Eclipta Alba, or Han Lian Cao in mandarin, is one of herbs frequently used in many beauty recipes in Ayurveda and TCM. Actually it has long been considered to be a miracle hair tonic for grey hair, hair loss, and baldness thanks to its extraordinary medicinal properties on hair regrowth. It was ever given very high recognitions by many ancient medical works, among which Xin Xiu Ben Cao (Newly Revised Materia Medica) said its juice could promote the rapid growth of eyebrow and hair; Ben Cao Gang Mu (Compendium of Materia Medica) believed that it could darken mustache and hair and benefit kidney yin; Ben Cao Zheng Yi (Correct Meaning of the Materia Medica) owed its hair-growth property to its entering kidney and tonifying yin. And Miao Cu Chun, a famous doctor in Ming Dynasty, had given the highest regard for Eclipta and considered it as the best hair-darkening herbs in his Ben Cao Jing Shu (Annotated Classic of Materia Medica).
What is Eclipta Alba herb?
Actually it refers to the aerial part of Eclipta alba L. (Hassk) or Eclipta prostrata L., a plant in the family of Compositae. Other common names also include Herba Ecliptae, false daisy, Eclipta prostrata Linn, Ecliptae Herba, kehraj, Herba Ecliptae Prostratae, yerba de tajo herb, bhringaraj, bhringraja, Mo Han Lian, karisalankanni, and more. Medicinally in China it is mainly produced in Jiangsu, Jiangxi, Zhejiang and other places. The best timing for harvest is the time when it is flowering. And next dry it in the sun, cut into section, and use raw.
Eclipta plant is an annual herb and 10 to 60cm in height. The whole plant is shaggy haired. The juice leaking from the broken stem will turn into bluish black after a few minutes. Stems are erect or prostrate from the base. Roots are green or reddish-brown. Leaves are opposite. Blades are linear-elliptic to lanceolate, 3 to 10cm, 0.5 to 2.5cm wide, and with entire or slightly serrated margin and both sides with white shag. Capitulum is axillary or terminal. Involucre is campanulate, with 5 to 6 bracts and flat torus. Achene is yellow and black, about 3mm, and with no pappus. Flowering is from July to September and fruiting is from September to October.
Basic chemical constituents include saponins, tannins, vitamin A, Ecliptine, a-Terthienylmethanol, α-formyl-α-terthienel, Wedelolactone, demethyl wedelolactone, desmethyl wedelolactone glucoside, and so on.
Eclipta alba benefits
Thanks to its active constituents of hair growth, now this herb is put into use in many ways, such as Eclipta alba hair oil, shampoo, extract, capsules, powder, juice, supplement, tincture, and more. It must make clear that this herb is more than just a hair tonic and it has wider medicinal uses. That’s to say, there are tons of other health benefits available from consuming Eclipta, alone or combined with other herbs. And its pharmacology can give some ideas on how to use it properly.
Modern pharmacological actions of Eclipta herb
1. It improves the human body’s non-specific immune function;
2. It eliminates oxygen free radicals to inhibit 5-lipoxygenase;
3. It protects the chromosomes;
4. It shows remarkable hepatoprotective activity;
5. It promotes the regeneration of liver cells;
6. It increases coronary flow;
7. It prolongs the survival time of mice under the normal pressure and hypoxia;
8. It improves the survival rate of mice under the reduced pressure and hypoxia;
9. It is a good antioxidant;
10. It promotes hair growth and makes hair darker;
11. It has antimicrobial, sedative, analgesic, styptic, anti-amoeba, and anti-cancer effects.
Ancient herbal remedies on Eclipta prostrata herb
Chinese Materia Medica considers this herb as sweet and sour in flavor and cool in medicinal properties. And it goes to two meridians of liver and kidney. Essential functions of Eclipta are tonifying liver and kidney, cooling blood, and stopping bleeding. Fundamental Eclipta alba uses and indications include liver-kidney deficiency, dizziness, premature graying, vomiting or spitting blood, nosebleed, hemafecia, bloody flux, metrorrhagia and metrostaxis, and traumatic bleeding. Recommended Eclipta alba dosage is from 9 to 30 grams in decoction, paste, juice, tea pills, or powder.
1. Jin Ling Jian. Jin Ling Jian, from Qian Jin Yue Ling (Monthly Rites Worth a Thousand Gold Pieces), usually formulated for premature greying of hair. Other two herbal ingredients are Sheng Jiang (Fresh Ginger Rhizome) and Bai Mi (honey).
2. Lao Ya Wu Zi Fang. Lao Ya Wu Zi Fang, from Shou Qin Yang Lao (Health Preservation for Old People), is mainly designed for strengthening teeth and darkening moustache. Other major herbs include He Zi (Myrobalan Fruit), Zao Jiao (Gleditsia), Can Sha (Silkworm Feces), Sheng Ma (Black Cohosh Rhizome), and more.
3. Er Zhi Wan. Er Zhi Wan, from Yi Fang Ji Jie (Collection of Prescriptions With Notes), is basically used for tonifying waist and knee, strengthening bone, musculature and kidney yin, and darkening hair and moustache. Other prime herbal ingredients include Dong Qing Zi (Purpleflower Holly Fruit), honey, and rice wine.
4. Han Lian Zi Tang. Han Lian Zi Tang, from Sheng Ji Zong Lu (Complete Record of Holy Benevolence), is exclusively used for stranguria due to hematuria. In this formula Han Lian Cao herb combines only with Ba Jiao Gen (Rhizoma Musae).
Eclipta alba side effects and contraindications
According to AHPA, Eclipta alba is a safe, edible herb and so far no clearly recognized drug interactions and adverse reactions were confirmed when used properly. And from the point of view of TCM (Traditional Chinese medicine), it should be avoided when patients diagnosed with deficiency-cold spleen and kidney pattern.