Nilavembu (also called Siriyanangai) is a Siddha herb used for its antipyretic, bitter, digestive, cholagogue, hepatoprotective, and anti-inflammatory properties. It is useful in the treatment of intermittent fever, malaria, chronic fever, dengue fever, chikungunya and all diseases in which fever is the main symptom.
Nilavembu alleviates fever, protects the liver, and provides strength to the body. It is also indicated in physical debility occurring after fever. It stimulates hepatic functions, improves appetite, enhances digestion, boosts metabolism, and reduces after effects of several medicines on the liver.
In addition, it is also beneficial in loss of appetite, hepatomegaly, fatty liver syndrome, incomplete evacuation, constipation, intestinal parasites, blood disorders, and skin diseases.
Phytochemistry (Chemical Composition)
Nilavembu contains four major diterpenoids:
- Andrographolide (AP1)
- 14-deoxy-11, 12-didehydroandrographolide (AP3)
- Neoandrographolide (AP4)
- 14-deoxyandrographolide (AP6)
The main bioactive constituent of the nilavembu plant is Andrographolide. In the whole plant, it is present around 81-186 milligram per gram (mg/g). In flowers, it is detected up to 43.16 mg/g. Isoandrographolide, Neoandrographolide and Bisandrographolide A are found in cotyledons. The high content of 14-deoxyandrographolide is found in young leaves, which varies from 10.67 to 24.54 mg/g. Other constituents such as Andrograpanin, 7-O-Methylwogonin, Skullcapflavone I, 3,4-Dicaffeoylquinic acid, Onysilin are also present. (1, 2)
Nilavembu has following medicinal properties.
- Blood detoxifier
- Hepatic stimulant
Nilavembu also has anti-proliferation activity observed in colon cancer. It also modulates sexual functions by increasing blood flow to penile tissue and relaxing smooth muscles. Andrographolide in it initially increase serum testosterone, but after its regular use for 6-8 weeks, testosterone starts declining to normal levels. (3)
Therapeutic indications of Nilavembu are as follows:
- Intermittent fever
- Chronic fever
- Dengue fever
- Post fever debility
- Loss of appetite
- Fatty liver syndrome
- Incomplete evacuation
- Mild constipation
- Intestinal parasites
- Insect Stings
- Sore throat
Nilavembu Benefits & Medicinal Uses
Nowadays, Nilavembu became famous for its beneficial effects in Dengue fever and Chikungunya. It is used in these diseases along with other 8 herbs in form of decoction. Here we will discuss the major health benefits of Nilavembu.
Nilavembu has anti-malaria potential, which is attributed to its anti-parasitic action. It inhibits the growth of malaria parasite during the ring stage. (4)
Its effects on dengue virus appear due to diterpenes, especially andrographolide, which is the main bioactive compound found in it. (7)
Andrographolide in Nilavembu has anti-CHIKV effects. It inhibits chikungunya virus (CHIKV) by reducing its replication. (8)
Nilavembu and its formulations are mainly used in the management of Chikungunya in Ayurveda and Siddha Medicine. It reduces and prevents fever, joint pains, and muscle pains. It can be used along with Giloy formulations such as Amritarishta, Giloy Ghan Vati, Amrutottaram Kashayam, or Kaishore Guggulu and other medicines like Shadanga Paniya, Praval Pishti, Tribhuvan Kirti Ras, Godanti Bhasma, and Tulsi formulations such as Madhurantak Vati, Tulsi Ghan Vati, Tulsi Svarasa (Tulsi Juice), or Panch Tulsi. In addition, Punarnava formulations such as Punarnava Churna, Punarnavarishta, Punarnavasava, or Punarnavadi Kashayam are also helpful. For quick pain relief, Maha Yograj Guggul and Maharasnadi Kwath can help. For preventing debility, Ashwagandha Churna or Amukkara Choornam can also be used.
After effects of Dengue and Chikungunya
The most patients suffered from dengue and Chikungunya have complaints of the following after effects:
- Myalgia – muscular pains
- Polyarthralgia – persistent pains in several joints
- Physical debility
- Loss of appetite
Nilavembu and its formulations help to prevent these after effects if taken during the management of these infections. If the patient has not taken it during treatment of infections, it can also help to treat these after effects. It removes toxins from the body and alleviates muscle pain and joint pain. It improves appetite and restores the vitality. Hence, it also reduces debility. For the best results, it can be used along with Ashwagandha or Amukkara Choornam. Some patients might also require Maha Yograj Guggulu in case of the dominance of Vata Dosha or Kapha Dosha and Panchamrit Lauh Guggulu in the dominance of Pitta Dosha.
