Eclipta: a Useful Weed
Annual plant Eclipta, which belongs to the Asteraceae (Sunflower) family, is usually treated as a weed. Nonetheless, this herb has been traditionally used for hundreds of years in Chinese and Indian medicine to eliminate numerous illnesses.
Eclipta prostata L. and Eclipta erecta are the two common species of genus Eclipta. The difference between them is that the first one creeps on the ground covering it, while the second one grows upright. Eclipta reddish stems, which branch only occasionally, are covered with short hairs. The leaves of the young shoots are ovate and toothed and tend to be alternate; the older leaves, which are opposite, are lanceolate. The latter also have toothed margins.
The small round and flat flowers (6-8mm in diameter), which appear in August, may be either white, or yellow with short narrow petals. They are hermaphrodite – have both male and female organs. The root of the plant is well developed.
Eclipta is an annual tropical plant indigenous to India, China, Korea and Thailand. It, however, can also be found growing abundantly in many other places of the world, as Brazil, Japan, and Australia.
The herb prefers much moisture and full or partial sun; thus it grows best in the warm climatic regions with much rainfall. It prefers poorly drained medium (loamy) soils.
Depending on the country and traditions, leaves, the tops of Eclipta, or the whole plant (including roots) is used for medicinal purposes. Eclipta is harvested when it is in bloom. The plant is then dried to make different kinds of preparations to be used both topically and internally.
The most common Eclipta preparations include dried powder, dried decoction, fresh leaf juice, infusion, medicated oil, and even ghee (clarified butter).
The simple, from the first point of view, plant has a number of constituents, which may be very beneficial for the human health. For example, bio-active steroidal alkaloids of Eclipta are believed to possess cyto-toxicity against certain (harmful for our bodies) cells. By the way, six out of eight steroidal alkaloids were isolated from Eclipta for the first time from nature.
Coumestans (e.g. wedelolactone and demethylwedelolactone), which are the derivatives of coumarins, have estrogenic activity. They make this herb a good antibacterial and anti-hemorrhagic agent. They are believed to be the most valuable components of Eclipta.
Eclipta constituents, such as polypeptides, polyacetylenes, thiophene-derivatives, triterpenes and flavonoids, make it an effective antiviral, antifungal, astringent, depurative, purgative, febrifuge and emetic means. Although mostly aerial parts of the plant are used, roots may also be useful in treating certain health disorders as they possess emetic and purgative action. The plant also contains nicotine and stigmasterol. Such component as ecliptine was found in the pant’s leaves among other alkaloids.
The power of Eclipta to act as an antiseptic explains its application in the form of topical remedy for skin conditions.
Eclipta is applied externally to treat athlete foot, eczema, and dermatitis. It also helps wounds get healed sooner and reduce skin inflammation. In China, India, and Brazil Eclipta is used as anti-venom against snake bites and scorpion stings. One of the most popular topical uses of this plant is against hair loss and its premature greying. Eclipta can promote hair growth and colour it black.
Preserving liver health is another common use of this herb. Eclipta works to rejuvenate liver tissues, to treat hepatitis, cirrhosis, liver enlargement, jaundice, as well as prevent gallbladder diseases.
The symptoms of dysentery, diarrhoea, and diphtheria are reduced with the help of Eclipta. It also eliminates fever and treats anaemia.
One more benefit of Eclipta is its ability to soothe the jangled nerves and treat mental disorders, eliminate insomnia, vertigo, and headaches. The preparations of this herb are also used to preserve healthy teeth and gums.
I was wondering what to do with some unbidden eclipta prostrata in the garden and your article has alerted me to its value. So I may keep it, do further research and make some tincture, decoction or emollient. Thanks.
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