Sunday, May 25, 2014

The Healing Herbs of India: Ashwagandha (Winter Cherry)

Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera)
Withania somnifera, commonly known as Ashwagandha, Winter Cherry, Indian Ginseng or Poison Gooseberry is a member of the Solanaceae (nightshade) family. It is said to be one of the most powerful herbs that has been used for more than 3000 years in Ayurvedic system of medicine for curing various health ailments. 

In Sanskrit, 'Ashwagandha' means 'horse smell', probably due to the odour of its root which gives out the smell of that of a horse. This small perennial plant is a native to India, Pakistan, Srilanka and Bangladesh. Its useful parts are seeds, roots and the leaves. 

The herb is characterized by the presence of alkaloids and withanoloids which impart its pharmacological and therapeutic properties.Ashwagandha roots are reported to contain more than 30 steroidal lactones and about 20 alkaloids. Many of the chemical constituents have been investigated for different biological activities. 

The herb is bitter in taste, germicidal, aphrodisiac and diuretic. It is one of the well known valuable herbs reputed to cure cough, fever, ulcers, dropsy, impotency, insomnia, rheumatism, leukoderma and toxicosis. It is also known to increase physical endurance and improve nerve function. It is also known to regenerate the hormonal system and promote healing of tissues. Also, Ashwagandha is known inhibit the aging process and is prescribed in all general debilities.
Ashwagandha is also known as Winter Cherry
The extract obtained from the herb is used in the preparation of chavanaprash, herbal tea, tablets and syrups. Dried roots of the plant are used as a tonic for cold and cough, hiccup, ulcers, female disorders as well as a sedative. The leaves of Ashwagandha are used to treat inflammation and swellings. Clinical research supports the use of Ashwagandha for anxiety, cognitive, inflammation & Parkinson's disease. Experimental studies have also proposed its anti-tumorigenic and anti-inflammatory role in rodents and other mammalian systems. All the results and clinical trials clearly show why Ayurveda has such a high opinion of Ashwagandha as a health booster and rejuvinator.

Friday, March 28, 2014

The Healing Herb : Teak (Tectona grandis)

Tectona grandis
Teak (Tectona grandis)

Tectona grandis Linn (Teak) is a large deciduous tree belonging to family Verbenaceae. It has yellowish to reddish brown wood and papery leaves that are often hairy on the lower surface. The tree attains a height up to 40 meters. Teak fruit is a drupe enclosed in a brown, papery calyx. The tree bears bluish to white flowers. It requires a dry tropical climate for its growth. It flowers in February and March. Teak is native mainly to India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand and Burma but is naturalized and cultivated in Africa and Caribbean as well. 

It is commonly  known as sagwan, saka  (India), Djati, Jati (Indonesia), Kyun (Myannmar), Teck, Mai Sak (Thailand), Giati (Vietnam) and Teca (Brazil). Tectona grandia, Tectona hamiltoniana, and Tectona philippinensis are the other related species of the tree. The biggest and oldest (about 1,500 years old) teak is in Uttaradit, Thailand with a height is 47 metres.

Tectona grandis is an economically important species and the best source of most commercial teak wood products. Teak's high oil content, high tensile strength and tight grain makes it particularly suitable for outdoor furniture applications. It is used in the furniture making, boat decks and for indoor flooring. It is widely used to make the doors and house windows. It is resistant to the attack of termites. The wood contains scented oil which is the repellent to insects. Both the root, bark and the young leaves of teak produce a yellowish-brown or reddish dye used for coloring paper, clothes, matting, and even edibles.

Different parts of this tree are used in ayurveda for treating various health ailments for its acrid, sedative, anthelmintic and expectorant properties. It useful in the treatment of indigestion, headache, gravid uterus, piles, leucoderma, dysentery and burning pain over liver region. The bark is bitter tonic and is considered useful in fever. The ashes of wood applied to swollen eyelids and are said to strengthen the sight. 

