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Dizzied by the broiling sun, we find relief  inside and out by drinking ground pennywort smoothies. Besides its cooling functions the plant also boasts a number of little known benefits.

Pennywort is alternatively known as the Snow Accumulating Herb (Tích tuyết thảo, or The Herb that can Store Snow) because it can cool us as does snow.

Also known as Liên tiền thảo (The Herb in the Shape of Overlapping Coins), the plant’s leaves look like small coins.

The scientific name of pennywort is Pennywort asiatica (L.) and it belongs to the Umbelliferae family.

Pennywort is an evergreen plant that spreads on the ground. Its leaves have long stems growing from their roots or from knuckles. The leaves are slightly round and have frilled edges. Leaf veins form the shape of duck legs. Flowers grow at clefts. Petals are either red or vermillion. This plant originates in Asia and the Polynesian islands.

A Chinese legend says that a Tai Chi master named Li Qingyun lived to be 256 partly because he regularly used pennywort.

In Chinese medicine, pennywort is also known as the “source of life” herb because it secures longevity. Although scientific studies have yet to prove the benefit of this plant to visceral disorders, people seldom deny the functions of pennywort in treating  insomnia, scleroderma, cancer, circulatory disorders, hypertension, Alzheimer’s disease, scars and reducing cellulite clots on the skin.

Sri Lanka also has a legend of a famous king named Aruna in the 10th century who, thanks to pennywort, was virile enough to satisfy all of his 50 concubines!

Many English speaking regions still spread an axiom that encourages the use of pennywort: “Two leaves a day keeps old age away.”

Benefits

According to Oriental medicine, pennywort tastes bitter and slightly sweet. It benefits the  liver and spleen by nurturing yin, chilling down, detoxifying and enabling excretion. Pennywort is usually used as a tonic and antiseptic, to treat blood vomiting,, diarrhea, dysentery, discharges, boils and rashes.

Apart from key elements such as beta carotene, calcium, iron, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, potassium, zinc and vitamins B1, B2, B3, C and K, pennywort also contains asiaticosid, alkaloid, tannin and free amino acid saponin that are universally used in cosmetics to reduce skin wrinkles stemming from pregnancy or being overweight and fat tissue inflammation. According to the Indian Journal of Pharmacology, finely pounded fresh pennywort leaves applied on wounds and skin ulcers works wonders. Chewing two pennywort leaves can also soothe pains caused by sclerosis.

Since the 1940s, modern medicine has studied the benefits of pennywort. Pennywort has actives in saponine group (also known as tripernoids), which includes asiaticoside, madecassoside, madecassic acid and Asiatic acid. Active asiaticocide has been used for leprosy and tuberculosis.

Circulation

Pennywort improves microcirculation in arteries and veins, sheltering the inner armor of arteries and increasing the elasticity of veins. As a result, pennywort is also frequently used to cure hypertension of arteries in lower limbs.

Wounds and Scars

A series of primary studies and clinical records demonstrate that the extract of pennywort is capable of stimulating biological processes in cell division and regenerating connective tissues to heal wounds more rapidly and generate new skin. In remedies involving pennywort, the healing of scars is stimulated by producing type 1 collagen. These remedies also show a marked drop in inflammation and a generation of fibroblasts.

Central nervous system

To reduce mental stress, bolster concentration ability and improve the memory of the elderly. It is assumed that the extract of pennywort works wonder on Alzheimer patients thanks to the derivatives of asiaticoside that are able to protect neural cells from the detriment of beta-amyloid toxic.

Arthritis

A documentary broadcast in Sydney in 2003 showed several Australian patients had their arthritis cured by eating two fresh pennywort leaves daily. Mr. Russ Maslen, author of Arthritis and Paradoxycal Pennywort explained that he learned about this remedy from a farmer in Brunswick Valley in 1989 when he was constructing and managing the region’s natural reserve park. Mr. Russ helped his wife Beryl to totally cure the arthritis in her hand joints. “Each day you just need to chew and swallow two pennywort leaves, just two, not one or three, it just takes a while to cure or somehow ease your arthritis,” he said.

Memory

Grind dry pennywort leaves into powder and serve 3 to 5g with milk everyday..It helps dementia and visual impairment. Cardiovascular diseases

Pennywort eases  swelling and improves blood circulation, particularly helping diseases related to veins such as varice and varicose. Research published in 2001 showed that patients of hypertension of veins who used pennywort for 4 weeks found that by the end of the last week, the swelling of their ankles, pains, cramps and tiredness in their legs were markedly reduced in comparison to those given a placebo. For obesity and atherosclerosis, long-term consumption of pennywort reduces cholesterol in blood and softens veins again so there are fewer complications.

Stress

Triterpenoids in pennywort reduce anxiety and boost mental functions. According to research published in the Journal of Clinical Psychopharmacology in 2000, consumers of pennywort could see their panic remarkably reduced. Researchers still diverge on whether pennywort has effects on anxiety symptoms.

