It is well-known for treating infertility in both men and women. In this article, Dr Rajesh B, gives us an insight about the medicinal properties of the Lakshmana herb.
Lakshmana is a slender perennial climber with villous stems and tuberous roots. In Hindu mythology, this plant is said to have properties that protect human beings from toxic materials found in their surroundings much the same way as Lord Lakshmana protected Lord Rama from his enemies in the battlefield.
Found throughout India, this herb is widely used in Ayurvedic formulations for treatment and management of blood disorders, female infertility as well as for enhancing male libido and as an antidote to counteract the effects of arsenic poisoning. Interestingly, the whole plant can be used for the preparation of herbal formulations. Today, one can find numerous traditional herbal preparations and patented products, which are formulated using Lakshmana.
Botanical name: Ipomoea sepiariaRoxb / Ipomoea marginata
Sanskrit synonymes: Klitani, Putrada, Nagini, Asrabinduchada
Lakshmana, the controversial herb
Although Lakshmana has some rare medicinal properties, it is a controversial drug in Ayurvedic pharmacology, as there are more than three varieties currently used by Ayurvedicphysicians. Out of the three, the Ipomoea varieties are the ones that are widely used as Lakshmana.
Following are the three varieties considered as Lakshmana:
- Ipomoea sepiaria (marginata) – mainly used as Lakshmana in Kerala
- White floweringKantakari (SwetaKantakari) – Solanumsurratense
3.Smithiaconferta- Ilaikanni (Tamil)
Vipaka: Madhura (sweet)
Doshakarma: Vata-pittashamana (pacifiesVata and Pitta dosha) and Kaphavardhaka (increasesKaphadosha)
Lakshmana is a thin twinning perennial with furry stems and tuberous roots. The leaves of this plant are simple, alternately arranged, petiolate and cordate. It also has blotches of brownish/purplish patches towards the center and is therefore calledChuttiTirutali in Malayalam. The flowers are funnel-shaped in umbellate axillary cymes and are pale purple, pink or ivory in color. The fruits are ovoid capsules containing two to four grey colored seeds covered with silky pubescence. One of the botanical sources of Lakshmana is Ipomoea sepiaria Koenig ex. Roxb which belongs to the Convolvulaceae family.
Lakshmana is a highly reputed medicinal plant widely used for its various therapeutic properties. It is an aphrodisiac, an antidote to arsenic poisoning,a diuretic, a laxative, and auterotonic. Lakshmana pacifies vitiated Pitta and Vata and is useful in the treatment of urinary retention, constipation, and gynecological disorders. It is also considered as the drug of choice in treating female infertility. Lakshmana is a natural source of estrogen and estradiol thus helping to minimize miscarriages and bringing the pregnancy to full term. Lakshmana is also widely used to detoxify the body and is indicated in the management of skin disorders. It is a good choice for the treatment of menorrhagia due to endometriosis.
Recipe for Lakshmana milk decoction for pregnant women
- One part Lakshmana tuber
- 8 parts of milk
- 32 parts of water
Method – Boil all the ingredients together till the decoction is brought down to the measurement of milk (8 parts). The decoction should then be strained and divided equally to be consumed twice daily, once in the morning and once in the evening. This should be taken in the second month of the pregnancy.
Chemical Constituents of Lakshmana
The seeds of Ipomoea resin contain non-ergoline type indole alkaloids, ipobscurine A, ipobscurineB,ipobscurine C., and serotonin. The seeds of Ipomoea obscura contain non-ergolin type indole alkaloids.
Its leaves show the presence of saponins, glycosides, resins, flavonoids, alkaloids, tannins, terpenoids, phytosterols, and other phenolic compounds. The roots of Ipomoea sepiariacontain phytoconstituents like carbohydrates, alkaloids, glycosides, flavonoids, phenolic compounds, tannin, and saponin.
