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Dashapushpam Part 3- SHASHASHRUTHI


Emilia sonchifolia-Shashashruthi

The tender slender plant of the sunflower family is a native of the tropics and subtropics. It is named Shashashruthi or Aakhukarni in Sanskrit, relating the name to the shape of the leaves resembling a rabbit’s ear. It is commonly called Flora’s paint brush and Cupid’s shaving brush as the delicate enchanting silky thin projecting florets look like the bristles of paint or shaving brush. It is also called Lilac tassel flower as the purplish florets are similar to a silky tassel. Though an edible, medicinally potent plant, Emilia is considered as a weed rather than a useful herb by the farming community.

The plant is very helpful to manage the head and neck infections, diseases and inflammations and is very specifically used in the treatment of tonsillitis, both internally and externally. The plant is a member of the Dashapushpam family which is an assortment of ten auspicious, immune boosting and detoxifying herbs. These herbs are collectively used as food, medicine, hair adorning and as anti-microbial hangings in houses to protect the houses from vectors and germs during the rainy season. Dashapushpam usage is a centuries old tradition of Kerala in India. During the month of Karkitakam, Dashapushpams are collected and offered to deities and the blessed offerings are used for various health protective purposes. In Sanskrit it is also named as Dravanti (with a thick tap root) and Sambari (small plant).

Shashashruthi -The Botany

Classification: Latin Name: Emilia sonchifolia Family: Compositae

Plant Description: Shashashruthi is an erect ascending smooth or sparingly hairy, soft stemmed slender branched, annual herb. The plant with a branched tap root is usually 20 cm tall and may reach up to 70cm. The alternatively arranged kidney shaped leaves are deeply and irregularly toothed on the lower branches earning the plant its name of rabbit’s ear. The leaves are 4 to 16 cm long and 1-8 cm wide with narrowly winged petioles. The upper lanceolate leaves are sessile and smaller with the bases encircling the stem. The dichotomously branched, terminal, flat inflorescence bear 3-6 urn shaped stalked flower heads with 30-60 thin lilac coloured florets protruding 1 mm above a green ring of involucre bracts. The outer florets are female, while the inner ones have both stamens and stigmas. The reddish brown fruit with a papus is 3-4 mm long, oblong, dry, indehiscent and ribbed achene.

Propagation and Habitat: The propagation is through seeds. The light seeds get dispersed by wind or other natural agents and get deposited in the soil. They germinate and grow into new plants as the earth soaks in the rain. The seeds also get mixed with cultivated crops and disperse across agricultural lands.

Emilia is a native of Central and South America, it is found in the tropical and subtropical belt of Asia, South America and Africa in countries of India, Malaysia, Indonesia, Japan, Brazil, Nicaragua, Cuba and tropical regions of Russia. It prefers loose wet soil, good rainfall and humid weather.

Important Chemical Constituents: It contains calcium, phosphorous magnesium, sodium, potassium, vitamins like riboflavin and niacin. Important chemical constituents are simiral, beta-sitosterol, stigmasterol, palmitic acid and honey acid.

Useful Parts: The whole plant is the most useful part. For edible and therapeutic purposes the plants are harvested at the start of the flowering phase.

The leaves and young shoots are used as vegetables and are eaten raw as salads or as sautéed greens. The juice is added to the special medicinal porridge Karkitaka Kanji prepared in Kerala during monsoons.

Shashashruthiand Ayurveda

Qualitative Analysis: Ayurveda classifies and categories drugs on a qualitative basis, after analysing the Rasapanchakas or the five quality attributes viz. rasa (taste), guna (property), vipaaka (final transformation of quality after primary and secondary digestion) veerya (potency) and prabhaava (unexplainable special quality).

The Rasapanchaka of Emilia Shashashruthi is

  • Rasa: Katu (pungent), Kashaya (astringent) and Thiktha (bitter)

  • Guna: Laghu (light) and Graahi (clasping and withholding)

  • Vipaaka: Katu (pungent)

  • Veerya: Sheetha (cool and soothing)

  • Prabhaava: Vishaghna (anti-poisonous) and Shothaghna (Anti-inflammatory for throat diseases)

Dosha Action and Therapeutic Usage: The plant pacifies Kapha and Vaata doshas especially of the head and neck regions. It has excellent anti-poisonous therapeutic action and hence is used in the treatment of Krait and other snake bites. As the 7th Dashapushpam it gels up with the other nine herbs to form a formidable disease preventive and protective garrison around the user. It also acts as an anti-inflammatory, anti-septic, anti-diarrhoeal, anthelmintic and febrifuge medicinal herb.

Diseases and Formulations: It is used in the treatment of Krait bites, tonsillitis, mumps, laryngitis, pharyngitis, hypothyroidism, conjunctivitis, worm infestations, bleeding piles, cuts, ulcers, intermittent fever and allergy. Influenza, fever, upper respiratory tract infection, sore throat, oral ulcer, pneumonitis, enteritis, dysentery, genito-urinary tract infection, mastitis, orchitis, wound infection, furunculosis, eczema, traumatic injury and ascaris are a few other indications.

The plant is mostly used in fresh form and is either used in freshly juiced or pasted or diced forms. Dried whole plants are also used in a few preparations. A few formulations with Shashashruthi are Swarasam, Kalkam, Kwatham, Dashapushpa Choornam, Dashapushpa Kashayam, Dashapushpa Thailam, Karkitaka Kanji Koottu, Dashapushpa Ghritham and Chemparuthyadi Thailam.

Dosage, Contra-indications, Side effects and Purificatory Process:

  • The paediatric dosage of the juice is 2.5 to 5 ml while the adult dosage varies between 5 to 15 ml per day.

  • Emilia is contra indicated for internal use during, pregnancy, lactation, gastric ulcers and in certain diseases.

  • Shashashruthi should always be used under medical supervision since it can have the side effects of itching, skin irritation, gastric irritation and ear imbalance in a few people.

  • Emilia should always be washed clean and used.

Shashashruthi-Emilia a few home remedies

  • The whole plant is crushed to extract the juice which is applied on poisonous bite sites and 15 ml of it is given internally for 7 days.

  • The paste of the whole plant is applied on the throat swellings twice daily till the swellings reduce.

  • The paste is given internally with buttermilk to stop bleeding in bleeding piles.

  • The paste is applied on the breasts to reduce the pain and swelling in mastitis.

  • 5 ml of the fresh juice is given everyday night for 2 days in ascaris infestation.

  • The whole plant is boiled in water, cooled, filtered and used as an eye wash in cases of conjunctivitis.

  • The decoction of the whole plant is given with honey in all cases of fever.

  • The porridge with Navara rice and Dashapushpam (of which Shashashruthi is also a member) is a natural herbal immune protective diet and should be taken during monsoons or winter months continuously for 2 weeks under expert Ayurvedic medical guidance.

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