The ongoing sedentary lifestyle, unhealthy eating timings and habits, excessive stress due to the pandemic and balancing work and home, have rendered an unproductive digestive system and an overall depreciation of the gut health. As a result of this, one not only faces problems related to gas, bloating, indigestion, abdominal pain, and diarrhoea but also undergoes issues regarding skin, hair, sleep, and even mental health. Ayurveda, a 5000-year-old traditional remedial science notes that the digestive system is not just a process where food gets broken down and provide our body with energy and the required nutrients but a fundamental step or the key that leads to a long and diseased free life.
The substances we eat or include in our daily diet plays a key role in managing auto-immune disorders, behavioral problems, degenerative disorders, inflammatory woes and allergic conditions and hence digestion has a strong command over the hormonal, nervous and immune systems. And due to this, more and more people swing towards healthier dietary options by including fruits, veggies, spices, and herbs to regulate the digestive fire and thereby manage all other health woes. One such incredible ayurvedic herb that ayurvedic practitioners have been recommending since the ancient times is Nagarmotha.
What Is Nagarmotha?
Nagarmotha is a classical ayurvedic herb of perennial origin that goes by the botanical name Cyperus rotundus and belongs to the sedge family or the Cyperaceae family of plants and hence is a close relative of Cyperus esculentus, the tiger nut or chufa. Deemed as one of the most invasive and pestiferous plant all over the world, nagarmotha infests over fifty variety of crops worldwide, and owing to this, it has even earned itself the nickname of “the world’s worst weed”. It chiefly prefers moist or well irrigated, light sandy and medium loamy soils with an acidic, neutral or alkaline nature and thrives best in gardens, lawns, fields and waste lands of Africa, southern and central parts of Europe, and southern Asia.
Nagarmotha is a colonial plant exhibiting fibrous roots and usually grows to a height of 7-40 cm. They reproduce by giving out tubers, basal bulbs, rhizomes and fibrous roots. These rhizomes in the initial period are white and fleshy in nature with scaly leaves that later become wiry, fibrous and dark brown in colour. These rhizomes don’t have a particular direction of growing. The ones growing upward and reaching the soil gradually become large structures of 2-25 mm in diameter and are known as ‘tuberous bulb’, ‘basal bulb’ or ‘corn’ which eventually gives rise to roots, shoots and other rhizomes. However, the ones that grow horizontally or downward form either a chain of tubers or single tubers.
The leaves that arise at the base of the plant are usually dark-green, shiny and narrow, whereas the leaf sheaths are tubular and membranous. The stems are tall, smooth, and triangular and support the inflorescence. Flowers are bisexual each with three stamens and a pistil bearing three stigmas and are borne in compound umbel, spikes consisting of 3-8 spikelets. Fruits are produced throughout the year specially during the monsoons and bear seeds in the form of trigonous nuts or three-angled achene (nutlets).
Synonyms Of Nagarmotha
Nagarmotha is known by different names in different parts of the world. It is chiefly known as Nut grass, Nut sedge, Java grass, Coco grass, Red nutsedge, and Purple nutsedge in English, Mustak, Nagarmotha and Motha in Hindi, Mutha, Musta in Bengali, Muthakach in Tamil, Tunga Mustalu in Telugu, Muthanga in Malayalam, Tunge gadde in Kannada, Moth, Nagarmoth in Gujarati, Moth, Nagarmoth, Motha, Bimbal in Marathi, and Mutha, Motha in Punjabi. The Siddha medicines know this plant as Koraikkizhangu whereas Unani knows it by Naagarmothaa, Saad-e-Kufi.
Ayurveda recognizes it via the Sanskrit terminologies namely; Hima, Varida, Jalada, Jaldhara, Meghahva, Nirada, Musta, Mustaa, Mustaka, Abda, Ambuda, Ambhoda, Ambodhara, Bhadra, Bhadra, Bhadramusta, Bhadramusta, Bhadramustaka, Ghana, Varivaha, Payoda, Balahaka, Ganda-Durva and Krodeshta.
Ayurveda mainly suggests the use of the roots for various medicinal purposes. Owing to the presence of numerous essential oils, the roots have a characteristic smell and are used for the treatment of diseases since time immemorial. They are either used fresh or dried or even formulated into decoctions.
