Monday, December 24, 2012

The Indigenous Herb of India: Turmeric (Curcuma longa)

Turmeric offers Multiple Health Benefits
Turmeric (Curcuma longais a perennial herb of the Zingiberaceae or ginger family. Native to South Asia, it is a cultigen and has not yet been found in the wild. However, it is believed to be indigenous to India, where it has long been used both as a spice and as a dye.  From India, it is likely that that plant spread to South-East Asia and gradually to East Asia, particularly China. Owing to its multiple health benefits, turmeric  is extensively used as a food preservative, spice, and coloring agent in various parts of the world. It is considered as auspicious and is a part of religious rituals in countries like India.

Turmeric Rhizomes
Turmeric is rich source of carbohydrates, proteins, fats, minerals and essential oils. Curcumin, one of the bioactive components of turmeric, is anti inflammatory, antibacterial, antioxidant, antimutagenic, anticoagulant, cholagogueue, diuretic, depurative, antidiabetic & antifungal in nature.

The plant known for its therapeutic & medicinal virtues, has been used as a traditional remedy for curing various illnesses. Find here some of the simple and effective Natural Remedies with turmeric:
    A Healthy Spice used for
    Preparations in Indian Kitchens
    • Application of a paste prepared from turmeric rhizome & neem leaves twice a day, dries out Acne. Mixing a tbsp each of fuller’s earth & sandalwood powder with ½ tsp of turmeric is also a known remedy for curing acne.
    • To cure Asthma, have 1/4th tsp of turmeric powder with hot water.
    • Drinking a glass of milk with ½ tsp of turmeric powder is effective against Arthritis.
    • Prepare a paste of 1/4th tsp of turmeric powder and black pepper in clarified butter & massage it on the chest to relieve symptoms of Bronchitis.
    • Boiling 1/4th tsp of turmeric in a glass of water and gargling with the same (twice a day) cures Blisters in the mouth.
    • Regular consumption of turmeric in foods eases Morning stiffness, reduces Pain Joint swelling.
    • Application of turmeric powder with lime comforts Swelling and pain in Bruises.Applying a paste of turmeric powder and salt in clarified butter is also known to provide relief in bruises.
    • Adding turmeric to a glass of milk or making it a part of daily cooking, would help in the breakdown of dietary fat, & hence, help in Controlling weight.
    • Regular use of turmeric in food acts as an anti-mutagenic agent by reducing the chances of occurrence of types of Cancer (lung, colon, breast and prostrate cancer).
    • A tsp of turmeric, 1/4th tsp of carom seeds & honey taken with hot water cures Cough & cold.
    • Licking 1 tsp turmeric powder with ½ tsp of honey is believed to eliminate Chest congestion.
    • For keeping a check on Diabetes, mix ½ tsp each of turmeric and bay leaves powder in a tbsp of aloe vera gel. Take this mixture twice daily before meals.
    • To treat Eczema, drink a glass of milk with ½ tsp turmeric powder daily.
    • Turmeric also helps to prevent Heart attacks /strokes if consumed daily in food diet. It helps in eliminating the LDL or bad cholesterol from the body. .
    • Taking ½ tsp of turmeric powder with 1/4th tsp of black pepper & cardamom each after every meal is beneficial in Indigestion Acidity.
    • Having a tsp of turmeric with warm milk/ hot water and honey twice daily is effective in Jaundice.
    • Application of paste of turmeric prepared in sesame oil helps prevent Skin eruptions
    • To treat Small pox, prepare a paste by mixing turmeric powder, milk cream & wheat flour in mustard oil. Apply the same over the affected part two times daily. Also consuming a tsp of turmeric powder and tamarind for 5 days would fasten healing.
    • Roast turmeric powder & massage the aching tooth to get relief of swelling & pain. Filling the cavity with roasted ground turmeric powder provides temporary relief in Toothaches.
    • Roast about 15 g of turmeric powder in mustard oil and use it for fomentation in case of Tonsillitis
    • Drinking a cup of milk with ½ tsp of turmeric twice a day helps in quick healing of the wounds.
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    Tuesday, December 18, 2012

    The Holistic Herb of Medicinal Virtues: Basil (Tulsi)!

    Basil: Ocimun sanctum
    Basil (Ocimum sanctum L.), plant of the Lamiaceae family, is an erect, annual herb, found commonly grown in India and the Andaman and Nicobar Islands. All parts of the plant, i.e., its leaves, stems, roots, seeds & the flowers are reputed to have therapeutic properties. This holy plant has been used by herbal practitioners as analgesic, expectorant, antidiabetic, carminative, anticancer, adaptogenic,  antifungal, antimicrobial, antiasthmatic, hepatoprotective, cardioprotective, hypolipidmic, antiemetic, antispasmodic, antirheumatic, hypotensive and diaphoretic.

