Coontail Ceratophyllum demersum Uses, Research, Dose, Side Effects

Shaivala (coontail) Ceratophyllum demersum is an algae, mentioned in Ayurveda for the treatment of fever, piles, burning sensation of the body and excessive thirst. 

Latin name- Ceratophyllum demersum Linn.
Family- Ceratophyllaceae

Names in different languages:
English name – Coon tail, Hornwort, Rigid hornwort, coontail, coon’s tail
Hindi name – Sevar, Kaayi, Sivar
Gujarati name- Saivala
Marathi name – Saivala
Tamil name- Velampasi
Telugu name- Nachu

Sanskrit Synonyms of Saivala:
Jalaja – Found in water
Jalakesha – Resembles as if hair is spread in water
Jalaneela, Jalamundapi
Toya Kumbhi, Toya Vruksha, Paneeya Prushta, Vari parni – grows in water
Hatha, Kuli, Kumbhi, Dhandhana, Vrukadhumaka,
Shaivala,

Morphology of Ceratophyllum demersum:
Ceratophyllum grows completely submerged usually and occasionally floating on the surface of water. The plant stems can reach 1–3 m in length. At intervals along nodes of the stem they produce rings of bright green leaves, which are narrow and often much-branched. The forked leaves are brittle and stiff to the touch in some species, softer in others. The plants have no roots at all, but sometimes they develop modified leaves with a root like appearance, which anchor the plant to the bottom. The flowers are small and inconspicuous, with the male and female flowers on the same plant. In ponds it forms thick buds (turions) in the autumn that sink to the bottom which give the impression that it has been killed by the frost but come spring these will grow back into the long stems slowly filling up the pond. The herb is found in the water source of hilly regions all over North and Eastern India.

Medicinal Properties of Shaival:
Rasa (Taste) – Kashaya (Astringent), Tikta (Bitter), Madhura (Sweet)
Guna (Qualities) – Laghu (Light), Snigdha (Slimy)
Vipaka – Katu (Undergoes pungent taste after digestion)
Veerya (Potency) – Sheeta (Cold)
Karma (Actions) – Tridosha shamaka (reduces all the vitiated doshas)

Part used- Whole plant
Dosage- Fresh juice- 10 to 20 ml

Chemical composition: The herb is rich in protein, calcium and magnesium. It also contains ferredoxin and plastocyanin.

Uses of Shaivala:

  • The paste of the herb Shaivala is applied externally over pile mass and burning sensation in the external opening of anal region.
  • Fresh juice of Ceratophyllum demersum is given in a dose of 10-20 ml in conditions of fever, excessive thirst, burning micturition and burning sensation of body to relieve the features.
  • Cold infusion prepared from the herb is given in a dose of 50-60 ml to relieve diarrhea associated with blood.
  • In condition of fresh wound associated with pain and swelling, the paste of Shaivala is applied locally over the affected area.
  • Ghee medicated with Shaivala, Kamala nala (Lotus stem), Arjuna is beneficial to improve the strength of cardiac muscles.
  • In condition of herpes, the paste prepared by Shaivala, Chandana (Sandalwood), Durva etc is applied over the affected area.
  • The paste of Ceratophyllum demersum mixed with butter and leaf paste of Shirisha and Haridra can pacify Scorpion bite poisoning and pain associated with it.

Benefits of Coontail as per Ayurveda:
Laghu – light to digest
Sara – induces mobility, causes diarrhea, purgation, relieves constipation
Katu –pungent, spicy

Indicated in –
Pittasra – Raktapitta –Bleeding disorders such as nasal bleeding, heavy periods, etc
Jwra
Shosha – emaciation, dehydration
Santapa – burning sensation
Vrana – Ulcers, wounds
Daha – burning sensation, as in gastritis, neuropathy, burning sensation in eyes etc
Trushna – excessive thirst

Side effect: No adverse effect is known after the use of Shaivala

Research articles related to Ceratophyllum demersum:
Anti- microbial activity:
The current study on three different aquatic plants Cabomba aquatica, Ceratophyllum demersum and Hygrophila corymbosa was proved to have antimicrobial activity. Crude extracts of plants and were prepared in acetone, butanol and methanol. The presence of antimicrobial activity by agar well diffusion method against one gram positive (Staphylococcus aureus), one gram negative (Escherichia coli) bacterial strain and one fungi (Aspergillus niger) was studied and qualitative phytochemical screening was performed. 100% butanol extracts of Hygrophila corymbosa showed highest antibacterial activity (12mm) against E.coli and 50% methanol extracts of Cabomba aquatica showed high antifungal activity (18mm) against A.niger.

Classical categorization:
Bhavaprakasha – Pushpavarga – group of flowers
Kaiyyadeva Nighantu- Oushadhi varga
Raja Nighantu- Shalmalyadi varga

Scientific classification:
Kingdom: Plantae
Class: Angiosperms
Order: Ceratophyllales
Family: Ceratophyllaceae
Genus: Ceratophyllum L.

