What is Ponnanganni keerai?

Ponnanganni keerai is an aquatic plant of Asian origin grown in tropical and subtropical regions. Its botanical name is alternanthera sessilis belonging to amarantheceae family. Ponnanganni is a perennial herb lying prostrate on the ground rooting at the nodes. The leaves are elliptic and the flowers are white and shiny.

There are two varieties of ponnanganni keerai known.

Nutrition facts

The copious amounts of Vitamin A present in these leaves make it a superfood for kids and adults. Sue to the presence of large amounts of calcium, these leaves are good for healthy bones and joints. It can help to reduce pain in those suffering from arthritis.

The leaves also contain hydrocarbons, oleanic acid rhamnoside, methylene cycloartenol, stigmasterol, etc.

Health benefits of Ponnanganni keerai

In different countries, people use ponnanganni leaves as a remedy for different health issues in addition to using it as a vegetable in a regular diet. The leaves and the plant are widely used in fresh and dried forms in Indian Ayurveda and Siddha medicine as a cure for various ailments.

Ponnangannni keerai and its plant are used in various forms both in external applications and for internal consumption. The flowers which are in white colour also have medicinal properties and are good for the eye.

Benefits of Ponnanganni

Studies show that these greens can help to overcome micronutrient deficiency with regular consumption. This is primarily due to the beta carotene content in the greens.

Eye care

  • Ponnanganni keerai or leaves are one of the best sources for the treatment of eye-related problems. Fresh leaves are applied as such on the eyelids to cure inflammation in the sebaceous glands of the eyelids. It also cures chronic inflammation in the eyes and conjunctivitis.
  • The paste prepared from the leaves is applied topically on the affected areas to draw out from the body stings and spines.
  • Powdered dry ponnanganni leaves are applied externally to remove the effect of poison due to snakebites. It can be applied along with other first-aids given for snake bites.

Reduces body heat

The oil extracted from the leaves can be deeply rubbed on the scalp and allowed to remain for about 15 minutes and then shampoo washed. This method reduces the body heat to the normal level and keeps the eyes cool. By repeating the process periodically at regular intervals it helps good hair growth also.

You can make a headache relieving hair oil following the below steps:

  1. Take 2 cups of ponnanganni leaves in a blender. Add 30 ml water and blend into a paste.
  2. Take coconut oil in a vessel.
  3. Allow the coconut oil to become hot.
  4. Now add the leaves paste.
  5. Let the leaves boil in oil till the spluttering sound stops.
  6. Switch off and allow the oil to cool down.
  7. Place a clean white cloth on a cup.
  8. Pour the warm oil through the cloth to get the strained oil.

Apply this oil on the scalp and massage well. Leave it on for about 20 minutes and then wash off.

Internal uses are

Eye care

  • Improves vision: By consuming ponnanganni leaves as a vegetable continuously for about two months one can get cured of all eye-related problems like inflammation and reduced vision. Instead of consuming it as a vegetable, the leaves can be consumed by making a paste from the leaves and tender stems. Consuming two teaspoons of the paste every day gives the same benefit as consuming the leaves as a vegetable.
  • Cures Night blindness: The shiny white flowers of the herb are very effective in curing night blindness. This benefit can be derived both by the external application of the flower powder or by the consumption of the steamed flowers. Consumption of the steamed ponnanganni leaves with butter is also a good remedy for night blindness and other eye problems.
Ponnanganni keerai

Enhances energy level

Consuming a mixture of ponnanganni juice with cow’s milk enhances the body strength and vitality. Goat milk also can be substituted for cow milk. Consuming every day, in the mornings a teaspoon of the extract of ponnanganni leaves mixed well with coconut oil improves the overall energy level of the body.

Cures piles

Constipation and piles including bleeding problems can be cured by ponnanganni leaves. Regular consumption of this green helps to improve digestion, prevent constipation, and cure problems including IBS – Irritable bowel syndrome.

Liver care

In Indian medicine ponnanganni keerai is used as a cholagogue, gastrointestinal agent, which stimulates the bile flow (bile is an emulsifying agent produced in the liver which aids digestion of fats).

Cures Asthma

Consumption of two tablespoons of ponnanganni juice with one or two garlic cloves cures intermittent fever, continuous cough and asthma.

Here are the steps to make a drink to cure asthma:

  1. Take two cloves of garlic.
  2. Peel the garlic cloves and crush them.
  3. Take the crushed garlic cloves, half a cup of chopped ponnanganni leaves and 200 ml water in a blender.
  4. Blend on high for a few minutes into a juice.
  5. Strain well to get the extract.

