Shankhpushpi is a very popular Ayurvedic herb that is primarily used as a brain tonic. It is called shankhpushpi since shankh means conch and pushpi means flowers and it literally translates to flowers that resemble the shape of a conch shell. Shankhpushpi has many uses and benefits in Ayurveda.
Alternatively, shankhpushpi can also mean flowers as white as the color of a conch.1 Shankhpushpi has been used in Ayurveda for ages. All renowned Ayurvedic texts mention shankhpushpi and its benefits.
Shankhpushpi is also known as shankhahuli and shankhavali in India. You may sometimes see it written as shankhapushpi. It is known as ‘speed wheel’ in English. Shankhpushpi is even used as a vegetable in some regions of India.
This article will discuss shankhpushpi uses and shankhpushpi benefits in Ayurveda along with its botanical properties and the scientific research conducted on it.
Botanical Description of Shankhpushpi
- Shankhpushpi or Convolvulus pluricaulis is a perennial herb.
- Shankhpushpi belongs to the Convolvulaceae family.
- The root of the shankhpushpi plant is woody.
- Other rootstocks also appear from its base root. These rootstocks are hairy and 4 to 12 inches in length.
- The branches of shankhpushpi spread on the ground and can be more than 30 cm (approximately 1 foot) long.
- The length of leaves may vary from 0.5 inch to 1.5 inches. Its leaves are elliptical in shape.
- The flowers can be blue, pink, or white in color.
- Its fruits are oval in shape.
- Flowering and fruiting generally occur between May and December.
Sanskrit Synonyms with Ayurvedic Meanings 1
Ksheer pushpi: It means that which has flowers white like milk.
Mangalya kusuma: Ayurveda believes that these flowers bring good fortune.
Ayurvedic Properties of Shankhpushpi 1
Rasa or taste: Tikta or bitter
Guna or qualities: Snigdha or oily and picchila or sticky
Virya or potency: Sheeta or cool
Vipaka or taste conversion after digestion: Madhura or sweet
Prabhava or special effect: Medhya or improves intelligence and memory
Effect on dosha: It brings all three doshas into equilibrium and works especially well on Vata and Pitta disorders.
Its madhura vipaka, oily, and sticky qualities pacify the Vata dosha whereas its cool potency pacifies Pitta dosha and its bitter taste pacifies Kapha dosha.
Parts used: Panchanga or whole plant.2
Recommended Dosage According to Ayurvedic Herbology 3
Swarasa or freshly extracted juice: 2-4 tola (one tola is approximately equal to 12 grams)
Kalka or paste or bolus prepared from a herb: 1 tola
Churna or fine powder: ¼-½ tola
Popular Ayurvedic Formulations of Shankhpushpi: Shankhpushpi paanak and Medhya kashaya 5
In the classical Ayurvedic text Charak Samhita, shankhpushpi has been mentioned as a medhya rasayana. Medhya rasayana means herbs which improve memory and intellect.
Medhya rasayana is a group of four medicinal plants namely – Mandukaparni (Centella asiatica), Yastimadhu (Glycyrrhiza glabra), Guduchi (Tinospora cordifolia) and Shankhapushpi (Convolvulus pluricaulis). Shankhpushpi is considered the best rasayana for improving memory and intellect.4
Shankhpushpi is considered the best rasayana for improving memory and intellect.
In Ayurvedic herbology, Dravyaguna Vijnana, shankhpushpi benefits and uses are as follows.5
- Shankhpushpi improves memory and intelligence.
- Shankhpushpi is a rasayana herb. Rasayana means it rejuvenates mind and body, has an anti-aging effect, nourishes all dhatus (bodily tissues), and improves life expectancy.
- It strengthens the brain and the nervous system.
- Since it is useful in strengthening the brain, it is often used for a variety of ailments like mania, epilepsy, and stupor.
- It is helpful in inducing sleep.
- It promotes hair growth.
- Shankhpushpi is helpful for various skin disorders.
- It improves appetite and aids digestion.
- It is helpful in relieving excessive abdominal gas.
- It is also useful for hemorrhoids or piles.
