Rough chaff is an erect and stiff annual herb with numerous branches; almost round and slightly ribbed stem, light green or light pink in color and covered with short, stiff and slightly rough hair. It grows densely up to 50 cm in length. Its branches have thorns which are pointed downwards. The leaves of the plant are simple, egg shaped and green. The flowers are small and face downwards. Old flowers are found at the bottom and fresh ones on the upper portion.
The ash of the herb contains a high proportion of potash and is an antacid. It is an important constituent of alkaline medicine which is useful in counteracting acidity.
Botanical Name: Achyranthes aspera
Indian Name: Chirchita
Below are some of the medicinal properties of rough chaff:
- Rough chaff is used with gratifying results to treat asthma. The method prescribed in Ayurveda is as follows. The rough chaff leaves should be plucked in pitch darkness with no light on the plant at the time of plucking. This is because the presence of light destroys the curative effect of the leaves. After plucking, 25 grams of the leaves are ground with two grams of black pepper on a stone. Six pills are made of the paste which is dried in a dark room the same night. The asthma patient has to take one pill with water on the ninth night of the second half of the lunar month, and continue to follow the procedure for 6 days up to new moon day.
- Rough chaff is specific for spleen enlargement. The powder of the plant is used in 25 grams doses twice daily with a little beaten curd. This brings good results in 3 or 4 weeks.
- The powdered root of the herb is very effective in cholera. About 6 grams of the powder should be mixed with water and taken.
- The ash of the herb, mixed with honey, is beneficial for cough. A mixture of the ash and 4 times its weight of water should be allowed to stand for 24 hours. The residue obtained by evaporating the supernatant or upper layers of the liquid is the well known Ayurvedic preparation aghada khara. It is taken in doses of 6 to 12 centigrams for relieving coughs.
- A decoction of the plant is useful in renal dropsy as it increase the secretion and discharge of urine. This decoction is prepared by boiling 60 grams of the plant in 150 ml of water for 20 to 30 minutes. About 30 to 60 grams of this strained mixture should be taken twice or thrice daily.
- This is condition of excessive menstrual bleeding. The drug is useful in arresting secretion or bleeding. It is therefore valuable in abnormally excessive menstruation. An infusion of the herb should be used in treating this condition.
- The juice of the leaves is effective in treating stomach disorders like stomach ache, piles and bowel complaints. A decoction of the powdered leaves, mixed with honey or sugar candy is useful in the early stages of diarrhea and dysentery.
- Rough chaff leaves are useful in cuts and wounds from sharp edged weapons like knives and blades. Juice of a few leaves of the plant is used to thoroughly soak the wound. A leaf should be wrapped and bandaged over it. It heals within a day or two with a single application. An ointment made of the ash of the herb with orpiment is used for clearing warts and ulcers.
- A paste of the leaves made with water has proved effective in treating bites of poisonous insects, wasps, bees etc. It should be applied externally over the affected parts.
- The root of the herb is beneficial for eye-disorders. A paste of the roots with water can be applied beneficially in opthalmia and opacity of the cornea.
- The seeds of the herb are useful in facilitating easy and painless delivery. The seeds are ground well in water to prepare a fine paste, and applied on the navel, pupils and vulva.
It is advisable for pregnant women to take the juice of rough chaff in small doses, as large doses may hasten labor pains or cause abortion.