Indian acalypha (botanical name Acalypha indica) is one of the plant species whose inflorescence is of catkin variety. This herb is found growing naturally in several tropical regions of the world including India, Sri Lanka, South Africa, Pakistan and Yemen. Elsewhere this plant has possibly been introduced in the form of a weed. Indian acalypha is employed for therapeutic purposes in East and West Africa.
Indian acalypha is a common herb that grows up to a height of 75 cm and bears ovate leaves. The flowers of this herb have a green hue and appear in catkin inflorescence. People in West Africa cook the leaves of Indian acalypha and consume them as a vegetable. Moreover, browsing cattle also consume this herb. In the traditional Tamil Siddha medicine in India, Indian acalypha is held in high esteem and people are of the view that this herb helps to invigorate the body.
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The Indian acalypha is an ordinary weed that is found growing naturally in the wild, along the roadsides, in lawns as well as on the slopes. This species is an herbaceous annual plant that grows straight and has branches with rough long lines and smooth hairs.
Wherever you find Indian acalypha growing, this herb is well known for its effects on domesticated cats, which not only react very strongly to it, but also quite favourably, especially to the plant's roots. While the plant is extremely similar to catnip in this regard, but compared to catnip, the effects of Indian acalypha are much more prominent.
The Indian acalypha has widespread use in Ayurveda, an ancient medicine form in India, and is employed for treating various health conditions. The leaves, tender shoots as well as roots of this herb are known to possess very potent therapeutic properties and, hence, are valued highly. In the Philippines, people used Indian acalypha in a variety of alternative medicine forms. This is also true for people in Malaysia and several other regions of Southeast Asia.
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A paste prepared from the Indian acalypha is very effective for treating a variety of skin conditions, including eczema, sores, scabies and wounds. You can apply the leaf paste directly to the affected areas on the skin and see how quickly it alleviates the problem. As this herb possesses anti-bacterial properties, it is widely used for providing relief from conditions like acne and pimples. A paste of the leaves of Indian acalypha mixed with turmeric is said to have a soothing effect when applied to acne.
Acalypha indica leaves possess laxative and anti-parasitic properties. Making a paste of the leaves with common salt, lime juice or quicklime and applying it topically to scabies, helps to heal the problem quickly. Similarly a paste of the leaves mixed with lime juice is recommended for those suffering from ringworms. In addition, the juice extracted from fresh Indian acalypha is given to children in the form of an emetic.
A decoction prepared with the leaves of Indian acalypha is used to treat earaches, while the dry leaves are powdered and given to children for expelling worms. Alternatively, children are also given Indian acalypha decoction mixed with some garlic for the same purpose. This herb is also used in homeopathy for treating severe cough accompanied by bleeding from lungs, incipient phthisis and haemoptysis.
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Findings of some scientific studies have hinted that using the extracts of Indian acalypha leaves and roots possess anti-bacterial qualities and, hence, it can restrain the growth of the three strains of bacteria such as Bacillus subtilis, Staphylococcus, aureus, and Klebsiella pneumonia. In addition, it has been found that this herb also shows considerable anti-microbial activities against both bacteria as well as fungi. Indian acalypha is a wonderful healing agent as a result of these qualities. A number of studies undertaken have shown that topical application of the extracts obtained from this herb helps to speed up the healing process.
Studies have also demonstrated that the extracts obtained from the roots of Indian acalypha have shown to possess considerable antioxidant attributes owing to the herb containing elevated levels of flavonoids as well as phenolic compounds.
Findings of a number of experiments undertaken on rats have shown that this herb has aided in considerably reducing the blood cholesterol levels. It is believed that the steroids and polyphenols present in Indian acalypha are highly beneficial for people with diabetes, provided they consume formulations prepared from the herb on a regular basis.
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The sap exuded by Indian acalypha leaf is also used in the form of an eye drop to treat eye infections. The powdered dry leaves of this herb are mixed with water and applied for the same purpose. Some scientific studies have shown that this herb contains active metabolites that are effective in protecting the heart tissues from several harms, including a number of cardiovascular diseases.
Indian acalypha contains a number of useful chemical compounds like steroids, flavonoids and terpenoids that makes this herb effective for use in the form of an analgesic as well as an anti-inflammatory agent. This herb is also an effective expectorant and helps in eliminating phlegm from our respiratory system and is, therefore, widely used for treating cough, especially problems related to breathing. Taking two or three spoonfuls of the juice extracted from Indian acalypha is effective in providing instant relief from the above mentioned problems related to the respiratory tract.
Since the leaves of this herb possess laxative properties, a decoction prepared with the leaves of Indian acalypha is effectual in healing constipation. Often the fresh leaves of the herb are employed in the form of a suppository to stimulate motion in infants who are enduring constipation. In addition, the leaves of this herb, which is also often referred to as Indian nettle, have been traditionally employed for treating intestinal worm.
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A decoction prepared from the leaves of the Indian acalypha is used to treat dysentery in the Philippines. In addition, people there also extract the juice of the leaves and roots of the herb and give it to children in the form of an emetic and expectorant.
The leaves can be mashed and used as a poultice for treating syphilitic ulcers, to heal maggot-eaten sores and also in the form of an emollient to treat snake bites. The powdered dry leaves of Indian acalypha are employed for treating bed sores. In addition, the leaves of this herb are also used to treat insomnia.
Indian acalypha leaves are also applied directly to pustules and skin areas affected by insect bites. The juice extracted from fresh leaves of this herb is blended with lime or water and used for treating symptoms related to rheumatism.
Indian acalypha is employed in the form of an expectorant in Indian pharmacopoeia. In addition, this herb is used for preventing as well as reversing atherosclerotic disease. Many herbal practitioners also recommend the herb for people suffering from asthma, pneumonia and rheumatism.
Members of the Paliyar tribe called Shenbagathope in India's southern state Tamil Nadu used the whole Indian acalypha plant for treating bronchitis. A decoction made from the whole herb is also used for treating toothaches and earaches. A paste of the leaves is applied to speed up healing of burn injuries.
Indian acalypha is widely found growing naturally in the tropical regions of the Old World. It occurs naturally in Nigeria in West Africa and also all over the tropical regions in Africa as well as the numerous islands in the Indian Ocean. In addition, Indian acalypha also grows naturally in various parts of India, Southeast Asia as well as Oceania. Over the years, this herb has been introduced as well as acclimatized in several regions of the New World where the conditions are favourable for its growth.
It has been found that the Indian acalypha (Acalypha indica) contains steroids, phenolic compounds, saponins, flavonoids and tannins. In addition, this herb also encloses an alkaloid called acalyphine together with inositol, cyanogenic glycoside, triaetomamine, resin and several volatile oils.