- It acts as a laxative.
- It is good for the heart and acts as a cardiac tonic.
- It has blood clotting properties and is helpful in rakta pitta or bleeding disorders. Rakta pitta is a bleeding disorder where bleeding occurs due to an aggravated Pitta dosha.
- It removes excessive mucus from the body.
- It acts as a diuretic.
- It is an aphrodisiac.
- It is helpful for STIs like syphilis.
- It strengthens the uterus and is often used for aiding conception.
- It is useful in fevers.
Scientific Research on Shankhpushpi
- Shankhpushpi has anxiolytic (anti-anxiety) activity.7
- It has nootropic activity which means it enhance cognition.7
- It enhances memory.7
- It has a depressive effect on the central nervous system.7
- It has antioxidant activity.6
- It has anticonvulsant activity.6
- One study showed that shankhpushpi has an anti-addictive potential in mice addicted to alcohol. It reversed ethanol-withdrawal anxiety and decreased chronic alcohol consumption in the mice.8
- It has neuroprotective activity.9
- A study on shankha pushpyadi ghana vati (which contains shankhpushpi as an ingredient) showed that shankhpushpi is also useful in managing high blood pressure.10
Chemical Composition of Convolvulus Pluricaulis
Shankhpushpi contains alkaloids like shankhapushpine, convolamine, convoline, convolidine, convolvine, confoline, convozine. Besides these shankhpushpi also contains volatile oils, fatty acids, fatty alcohols, hydrocarbons,myristic acids, palmitic acids, linoleic acids, scopoletin, β-sitosterol, ceryl alcohols, 20-oxo triacontanol, tetratriacontane acids, flavonoid-kaempferol, steroids-phytosterols, D-glucose, maltose, rhamnose, sucrose, starch and other carbohydrates, proteins and amino acids.6
Always consult your Ayurvedic practitioner and general physician before changing your diet and lifestyle and before using Ayurvedic herbs like shankhpushpi.
If you’d like to learn more about Ayurveda and how herbs can help with brain health, check out Dr. Akil Palanisamy’s course below.
- Dravyaguna Vijnana by Aacharya Priyavrat Sharma, Volume 2, page no.9, Chaukhamba Bharati Academy, 2017.
- Dravyaguna Vijnana by Aacharya Priyavrat Sharma, Volume 2, page no.11, Chaukhamba Bharati Academy, 2017.
- Adarsh Nighantu,vol. 2, page no.114, by Shri Bapalal Vaidya, Chaukhambha Bharti Academy, 2016.
- Charak Samhita, Chikitsa Sathan, Rasayana adhyaya, 1/3, sh. No. 30-31, page no.29, by Aacharya Vidyadhar Shukla and Professor Ravidutt, Chaukhamba Sanskrit Pratishthan, 2007.
- Dravyaguna Vijnana by Aacharya Priyavrat Sharma, Volume 2, page no. 9-11, Chaukhamba Bharati Academy, 2017.
- Agarwal, Parul et al. “An update on Ayurvedic herb Convolvulus pluricaulis Choisy” Asian Pacific journal of tropical biomedicine vol. 4,3 (2014): 245-52. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3868798/
- Malik, J, et al. “Nootropic, Anxiolytic and CNS-Depressant Studies on Different Plant Sources of Shankhpushpi.” Current Neurology and Neuroscience Reports., U.S. National Library of Medicine, Dec. 2011.
- Heba, Mahi et al. “Effect of Shankhpushpi on Alcohol Addiction in Mice”Pharmacognosy magazine vol. 13,Suppl 1 (2017): S148-S153.
- Siddiqui, Nasir A et al. “Neuropharmacological Profile of Extracts of Aerial Parts of Convolvulus pluricaulis Choisy in Mice Model” open neurology journal vol. 8 11-4. 11 Jul. 2011, doi:10.2174/1874205X01408010011.
- Mishra, Jyoti et al. “A comparative study of Shankhapushpyadi Ghana Vati and Sarpagandhadi Ghana Vati in the management of “Essential Hypertension””Ayu vol. 33,1 (2012): 54-61.