Healing wounds

Triterpenoids actives in pennywort are capable of quickening the healing of wounds, bolstering antioxidants to heal these wounds and boosting skin functions and supplies of blood to wounded areas. A research in 2006 tested the effects of pennywort on wounds in rats. Its findings showed that wounds treated with the extract of pennywort leaves heal considerably quicker than those without. Although experiments on humans have yet to be fully carried out, yet this evidence can verify the use of how pennywort can heal wounds so well.

Detoxifying for Women

Grind pennywort into powder. Twice a day, in the morning and afternoon, drink 3g of powder with fresh milk. Take continuously for three days as soon as menstruation is over.This remedy can also cure dysmenorrheal. Thanks to its cleansing function, pennywort helps women stay young, have healthy smooth skin, good blood circulation and fight various diseases.

Cosmetics

Pennywort is not only cool and nutritious, but useful in beauty care. The juice can  moisturize skin, slow aging, improve blood circulation and memory. It is also good for acne.

Chill in the summer with pennywort

Pennywort juice: wash pennywort leaves, then pound or grind. Add some water. Squeeze out extract and throw away the residue. Add sugar to taste. Individuals can consume 30 to 40g of fresh pennywort a day.

Pennywort tea: 200g pennywort, 100g dried Adenosma cordifolium, Ming aralia leaves 200g and licorice 100g. All herbs are dried. Roast and grind into powder and preserve in a jar to avoid moisture. Consume 30 to 40g a day. Put powder in boiling water and serve after 10 minutes. Helps cool the body, bolster the liver and quench thirst.

Curing heat rashes: Wash 50g of pennywort and squeeze out extract, add a pinch of sugar or saltto make it easier consume.

Curing dysuria: 40g pennywort, 40g bamboo leaves. Grind them fresh with a pinch of salt and filter the extract to drink.

Reducing fever: Wash 30g of fresh pennywort, pound, add cool boiled water and squeeze out the extract to mix with 10g of cassava starch, add sugar and serve.

Curing acne: Wash 50g of pennywort and 50g spiny bitter gourd leaves, grind, add a pinch of salt and mix, apply to acne and wrap up with gauze. Change twice a day until acne vanishes.

Reducing hypertension: 16g pennywort, 12g snake jasmine, 12g bamboo leaves, 16g great morinda, 12g cogon grassroot, 12g prickly chaff flower, 12 mulberry leaf. Make extract to drink as tea daily.

Curing sore throat and coughing: Wash pennywort leaves, pound and squeeze out a dense extract, mix with some sugar. Use twice a day for children, with a dose of half a bowl each time; twice a day for adults, with a dose of a bowl. Consume continually for 5 to 7 days.

Possible side effects of pennywort

Headache: Recent studies indicate that overusing pennywort juice to cool down can give you headache or even fleeting unconsciousness. Hence, steer clear of pennywort overdose.

Increased blood sugar level: In several cases, pennywort increases blood cholesterol and sugar. People with high cholesterol and blood sugar level should avoid overdrinking pennywort juice.

Slimmer chance of pregnancy: Although pennywort has some effects on women’s beauty, prolonged use of this plant will reduce your chance of conception. Hence, women who wish to have children should limit their use of pennywort juice.

Effects with other medications: Pennywort can interact with sleeping pills and anticonvulsants, barbiturate, benzodiazepine, sedatives and other antidepressants It can also reduce the effects of insulin and other anti-diabetic drugs as well as cholesterol drugs. Pennywort can also contribute to reducing sedative effects once served with other flu medicines and sore throat pills or when taken with alcohol.

Diarrhea: Pennywort is classified as a cold medicine. People with weak digestive systemwho usually feel bloated or have diarrhea should consume it with caution. In these cases, just use several leaves or serve them with slices of raw ginger.

CAUTION: Tips for proper use of pennywort

Pennywort is not only a plant, but also a herb. Treat with caution as it is a medicine.

  • A regular person can consume on average 40g of pennywort a day. After each dose, stop consuming for at least half a month before continuing with the next dose.
  • Pregnant women, people with diabetes, liver diseases or history of chronic dermatologic injuries, cancer or people who are taking some types of drugs should refrain from using pennywort to avoid unexpected side effects.
  • Pennywort is usually served raw or squeezed for extract. Wash  carefully with water to avoid infectious risks.

Medical academies in the United States and Europe recently voiced their concerns over this herb and concluded that although pennywort was safe when properly prescribed by doctors, patients should not consume it over six weeks without doctors’ advice. In addition, people with liver diseases, a history of dermatologic injuries or cancer should not consume pennywort.

Over using pennywort juice can cause dizziness. It is usually rumored that using too much pennywort juice can cause bleeding. In fact, it gets us prone to dizziness rather than bleeding.

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Lecturer of Traditional Medicines. Graduated from Internal Medicine program and continued to pursue his study in Traditional Medicines. A researcher and author of numerous valuable books in traditional medicines.