Every part of the Lakshmana plant is used for various therapeutic uses. These include:
- The juice of the plant is used as a deobstruent, a diuretic, a hypotensive, and uterine tonic and as an antidote to arsenic poisoning.
- The extract from the Lakshmanaplant is known to be an effective herbal pesticide, which is used to ward off aphids and to treat plants infested with it.
- Seeds of this herb are used as a cardiac depressant, a hypotensive and a spasmolytic.
- The plant is also used to promote fertility in women and for the treatment of urinary retention, constipation, and various gynecologicaldisorders.
- It is a diuretic and a laxative and is also used to relieve burning sensations and for the treatment of hyperdipsia and general debility.
- The methanolic extract of the root was found to possess significant antifungal properties and is therefore used in the treatment of leucorrhoea. There is a reference to the therapeutic application of rootthe of “Gollajiddaku” (Telegu vernacular name of Lakshmana) in the management of SwetaPradara (leucorrhoea) in Vasavarajeeyam, an 18th-century record book of herbal plants.
- Lakshmana is mentioned as Ipomoea sepiariaKoening ex. Roxb. (Nishteswar K.,2003)
- It is a herb known to be a good antidote to arsenic poisoning, an uterine tonic, aphrodisiac and a wound healer (KirtikarK.R&Basu B.D. 1960)
- It is a diuretic and a laxative (Venkataswamy R. et al., 2010)
- It promotes fertility inwomen (Prajapati N.D. et al., 2010)
- The roots of the plant are used in the treatment and management of diabetes (Jain S. K., 1991)
- One teaspoonful of root powder administered with rice water is used as a treatment for leucorrhoea(Nalgonda, Mehaboobnagar District of A.P.) (Nishteswar K., 2003)
History and Myth
The name Lakshmana comes from the Hindu mythology of Ramayana. In Ramayana, the brother of Lord Rama, Lakshmana,is the protector of Sita and likewise, the Lakshmana herb is also said to be the savior of the female population. Since the pedigree of the Lakshmana herb is associated with the goddess concept, it is therefore referred to as the She herb. The flowers of the Lakshmana plant areused for beauty enhancement and is therefore used by women for hair decoration and for beautification processes.
Lakshmana is part of the ten flowering herb group called Dashapushpam. Each herb in Dashapushpam is said to provide varied health benefits. In Kerala, women wear these on their hair to derivehealth benefits associated with it.
The ten curative properties of Dashapushpam
- Durva: Mental calmness
- Poovamkurnnal: Prosperity
- Musali: Elimination of sins
- Bhringaraj: Elimination of great five sins
- Mukkutti: Sexual pleasure, fertility
- Lakshmana: Cosmetic improvement
- Uzhinja: Career development
- Bhadra: Longevity
- MuyalChevi: Marriage
- Krishnakranthi: Moksha
If this data collected is analyzed critically, each flower of this group could be used for specific ages for its curative properties. There is great scope for further research on this particular groupfrom ancient manuscripts for better understanding and usage.
Lakshmana is also found in almost all terrains and a scientific understanding of the home remedies tells us that the plant has properties that help to prevent the progression of deadly diseases. Planting, propagating, preserving, understanding and using the goodness of the herbs will surely help in solving many of the puzzling modern day problems that we face in our daily lives.
Dr Rajesh B is the co-founder and chief consultant of ayurvedaforall.com. He is a graduate from Vaidyaratnam Ayurveda College (affiliated to University of Calicut), Kerala, India.He also holds a Postgraduate Diploma in Yoga Therapy from Annamalai University and a Masters degree in Business Administration from Mahatma Gandhi University.In addition to his Ayurvedic practice, he is the chief editor of ayurveda-amai.org, the online portal of Ayurveda Medical Association of India and also serves as the state committee member of Ayurveda Medical Association of India. Dr.Rajesh is a regular speaker at Ayurveda related conferences and has visited Germany to propagate Ayurveda.