ECLIPTA (Eclipta alba, E. prostrata)


Latin: Eclipta alba, Eclipta prostrata
Sanskrit: Bhringaraja (alba)
Chinese: Han lian cao (prostrata)

WHAT IT DOES: Eclipta is cooling in action.  Ayurvedic eclipta (bhringaraja) is bitter in taste, while Chinese eclipta (han lian cao) is sweet and sour in taste.  Both reduce inflammation, obstructive swelling and pain from the liver and blood.  They also calm stress and nourish the hair roots.

RATING: yellow, due to limited applications.

SAFETY ISSUES: None known.

STARTING DOSAGE: dried powder, dried decoction or fresh leaf juice
• Dried powder: two grams two times per day
• 4:1 dried decoction: 500 mg two times per day
• Fresh leaf juice: one to two teaspoons three times per day

Two distinct species of eclipta are differentiated by my Ayurvedic teacher in Nepal, one with white flowers, and one with yellow flowers (Bajracharya, 1979).  TAM doctors use eclipta to treat liver cirrhosis, infectious hepatitis, and liver and spleen enlargement.  They boil the leaf juice with sesame or coconut oil and apply it topically, both to retard graying of the hair and to make the hair more luxuriant. Hair oils made with eclipta are available in many Indian grocery stores. Doctors in Nepal use eclipta drops dissolved in sesame oil to treat sinusitis, migraine headache, and inflammation of the eye, nose, and ears.

TCM doctors use a similar species (milder in taste) internally to treat dizziness, blurred vision, vertigo and premature graying of hair, especially in cases of Yin deficiency.  The simple combination of ligustrum fruit (nu shen zi / Ligustrum lucidum) and eclipta is a well-known and effective Yin tonic.

In 1996, I created a treatment by adding Ayurvedic eclipta to some of the standard TCM herbs for hair loss.  I soon had a regular clientele of men and women using the formula.  After an average of three months of use (it takes time to grow hair), they reported better results than we had previously experienced with the TCM formula alone.  I remember in particular a young African-American woman who was so ashamed of her severe hair loss (complete with bald patches) that she wore a cap at all times.  After a year or so she came back to show me her lush hair, all in beautiful braids.

Research Highlights

• In one study, topical application of fresh eclipta leaf juice mixed with neem oil reportedly stimulated hair growth, and in some cases changed gray hair to black (Chandra K, 1985).

• Seven pharmacological and histological animal studies reported in India by the Central Council for Research on Ayurveda and Siddha have shown strong protective effects on the liver.  Histopathlogical studies showed significant reduction in elevated liver enzymes and alkaline phosphate, and healing of liver tissues, within four weeks following chemical insults (reported in Pandey, 1996).

• The liver protective effects of eclipta (alba) seem to result from its ability to regulate levels of drug metabolizing enzymes in the liver (Saxena et al., 1993).

• Researchers have also reported a calming hypotensive effect (reported in Pandey, 1996, Gupta, 1976), as well as anti-bacterial and anti-viral activity (reported in Pandey, 1996).

• Additionally, eclipta (prostrata) and some of its constituents were shown in animal experiments to neutralize toxicity and bleeding caused by snake venom and mushroom toxins (Melo et al., 1994, Mors,
1991).