The oil of nuts promotes the growth of hair and removes itchiness of skin. The flowers and the seeds are diuretics.  In traditional medicine, a wood-powder paste of the treeis used to treat headaches, swellings and dermatitis (a skin reaction), as well as worms and other parasites of the gut.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

The Banyan Tree: The National Tree of India

The Banyan Tree: The National Tree of India
Banyan (Ficus benghalensis), the national Tree of India, grows in hot tropical climates prevalent in most parts of India. The name originates from the word ‘Baniya’ or ‘Indian traders’ who sat below the tree shades for meetings and other useful gatherings. The tree is also known by other names such as the Nyagrodhah, Bargad, Peral, Vata, Vatagach, Sriksha, Bahupada and Skandaja.

There are many sacred beliefs and mythological references about this tree. In Hindu culture, the tree is often called 'kalpavriksha', which means 'a divine tree that fulfills wishes'. The leaves of the tree are considered to be the resting place of Lord Krishna. Buddha is believed to have enlightened meditating under banyan tree at Bodhgaya. In the Hindu mythology, Lord Shiva is sometimes depicted sitting in silence, under the banyan tree, with the saints sitting at His feet.
The Banyan Tree: Medicinal and  Therapeutic Uses
The Banyan tree has roots growing on the outside which turn thicker into woods and spread out wider in the region over the years. The tree can grow for a few hundred years and in the process spread its roots over acres of land. One of the widest tree in the world, the Great Banyan is located in Kolkata (India). The tree is said to be about 250 years old. Another such tree, Doda Alada Mara, located in Bangalore, has a spread of over 2 acres.

In Ayurveda, the bark, latex, leaf buds as well as the fruits of the tree are used as ingredients in medicine. Some of the active chemical constituents found in the plant include phytosterolin, ketones, flavonoids, flavonols, sterols, oentacylic triterpenes, triterpenoids, furocoumarin, tiglic acid ester and other esters. Owing to its active chemical composition, there are various medicinal uses of the banyan tree.

In Ayurvedic, Unani and Siddha medicine, the milky latex from the stems and leaves of the tree is applied to bruises and to parts of the body that are causing pain. Extract of the roots and the leaves are useful for curing various skin related problems. For healthy hair, crushed prop roots paste is applied to hair. The same formulation is also used as a skin conditioner. Skin ulcers are treated with a paste made from mixing water with ground plant material from the aerial roots of the tree. The milk juice obtained from tree bark is also used as a natural remedy to get rid of skin moles.
Roots of the Banyan Tree
The latex of the plant is applied to the gums to treat toothache and bleeding gums. The bark and seeds are used as a tonic to maintain body temperature. Diabetic patients are also treated by the tonic made from banyan tree. Banyan fruit and its juice are used in rheumatism and lumbago. The bark of banyan is useful in controlling cholesterol. It decreases LDL or bad cholesterol while HDL or good cholesterol levels are maintained.

Taking banyan bark and juice on a regular basis improves the immune function of the body and helps fight against disease causing microorganisms. Treatment for piles is yet another one of the medicinal uses of the banyan tree wherein a few drops of the latex of the banyan tree is given with milk as part of a natural treatment for bleeding piles. Dried roots powder of banyan with milk is also beneficial in the treatment of female sterility and leucorrhea.

In addition to the medicinal uses of the banyan tree, it is also known to have a variety of other uses. The sap produced by banyan tree is used to produce shellac, a strong adhesive. It can also be used to make surface-finisher and for polishing brass and copper. The wood of the tree is used for door panels, well curbs, furniture and boxes. Using the bark of the tree, paper can be created. In India, the broad leaves of the banyan tree are dried and used as plates. The rubber, produced from the sticky milk of banyan tree, is used for gardening. People make use of the roots of the tree to make ropes, in order to secure wood bundles.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

The Healing Herb of India: Carica papaya (Papaya)

Papaya tree
The Healing Herb of India: Carica papaya 
Carica papaya L. (Caricaceae family) is cultivated throughout India, in many places as commercial crop. It is a small, soft wooded, plant with straight trunk without branches that grows to a height up to 8m. The leaves are deeply lobed with long, hollow petioles. Inflorescence bears unisexual white or yellowish white flowers. It bears green fruits when immature, which turn yellow when ripe. The hollow of fruit contains bright orange flesh with small black seeds clustered in the center.

