Bhringraj, (கரிசலாங்கண்ணி) The Weed that is making small farmers rich

if you have ever purchased a hair oil for hair growth or oil to reduce hair fall, you would have noticed the ingredient, Bhringraj. Bhringraj is a herb which is considered a weed. It grows in marshy areas where moisture content is high. They are found in farms, roadsides and wastelands. For years, the plant had little to no use but for ayurvedic medicine and the natural medicines industry. While the whole world believed in allopathy, the value of Bhringraj was declining. But recent years have seen an increase in natural remedies and holistic medicines in India and worldwide, especially in beauty and herbal cosmetic products.

India consumed nearly 100 Metric tonnes of Bhringraj in 2020. The amount is meagre when compared to any other crops Indian farmers produce in India. The cultivation of herbs and medicinal plants is increasing at a fast pace. an increase of 12% was seen between 2019 and 2020. The support from the government in the form of subsidies for farming medicinal plants has also enabled a lot of farmers to involve in cultivating crops like Bhringraj.

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Wild harvest vs Commercial farming of Bhringraj

For years, Bhringraj has been wild-harvested. Even today more than 50% of all medicinal plants are harvested from the wild and not cultivated. This is a wonderful revenue stream for many in the unorganised sector but it’s not widely popular among farmers. Searching for herbs, collecting them, and sending them to the buyer takes time when it’s wild harvested. Finding the herb itself is often a challenge. While most people in rural areas and those who are seasoned wild harvesters know the plants, a normal person, especially new one will make a mistake in identifying plants. Moreover, wild harvest plants lack the consistency and quality (in terms of appearance ) required for some buyers often resulting in low prices for the harvesters.

While the Herb industry is still unorganised, there is a wide opportunity in cultivating herbs like Bhringraj commercially. This provides farmers with an opportunity in the ever-growing business of medicinal plants and a big pie in the industry. Fortunately, there are not many competitors in this field and the market is open and waiting. the challenges are usually communication with buyers and meeting their quality requirements

Bhringraj requires certain qualities to be met. In the local market, buyers may require fresh or dried. Dried Produce often requires special equipment and dryers. sun-dried produce often tends to accumulate dust and is not considered edible or viable for use in commercial products. When wild harvested, bhringraj tends to lose its quality during transportation. Though the quality of wild harvested, organic bhringraj is high, the post-harvest methods are not to the standards and result in a poor quality end product. Also, wild harvesting takes a lot more time than harvesting from a commercially farmed crop.

There are a few problems when it comes to commercially cultivated bhringraj though. With a scarce amount of bhringraj plants in the wild, many companies rely on farmed bhringraj. Commercially cultivated bhringraj, especially when grown for profit is often treated for more productivity. this could be from fertilizers like urea, potash and phosphorus from chemicals. Some farmers, though rarely also use pesticides. Even when none of these chemicals is used directly on the plants, plants growing in commercially cultivated plots will retain some amounts of chemical fertilizers and pesticides which will be absorbed by these plants. Though only in trace amounts if not applied directly, this does affect the plants which may not be ideal

Where do we get Bhringraj?

At amrafarms, we don’t cultivate bhringraj commercially. ALL the bhringraj we need come from our farms and nearby areas. they grow as weeds and all we do is let the seeds fall to the ground and ensure that we do not harvest all the plants. Most of the time, we pick only the leaves, leaving the roots and stems intact. This allows the plants to regrow faster. Though it is just a weed, we don’t remove them from the field as most of it grows in the Coconut orchards and places where it does not interfere with the main crop. This is one reason our bhringraj is viable, pure and has good efficacy in treating hair problems. We do wild harvest sometimes in the neighbouring hills, but this rarely occurs when we cannot meet our requirements from the farm itself.

Does the bhringraj Hair oil and powder expire?

The oil has a shelf life of 2 years and though it does not expire, it surely loses its effect over time. It’s best used within one year of packing for the best results. Over time, you will notice that the effect is a bit lesser, though not a lot. When it comes to powders, if it’s stored well, they can last a year. Do not use Bhringraj powder for consumption if it’s older than 3 months. You may use it in your hair and face as a face pack or hair pack for up to 2 years. Though you may use the product externally, it’s advised that you choose a relatively fresh product and if the product is older than 3 months, ensure that it was stored well in an airtight jar.

How to Use Bhringraj

Bhringraj is not just used for topical application though it’s the most common and preferred method but is also consumed orally. Bhringraj Juice, Bhringraj powder and paste of bhringraj plants, if available fresh is consumed as a medicine to cure a range of health conditions from headaches to liver cleanser. The bhringraj extract from the leaves is infused with oils for application on skin and hair for better glowing skin and to improve hair general, bhringraj is a plant with many benefits and not many side effects unless consumed in excess. it’s always advisable to get an opinion from a doctor if you are facing a health condition. Most allopathic doctors will not mind your usage of ayurvedic herbs to complement your existing medication but keep away from holistic remedies if your doctor strictly forbids their use.
Bhirngraj oil though does not require any consultation from a doctor. Unless you have a medical condition which is creating hair loss or a dietary deficit, bhringraj oil will help your hair growth and boost hair density. the hair will be smooth and greying will be delayed.

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