Ayurvedic Indications Of Nagarmotha
Since the ancient ages, Nagarmotha has been mentioned in several ayurvedic scriptures and journals for various indications which include Deepana (enhances stomach fire), Pachana (helps in digestion), Rochana (stimulates appetite), Kupachan (prevents bloating, indigestion), Jvara (useful in fever), Yakrit Vikara (prevents liver infections), Amahara (treats indigestion), Dahahara (relieves burning sensation), Shwasha (relieves breathing difficulties), Anulomana (improves breathing), Sangrahini (treats diarrhoea), Kamala (prevents jaundice), Kasahara (Relieves cough), Vayasthapana (prevents ageing), Shonitasthapana (prevents bleeding), Hridaya (treats heart problems), Sangrahini (treats diarrhoea), Pandu (treats skin disorders), Raktadoshahara (blood purifying), Vran Ropana (heals wounds), Mehahara (treats urinary tract disorders), Prameha (manages diabetes), Vamana (prevents nausea and vomiting), Trutahara (relieves excessive thirst), Pandu (treats anaemia), Balya (improves muscle strength), Hikkanigrahana (controls hiccups), Kantya (relieves sore throat), Triptighno (relieves pseudo-satiation), and Vamanopaga (treats emesis), Varnya (improves complexion), and Krimihara (relieves intestinal worms).
Phyto-chemical Components Of Nagarmotha
This incredible herb shows the presence essential oils, flavonoids, terpenoids, Alpha-cyperone, Alpha-rotunol, Calcium, Camphene, Copaene, Cyperene, Cyperenone, Cyperol, Cyperolone Cyperotundone Dcopadiene, D-epoxyguaiene, C. rotunduskone, Myristic-acid, Oleanolic-acid, Oleanolic-acid-3-oneohesperidoside, Oleic-acid, P-cymol, Patchoulenone, D-fructose, D-glucose, Flavonoids, Gamma-cymene, Isocyperol, Isokobusone, Kobusone, Beta-cyperone, Beta-pinene, Beta-rotunol, Beta-selinene, Limonene, Linoleic-acid, Linolenic-acid, Magnesium, Manganese, Pectin, Polyphenols, Rotundene, Rotundenol, Rotundone, Selinatriene, Sitosterol, Stearic-acid, Sugeonol, Sugetriol etc. The tubers also contain carbohydrates, fat, sugar, gum, essential oil, albuminoid matter, starch fiber and ash.
Imbued with potent diuretic, carminative, emmenagogue, anthelminthic, analgesic, anti-inflammatory, anti-dysenteric, and antirheumatic properties, Nagarmotha is extensively used for providing relief from stomach problems, jaundice, liver infections, fever, allergy, asthma, skin conditions including eczema and vitiligo, indigestion, constipation, diarrhea, rheumatic arthritis, bleeding, diabetes etc. It is one of the best herbs for treating many female disorders like yeast, candida and premenstrual syndrome and is also used for treating menopause, menstrual disorders, dysmenorrhea, and breast tumors.
Formulation Containing Nagarmotha
The presence of a host of biochemical components and incredible therapeutic properties make Nagarmotha a oneshot herb for various health anomalies. Be it in the form of churna, kwath, gutika, lehyam, rasa or tailam, the magical benefits of Nagarmotha can be employed via all. One such incredible ayurvedic formulation containing Nagarmotha or Mustak is Mustakarishta.
Mustakarishta, also known as Mustakadyarishta, Mustharishtam, or Mustarishta is a powerful digestive that readily triggers the secretion of gastric juices thereby improving appetite, promoting digestion and enhancing liver functions. Touted as “Ama Pachak” in Ayurveda, Mustakarishta removes toxins or AMA doshas from the body and prevents the conversion of AMA into AMAVISHA. By improving appetite, it also helps shed weight and prevent anorexic conditions. Additionally, it is also used for the management and treatment of indigestion, severe diarrhea, dysentery, loss of appetite, constipation, malabsorption syndrome and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).
100 parts Nagarmotha or Mustak (Nut Grass) – Cyperus rotundus
1024 parts Water
1 part Ajwain (Carom Seeds) – Trachyspermum ammi
1 part Sonth (Ginger Rhizome) – Zingiber officinale
1 part Laung (Clove) – Syzygium aromaticum
1 part Jeera (Cumin Seeds) – Cuminum cyminum
1 part Kali Mirch (Black Pepper) – Piper nigrum
1 part Methi (Fenugreek) – Trigonella foenum-graecum
1 part Chitrakmool – Plumbago zeylanica
8 parts Dhataki Flower- Woodfordia fruticosa
150 parts Gur – Jaggery
Powder all the herbal components and dry them under direct sunlight.