Papaya fruit is a rich source of antioxidant nutrients such as carotenes, vitamin C and flavonoids, the B vitamins, folate, pantothenic acid, minerals (potassium, magnesium and fiber). Latex found in the unripe fruit contains enzymes like papain, peptides and chymopapain A and B.  In this post, learn about various health benefits and remedies with papaya:

Papaya Fruit
Carica papaya 

Skin and Hair
Topical application of papaya fruit pulp is found beneficial in removing tanning, sunburn and age spots. Owing to the high levels of alpha hydroxy acids and papain enzyme, regular application of fruit pulp helps reduce wrinkles and fine lines from the skin. A face pack prepared from the fruit pulp also helps to get rid of pimples and ugly scars. Applying 1 tsp of papaya latex (diluted with water) on the scalp twice a week helps to eradicate head lice completely. Applying latex of the plant on the affected area thrice daily cures ring worms.

Stomach Related Ailments
For constipation, consuming a bowl of papaya fruit would prove to be beneficial. Colon infection can also be treated by regularly having papaya fruit juice. For improving appetite, take 2-3 drops of papaya latex with water in the morning. Eating fruit pulp with a pinch black salt and black pepper, controls windiness in stomach. Chewing or swallowing the seeds of papaya with honey, after meals helps expel worms. Administering 30 drops of raw papaya latex diluted with 1 tsp of water and taken with a little milk, cures dysentery.

Weight Loss
Papaya is a low calorie fruit with high fiber content. Eating a bowl of ripe papaya as mid time snacks helps to feel full for a longer period of time. This keeps you satisfied, curbs the hunger cravings, and keeps you from overeating. The digestive enzymes papain and chymonpapain found in papaya are known to cleanse your digestive tract, further supporting fat loss. 

Papaya can treat fevers too. Drinking 1 tsp juice of young leaves of papaya in a cup of water is an effective treatment for fever. This also treats vomiting, headache and inflammation accompanying fever. One should take this medication thrice daily for 3-5 days for complete cure.

Administering about 30 drops of the latex of the unripe fruit in half a cup of water and added sugar controls liver dysfunction causing jaundice. Take this formulation thrice daily for 5 days; reduce the dose to twice a day for next one week.

Cardiovascular Diseases
Papaya is a rich source of vitamins and soluble dietary fibers. Studies have shown that eating papaya fruit daily works to lower high cholesterol levels and provides protection against heart related ailments.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

The Tree of Life: Peepal (Ficus religious)

Peepal (Ficus religious) is a native to the Indian sub-continent. It is also found inhabiting Bangladesh, Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Tibet and China as well. It is a large deciduous tree with the wonderful wide spreading branches. Its bark is light gray and peels in patches. The leaves are cordate; fruits are small figs about 1 cm in diameter. It is one of the longest living trees. 

Peepal, Ficus religious
The Tree of Life- Peepal 
The peepal is the first-known depicted tree in India! A seal discovered at Mohenjodaro, one of the cities of the Indus Valley Civilisation (c. 3000 BC - 1700 BC), shows the peepal tree being worshipped in those days. During the Vedic period, its wood was used to make fire by friction. 

Hindus in India holds the great spiritual regard for the peepal tree, they regard it as the tree beneath which Lord Vishnu was born. The peepal is also sacred to Buddhists, because the Buddha is believed to have attained enlightenment under it. Hence it is also called the Bodhi tree or 'tree of enlightenment'. Peepal is known by various names such as the Bo-Tree, Bodhi, Arani, Ashvattha, Bodhidruma, Beepul, Pipers, Pipalla, Pimpal, Sacred fig and Shuchidruma.