    These medicinal properties are believed to be due to the presence of essential oils and other active compounds in the plant. The basil leaves contain essential oil rich in eugenal, eugenol, limatrol, caryophylline, carvacrol, methylchavicol and steroids like ursolic acid and n-triacontanol. The plant roots contain active compounds such as triterpenes and sitosterol. The seeds of the herb are a source of fatty acids and sitosterol. Owing to its active constituents, find here some of the age old folk remedies with basil:

    Traditional Herbal Remedies with Basil
    Basil: A Doctor in your backyard!
    • To cure skin infections, prepare a mixture of crushed basil leaves, onion (Allium cepa) and lemon (Citrus limon) juice. Apply the mixture topically to treat skin infections and allergies.
    • To improve lactation in nursing mothers, crush & boil 8-10 basil leaves in a cup of water and simmer for about 5 min. Sieve & add honey to taste. Have a cup of the same twice daily.
    • To treat acne, apply a mixture of Basil & mint leaves juice along with lemon juice over the affected area.
    • An aqueous concoction of the whole basil plant taken daily is said to control diabetes.
    • A tsp of basil leaves juice taken with equal amounts of bitter gourd juice, taken for a month before going to bed is also said to relieve asthma and bronchitis.
    • To treat cough and cold, grind together equal amounts of dried basil leaves, ginger and black pepper powder. To it, add a little honey to have a consistency to make it into pellets. These pellets can be sucked 3-4 times a day to ease the symptom.
    • To cure nose bleeding, drink a tsp of basil juice with honey in a glass of water. Also, smelling basil blossoms can relieve the symptom.
    • For indigestion, crush 3-4 basil leaves with a pinch of rock salt. Take it with water to ease the ailment.
    • To get rid of lice, spread a handful of basil leaves around the pillow before going to bed.
    • To treat fever, boil about 10g basil leaves in a glass of water till the water is reduced to half. Add a little rock salt to taste and drink. This preparation induces sweating and relieves fever.
    • The leaf juice of basil along with triphala (amla, harada and behada) extract can be used as eye tonic. This formulation can also treat eye problems such as chronic conjunctivitis, glaucoma and cataracts.
    • To get relief from headache, chewing a few basil leaves or rubbing the leaves of the herb is beneficial.
    • To relieve migraine, shade dry & powder some basil blossoms and store in an airtight container. Mix 2g of the powder with a tbsp of honey and lick slowly.
    • For insect bite, ground basil leaves with turmeric & apply over the affected area.
    • For urinary troubles, take a tsp of basil seeds and soak them overnight. In the morning, grind them with sugar & have it with water twice daily.
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    Monday, December 10, 2012

    The Plant with Therapeutic values: Arjuna (Terminalia arjuna)

    Arjuna (Terminalia arjuna) Tree
    Arjuna (Terminalia arjuna) is one of the sacred trees of India which has been used on several religious occasions as well as in Ayurvedic formation since ancient times. It was introduced into Ayurveda as a treatment for heart diseases, wounds, hemorrhages and ulcers by Vagbhata (He is one of the three classic writers of Ayurveda, along with Charaka Sushruta who wrote the Ashtanga Sangraha and the Ashtanga Hridaya Samhita). Arjuna is known by its various names such as  Arjan, Dhanvi, Koha, Kahu, White Marudah, Orjun, Yerra maddi, Sadada,  Indradruma, Kakubha, Karvirak and many more.

    Arjuna Bark
    Arjuna is a large size deciduous tree common throughout India, especially in the sub Himalayan tracts and the Eastern India. Terminalia chebula, T. bellrica and T. ciliata are the other species of Arjuna tree found in India. Arjuna bark is rich tannins, triterpenoid saponins (arjunic acid, arjunolic acid, arjungenin, arjunglycosides), flavonoids (arjunone, arjunolone, luteolin), gallic acid, ellagic acid, oligomeric proanthocyanidins (OPCs), phytosterols (b-sitosterol), minerals such as calcium, magnesium, zinc, and copper. It has an abundance of  Co-enzyme Q- 10 which helps to strengthens the heart muscles and prevent heart diseases. 