Pour dried nagarmotha roots or powder in a big boiler and add the measured quantity of water to it.
Reduce the water quantity to I/4 of the original volume.
Cool the mixture slightly and filter it to remove the adjuvant particles.
While the filtered mixture is still warm, add the prakshepa dravyas one by one.
Stir the concoction properly and pour it in the arishta vessel.
Seal the mouth of the vessel with a clay-smeared cloth.
After 30 days, remove the seal, and filter the liquid.
Keep the formulation in amber-coloured glass bottles for future use.
Adults: 10 – 20 ml, twice a day infused in equal quantities of water preferably after meals or as suggested by your health care provider or ayurvedic doctor.
Health Benefits Of Nagarmotha
Imbued with excellent carminative and digestive properties, nagarmotha confers an absolute solution for all digestive woes. The anti-flatulent property reduces the formation of gas in the alimentary canal, thus reducing flatulence, bloating, constipation, and abdominal distension. The antacid property of the herb prevents the formation of excessive acids in the stomach thereby treating indigestion, ulcer, gastritis and promoting better absorption of nutrients in the body.
Grind dried tuber of nagarmotha to make powder. Take 3 gm of it along with honey twice a day to treat indigestion.
Also Read: 5 Herbs For A Healthy Digestive System
Aids In Weight Loss
The abundance of flavonoids in nagarmotha root helps the body shed excess weight faster. Owing to the presence of fibre and anti-obesity action, when taken regularly, the formulations of mustak satiate sudden hunger pangs and prevents overeating and hence can play a pivotal role in one’s weight loss regimen. The herb also reduces the accumulation of LDL (i.e. Low-Density Lipoproteins or bad cholesterol) in the body, thereby improving metabolism and helping the body to maintain a proper weight.
On daily consumption, this herb or any of its formulation help increase the production of prolactin and corticoids, which eventually help produce breast milk, which in turn improves lactation and the quality of breast milk. This is extremely beneficial towards the young ones since breast milk is ideal for their nourishment and helps strengthening their immune system.
Peel off the fresh root of nagarmotha and make a paste of it. Apply this paste all over the breast to improve galactagogue action and also relief sore nipples.
Fights Respiratory Issues
Blessed with powerful anti-inflammatory, anti-biotic, and anti-asthmatic properties, Nagarmotha is considered to be a well-known traditional remedy for all sorts of respiratory troubles. It is extensively used for treating the common cold, sore throat, cough and flu symptoms. It also thins and loosens catarrh particles within the chest and nasal cavities and hence eases breathing and helps the body to get rid of mucus. It is also beneficial in treating bronchitis and asthmatic conditions.
Grind dried roots of both nagarmotha and Beetle Killer in equal quantity and make a paste by adding water in it. Take 5 gm paste with lukewarm water and have it twice a day to improve respiratory anomalies.
Shields Against Infections
The biochemical compounds present in Nagarmotha has been used since the ancient times to combat germs and shield the body against various infections. Thanks to its strong anti-viral, anti-bacterial, and antifungal properties, mustak is not only used for removing bacteria and germs from the body but also used for recurring fever conditions. It also helps in reducing general debility, weakness, and fatigue and improves the vitality of the body.
Grind tuber of mustak to make a paste and mix 1 tsp of it in a glass of Milk. Boil and drink this concoction once a day to boost immunity.
Thanks to the intrinsic hypoglycaemic property, nagarmotha plays a key role in pacifying the blood sugar levels in the body. The production of insulin from the β-pancreatic cells becomes active on taking mustak or any of its formulations. It helps to attenuate the breakdown of starch into glucose which in turn leads to low blood glucose levels and thus helps in managing diabetes.
Relieves Pain And Inflammation
Imbued with strong analgesic, anti-inflammatory, and pain-relieving properties of the bio-active components, nagarmotha offers extensive relief from pain and inflammation in case of arthritis and joint pain. Being a natural vasodilator, it is also used to treat painful muscle spasms, sore muscles, arthritic conditions, and other inflammatory situations. Application of powdered paste of it is extremely effective against Rheumatoid arthritis which is known as Amavata in Ayurveda, an ailment that stems due to the vitiation of Vata doshas and accumulation of Ama in the joints.
Make a paste of nagarmotha, ginger and punarnava in equal quantity. Mix this together with warm water and apply the paste to the affected area 2 to 4 times a day for 5 days to reduce the inflammation.
