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Ayurvedic Herbs

Sunishanaka (Chaupathiya) – Uses, Remedies, Research

By Dr Renita D’Souza
Sunishannaka (Marsilea minuta) in Ayurveda is considered as one of the wholesome diet included under vegetables. In ancient classical text books, Sunishannaka is mentioned as one among the combination of herbs used for the treatment of piles, vataraktha (gout), urusthamaba (thigh stiffness), cough of vata origin etc. The whole plant acts as astringent, coolant, digestive, diuretic, hypnotic and expectorant. It is used to treat insomnia, mental disorders, kidney infection, skin diseases, hepatitis, diarrhea, bronchitis, diabetes etc. It induces sleep (sedative), purifies blood and improves appetite.
Read – Kokilaksha Asteracantha longifolia: Uses, Research, Side Effects, Remedies

Botanical Name – Marsilea minuta
Family – Marsileaceae

Vernacular Names

Sanskrit Name – Sunishannaka
English Name – Dwarf waterclover, Gelid waterklawer, Small water clover, Airy pepperwort, Pepperwort
Hindi Name – Chaupathiya, Sunasuniya
Bengali Name – Sushuni Shaka, Sunishaka, Shushni shak, Shushuno shaaka
Japanese Name – Nangokudenjiso
Thai Name – Phakwaen
Malaysian Name – Tapak itek
Philippines Name – Kaya-kayapuan
Indonesian Name – Semanggi
Chinese Name – nan guo tian zi cao
French Name – marsilea à quatre feuilles, petite marsilée

Medicinal Qualities

Taste – sweet, astringent
Potency (virya) – cold
Grahi – absorbent, bowel binding
Avidaahi – slightly causes burning sensation
Laghu – light to digest
Ruksha – dry in nature
Deepana – kindles digestive fire
Vrishya – aphrodisiac
Ruchya – improves taste
Hridya – cardiac tonic
Basti shuddikara – cleanses urinary bladder

Traditional Uses

Meda – excess fat tissue disorders
Jwara – fever
Shwasa – asthma, difficulty in breathing
Meha – diabetes
Kushta – skin diseases
Brama – giddiness
Aruchi – anorexia, tastelessness
Hridroga – cardiac disorders
Pliha – spleen disorders
Gulma – abdominal tumors
Arsha – piles
Daha – burning sensation
Rasayana – rejuvenator
Read – 13 Important Benefits Of Rasayana Treatment

Effect on Tridoshas

Balances all three doshas – Vata, Pitta and Kapha dosha

Remedies of Sunishannak

  • Leaves are cooked with rice and consumed to treat indigestion.
  • Plant extract is used as an aphrodisiac
  • To control nose bleeding, juice of leaf extract is used.
  • Swollen gums – Boiled leaves of Sunishannaka and Shorea robusta is applied over the gums. It reduces the swelling.
  • Spasmodic muscular contraction of the urethra and bladder is treated by consuming the plant decoction twice a day for 10-12 days.
  • Sunishanaka root paste is applied externally to treat Atopic dermatitis.
  • Respiratory problems – Fresh juice of its shoots and decoction of the leaves can be consumed. It cures cough.
  • Young fronds (fern leaves) of Chaupathiya is used to treat lack of sleep (insomnia) and mental disorders.
  • Eating this plant regularly is beneficial in hypertension, headache and sleeping disorders.

Sanskrit Verses

Interaction with medicines, supplements

Can this be used while taking Homeopathic medicine?
Yes. This product does not react with homeopathic medicine.

Can this medicine be continued while taking supplements like multivitamin tablets, Omega 3 fatty acids etc?
Yes. Generally, this product goes well with most of the dietary supplements. However, if you are taking more than one product per day, please consult your doctor for an opinion.

With western medicines
Seek your doctor’s advice if you are taking this product along with other western (allopathic / modern) medicines. Some Ayurvedic herbs can interact with modern medicine.
If both Ayurvedic and allopathic medicines are advised together, then it is best to take Allopathic medicine first, wait for 30 minutes and then take the Ayurvedic medicine.

Morphology, Distribution

Marsilea minuta is a small creeping fern with erect 4-foliolate leaves. Leaflets are glabrous,cuneate or flabellate, 2 cm long and 1.7 cm in width. Rhizome 0.4-0.8 mm thick,light brown to green in color.(a)
The leaves of this plant looks like those of the Changeri plant but changeri has 3 leaflets and Shunishannak has 4 leaflet.
Read – Changeri – Oxalis Corniculata – Indian Sorrel – Full Ayurveda Details

Marsilea minuta is widely found Africa and tropical Asia

Pharmacological Activities

Marsilea minuta possesses antipyretic, analgesic, anti-diabetic, antitussive, expectorant, anti-amnesic, anti-aggressive, antimicrobial, hepatoprotective, anti-fertility, anti-tumor and antioxidant activities.


Marsilea minuta contains phenol, flavonoids, saponins, quinones, tannins, terpenoids, coumarins, total sugar, anthroquinones, Marsiline, Marsileagenin- A, Quercetin-3-O-glucoside, chalcone- O- glucoside kaempferol-3-O-glucoside, quercetin- 3- O-galactoside, naringenin-7-O-glucoside, quercetin-3-rutinoside (rutin), β-sitosterol and hentriacontane (b)


In the book Bhavprakasha written by Sri Brahmashankara Misra and Sri Rupalalaji Vaishya, it is written that Shitivara and Sunishannaka are two different plants but in the Bhavaprakasha Nighantu they are mentioned as synonyms. In this book Shitivara has been mentioned under the group Karpooradi varga.


Antitussive and Expectorant activity – A research study conducted to evaluate antitussive and expectorant activity of Marsilea minuta have concluded that the methanol extract of the plant possesses potent antitussive and expectorant activity.
Antibacterial and Antioxidant Activity – A research study done on chemical composition, antioxidant effect and antimicrobial activity of hexane: methanol (50:50) leaf extract of Marisela minuta have proved its significant antioxidant and antibacterial property against food borne pathogenic bacteria.

Ayurvedic Medicines

Dhathu Kalpa Legiyam – It is a Siddha medicine mainly used as an aphrodisiac.
Viigorwin Legiyam – A Siddha medicine used in general debility, increases quality and quantity of sperms, improves libido, strengthens nervous system, controls premature ejaculation.
Vilvam Tablet – A classical Siddha medicine used for the treatment of diabetes mellitus.

Sanskrit Synonyms

Shitivaara, Shitivara, Swastika
Sunishannaka, Shrivaraka, Suchipatra
Parnaka, Kukuta, Shiki
Chatushpatra – due to 4 leaflet structure of leaves
Vitunnaka, Kurkuta, Siti, Suchyaahva
Kuruta, Suchidala


Classical Categorization
Charaka Samhitha – Shaka varga
Bhavaprakasha Nighantu – Shaka varga
Raja Nighantu – Shatahavaadi varga
Dhanvantari Nighantu – Guduchyaadi varga
Kaiyadeva Nighantu – Aushadhi varga
Shodala Nighantu – Guduchyaadi varga
Read – Classification Of Foods And Drinks – Charaka Samhita Sutrasthana 27

Scientific Classification
Kingdom – Plantae
Phylum – Pteridophyta
Class – Pteridopsida
Family – Marsileaceae
Genus – Marsilea
Species – Marsilea minuta
Click to Consult Dr Renita D’Souza

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