You can drink this juice once daily in the morning to cure asthma. You should consume this juice continuously for at least 2 months to start noticing a reduction in the symptoms.

Improves breast milk

Consumption of cooked ponnanganni keerai and the soft stems of the plant helps lactating mothers by improving breast milk besides maintaining the health of the liver.

Breastfeeding mothers can include about 2 tablespoons of the cooked green to their lunch diet. It would be an ideal accompaniment for rice along with ghee. It provides essential EFAs as well as improves lactation in new mothers.

Helps weight gain

Those who are underweight can consume ponnanganni leaves after cooking with tuvar dhal and ghee to gain weight. You can consume this like a soup or eaten along with rice. For weight gain, follow the below recipe:

  1. Take toor dal in a wok and boil it in water. Let it get fully cooked.
  2. Take oil in a vessel and allow it to become hot.
  3. Add mustard seeds to the oil and allow it to crackle.
  4. Now add the cooked dal.
  5. Add the green leaves and cook for a few minutes. dd some water when necessary.
  6. Now add some salt and turmeric powder. Mix well and saute till the leaves are fully cooked.
  7. Done.

Cures headache

When the fragrance of the dried (powdered) leaves is inhaled, it provides relief from headache and dizziness. The same oil explained above can be used to cure headaches.

The extract of the leaves has the ability to stop vomiting and reduces nausea too.

How to consume Ponnanganni leaves

Ponnanganni can be included in the diet in different ways. Here are a few recipes.

Recipe 1

This recipe is for those who wish to cure eye disorders and improve eye sight.

  1. Wash the green leaves and 1 big carrot.
  2. Peel and cut carrots into cubes.
  3. Grind the leaves adding water to make juice.
  4. Take 100 ml of fresh ponnanganni juice.
  5. Take an equal quantity of carrot juice.
  6. Mix both juices together.
  7. Now add a pinch of rock salt to the mixture

Consume this drink regularly in the morning. Preferably an hour before lunch.

Recipe 2

This soup is traditionally called a rasam in South India and is made as an accompaniment for rice. But you can drink this is like soup and it is very tasty.

Ponnanganni soup – steps:

  1. Take one cup of fresh leaves.
  2. Wash and chop them into small pieces.
  3. Take about half a tablespoon of sesame oil in a wok.
  4. Add mustard seeds, cumin seeds and peppercorn to the hot oil. Allow the seeds to splutter.
  5. Mince 3-4 cloves of garlic and add to the wok. Saute for a minute.
  6. At this point, add the leaves and saute for about a minute.
  7. Pour 500 ml of chickpea water or lentil water to the wok. If either of these is not available, then you can use vegetable broth instead.
  8. Add a quarter teaspoon of asafoetida (hing).
  9. Add turmeric powder and salt.
  10. Allow all ingredients to cook together for a few minutes till a nice aroma emanates.
  11. Switch off. You can season with cilantro (coriander leaves) if required.
Recipe 3

Acute and bleeding piles or hemorrhoids can be cured with this recipe.

  1. Wash the green leaves and 1 big radish.
  2. Peel and cut radish.
  3. Grind the leaves adding water to make juice.
  4. Take two tablespoons of fresh ponnanganni juice.
  5. Take an equal quantity of radish juice.
  6. Mix both juices together.

Consume two tablespoons of this juice twice a day (once in the morning and once in the evening) to cure hemorrhoids.

Who should not consume ponnanganni leaves?

It is safe to consume this green and can be consumed by everyone. It is good for toddlers as well as for pregnant women. Keep the consumption moderate and consume the leaves thrice a week.

How to buy ponnanganni leaves?

Buy leaves that are fresh and green. Yellow leaves are not ideal for consumption and should be avoided. Organic greens are always the best. These leaves can be cultivated easily and can be part of your kitchen garden.


  • AZARI, A. A. & BARNEY, N. P., 2013. Conjunctivitis A Systematic Review of Diagnosis and Treatment. JAMA.

  • BERNSTEIN, M. A., NELSON, M. E., TUCKER, K. L. & MS, J. L., 2002. A Home-Based Nutrition Intervention to Increase Consumption of Fruits, Vegetables, and Calcium-Rich Foods in Community-Dwelling Elders. SCIENCE DIRECT, 102(10), pp. 1421-1427.

