto new moon day.
The ash of the herb, mixed with honey, is used for coughs. A mixture of the ash and 4 times its weight of water should Ix: allowed to stand for 24 hours. The residue obtained by evaporating the supernatant or upper layers of the liquid is the well-known Ayurvedic prepartion aghada khara. It is taken in doses of 6 to 12 centigrams for relieving coughs.
The herb is specific for spleen enlargement. The powder of the plant is used in 25 gram doses twice daily with a little beaten curd. This brings good results in 3 or 4 weeks.
The powdered root of the herb is very useful in cholera. About 6 grams of the powder should be mixed with water and taken.
A decoction of the plant is beneficial in renal dropsy as it increases the secretion and discharge of urine. This decoction is prepared by boiling 60 grams of the plant in 1!?O mI of water for 20 to 30 minutes. About 30 to 60 grams of this strained mixture should be taken twice or thrice daily.
The juice of the leaves is valuable in stomach disorders like stomach ache, bowel complaints and piles. A decotion of the powdered leaves, mixed with honey or sugar candy is useful in the early stages of diarrhoea and dysentery.
This is a condition of excessive menstrual bleeding. The drug is useful in arresting secretion or bleeding. It is therefore valuable in abnormally excessive menstruation. An infusion of the herb should be used in treating this condition.
The leaves of rough chaff are useful in cuts and wounds from sharp-edged weapons like knives and blades. Juice of a few leaves of the plant is used to thoroughly soak the wound. A leaf should be wrapped and bandaged over it. It heals within a day or two with a single application. An ointment made of the ash of the herb with orpiment is used for clearing warts and ulcers.
The root of the herb is useful for eye-disorders. A paste of the roots with water can be applied beneficially in opthalmia and opacity of the cornea.
A paste of the leaves made with water has proved effective in treating bites of poisonous insects'- wasps, bees etc. It should be applied externally over the affected parts.
Precautions: It is advisable for pregnant women to take the juice of the herb in small doses, as large doses may hasten labour pains or cause abortion.
Easy Delivery: Rough chaff seeds are useful in facilitating easy and painless delivery. The seeds are ground well in water to prepare a fine paste, and applied on the navel, pubis and vulva.