Owing to the natural stress-boosting properties, the oil obtained from the nagarmotha roots is widely used in aromatherapy procedures. A head massage with this oil clears brain toxins and improves cognitive abilities like memory, concentration etc. It also normalises the vata and pitta doshas in the body which in turn regulates the serotonin hormone and helps to reduce the various symptoms of anxiety which include restlessness, uneasiness, cold hands, and feet, etc. It is also beneficial in subduing pain due to headaches.
The host of anti-bacterial properties of the essential oils in nagarmotha plays a crucial role in treating skin infections like acne, warts, boils, eczema, blisters, itching etc. Beauty essentials imbued with nagarmotha or nut grass oil also improves complexion by evening out the skin tone, clearing blocked pores, and also reducing various signs of ageing. Owing to the antiseptic nature, the oil obtained from nagarmotha root also prevents wounds and injuries and facilitates healing.
Make a paste of 2 tbsp nagarmotha powder and 1 tbsp coconut oil. Apply this paste all over the face, leave it for 2-3 hours and wash off with cool water. Doing this on alternate days improves skin quality and complexion.
Remedies Hair Troubles
The wealth of essential nutrients in nagarmotha makes it extremely beneficial for all your hair woes. Sanctified with anti-microbial properties, this oil not only improves blood circulation in the hair follicles but also prevents various hair infections and actively takes part in collagen formation. It is extremely useful for treating dandruff, and revitalizing dull, lifeless hair. Regular use of the nagarmotha oil improves hair texture, adds shine and stimulates hair growth. By effectively alleviating stress, it also prevents hair fall and premature greying of hair.
Prepare a concoction of 3-4 drops of nagarmotha oil and 1 tbsp of coconut oil. Massage it evenly onto scalp and keep it on overnight. Shampoo the hair next day morning. Following this ritual thrice a week removes dandruff and improves hair quality naturally.
Effect On Doshas:
This potent digestive plant showcases Katu (i.e. pungent), Kashaya (I.e. astringent) and Tikta (i.e. bitter) Rasa. It is blessed with Rukhsha (dry) and Laghu (i.e. light) gunas. It has Sheeto Virya (cold potency) and Katu Vipaka (pungent metabolic property). The bioactive ingredients in this bitter herb balances the Pitta (fire and air) doshas and Kapha (earth and water) doshas and often an excess of it can aggravate the Vata (air) doshas.
Owing to the dry and light properties, the herb helps to cut through the thick rheum matter caused due to increased kapha doshas, and it also reduces pitta and kapha doshas in the head and chest, thus helping to uphold a normal body temperature. Additionally, being a Pitta pacifier, it detoxifies the liver and blood, while simultaneously fortifying the vital organ and enhancing cellular growth and tissue regeneration. Owing to the intrinsic properties and doshas, Kutki portrays a positive effect on the various Dhatus (i.e. body tissues) which are Rasa (i.e. Plasma), Rakta (i.e. Blood), Mamsa (i.e. Muscles), Asthi (i.e. Bones) and Shukra (i.e. Reproductive Fluids).
The ayurvedic properties that help in portraying the following main prabhabs on the body are Deepana (digestive stimulant), Grahi (anti-diarrhoea), Sthoulya-har (reduces obesity), Kapha-har (pacifies the Kapha/mucous), Tvakadosh-har (cures skin diseases) and Sotha-har (reduces swelling).
Nagarmotha is widely available in the form of churnas, kashayams, oil, ghee and gutikas and even as dried root or rhizome. Owing to its pungent-bitter taste, one can consume it alongside honey to mask the taste.
The accurate therapeutic dosage of nagarmotha may vary from person to person depending upon the age, severity, and condition of the patient. One must consult an ayurvedic doctor or practitioner, as he or she will thoroughly examine the indications and prescribe the effective dosage for a specific period of time.
Powder/ Churna - ¼ - ½ teaspoon twice a day alongside some honey and water after meals.
Capsule/ Gutika - 1-2 capsules twice a day by swallowing it with water after meals.
Nagarmotha Side Effects:
Thanks to the presence of potent bioactive components, Nagarmotha exhibit no recorded side effects when used in the correct proportion. It is extremely effective in normalising the aggravated levels of Sama Pitta doshas and Kapha doshas in the body. But an excessive amount of it can aggravate the Vata doshas and even cause constipation in people. However, since there is no reliable information about the effects of nagarmotha during pregnancy or lactation period, it is suggested that pregnant women and breast-feeding mothers should avoid using this bitter herb without medical supervision.