Hog weed is a creeping and spreading perennial herb with simple, board, thick and brittle leaves. It has a stout root-stock and many erect or spreading branches. It grows up to 2 meters in length. The flowers are pink or red in color. The fruits are oval in shape, dull green or brownish in color and about the size of caraway bean.
Hog weed is laxative and produces a cooling sensation. In large doses it induces vomiting. Medicinally, the most important part of the herb is the root. It has a bitter and nauseous taste. It is useful in the treatment of several common ailments.
Hog weed contains a crystalline acid known as boerhavic acid, potassium nitrate and brown mass consisting of tannins, phlobaphenes and reducing sugars. The active principle of hog weed is the alkaloid punarnavine. The drug contains large quantities of potassium salts, which accounts for its diuretic properties.
Botanical Name: Boerhaavia diffusa
Indian Name: Punarnava
Below are some of the medicinal properties of hog weed:
- Hog weed is useful in strengthening the stomach and promoting its action. It is beneficial in the treatment of several stomach disorders, particularly intestinal colic. A powder of the root is given in doses of 5 grams thrice a day. It is also useful in killing or expelling intestinal worms.
- It increases the secretion and discharge of urine. It is useful in the treatment of dropsy, a disease marked by an excessive collection of a watery fluid in the tissues and cavities or natural hollows of the body. The fresh boiled herb should be given in the treatment of this disease. A liquid extract of the fresh or dry plant can also be given in doses of 4 to 16 grams.
- Hog weed promotes the removal of catarrhal matter and phlegm from the bronchial tubes. It is, therefore, beneficial in the treatment of asthma. A powder of the root can be taken in small doses three times a day.
- It is beneficial in the treatment of ascites, a disease characterized by accumulation of fluid inside the peritoneal cavity of the abdomen. Much more powerful effect on certain types of ascites – that is, those caused due to the cirrhosis of the liver and chronic peritonitis –than some of the other important diuretics known. The herb can be administered in the same manner as for dropsy.
- Hog weed is useful in the treatment of fevers. It brings down temperature by inducing copious perspiration.
- The root of the plant is a valuable remedy for several skin diseases. A hot poultice of the root can be applied with gratifying results to ulcers, abscesses and similar skin diseases. It is also used for extracting guinea-worms. A paste of the root can be applied beneficially as a dressing for oedematous swellings.
- The root of the hog weed is beneficial in the treatment of several diseases- particularly of the kidney and heart – as well as gonorrhea. It is also effective in oedema, anemia, cough, nervous weakness, pleurisy, constipation and paralysis.