Bhringraj, also known as Eclipta prostrata, Eclipta alba, false daisy, yerba de tago and karisalankanni, is an herb belonging to the sunflower family. Growing primarily in moist places in warm temperate to tropical regions, it is extensively found in India, Nepal, China, Thailand and Brazil. Presence of several phytochemicals like ursolic and oleanolic acids, luteolin, apigenin etc. makes bhringraj extract anti-microbial and anti-inflammatory. (1) Traditional medicinal practitioners consider E. alba as an important plant for various diseases related to liver, stomach, intestine, respiratory tract, scalp and skin.
Bhringraj in Ayurveda is valued for its property to create a balance amongst the tridosha. Bhringraj oil is useful in treating various health, skin and hair problems by virtue of its anti-inflammatory and anti-microbial properties. Extracted from the leaves of the plant, bhringraj oil is greenish in colour and has a strong smell.
Constituents Of Bhringraj Oil Formulations
The common ingredient of all Ayurvedic bhringraj oil formulations is primarily Bhringraj juice.(2)
- Using 1280 grams of sesame oil as the base oil, 2560 grams of bhringraj juice, 640 grams each of brahmi juice and amla juice are combined with a paste of many herbs. These include 10 grams each of haritaki, mandur, jatamansi, kuth, mehndi, licorice, priyangu, red sandalwood, anantamul, padmaka, babchi, lodhra, manjistha, amla, kachur, nagarmotha and bibhitaki.
- In another formulation sesame oil is used as the base oil to which juice of the entire bhringraj plant is mixed. Herbal paste that is added to it is made out of equal quantity of red sandalwood, turmeric, manjistha, red ochre, bala root, nagkesar, licorice, daruhaldi, Indian lotus, and anantamul. Cow’s milk is also added to it.
- For nasal administration, a different formulation is used. Ingredients include licorice paste, sesame oil and bhringraj juice. This is used for enhancing vision, controlling hair fall and early graying of hair. As large amounts of the juice is required to produce small amount of oil, it is not usually manufactured by pharmaceutical companies.
- Another preparation which is mainly good for treating folliculitis and itching of scalp requires bhringraj juice, sesame oil and a herbal mix of triphala, anantamul and mandur.
For Preparing Bhringraj Oil The Following Method Is Used
- Required quantity of extracted juices is taken.
- Powdered herbs are mixed with water or cow’s milk to make a paste.
- All ingredients are mixed with purified sesame oil.
- The mixture is then simmered till the oil is formed.
- It is let to cool for a day.
- For enhancing the efficacy of the oil it should be allowed to stand for 3 to 7 days.
- After filtering the oil using a cotton cloth, you need to throw away the herbal residue.
The oil can be now used for various purposes. Prior to opening, it has a shelf life of one year whereas after opening you need to use it within 2 to 3 months.(2)
Benefits And Uses Of Bhringraj Oil
Health benefits of the oil include promotion of hair growth, improvement of eyesight, stress relief, headache and tension management, dandruff relief, antifungal, antibacterial, antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory benefits.(2)
1. Good For Our Vision
Bhringraj oil when administered through nose is said to bring about improvement in our eyesight. You need to put 2 drops each of the oil in both your nostrils in the morning to get improved vision. Nasal administration however is associated with certain side effects like irritation in nostrils and throat, sneezing, nasal sensation of burning and headache in rare instances.
2. Eases Frozen Shoulder
Nasal administration of bhringraj oil is also associated with relief from frozen shoulder, a condition associated with stiffness of shoulder and resultant hampered mobility.
3. Promotes Hair Health
In Ayurvedic medicine, bhringraj oil is considered to be a very good natural solution for hair and scalp related problems and infections. It is said to work by reducing Vata and Kapha and correcting Pitta. These are the three fundamental bio elements or doshas of the body in Ayurvedic theory of human physiology.
A. Anti-dandruff Benefits:
Dry and flaky scalp is commonly seen in case you have dandruff. In Ayurveda, dandruff is associated with excess of Vata wherein flaking occurs due to dry skin. Dandruff occurring from excess Pitta is usually yellowish and greasy. When Kapha dominance is seen the person primarily suffers from Seborrheic dermatitis. Bhringraj oil has been found to be effective in treating all these conditions. Regular massage of the scalp for 5 to 10 minutes with lukewarm Bhringraj oil is needed to treat the condition. Initially you can do it daily and then 2 to 3 times in a week.
