The Benefits of Bhringaraj
Bhringaraj (Eclipta prostrata or Eclipta alba), sometimes spelled bringraj, is renowned as one of the most supportive herbs for hair growth, shine, and luster in the Ayurvedic pharmacopoeia. Although this herb gets a lot of attention for its powerful effect on the hair, its gifts extend far beyond a head of luscious locks. It brings its cooling, rejuvenating benefits to the mind and nervous system while it also supports the liver, circulation, and even healthy skin.
In this article:
- Characteristics of the Bhringaraj Plant
- Bhringaraj Benefits and Uses
- How to Take Bhringaraj
- Modern Research on Bhringaraj
- Is Bhringaraj Safe?
- Growing and Harvesting Bhringaraj
Also commonly known simply as eclipta, bhringaraj is a member of the sunflower family (Asteraceae). An annual that grows up to about a foot in height, it grows a solitary, white, winged flower reminiscent of a daisy (hence its English name, false daisy). The name bhringaraj literally translates to “ruler of bees,” showing the popularity of this flowering plant among pollinators.
While the flowers are quite delicate, the slightly curly leaves are strong and thick, with a layer of hairs that can cause the skin to itch when touched. When crushed, the leaves produce a dark greenish-black liquid, which can be used to make dyes and inks for tattoos, earning this plant another nickname—the tattoo plant. 1
In fact, it is so well known for its affinity with the hair that it often goes by the Sanskrit name kesharaja, or “king of the hair. 2
Bhringaraj can be found around the world, most commonly growing in warm, moisture-rich climates like wetlands and marshes. In fact, its Spanish name, yerba de tago, roughly translates to “herb that grows in the ditch. 3
Interestingly, the two types of bhringaraj—Eclipta prostrata and its near-identical twin, Eclipta alba—are so genetically similar that many in the scientific community consider them the same species. 4 The critical distinction between them is that E. alba has slightly smoother leaf blade margins. 5
Names for Bhringaraj
|Bhringaraj||“Ruler of bees”||India||Sanskrit|
|Kesharaja/Kehraj||"King of the hair"||India and South Asia||Sanskrit/Assamese6|
|Karisalankanni||“Dark-juice-leafed”||Tamil Nadu and throughout South Asia||Tamil7|
|Yerba de Tago||“Herb of the ditch”||North, South, and Central America, Spain||Spanish|
Like many Ayurvedic herbs, bhringaraj’s benefits are vast and aren’t limited to one area of the body—offering gifts to other systems as well. For example, if you take bhringaraj with the intention of promoting healthy hair, you may also notice the extra reward of some of the following benefits.
- A More Settled Mind and Nervous System. Bhringaraj’s cooling action helps calm the mind, alleviate tension and stress, and support deep, restful sleep. 8
- A Cleansed, Healthy Liver. Its bitter and cooling qualities help clear excess heat from the liver, increasing healthy bile flow. 9
- Healthy Blood Circulation. Its benefits for the liver also extend to the lymph and blood, promoting the healthy flow of blood. 10
- Glowing, Strong Skin. Because the liver and blood play such an integral role in the health and appearance of the skin, bhringaraj is also an excellent herb for smooth, radiant skin. 11
Bhringaraj in Ayurveda
From an Ayurvedic perspective, this herb has a bitter, pungent, and sweet rasa (taste), a cooling virya (action), and a pungent vipaka (post-digestive effect). It is considered one of the best overall rejuvenatives for pitta dosha.
Combining the bitter and cooling properties of the herb with its action as a rejuvenative tonic, bhringaraj works wonders throughout the tissue layers and in different organs of the body.
For example, the bitter quality works to cleanse the liver by clearing excess pitta and increasing bile flow. This action in the liver extends to support the tissues of rasa and rakta dhatus, the lymph and blood, helping maintain calm, glowing skin and strong, healthy blood flow. 12
The ability to clear excess heat and agitation from the crown of the body also helps explain why bhringaraj is the ideal herb to support lustrous, healthy hair growth and robust color—according to Ayurveda, the more heat that lives in the head, the more prone we are to the loss of both color and moisture in the hair!
Bhringaraj simultaneously calms pitta and vata in the region of the head and fortifies majja dhatu, the tissue of the nerves. 13 As a rejuvenative, bhringaraj restores and strengthens asthi dhatu (the bone tissue layer), which includes our teeth and nails.
Finally, because of its pungent vipaka, bhringaraj is excellent for the lungs, helping clear excess kapha accumulation and maintain healthy function of the respiratory tract. It can also be used to support the health of the reproductive organs. 14
Thanks to its versatility, bhringaraj is excellent for internal and external support. The powder can certainly be used for your own DIY hair and beauty recipes, and it can be taken as a tea (although the taste may make this option less than appealing to most!).
