Eclipta alba (L.) Hassk. (syn. Eclipta prostrata L.), commonly known as False Daisy , yerba de tago, and bhringraj, is a plant belonging to the family Asteraceae. Root well developed, cylindrical, greyish. Floral heads 6-8mm in diameter, solitary, white, achene compressed and narrowly winged. It grows commonly in moist places as a weed all over the world. It is widely distributed throughout India, China, Thailand, and Brazil. In ayurvedic medicine, the leaf extract is considered a powerful liver tonic, rejuvenative, and especially good for the hair. A black dye obtained from Eclipta alba is used for dyeing hair and tattooing. Eclipta alba also has traditional external uses, like athlete foot, eczema and dermatitis, on the scalp to address hair loss and the leaves have been used in the treatment of scorpion stings. It is used as anti-venom against snakebite in China and Brazil (Mors, 1991). It is reported to improve hair growth and colour (Kritikar and Basu 1975 and Chopra et al. 1955)
The herb Eclipta alba contains mainly coumestans i.e. wedelolactone (I) and demethylwedelolactone (II), polypeptides, polyacetylenes, thiophene-derivatives, steroids, triterpenes and flavonoids. Coumestans are known to possess estrogenic activity (Bickoff et al. 1969) Wedelolactone possesses a wide range of biological activities and is used for the treatment of hepatitis and cirrhosis (Wagner et al. 1986), as an antibacterial, anti-hemorrhagic (Kosuge et al. 1985). and for direct inhibition of IKK complex resulting in suppression of LPS-induced caspase-11 expression (Kobori et al. 2004)
Plant is bitter, hot, sharp, dry in taste and is used in ayurveda for the treatment of Kapha and Vata imbalances. In India, the plant is known as bhangra, "bhringaraj" or bhringraja. Another plant Widelia calendulacea is also known by the same name, but Eclipta has white flowers so called white bhangra and Widelia has yellow flower so it is called yellow Bhangra (Puri 2003).
The expressed leaf juice is applied along with honey is a popular remedy for catarrh in infants. A preparation obtained from the leaf juice boiled with sesame or coconut oil is used for anointing the head to render the hair black and luxuriant. An oil prepared with amla, bhringraj and sometimes with brahmi is well known in India as Amla Bhringraj oil, which is said to blacken the hair. Plant is rubbed on the gums in toothache and applied with a little oil for relieving headache and with sesame oil in elephantiasis. Roots of Eclipta alba are emetic and purgative.
In Ayurveda the plant is considered a rasayana for longevity and rejuvenation. Recent studies have shown that it has a profound antihepatotoxic activity. A cardiodepressant activity was also observed in it when used for hepatic congestion. A complete symptomatic relief in epigastric pain, nausea and vomiting in ulcer patients has also been observed (Puri 2003)
In Taiwan, entire plant is used as a remedy for the treatment of bleeding, heamoptysis, haematuria and itching, hepatitis, diphtheria and diarrhoea. In China, as a cooling and restorative herb, which supports the mind, nerves, liver and eyes. The leaf extract is considered to be powerful liver tonic, rejuvenative, and especially good for the hair. A black dye obtained from Eclipta alba is also for dyeing hair and tattooing. Eclipta alba also has traditional external uses, like athlete foot, eczema and dermatitis, on the scalp to address hair loss and the leaves have been used in the treatment of scorpion strings. It is used as anti-venom against snakebite in China and Brazil (Mors, 1991).