What is Ponnanganni keerai?
Ponnanganni keerai is an aquatic plant of Asian origin grown in tropical and subtropical regions. Its botanical name is alternanthera sessilis belonging to amarantheceae family. Ponnanganni is a perennial herb lying prostrate on the ground rooting at the nodes. The leaves are elliptic and the flowers are white and shiny.
There are two varieties of ponnanganni keerai known.
One is with green leaves called nattu ponnanganni and the other is with pink leaves called seemai ponnanganni. The benefits from both the varieties are by and large the same. Ponnanganni keerai is mostly consumed as a leafy vegetable only. But there are a number of significant health benefits derived from the plant and leaves.
100 grams of Ponnanganni keerai contain, 73 calories of energy, 5 grams of protein, 1 gram of fat, 12 grams of carbohydrate, 3 grams of dietary fiber, 2 grams of minerals, 510 mg of calcium, 60 mg of phosphorous, 2mg of iron and 77% of water.
The copious amounts of Vitamin A present in these leaves makes it a superfood for kids and adults. Sue to the presence of large amounts of calcium, these leaves are good for healthy bones and joints. It can help to reduce pain in those suffering from arthritis(1).
The leaves also contain hydrocarbons, oleanic acid rhamnoside, methylene cycloartenol, stigmasterol etc.
Health benefits of Ponnanganni keerai
In different countries, people use ponnanganni leaves as remedy for different health issues in addition to using it as a vegetable in regular diet. The leaves and the plant are widely used in fresh and dried forms in Indian Ayurveda and Siddha medicine as a cure for various ailments.
Ponnangannni keerai and its plant are used in various forms both in external applications and for internal consumption. The flowers which are in white colour also have medicinal properties and is good for the eye.
Studies show that these greens can help to overcome micro-nutrient deficiency with regular consumption (2). This is primarily due to the beta carotene content in the greens.
- Ponnanganni keerai or leaves are one of the best sources for treatment of eye related problems. Fresh leaves are applied as such on the eye lids to cure inflammation in the sebaceous glands of the eyelids. It also cures chronic inflammation in the eyes and conjunctivitis.
- The paste prepared from the leaves are applied tropically on the affected areas to draw out from the body stings and spines.
- Powdered dry ponnanganni leaves are applied externally to remove the effect of poison due to snakebites. It can be applied along with other first-aids given for snake bites.
Reduces body heat
The oil extracted from the leaves can be deeply rubbed on the scalp and allowed to remain for about 15 minutes and then shampoo washed. This method reduces the body heat to the normal level and keeps the eyes cool. By repeating the process periodically at regular intervals it helps good hair growth also.
You can make a headache relieving hair oil following the below steps:
- Take 2 cups of ponnanganni leaves in a blender. Add 30 ml water and blend into a paste.
- Take coconut oil in vessel.
- Allow the coconut oil to become hot.
- Now add the leaves paste.
- Let the leaves boil in oil till the spluttering sound stops.
- Switch off and allow the oil to cool down.
- Place a clean white cloth on a cup.
- Pour the warm oil through the cloth to get the strained oil.
Apply this oil on the scalp and massage well. Leave it on for about 20 minutes and then wash off.
Internal uses are
- Improves vision: By consuming ponnanganni leaves as a vegetable continuously for about two months one can get cured of all eye related problems like inflammation and reduced vision. Instead of consuming it as a vegetable, the leaves can be consumed by making a paste from the leaves and tender stems. Consuming two teaspoons of the paste every day gives the same benefit as consuming the leaves as vegetable.
- Cures Night blindness: The shiny white flowers of the herb are very effective in curing night blindness. This benefit can be derived both by external application of the flower powder or by consumption of the steamed flowers. Consumption of the steamed ponnanganni leaves with butter is also a good remedy for night blindness and other eye problems.
Enhances energy level
Consuming a mixture of ponnanganni juice with cow’s milk enhances the body strength and vitality. Goat milk also can be substituted for cow milk. Consuming every day, in the mornings a teaspoon of the extract of ponnanganni leaves mixed well with coconut oil improves the overall energy level of the body.
Constipation and piles including bleeding problems can be cured by ponnanganni leaves. Regular consumption of this green helps to improve digestion, prevent constipation and cure problems including IBS – Irritable bowel syndrome.