  • KHRESHEH, R., 2011. How women manage nausea and vomiting during pregnancy: a Jordanian study. SCIENCE DIRECT, 27(1), pp. 42-45.

  • RAJALAKSHMI, P. et al., 2001. SPRINGER LINK. [Online].

  • RIVLIN, R. S., 2001. Historical Perspective on the Use of Garlic. THE JOURNAL OF NUTRITION, 131(3), pp. 951S-954S.

  • VALA, G. S. & KAPADIYA, P. K., October – December 2014. Medicinal Benefits of Coconut Oil. International Journal of Life Sciences Research , 2(4), pp. 124-126.


  • Walter, T. M., Merish, S. & Thamizhamuthu, M., 2014. Review of Alternanthera Sessilis with Reference to Traditional Siddha Medicine. International Journal of Pharmacognosy and Phytochemical Research 2014; 6(2); 249-254, p. 6.,Vol6,Issue2,Article18.pdf

Kalaivani Selvaraj, MBA, got her Master’s degree in Human Resources. Due to her interest in natural healing, she pursued studies in the field of alternative medicine and is certified in Aromatherapy by Isla Verde Spa Training Academy. Ms. Kalaivani Selvaraj is also certified by Stanford University School of Medicine in Introduction to Food and Health.

16 replies on “Health benefits of Ponnanganni keerai (Alternanthera sessilis)”

  • Madhu
    January 25, 2017 at 8:00 am

    Could we get this in USA (California)?

  • Yazhini
    January 25, 2017 at 12:01 pm

    You sure can… I will let you know in a few days about where you can

  • Madhu
    January 31, 2017 at 10:48 pm

    Thank you so much. Would be much helpful. Also if I get a powder form of this (ponnanganni powder), can it be mixed with orange juice and given to kids?

  • Yazhini
    February 3, 2017 at 4:24 pm

    I did some research and looks like only in a very few places ponnanganni powder is available. And yes, if it is available you can mix it in smoothies and juices. Although the fresh ;eaves are always better, this will give you good benefits as well.

  • Yazhini
    February 3, 2017 at 4:27 pm

    Hi Madhu, Checked with a few of my friends there and they all uniformly said that it is not available. One friend though is cultivating the keerai in her home (in Atlanta) with seeds she took from India. Maybe that’s a good option!

  • Madhu
    February 3, 2017 at 8:33 pm

    Hi Yazhini, thank you so much for all the support in this. I truly appreciate it. I too want to give it in fresh leaves form for my kids. Is it possibe (only if it is) for me to get some seeds or a stick of the plant from your friend. I know it is a big favor. If you can please share your email id to my email, would be very helpful. Thanks again. Means a lot!

  • Madhu
    February 4, 2017 at 8:52 pm

    Hi Yazhini, not sure if my previous message went through. Could you please let me know if it is possible for you to help me get this plant (just a stick or seed) through your friend. Would be extremely helpful. Thanks a lot.

  • Yazhini
    February 6, 2017 at 12:15 pm

    Hi Madhu,
    Give me a couple of days and shall check with her!

  • Madhu
    February 6, 2017 at 12:27 pm

    Sure thanks a lot, Yazhini

  • Madhu
    February 9, 2017 at 8:15 pm

    Hi Yazhini, any luck with this? Sorry for bothering. Please let me know. Thank you

  • Yazhini
    February 13, 2017 at 9:18 am

    Hello Madhu,
    I checked with her. She says the plant is not able to survive winter. She suggested you check in Sri Lankan or Chinese market / shops where thy may have the leaf. Sorry for not being able to give you a clearer answer!

  • Madhu
    February 18, 2017 at 2:37 am

    Thanks a lot Yazhini for helping me with this. I will try to find and get this from India. Only if possible, can you please check with your friend on what name should I check for this in Chinese market?

  • Yazhini
    February 26, 2017 at 11:51 am

    Hey Madhu.. sorry about the late reply but I couldn’t get the info you asked for dear. Hope you get the green!

  • Madhu
    March 2, 2017 at 4:54 am

    Thanks Yazhini

  • Chowdry
    July 24, 2018 at 3:50 pm

    Good write up on health i got this leaf to day in indian store in france bcaz we miss chennai kirais here only this is availablle how to cook we are use seri keeraichukka keerai etc

  • July 29, 2018 at 12:19 am

    […] Masiyal recipe that I am posting today is made from Ponnanganni Keerai ( Health Benefits ) from my garden. You can try this recipe of Masiyal with any type of Spinach, eggplant, Bell […]

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