It can also be found in many of our products, making it easy and convenient for daily use. Here are a few ways you can use bhringaraj in your daily routine.
Bhringaraj for Healthy Hair
If you, like so many of our customers, are looking for a product to support healthy, abundant, voluminous, and beautiful hair growth, or just need a little extra moisture in your mane, we offer a handful of products specifically for this purpose.
- Our Healthy Hair tablets deliver bhringaraj, along with a few other pitta-pacifying herbs, to support robust and healthy hair growth from the inside-out, while also cleansing the liver, detoxifying the body, and removing excess pitta from the system as a whole.
- Bhringaraj Oil is a traditional herbal oil that combines all of the amazing qualities of bhringaraj with a rich and nourishing sesame oil base for a product that is simple yet powerful in its effect on the hair, scalp, and mind.
- Healthy Hair Oil is made with a moisturizing base of coconut and sesame oils, and it brings together a dream team of hair-enhancing herbs, including bhringaraj, amalaki, and brahmi/gotu-kola. This powerful trifecta cools, cleanses, and rejuvenates in order to strengthen and nourish all hair types.
Be sure to take some time to gently massage the oil into your scalp to stimulate the hair follicles and allow the deeply nourishing herbs and oils to penetrate to the roots of your hair. Healthy Hair tablets can be used in conjunction with Healthy Hair Oil for full-body support.
Bhringaraj for the Mind and Nervous System
If you are interested in bhringaraj’s ability to calm the mind, promote memory, and strengthen and nourish the nervous system, Tranquil Mind tablets and Mental Clarity tablets will offer significant support.
Using Bhringaraj Oil or Healthy Hair Oil will also support the mind and nervous system.
Bhringaraj for Sound Sleep
Other Uses for Bhringaraj
Lastly, bhringaraj can be found in our Liver Formula tablets, which help detoxify and rejuvenate the liver, and in Healthy Pitta tablets, which support overall health and well-being by cooling the system and maintaining a proper balance of pitta dosha.
The popularity of bhringaraj goes beyond Ayurveda, garnering the attention of researchers and a growing number of studies. Below are a few studies that have researched this herb’s effects:
- “Accentuating the prodigious significance of Eclipta alba—an inestimable medicinal plant.” PubMed extract. Nov 2013. 15
- “Phytochemistry and neuroprotective effects of Eclipta alba (L.) Hassk.” PubMed extract. May 2019. 16
- “Ethnopharmacological Significance of Eclipta alba (L.) Hassk. (Asteraceae).” PubMed extract. Oct 2014. 17
- “Eclipta alba extract with potential for hair growth promoting activity.” PubMed extract. Jul 2009. 18
- “Hair growth promoting activity of Eclipta alba in male albino rats.” PubMed extract. Aug 2008. 19
Bhringaraj is considered safe and effective when used appropriately. It is recommended to speak with your healthcare provider before taking bhringaraj if you are pregnant, nursing, or taking medications. Those taking diuretics or blood thinners should avoid consuming bhringaraj internally. 20
Although bhringaraj can grow as a weed in paddy fields and marshy areas, it can also be cultivated and farmed. That said, we have found it can be a labor of love.
In years past, we have run into supply issues when we were unable to source bhringaraj that matched our quality standards. Beyond this, our partner farms in India have struggled to grow bhringaraj due to extreme weather conditions.
In 2019, for instance, the heavy monsoon rains completely washed away planted bhringaraj fields in Maharastra. But by exploring different regions in India, such as Gujarat, we have found better success, and now the bhringaraj fields are thriving.
Bhringaraj generally grows well in Southern Oregon; we’ve also run into some challenges here. Because bhringaraj loves moisture and humidity, years of drought, like the 2021 growing season, can be hard on the plants. Banyan Farm has found it does better in partial shade, while our partner farms in the region can grow it in full sun, thanks to more loamy soil that holds moisture better.
Harvesting bhringaraj is labor-intensive as well. It is entirely hand-harvested and farmers need to wear long sleeves and gloves for protection—the prickly, protective hairs on the aerial parts of the plant can cause skin irritation and rashes.
Even with these challenges, bhringaraj is worth it. We’re not the only fans of this plant either:
Sustainability of Bhringaraj
It’s important to know where and how your bhringaraj is grown, not just for your own health, but for the health of the plant and its environment.
As a water-loving, sensitive plant, bhringaraj can absorb heavy metals and pesticide residue from its environment. And due to its rising popularity, wild-grown bhringaraj in India is no longer widely available due to overharvesting.
Because we only work with cultivated bhringaraj, there are no sustainability concerns for our crops. Our partner farms are certified organic and have stringent quality and safety specifications for each and every batch grown.
As a wider conversation about sustainability in Ayurveda, we encourage you to research the sustainability and quality of all herbs you use. The more we can support high quality, sustainably grown herbs, the more we can support the longevity of these beloved plants for generations to come.