In Indian medicine ponnanganni keerai is used as a cholagogue, gastrointestinal agent, which stimulates the bile flow (bile is an emulsifying agent produced in the liver which aids digestion of fats).
Consumption of two tablespoons of ponnanganni juice with one or two garlic cloves cures intermittent fever, continuous cough and asthma.
Here are the steps to make a drink to cure asthma:
- Take two cloves of garlic.
- Peel the garlic cloves and crush them.
- Take the crushed garlic cloves, half a cup of chopped ponnanganni leaves and 200 ml water in a blender.
- Blend on high for a few minutes into a juice.
- Strain well to get the extract.
You can drink this juice once daily in the morning to cure asthma. You should consume this juice continuously for at least 2 months to start noticing a reduction in the symptoms.
Improves breast milk
Consumption of cooked ponnanganni keerai and the soft stems of the plant helps lactating mothers by improving breast milk besides maintaining the health of the liver.
Breastfeeding mothers can include about 2 tablespoons of the cooked green to their lunch diet. It would be an ideal accompaniment for rice along with ghee. It provides essential EFAs as well as improves lactation in new mothers.
Helps weight gain
Those who are underweight, can consume ponnanganni leaves after cooking with tuvar dhal and ghee to gain weight. You can consume this like a soup or eaten along with rice. For weight gain, follow the below recipe:
- Take toor dal in a wok and boil it in water. Let it get fully cooked.
- Take oil in a vessel and allow it to become hot.
- Add mustard seeds to the oil and allow it to crackle.
- Now add the cooked dal.
- Add the green leaves and cook for a few minutes. dd some water when necessary.
- Now add some salt and turmeric powder. Mix well and saute till the leaves are fully cooked.
When the fragrance of the dried (powdered) leaves are inhaled, it provides relief from headache and dizziness. The same oil explained above can be used to cure headaches.
The extract of the leaves has the ability to stop vomiting and reduces nausea too.
How to consume Ponnanganni leaves
Ponnanganni can be included in the diet in different ways. Here are a few recipes.
This recipe is for those who wish to cure eye disorders and improve eye sight.
- Wash the green leaves and 1 big carrot.
- Peel and cut carrots into cubes.
- Grind the leaves adding water to make a juice.
- Take 100 ml of fresh ponnanganni juice.
- Take an equal quantity of carrot juice.
- Mix both juices together.
- Now add a pinch of rock salt to the mixture
Consume this drink regularly in the morning. Preferably an hour before lunch.
This soup is traditionally called a rasam in South India and is made as an accompaniment for rice. But you can drink this is as a soup and it is very tasty.
Ponnanganni soup – steps:
- Take one cup of fresh leaves.
- Wash and chop them into small pieces.
- Take about half tablespoon of sesame oil in a wok.
- Add mustard seeds, cumin seeds and peppercorn to the hot oil. Allow the seeds to splutter.
- Mince 3-4 cloves of garlic and add to the wok. Saute for a minute.
- At this point, add the leaves and saute for about a minute.
- Pour 500 ml of chickpea water or lentil water to the wok. If wither of these aren’t available, then you can use vegetable broth instead.
- Add quarter teaspoon of asafoetida (hing).
- Add turmeric powder and salt.
- Allow all ingredients to cook together for a few minutes till a nice aroma emanates.
- Switch off. You can season with cilantro (coriander leaves) if required.
Acute and bleeding piles or hemorrhoids can be cured with this recipe.
- Wash the green leaves and 1 big radish.
- Peel and cut radish.
- Grind the leaves adding water to make a juice.
- Take two tablespoons of fresh ponnanganni juice.
- Take an equal quantity of radish juice.
- Mix both juices together.
Consume two tablespoons of this juice twice a day (once in the morning and once in the evening) to cure hemorrhoids.
Who should not consume ponnanganni leaves?
It is safe to consume this green and can be consumed by everyone. It is good for toddlers as well as for pregnant women. Keep the consumption moderate and consume the leaves thrice a week.
How to buy ponnanganni leaves?
Buy leaves that are fresh and green. Yellow leaves are not ideal for consumption and should be avoided. Organic greens are always the best. These leaves can be cultivated easily and can be part of your kitchen garden.