Evergreen shrub, often a climber, growing to 16 ft (5 m). Has oval pointed leaves, spikes of 5-petaled white flowers, and angled seed capsules.
Habitat & Cultivation
Ceylon leadwort is native to southern India and Malaysia, and is now naturalized in much of Southeast Asia and in Africa. The leaves and root are gathered throughout the year.
Ceylon leadwort contains apthaquinones, including plumbagin, and phytosterols.
History & Folklore
In Africa, the juice of Ceylon leadwort is used as a tattoo dye.
Medicinal Actions & Uses
Ceylon leadwort root is acrid and stimulates sweating, and is commonly used as a paste for skin infections such as ringworm and scabies. The paste is also applied as a counter-irritant to relieve rheumatic aches and pains. In India, extracts of the leaves and root are taken for digestive infections such as dysentery. In Nepal, a decoction of the root is used to treat baldness.
The root of European leadwort (P. europaea) has been used to treat toothache and, in the form of a poultice or plaster, back pain and sciatica.
Use only under professional supervision. Taken internally, the root may be toxic, and may induce abortion. Do not use Ceylon leadwort during pregnancy.