Nilavembu is commonly used in natural medicine for treating intermittent fever. According to Ayurveda, there is a toxin called AMA that accumulates in the body. However, it builds in the body due to poor digestion in case of infections. This remedy burns the AMA and eliminates it from the body, which helps to treat intermittent fever.
Post fever debility
According to Ayurveda, Nilavembu is a bitter rejuvenator. It prevents post fever debility and strengthens the digestive system and restores vitality to the body. It is commonly used for treating physical debility occurring after fever or chronic diseases, especially when it is associated with loss of appetite.
Loss of appetite
Nilavembu improves appetite by improving liver functions. It has cholagogue property, so it stimulates the secretion of bile. It further modulates the secretion of gastric juices. Ultimately, improves appetite. However, it is indicated mainly in loss of appetite occurring after infection or during chronic fever.
Liver Disorders, Hepatomegaly & Fatty Liver
It reduces hepatic inflammation and prevents liver damage. It further reduces the accumulation of triglycerides and other lipids in the liver cells, which helps in the treatment of fatty liver.
In such case, sugar, Ghee and Oil based products should be avoided.
In folk medicine, people use Nilavembu along with Tamarind (Imli) for treating the effects of snakebite.
The dosage of Nilavembu may vary according to the age, health condition and body weight of the patient. The general dosage of Nilavembu is given below according to form of herb used:
Nilavembu Powder Dosage
|Children (Below 5)||125 to 250 mg|
|Children (Above 5)||250 to 1000 mg|
|Adults||1 to 3 grams|
|Maximum Possible Dosage||6 grams per day (in divided doses)|
Nilavembu Juice Dosage
|Children (Below 5)||2.5 ml|
|Children (Above 5)||5 ml|
|Adults||5 to 10 ml|
|Maximum Possible Dosage||20 ml per day (in divided doses)|
Nilavembu Decoction (Kwath) Dosage
|Children (Below 5)||5 to 10 ml|
|Children (Above 5)||10 to 20 ml|
|Adults||20 to 40 ml|
|Maximum Possible Dosage||120 ml per day (in divided doses)|
How to Take
|How many times should I take?||2 to 3 times a day|
|When should I take?||Before meal|
Nilavembu is LIKELY SAFE for the most individuals who use it as per its indications and Dosha Analysis under the supervision of a physician.
|Suitability acc. to Body Type (Prakriti)||Mostly suitable for people with Kapha Body Type|
|Suitable for Vikriti Dosha (Use)||Increased or aggravated Kapha Dosha and SAMA Pitta Dosha; Conditions with excess AMA accumulation|
|Unsuitable for Vikriti Dosha (Don’t Use)||Not applicable; it can also be used in Vata Dosha, along with other herbs that pacifying Vata.|
|Shelf Life||Nilavembu Powder: 2 Years; Nilavembu Kwath Churna: 2 Years; Fresh Juice or Svarasa: 3 Hours; Fresh Decoction: 12 Hours;|
|Expiration Date (after opening)||Nilavembu Powder: Best to consume within 3 months|
|How long can I take?||In most cases, 1 to 4 weeks; or as recommended by doctor|
Nilavembu Side Effects
Generally, there are no side effects when Nilavembu is used wisely in patients with the dominance of Kapha Dosha and Sama Pitta Dosha. It also does not increase Vata Dosha due to its hot potency, so it can also be used for relieving pain along with other Vata pacifying herbs.
Research studies also have not reported any significant adverse effects. However, it generally has mild and infrequent adverse events, these adverse effects are not significantly different than placebo. (13, 14, 15, 16, 17)
One study found allergic reaction with isolated Andrographolide in 2 subjects. (18)
There is no allergic reaction found with crude and natural form of Nilavembu.
Nilavembu might affect delaying clotting time. Therefore, it should not be taken before and after surgery. People with bleeding disorders should also avoid it.
Pregnancy & Lactation
The safety profile of Nilavembu is not well established for pregnant women and lactating mothers. Consult a Siddha physician before using Nilavembu during pregnancy and lactation. However, the therapeutic dose of Nilavembu is not likely to cause any adverse event or induce a miscarriage. (19)
The long-term use of Nilavembu in high doses might have contraceptive effects, according to an animal study. The study concludes antifertility effects due to a reduction in spermatogenesis. (20) However, there are no such effects appear in human, according to several clinical trials.
For the precautionary purpose, people having trouble with fertility or trying for conceiving a baby should avoid Nilavembu.