Boerhaavia diffusa is a plant of tropical region used in Ayurvedic as well as some other traditional herbal medicines taken for pain relief, anti-inflammation, and treating indigestion. It is also used for its anti-diabetic and diuretic properties. However, animal studies are promising there were no human studies conducted using Boerhaavia diffusa.
Daily oral administration of aqueous solution with 200mg/kg of the leaf Boerhaavia diffusa L. extract was able to significantly reduce blood glucose (50.5%) and significant increase in plasma insulin levels (52.6%) in alloxan-induced diabetic rats . Another study came to comparable anti-diabetic effect using same dose . Orally administered Boerhaavia at a dose of 500mg/kg body weight for a period of 30 days to alloxan-induced diabetic rats exhibited normalized blood glucose and serum insulin levels with a similar potency as a standard hypoglycaemic drug Metformin . There was no effect in non-diabetic rats . Observed anti-diabetic effect is believed to be mediated by increased release of insulin from the existing beta cells of pancreas [2,7] or through extra pancreatic action .
Interaction with Liver Enzymes
200 mg/kg of Boerhaavia diffusa leaf extract somewhat improved activities of the hepatic enzymes in experimentally induced diabetic rats (increased hexokinase, decreased glucose-6-phosphatase [G6P], fructose-1,6-bisphosphatase [F1,6P]) . Effect was comparable to 600 microg/kg Glibenclamide .
One in vitro study demonstrated potent anti-estrogenic properties of methanol extract of Boerhaavia diffusa in MCF-7 breast cancer cell lines . At 100mcg/mL, Boerhaavia methanolic extract exhibited similarly effectiveness as ICI 182-780 (strong estrogen receptor antagonist) on the expression of a selected estrogen responsive gene pS2, however estrogen receptor binding with IC50 at 320+/-25ug/mL is fairly weak .
Boerhaavia diffusa appears to posses diuretic effect  as it was able to further increase diuresis (urination) associated with kidney stone formation in a dose-dependent manner . Leaves and roots seem to have diuretic effect with minimal effects noted when using stem .
Other Possible Benefits of Boerhaavia Diffusa
One in vitro study showed that Boerhaavia posseses the ability to reduce kidney stones formation (anti-urolithiasis) and may even reduce the stone size . This was confirmed in animal study in ethylene glycol-induced hyperoxaluric rats . Boerhaavia diffusa (at the dose of 100 and 200 mg/kg body weight orally for 28 days) not only ameliorated hyperoxaluric oxidative stress and renal cell injury in urolithiasis but also prevented kidney stone formation in a dose-dependent manner . One study even reported cortisol lowering activities in male mice . Aqueous extract of B. diffusa roots also exhibits significant free radicals scavenging activity . In alloxan-induced diabetic, 200 mg/kg of B. diffusa leaf extract was able to significantly increase reduced glutathione, superoxide dismutase, catalase, glutathione peroxidase and glutathione S-transferases (GSTs) in liver and kidneys . In thioacetamide intoxicated rats, Boerhaavia (2 ml/kg root) exhibited hepatoprotective activity as visible by protection of a majority of serum parameters, i.e. GOT, GPT, ACP and ALP, but not GLDH and bilirubin .
Side Effects and Toxicity
The extract does not show any signs of toxicity up to an oral dose of 2 g/kg in mice .
(Other common names: Punarnava, Nyctinaceae, BME, BDE, BLEt, Boerhaavia diffusa Linn., Nyctaginaceae, B. diffusa)
- Pari, L., and M. Amarnath Satheesh. “Antidiabetic activity of Boerhaavia diffusa L.: effect on hepatic key enzymes in experimental diabetes.” Journal of ethnopharmacology 91.1 (2004): 109-113.
- Satheesh, M. Amarnath, and L. Pari. “Antioxidant effect of Boerhavia diffusa L. in tissues of alloxan induced diabetic rats.” Indian J Exp Biol 42.10 (2004): 989-92.
- Singh, Prem Kumar, Darshee Baxi, and Ankita Doshi. “Antihyperglycaemic And Renoprotective Effect of Boerhaavia diffusa L. in Experimental Diabetic Rats.” Journal of Complementary and Integrative Medicine 8.1 (2011).
- Sreeja, Sreekumar, and Sreeharshan Sreeja. “An in vitro study on antiproliferative and antiestrogenic effects of Boerhaavia diffusa L. extracts.” Journal of ethnopharmacology 126.2 (2009): 221-225.
- Singh, S. K. P., B. L. Pandey, and R. G. Singh. “Recent approach in clinical and experimental evaluation of diuretic action of Punarnava.” (1992).
- Mudgal V. “Studies on medicinal properties of Convolvulus pluricaulis and Boerhaavia diffusa.” Planta Med. (1975)
- Nalamolu, Rao K., Krishna M. Boini, and Srinivas Nammi. “Effect of chronic administration of Boerhaavia diffusa Linn. leaf extract on experimental diabetes in rats.” Tropical Journal of Pharmaceutical Research 3.1 (2007): 305-309.
- Pareta, Surendra K., et al. “Aqueous extract of Boerhaavia diffusa root ameliorates ethylene glycol-induced hyperoxaluric oxidative stress and renal injury in rat kidney.” Pharmaceutical biology 49.12 (2011): 1224-1233.
- Yasir, Fauzia, and Muhammad A. Waqar. “Effect of indigenous plant extracts on calcium oxalate crystallization having a role in urolithiasis.” Urological research 39.5 (2011): 345-350.
- Gholap, S., and A. Kar. “Hypoglycaemic effects of some plant extracts are possibly mediated through inhibition in corticosteroid concentration.” Die Pharmazie-An International Journal of Pharmaceutical Sciences 59.11 (2004): 876-878.
- Rawat, A. K. S., et al. “Hepatoprotective activity of Boerhaavia diffusa L. roots—a popular Indian ethnomedicine.” Journal of ethnopharmacology 56.1 (1997): 61-66.