Leadwort is a shrubby perennial herb with smooth leaves, acrid roots and tiny, bright red flowers. It grows densely up to two meters high, with 10 to 20 stems growing directly from the root.
Leadwort contains an orange yellow pigment, plumbagin, a sitosterol and a fatty alcohol. The proportion of the plumbagin varies within the limits according to the locality, growth, age, condition of the soil and the season. The older the plant and drier the soil and the quantity of active principle found in its roots.
Botanical Name: Plumbago zeylanica
Indian Name: Chitra
Below are some of the medicinal properties of leadwort:
- It is useful in inducing copious perspiration and in promoting salivation.
- The leaves of leadwort are useful in dyspepsia, diarrhea and piles. It increases digestive powers and stimulates appetite.
- Owing to its skin irritating property the herb is used in the treatment of chronic skin diseases as well as in leucoderma and baldness. A paste made with salt and water is useful for obstinate skin diseases such as syphilitic ulcers, scabies, varicose ulcers and ringworm. Paste of the root is also, especially if fresh, is very acrid and blisters the skin.
- Leadwort strengthens the stomach and aids in its action.
- It is also beneficial in the treatment of rheumatic and paralytic affections. Blended with a little bland oil such as refined coconut oil, it is applied externally over the affected parts.
The root in large doses is narcotic and irritant. It should therefore be given only in small doses of 0.75 to 1.25 grams.