Peepal tree is of great medicinal value and is extensively used in Ayurveda. Almost all parts of the tree such as bark, leaves, shoots, fruit, seeds and latex are used for medicinal and therapeutic purposes. Some of the compounds found in the tree are steroids, tannins, flavonoids, saponins, terpenoids and cardiac glycosides. Other bio-chemicals include vitamin K1, bergapten, bergaptol, lanosterol, B-sitosterol, stigmasterol, lupen-3-one, B-sitosterol-d-glucoside, leucocyanidin-3-0-B-D-glucopyrancoside, leucopelargondin-3-0-B-D-glucopyranoside, lupeol, lupeol acetate, leucopelargonidin-3-0-A-L-rhamnopyranoside, ceryl behenate, A-amyrin acetate, leucoanthocyanidin, leucoanthocyanin, stigmasterol, campestrol, isofucosterol, tannic acid, A-amyrin, arginine, serine, aspartic acid, glycine, threonine, proline, alanine, methionine, valine, tyrosine, tryptophan, isoleucine and leucine, etc.

Peepal, Ficus religious
Owing to its active components, Peepal is believed to cure diseases such as diarrhea, dysentery, hemorrhoids, gonorrhea, gastrohelcosis, neuralgia and inflammations. Its leaves serve as a wonderful laxative as well as tonic for the body. It is especially useful for patients suffering from jaundice. It helps to control the excessive amount of urine released during jaundice. Peepal leaf is also considered valuable in the treatment of various kinds of skin disorders and heart diseases.

Peepal leaves are of great use in getting rid of mumps, boils and keep a check on pus formation. The leaves are also used as the ear drops as well as for healing the wounds. The bark of the tree is useful in inflammations and glandular swelling of the neck. Its root is beneficial in curing stomatitis, ulcers as well as gout. The roots of the plant are chewed to prevent gum diseases. The powered fruit is taken for Asthma. Its seeds have proved useful in treating urinary troubles.

Saturday, September 7, 2013

The Healing Herbs of India: Momordica charantia (Bitter Gourd)

Bitter gourd (Karela)
Bitter gourd (Momordica charantia) originated on the Indian subcontinent, and was introduced into China in the 14th century. Todau, widely grown in the Indian subcontinent and parts of Asia, Africa, South America, it is unsavory yet very nutritious and healthy. Bitter gourd primarily grows in vines. It bears its fruits during the month of September and November. It comes in a variety of shapes and sizes. Bitter gourd received different names such as  Karela (Hindi), bitter melon and bitter gourd (English), Goya (Japanese), ampalaya (Filipino), etc.

Health Benefits of Bitter gourd (Karela)

  • Bitter gourd is also useful for those suffering from piles. Drinking bitter gourd juice or taking it with buttermilk every morning for a month would be beneficial in getting rid of this painful ailment.
  • Bitter gourd is high in fiber and hence, prevents constipation. It can cure stomach related disorders by stimulating the secretion of gastric juices.
  • It is highly beneficial for those suffering from dyspepsia. People suffering from heartburn and ulcers must cut down on its consumption.
  • Bitter gourd purifies blood because of its blood-purifying properties and also said to treat boils and itching caused for similar reasons.
  • Bitter gourd contains a chemical called Charantin which reduces high blood glucose levels; hence it is useful for diabetics. Bitter gourd juice can be taken in the morning on an empty stomach to keep a check on the blood sugar levels.
  • Bitter gourd juice taken in the morning is beneficial to strengthen the immune system by improving our body’s fighting mechanism against infection and diseases.
  • Bitter gourd works well for those who want to lose weight. Add bitter gourd to your diet as it stimulates excretion of bile juices in the liver that are very essential for fat metabolism.
  • Fresh juice of bitter gourd leaves can be used to treat cholera in early stages.
  • Bitter gourd has high amount of beta-carotene that helps cure eye problems and improve eyesight.

