Health Benefits of Sharpunkha (Tephrosia purpurea)

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Sharpunkha Quick Facts
Name: Sharpunkha
Scientific Name: Tephrosia purpurea
Origin Tropical Asia, and is found from India and Sri Lanka to southern China
Shapes Flat, linear, 2-4.5 cm x 3-5 mm
Taste Bitter
Sharpunkha is an erect or spreading annual or short lived perennial herb which is 40-80 cm tall and is widely distributed in countries such as India, China, Malay Peninsula, Sri Lanka and Hawaii. It naturally occurs in grassy fields, thickets, waste places and on ridges and along roadsides in Java. It is found near the shore in Hawaii. The herb is native to tropical Asia and also found from India and Sri Lanka to Southern China and through South-East Asia to tropical Australia and Polynesian Islands. It is cultivated pantropically.

The plant is self-generating and perennial herb found throughout India. It is a small shrub which grows up to 1.5 meters tall with bi-pinnate leaves. The leaves have 7-15 leaflets and the terminal leaflet is solitary. Flowers are purplish to white and about 4 to 8.5 mm long. Calyx is a persistent, campanulate, cup 1.4-2.3 mm x 1.5-3.2 mm. Pods are flat, linear, 2-4.5 cm x 3-5 mm and somewhat up-curved towards the end. Seed are transversely ellipsoid, rectangular about 2.5-5 mm x 1.8-3 mm, light to dark brown to black.

All parts of the plant possess medicinal properties such as tonic and laxative. Roots have bitter bad taste and are an alexipharmic used for treating wounds, ulcers, bronchitis, snake bites, inflammation, asthma, enlargement of spleen and pimples. Leaves are tonic to improve appetite. The plant is used as a blood purifier internally and considered a cordial.

Plant description

Sharpunkha is an erect and perennial legume shrub that grows 40-80 (-150) cm high. Stems are cylindrical and woody at the base having stiff coarse hairs that is reddish in color. Leaves are compound, alternate, imparipinnate and 6-12 (-14.5) cm long bearing 6-12 pairs of leaflets and one terminal leaflet at their extremity. Leaflets are 1-2.5 cm long x 0.3-1 cm wide, oboval in shape and mucronate at the end. An inflorescence is a terminal or axillary raceme about 2-20 cm long. Flowers are pedicellated, papillonaceous, solitary and borne in groups of two, three or four, 6-10 mm long and pink or purple in color. Flowers give way to green, flat and pubescent pods which are about 2.5-4.5 cm long and constricted between the seeds. Pods are light brown at maturity and twists open to set seeds. Seeds are smooth, mottled, yellowish to dark brown or black in color, ellipsoid, flattened and about 4 mm x 2.5 mm broad.

Traditional uses

  • Plant is used to cure various types of external wounds and gastro-duodenal disorders.
  • It is used for tightness of chest and cough.
  • Root decoction is helpful in enlargement and obstruction of liver, kidney and spleen.
  • Use gargle of Tephrosia purpurea to wash out mouth.
  • Roots are used in skin disorders, inflammation, flactulance, elephantitis, asthma, haemmaroids, anemia, bronchitis, chronic fever, dysmenorrhea, gingivitis, boils and pimples.
  • Seed infusion is used as anthelmintic oil.
  • It is useful for skin disorders such as leucoderma and scabies.
  • Leaves are used in pectoral disease, dyspepsia, syphilis, haemorrhoids and gonorrhea.
  • The plant is used as a cure for ulcers, tumors, rheumatism, bronchitis, asthma and allergic conditions.
  • Use the pod decoction for vomiting symptoms.
  • Use the root powder as salutary for brushing teeth to provide relief from dental pains and stop bleeding.
  • Use the fresh root bark with black pepper to provide relief from obstinate colic.
  • Boil the root powder in milk and apply it to leprous wounds.
  • Fruit decoction is used for treating intestinal worms.
  • Leaves decoction is used against snake bite.
  • Mix the grounded leaves or leaf buds with salt and coconut and apply it topically for cuts and itchy skin.
  • In Southern India, fruit decoction is used for intestinal worms and fruit extract provides relief from bodily pains and inflammatory problems.
  • Root decoction is helpful for treating diarrhea, depression, asthma, rheumatism and urinary disorders.
  • In Ceylon, it is used as anthelmintic for children.
  • In Punjab, seeds infusion is considered cooling.
  • In Sri Lanka, root decoction is used as nematicide for treating Toxocara canis larvae which causes lung disease.

How to Use Sarpunkha plant

Paste: Wash the flowers, leaves and tender twigs and ground to form paste.

Leaf juice: Extract leaf juice from pounded leaves and squeezed through clothes.

Powder: Clean the plant parts cut and dry it in the sun. Then dried parts are grounded to form powder.

Decoction: Boil 5-10 grams of dried powder in one glass of water. Cook till the volume reduces to one fourth. Filter it and take it.


  1. Liver cirrhosis, jaundice, and other Diseases of the liver, Spleen diseases
  • Use the decoction of the plant and drink twice a day.
  • Use 14-28 ml of fresh juice twice a day.
  • Use 1-3 gram of powder with one cup of milk.
  1. Enlargement of the spleen, Diseases of the spleen and the liver
  • Take 1-2 gram of root paste with buttermilk/Chach twice daily.
  • Drink plant decoction.
  1. Dropsy
  • Take 14-28 ml of fresh juice of whole plant is twice daily.
  1. Angina pain, heart palpitation
  • Prepare decoction by boiling 5 gram of Sharpunkha panchang, 5 gram of Arjun bark and Clove (2-3) in one glass water. Take it twice a day.
  1. Hyperacidity
  • Drink decoction of Tephrosia purpurea.
  1. Abdominal pain, flatulence
  • Drink decoction of Sharpunkha.
  1. Blood purification
  • Use decoction of Sharpunkha plant with Neem leaves and drink it.
  1. Malarial fever
  • The decoction of 5 gram of Sharpunkha panchang, and 5 gram of giloy powder in a glass of water. Cook it till the volume reduces to one fourth. Filter it and drink it.

External Uses

  1. Toothache

The pounded leaves are used to make paste and apply it on teeth for ½ hours a day for 3 days.

  1. Non-healing wounds

Boil Sharpunkha and few neem leaves in water. Wash it in affected area.

  1. Swelling, inflammation

Apply the poultice of the plant on affected area.


  • People taking medications should consult the doctor for use.

Other uses

  • In South Africa and India, it is used as fodder before flowering.
  • In Australia, it is used to cause livestock poisoning.
  • In Northern India, dry plants are collected for fuel.






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