B. Treating Scalp Infections:
The anti-microbial and anti-inflammatory properties of bhringraj oil makes it effective in treating scalp infections like scalp folliculitis caused by various microbes including the bacteria Staphylococcus Aureus. It also works against the fungal scalp infection Tinea Capitis which is associated with itching in scalp as well as scaly and bald patches.
C. Strengthens Hair Root:
By strengthening hair root, bhringraj oil prevents hair loss. Regular massaging enhances blood circulation to the scalp and therefore hair follicles are properly nourished.
D. Hair Fall:
Excess of Vata leads to hair fall which according to Ayurveda is related to Kapha or Pitta. Weakness and thinning of hair results from Vata-Pitta imbalance. Hair fall also occurs when the scalp is either very dry or the hair follicles are undernourished. Gently massaging your hair with Bhringraj oil is good for curbing hair fall as it promotes scalp blood circulation and nourishes the undernourished hair follicles.
E. Works Against Scalp Inflammation:
By virtue of its anti-inflammatory properties, bhringraj oil reduces follicular inflammation. Sometimes tight caps, turbans etc. or excessive heat may result in inflammation of the hair follicles. In such conditions application of the oil can bring in substantial relief by reducing the inflammation of hair follicles. The oil is also good for healing tenderness in scalp, treating pimples that are white headed and correcting itchy scalp.
F. Prevents Premature Greying:
Premature greying is associated with increased Pitta dosha or acidity. Bhringraj oil containing active ingredients of both the herbs bhringraj and jatamansi is considered to be effective against premature greying. You need to apply it for a period of at least 6 months for restoring natural hair colour and preventing further greying. You can also maintain the natural colour of your hair and prevent its premature greying by applying a Bhringraj oil based hair mask. For that you need a cup full of curry leaves as well as bhringraj leaf or powder, 1 cup coconut oil, 2 tablespoons dried Hibiscus flowers and ½ teaspoon of fenugreek seeds. To prepare the mask wash and dry the leaves, coarsely grind them with fenugreek seeds and the hibiscus flowers. Now you need to mix it up with coconut oil that has been heated in a thick pan. After cooling you need to strain the oil and store in a dry and clean bottle.(3)
G. Promotes Hair Growth:
A study conducted on male albino rats found out that Eclipta alba extract was beneficial in case of alopecia, which is characterized by partial or complete loss of hair from scalp. It was found to be more effective than minoxidil, commercially used for hair loss treatment. The oil should be massaged on the scalp gently and left as it is for few hours. You can then wash it off using a mild shampoo. It works by revitalizing the hair follicles.(4)
H. Good For Dry Hair:
Bhringraj oil massage makes hair smoother, improves texture and prevents drying. The high specific gravity of the oil makes it dense and this further makes it more permeable. As a result, it penetrates the scalp easily and treats dry hair by activating the sebaceous gland. Wrapping your hair in a steamed towel after application of the oil enhances its effect by promoting oil permeability and enhancing the activity of the sebaceous gland.(5)
4. Stress Relief
In Ayurveda, Pitta is said to be one of the three doshas or fundamental energies that is associated with digestion, metabolism and mental abilities. Pitta imbalance is associated with mental stress.
Massaging your scalp with Bhringraj oil can reduce stress and enhance your sleep as it is considered good for treating pitta imbalance. It works by enhancing your mental calmness. (6) The oil massage on your scalp can ease you from headaches and tension and let your mind relax. People suffering from hair loss and stress can benefit from its massage. (7) Studies conducted on pharmacological properties of Eclipta alba plant have revealed its capacity of being used as a nootropic or a cognition enhancing agent.
Bhringraj extracts and leaves also possess anxiolytic and sedative properties. This is the reason why bhringraj oil is considered good for relieving stress and anxiety. Massaging few drops of warm bhringraj oil on your feet for some minutes can have a mind relaxing effect. It is said to work by calming the nervous system and balancing the levels of our energy.(8)