Pregnant women must be careful and should try to minimize bitter gourd intake! Bitter gourd is known to have a property that causes abortion. It has monorcharins substance that might have side effects on the gravid uterus.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

The Healing Herb of India: Aegle marmelos (Bael)

The healing herbs of India
Aegle marmelos (Bael)
Bael (Aegle marmelos, family: Rutaceae) is one of the sacred trees of the Hindus used in religious rituals. It is a medium sized deciduous tree with sharp axillary thorns. Bael fruit is greenish brown & woody that turns yellow when ripe. The rind is hard and woody. It is considered a vast source of several pharmacologically active principles and compounds commonly used in home remedies against multiple health ailments.

Bael tree occurs from the sub-mountainous regions to the dry plains of throughout India. Though it is native to India but has been naturalized throughout most southeastern Asian countries. Bael is commonly known as holy fruit, bel, sirphal, bili, belpatri, Bilvapatra, shivadrum, shreepahal, sadaphal, stone apple, wood apple, Belada Hannu & Bilva. Leaves, fruit, flowers, stem and roots of this tree are used as ethno medicine against various ailments.  In this post, let’s learn about the herbal remedies with Bael for treating a number of common diseases-

Herbal Remedies with Bael (Aegle marmelos)
Leaves of  Aegle marmelos (Bael)
  • For fever, make a paste of 50 g bael leaves & apply the same over head and chest daily till it cures. Another remedy is to boil 100 g bael leaves with water, filter and take it orally twice daily for 2 days.
  • To cure cough and cold, administer 1 tsp of dried bael leaves powder with water thrice a day.
  • To expel intestinal worms, taking 1 tbsp of dried pulp of bael fruit for 5 days thrice daily, is helpful in curing the problem.
  • A paste prepared from 2 g bael flowers and 250 mg black pepper is said to cure vomiting, diarrhea & excessive thirst.
  • For diabetes, administering 4-5 bael leaves extract with honey is said to be beneficial in controlling sugar.
  • For amoebic dysentery, the pulp of half of the dried bael fruit taken with water twice daily for 3 days relieves the same.
  • For abdominal discomfort, boil 50 g bael bark, 25 g flower of caraway & 25 g dried ginger. Administer this formulation twice daily on an empty stomach for for 2-3 days.
  • To get relief from stomachache, powdered fruit pulp taken with milk twice daily is said to be beneficial in curing the ailment.
  • Consuming 5 bael leaves in the morning on an empty stomach for a week is said to indigestion and constipation.
  • Boil 250 g of ripe bael fruit 1 liter of water along with 250 g of sugar & cook till it thickens. Store in a container. Mix 2 tbsp of this syrup to a glass of water and administer to the patient suffering from constipation, or diarrhea. The same remedy is also effective against bleeding piles.
  • The pulp of roasted raw bael fruit taken with curd is believed to benefit the patient suffering from bleeding piles.
  • Boil 10 bael leaves in ½ liter of water & take this decoction twice daily for 5 days to cure bed wetting.
  • To treat mouth ulcers, open and boil raw bael fruit in water and gurgle with the extract 4-5 times a day.
  • For urinary disorders, consuming 4-5 bael leaves daily for a week is said to treat the ailment.
  • For jaundice, a tsp of bael leaves juice taken for a week daily is said to effective in curing the ailment.
  • To treat body odour, prepare a paste of bael leaves in water and apply over body. Wash off after two hours. Continue this treatment daily for 7 days to get rid of body odour.
(Toxicity: The leaves are said to cause abortion and sterility in women. The bark is used as a fish poison in the Celebesw. Tannin ingested frequently and in quantity over a long period of time, is antinutrient and carcinogenic.)

Monday, June 10, 2013

The Healing Herb of India: Lawsonia inermis (Henna)

The Healing HErb of India-Lawsonia inermis (Mehandi)
Natural Remedies with Lawsonia inermis 
Heena (Lawsonia inermis, family: Lythraceae) is a much branched glabrous medicinal shrub distributed throughout India. It is chiefly cultivated in Rajasthan, Punjab, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Gujarat. The bark, seeds, flowers and leaves of the plant are used in Unani and ayurvedic medicines. Henna is commonly known as Mehandi, Mehanti, Medhika, Medhini, Madyantika, Giri Mallika, Ban Mallika, Nakhranjani, Cypress shrub & Egyptian priven.

