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Selaginella bryopteris, known commonly as sanjeevini and sanjivini booti (Devanagari:संजीवनी), is a lithophytic plant. It is used medicinally in India. The popular name sanjeevani which translates as "One that infuses life" derives from the medicinal properties. Sanjeevani grows on the hills of tropical areas, particularly the Arawali Mountain terrains from east to west in India. The dry plants have traditionally been used as a remedy for several human health complications for centuries in India, particularly by tribal peoples. Traditional uses include relief from heat stroke, dysuria, irregular menstruation, and jaundice, but the effectiveness has not been scientifically validated.
In Hindu mythology, Sanjeevani is a magical herb which has the power to cure any malady. It was believed that medicines prepared from this herb could revive a dead person. Herb is mentioned in the Ramayana when, Ravana's son Indrajit hurls a powerful weapon at Lakshmana. Lakshmana is badly wounded and is nearly killed by Indrajeet. Hanuman was called upon to fetch this herb from the mount Dunagiri (Mahodaya) in the Himalayas or Valley of Flowers. Upon reaching Mount Sumeru, Hanuman was unable to identify the herb and decided to lift the entire mountain and bring it to the battlefield.
While some references in scientific literature list Selaginella bryopteris as the Sanjeevani mentioned in Hindu mythology, a search of ancient texts currently underway in CSIR laboratories has so far not revealed any plant that can be definitively confirmed as Sanjeevani. In certain texts it is written that Sanjeevani glows in the dark.
- Sah N K et al., 2005, Indian herb ‘Sanjeevani’ (Selaginella bryopteris) can promote growth and protect against very heat shock and apoptotic activities of ultra violet and oxidative stress. Journal of Bioscience, 30, 499–505.
- Telegraph India
- In search of Sanjeevani, Current Science, Vol. 97, No. 4, 25 August 2009