References of Shaivala in Charaka Samhita:
He explaind Shaivala under chandanadya taila – charaka chikista- 3/ 258
Shaivala is the drug which is used in the pralepa (ointment) for the treatment of rakta pitta. Also used in preparations of pradeha (thick ointment), sechana (sprinkling), avagaha (bath),grita (medicated ghee) and taila (medicated oil). If he desires to cure rakta pitta – charaka samhita chikista sthan – 4/ 103

The paste of saivala (moss), the root of nala, gojihva, vrisha karnika, and leaves of indrani should be mixed with ghee and applied externally – Sam. Chi. Sya- 21/ 84

Paste of Shaivala (moss), root of nala, veera & gandapriyangu is useful in kaphaja type of visarpa – Sam. chi. Sya- 21/90

Application of the paste of shavala, pankha (mud) and lotus along with sour juice and ghee or the paste of the saktu mixed with sour juice and ghee cure morbid thirst. Cha Sam. Chi sya- 22/37

– Medicated ghee should be prepared by cooking with the paste of kasheruka, saivala, sringavera, prapoundarika, maduka and tuber of lotus & milk. Honey should be added after cooking is over. Intake of this portion cures heart- disease. Chi. –26/94

-shavala, padma, utpala, vetra, tunga, chandana etc drugs are used in the preparation of ointment and mixed up with ghee relieves burning sensation -Cha Su. –3/26

-Fish in general is heavy, hot in potency, sweet, strength promoting nourishing unctuous & aphrodisiac. It alleviates vata and is associated with many injurious effects on the body Cha Su. –27/83

saivala is also mentioned under enema recipers for pitta-nala, vanjula, vaneera, shatha patra and saivala etc prepared with the milk are to be used as enema for paittica type of diseases along with sugar, honey & ghee. Cha. Sa. chi – 10/21

According to Sushruta :
– The oil duly cooked, with the tender sprouts of Shaivala,Mahavriksha,Jambu& of Shaivala,Manduki is highly efficacious in treatment of Putikarna,karnasrava and Krimikarna.

The origin of the non-venomous species is ascribed to such decomposed vegetables matter, as the purified stems of the several aquatic plants known as kumuda,shaivala etc which live in clear waters.

The shaivala etc drugs are used as food for the leeches.
Shaivala, chandana, kuchandana etc drugs are grouped under Pitta samshamana varga.
The water which is covered with growths of aquatic plants such as panka, saivala etc is contaminated water.
The water which is covered with saivala & other aquatic plants is heavy.

pradeha (plaster) composed of shali, shashtika, saivala,gairika etc. and mixed with clarified butter,should be applied to the affected part. This plaster(pradeha ) may be applied luke warm in the cases of vata rakta, marked by a preponderance of the aggravated vayu. All the remedial measures( laid down above) may also be advantageously applied in cases marked by a pre – ponderance of the vitiated blood, with this exception that cold plasters & repeated blood–letting should be resorted to in the latter(raktaja-vatarakta).(16)

The decoction of durva, saivala, plava, hata, karanja and kasheruka or that of kakubaka & red sandal wood in case of shukra meha.

– Treatment of pittaja visarpa :- In this case, a plaster consisting of kasheruka, shringataka, padma, gundra, shaivala, utpala & clay pasted together and mixed with clarified butter, should be wrapped in a piece of linen, and applied cool to the affected part.

Clarified butter or goat’s milk with duly cooked with gundra, shali, saivala, shaila etc drugs should be employed as a tarpana or as a wash (seka) or nasya(snuff).

According to Vagbhata :
Ushtra damshtra (tooth of a camel) pasted mixed with saivala destroys, the poison of scorpion.

Hribera, vikankata, saivala, nilotpala, etc are efficacious recipes described in the three kinds of poetical meters used for drinking, collyrium, nasal medication, external application and bathing the part cures the poison of spiders predominant of vata, pitta, kapha respectively.

Medicated ghee prepared with prapoundarika, madhuka, bias granthi, kasheruka, shunti, saivala, milk & ghee is desirable to be consumed with honey in case of pittaja hridroga.

The water which is dirty, being mixed with slush, algae, weed & leaves, which is not exposed to sunlight & wind. Which is a mixture of old & fresh, which is thick heavy frothy, containing worms etc are should not be used for drinking.  

According to Bhava prakasha:
Shaivala is astringent, biter, sweet, easy for digestion, unctuous cures burning sensation, thirst & fever mitigates raktapitta,jwara etc

He also explains that kumbika and shaivala are paryayas of variparni but the properties are different. But later he explains that kumbika is not the synonym of shaivala

According to Dhanvantari Nigantu:
 Shaivala is the synonym of jalamusta and having tikta, katu and kashaya rasa, sheeta virya improves complexion, medya, pacifying vata dosha, is useful in blindness, visarpa, kandu, kushta and visha. -(26)

Author: Dr.B.K.Prashanth M.D (Ayu), Ph.D
E mail: drprashanthbk@gmail.com
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