This plant has been used since ages to dye skin, hair, finger nails, leather, silk and wool. In several parts of the World, Henna is traditionally used in various festivals and celebrations. People also cultivate Henna as a Hedge plant. In this post, learn about the traditional medicinal uses and remedies with henna to cure general health problems-
Traditionally, Henna is used to dye hands & feet
in various festivals and celebrations.
Traditional Herbal Remedies with Henna 
  • Massage with Henna oil over the affected area relieves rheumatic and arthritic pains. Coarsely Henna ground leaves can also be applied to sore flints to ease rheumatism, inflammatory swelling, bruises & leprosy.
  • Massaging juice of Henna leaves with mustard oil, relieves pain in the neck.
  • To treat dysentery, powder the seeds of the plant & mix with clarified butter. Now prepare small balls of the mixture & have it with water.
  • Washing eyes with decoction of henna leaves, cures conjunctivitis and catarrh.
  • Gurgling with henna leaves decoction is said to be a useful remedy for sore throat.
  • To get relief from prickly heat, ground henna leaves in water and apply over the affected area. Henna leaves are also quite effective in the treatment of skin disorders such as boils & burns.
  • Henna leaves mixed with vinegar can be applied onto the soles to treat burning feet.
  • Application of a paste of fresh henna leaves on hands and feet cures inflammation.
  • Application of a paste of henna flowers prepared in vinegar cures headache due to sun exposure.
    The Healing Herb of India: Henna
  • To cure spermatorrhea, take a tsp of Henna leave juice with water or with milk twice daily for seven days. The same formulation is useful in cases of leucorrhea in women as well.
  • Applying decoction of henna leaves on the scalp cures dandruff effectively.
  • To treat baldness, boil henna leaves in mustard oil and massage the scalp with the same regularly.
  • Prepare a paste of powdered Henna leaves, Indian gooseberry, reetha (Sapindus emarginatus), shikakai (Acacia sinuata) seeds & fenugreek seeds in water. Leave this mixture overnight. Mix to it 2 tsp curd in the morning & apply the same over the scalp and hair. This is one of the best solutions for graying of hair.
  • Prepare a decoction of henna leaves in til oil, & apply over the skin to treat wrinkles.
  • Sleeping on a pillow filled with henna flowers brings about a sound sleep.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

The Healing Herb of India: Commiphora wightii (Guggul)

Commiphora wightii (Guggul)
Commiphora wightii (Guggul) is a flowering plant of the family Burseraceae. It is a small tree with thin papery bark and thorny branches. It occurs in the dry zones from the Deccan and west India to the north-west and Karachi, Sind and Balochistan in Pakistan. C. wightii is commonly known as Guggulu, Koushika, Devadhupa, Palankasha, Guggul, Guggal, Guggal lipid, Commiphora, Mukul,Mukul myrrh tree and Balsamodendron.

Guggul contains contains resin, volatile oils and gum. The gum resin of the Commiphora tree is renowned for the treatment of inflammatory disorders, burns, rheumatoid arthritis, lipid disorders, obesity, skin diseases, and other ailments. It is used internally as an expectorant and for the treatment of diarrhea, fatigue, headache, jaundice and ingestion. It is also used as an insecticide and insect repellent. Guggul is also used for treating cervical adenitis, and acts as bitter stomachic and carminative, stimulating appetite and improving digestion.

Guggul resin
Commiphora wightii :Resin (gum)
The gum of the plant is laxative, aphrodiasiac, alternative, tonic and anthelmintic. It causes biliousness, heals fractures, ulcers, fistula and piles. It also cures indigestion, urinary discharges, urinary discharges, urinary concretions, leucoderma, tuberous glands in the neck, and tridosha, removes vata and kapha. It is useful in ascites, asthma and troubles of the chest, and in treating chronic discharges from the ear.

Commiphora wightii -Guggul plant
The fruit of commiphora cures abdominal troubles. The gum enriches blood and is useful in muscular rheumatism, lung complaints, dyspepsia and piles. It is used as mouthwash, dentifrice, and in curing ulcers of the mouth and pharynx, for cleaning foul and indolent ulcers, for healing wounds in the veterinary practice, as an ingredient in incense and perfume in the holy oil of Jews, and in the ‘Kyphi’ of Egyptians for embalming and fumigation.

Guggul is effective as weight loss and fat burning agent. It increases white blood cell counts and possess disinfecting properties. It is often used as a carrier & combined with other herbs to treat specific conditions. 

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

The Queen of Herbs: Asparagus racemosus (Shatavari)

Asparagus racemosus -Shatavari
Asparagus racemosus: The Queen of Herbs

The ‘Queen of Herbs’, Asparagus racemosus (family Liliaceae) is a spiny-stemmed, woody climber native to the Himalayas. Also popular as Shatavari, it has been mentioned in Ayurvedic texts like the Charak Samhita, Susruta Samhita, Astanga Samgraha & Kashyap Samhita for preventing and treating various health disorders. Other vernacular names for this herb are Shatawari, Satmuli, Shatamuli, Asparagus, Satawari, Kurilo and Satawar.

Its principal constituents include steroidal saponins, rhamnose moieties, sarsasapogenin, alkaloids, proteins, starch, tannin, isoflavones including 8-methoxy - 5, 6, 4 - trihydroxyisoflavone 7 - 0 - beta - D - glucopyranoside, asparagamine, racemosol, polysaccharides. The dried roots (tubers) of asparagus contain a large amount of saccharine, mucilage & minerals.

The healing properties of Asparagus are useful to a wide array of ailments. The tuber of asparagus is the main source of ‘Shatawar’ drug, used in indigenous medicine as a tonic, for improving appetite and increasing the secretion of milk in lactating women. The drug is a demulcent and aphrodisiac. It has diuretic and gastric sedative properties, and is used to treat urinary problems and rheumatic conditions. It is also prescribed for treating cases of nervous breakdown and menstrual trouble.

Asparagus racemosus
Asparagus Tubers (Roots)
The tubers are considered stomachic, tonic & astringent to the bowels. The tubers are also useful in dysentery, tumors, inflammation, biliousness, leprosy, epilepsy, night blindness, and diseases of the nervous system. It is also used for diabetes, jaundice, gleet, gonorrhea, as well as kidney and liver disorders. The herb is capable of improving memory, intelligence and physical strength.

Asparagus is effective in curing diseases due to impurities of the blood, piles, eye diseases, vaginal disorders like leucorrhea, uterine disorders & also regulates menstruation. It is also used for sexual debility & infertility for both men and women.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

The Healing Herb of India: Black pepper (Piper nigrum)

Black pepper (Piper nigrum, family Piperaceae), a native of India, occupies a prominent place in Indian kitchens owing to its aromatic, culinary & medicinal properties. It is also cultivated in other countries such as Egypt and Madagascar. 

Black pepper is rich in iron, manganese & dietary fiber. Piperine, a principle alkaloid found in black pepper helps in promoting brain functions, inhibits metabolism of nutrients present in body, improves digestion and reduces the incidence of stomach ulcers and colon cancer. It also acts as an anti-depressant. The fruits are widely used as an active ingredient in various home remedies for a variety of illnesses such as colic, tooth decay, liver problems, lung disease, indigestion, constipation, diarrhea and urinary disorders. 

Find in this post some useful natural remedies with black pepper that would help to deal with common health ailments.
  • To cure all kinds of cough, grind black pepper and add sugar to it. Take it with clarified butter.
  • Grind 5-6 black pepper & mix with honey. Lick this paste to relieve dry cough. This remedy is also effective as appetite stimulant.
  • To cure toothache, mix powdered black pepper in clove oil. Apply this paste on the affected part.
  • In case of indigestion, mix black pepper powder in ginger juice. Take this formulation after meals.
  • Chewing 8-10 black pepper in betel leaf is known to help in gaining weight.
  • Take a cup of water and add to it ¼ tsp black pepper, 2 tsp lemon juice and honey. Drinking the same would help a person in reducing weight.
  • To treat sexual debility, heat a tsp of clarified butter in a pan & add 3-4 black pepper to it, followed by a glass of milk. Now add 3-4 crushed almonds and let it come to a boil. Add sugar to taste. This formulation is beneficial when taken at bed time.
  • To keep a check on cholesterol level, add ¼ tsp black pepper powder in a glass of butter milk. Mix finely diced onion to it and drink.
  • For treating skin allergies and eczema, prepare a paste by mixing black pepper powder in clarified butter. Topical application of this paste is said to be beneficial.
  • For asthma, boil 8-10 black pepper, 2 clove buds & about 10 basil leaves in water for 15 minutes. Filter and add two tsp honey. Drink the same with milk.
  • Take equal amounts of powdered black pepper, cinnamon, cumin & cardamom seeds.  Sniffing the same would induce sneezing and help treat blocked nose. 
  • While preparing tea, add 2-4 black pepper powder, ginger, a clove and few basil leaves. It works as anti-tussive and is also effective against cold.
  • Administrating powdered black pepper with jaggery is said to be effective in curing chronic cold.

Monday, February 25, 2013

The Healing Herb of India: Syzygium aromaticum (Clove)

Syzygium aromaticum (Myrtaceae family) commonly known as lawang or cloveis one of the oldest aromatic spices of the world, having many therapeutic virtues. It is a a pyramidal or conical evergreen tree with single main stem and obliquely oriented branches, that grows to a height 12 m. Lawang is also known as Laung (Hindi), shriisanjnan, lavanga, deokusumum (Sanskrit), clove (English). It is grown as a spice crop in western coasts and southern states of India (Karnataka, Kerala & TamilNadu).
Cloves have antimicrobial, antiseptic, antispasmodic, germicidal, rubefacient, carminative, expectorant, stomachic and stimulant properties. Dried flower buds and clove oil are used to cure ailments and for other culinary purposes. Find in this post about the medicinal uses of clove in treating common health problems as a natural remedy:
  • Having 250 mg of lawang paste with warm water after meals cures indigestion, caused due to overeating and characterized by vomiting, gastritis or loss of appetite. 
  • The same remedy is also useful in treating headache due to sun exposure, smoke or pollution. Application of a paste of clove also relives headache.
  • Cough and throat congestion can be cured by chewing roasted clove. It is also an effective remedy in cases of inflammation in the pharynx (pharyngitis). Another cure is to prepare a decoction by boiling 5-6 cloves in 30 ml of water. Take this decoction with honey thrice a day as an expectorant. 
  • Taking paste of 3-4 cloves with warm water removes windiness of abdomen.
  • For toothache, pressing a clove bud between the jaws, at the site of aching tooth eases the pain. Apply clove oil in the cavity of decayed tooth. This would reduce the pain and help to ameliorate infection.
  • For asthma, soak 2 cloves, 12-15 basil leaves, 10 black pepper in water and boil for 15 minutes. Filter the same. To this, add two tsp honey and drink with milk.
  • For treating spasmodic coughs during tuberculosis, bronchitis & asthma, mix a few drops of clove oil and garlic in honey. Take this formulation before going to bed.
  • In cases of nausea and vomiting, prepare a paste by mixing clove powder in honey and lick it. Clove bud boiled in water and given to a pregnant lady eases vomiting sensation.
  • Application of a few drops of clove oil mixed with mustard oil is effective in joint pain and muscular cramps.
  • In earache, mix clove oil and sesame oil. Warm the mixture and put 2-3 drops in the ear.
  • For acne, apply a paste of clove powder in honey over the affected area. Mix a few drops of clove oil in jojoba or coconut oil and apply over acne. This home remedy not only removes acne but also leftover spots.
  • Clove oil is an effective insect repellent when diluted with water in 1:10 ratio. Spray this solution to keep the insects at bay.
  • Eating a clove in betel leaf is a useful remedy for treating catarrh.
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