    Arjuna Leaves
    In Ayurveda and the Siddha system of medicine, the plant is used in the treatment of cardiac diseases, chronic fever, Diabetes mellitus, polyurea, fractures, obesity, leucorrhoea, leprosyworm infestation, abdominal disorders, skin disorders, and ulcers. The bark is said to be alexiteric, styptic, tonic, anthelmintic, & useful in treating anemia, asthma, tumours, leucoderma, excessive perspiration, and more. Arjuna is also useful in controlling blood pressure levels, and acts as an antidote to poisons. It is also reputed to have astringent, hypotensive, hemostatic, diuretic, prostaglandin-enhancing, coronary-risk-modulating properties, & is useful in protection against NSAID-induced gastric ulcers. Arjuna leaves are used to cover ulcers & sores externally, while its juice is used for curing earache (Otalgia). In addition, Arjuna has shown its effectiveness against the antiviral and antibacterial ailments as well.

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    Friday, December 7, 2012

    The Medicinal Plant : Aloe vera

    Aloe vera : One of the Oldest Medicinal Plants
    Aloe vera is one of the oldest known medicinal plants gifted by nature. It is known by its various names such as Miracle plant, Lily of the desert, Burn plant, Elephant's gall, etc. It is a stemless or very short-stemmed succulent plant growing to 80–100 cm tall, spreading by offsets and root sprouts. The leaves are lanceolate, thick and fleshy, green with a serrated margin. The flowers are produced on a spike up to 90 cm tall, each flower pendulous, with a yellow tubular corolla 2–3 cm long.

    Aloe Vera contains more than 75 known active ingredients. Also included are 19 of the 20 amino acids required by the human body and 7 of the 8 essential amino acids (that the body cannot make), as well as vitamins and minerals. There are 20 "critical" Amino Acids in human metabolism, but the body can only make 12, the other 8 have to be obtained from food. These are Isoleucine, Leucine, Lysine, Methionine, Phenylalanine, Threonine, Valine, and Tryptophan.

    Aloe Vera contains useful enzymes such as Amylase, Bradykinase, Catalase, Cellulase, Lipase, Oxidase, Alkaline Phosphatase, Proteolytiase, Creatine Phosphokinase, Carboxypeptidase. Most of these are beneficial to human metabolism. Lignin gives Aloe Vera its penetrating powers. The plant contains important minerals like Calcium, Chromium, Copper, Iron, Magnesium, Manganese, Potassium, Phosphorous, Sodium, and Zinc. Aloe Vera contains useful vitamins like vitamin A (beta-carotene and retinol), B1 (thiamine), B2 (riboflavin), B3 (niacin), B6 (pyridoxine), B12 (cyanocobalamin), C (ascorbic acid), E (tocopherol) and Folic Acid. Clinical evaluations have revealed that the pharmacological active ingredients are concentrated in both the gel and rind of the aloe vera leaves.

    Aloe Gel is Used to Cure Various Health Ailments
    Aloe vera is an antiseptic, antibacterial and anti inflammatory in nature. Here are a few health benefits of this miraculous plant. 
    Aloe vera-
    • Cures colon cancer and heals the intestine
    • Soothes arthritis pain and inflammation
    • Protects the body from oxidative stress
    • Gives relief from constipation.
    • Stabilizes blood sugar and reduces triglyceride levels in diabetics.
    • Reduces hypertension (high blood pressure)
    • Accelerates healing from physical and burns.
    • Acts as a tonic for the kidneys; prevents kidney stones.
    • Keeps a check on cholesterol levels
    • Boosts the oxygenation of blood
    • Protects the body from oxalates in beverages such as tea and coffee
    • Alkalizes the body & further, helps to balance acidic dietary habits.
    • Moisturizes the skin, accelerates skin repair
    • Cures ulcers, and other digestive disorders
    • Boosts cardiovascular performance and physical endurance

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    Sunday, December 2, 2012

    The Healing Herb: Picrorhiza kurroa

    Picrorhiza kurroa 
    Picrorhiza kurroa (family Scrophulariaceae, common name Picrorhiza, Katuka, Kutka, kutki) is one of the oldest medicinal plants found in the Himalayas. Since time immemorial, this perennial herb has been used in Ayurveda for treating diseases caused by kapha and pitta, and is valued for its hepatoprotective properties. In small doses, it helps in curing loss of appetite, liver diseases, jaundice, bronchial asthma, bile disorders and weakness. In larger doses, it is useful as an antioxidant, antibacterial, anticholestatic, antiallergic, antiperiodic, cathartic, laxative, and to treat abdominal diseases, adiposity and related disorders.

    Roots of Picrorhiza kurroa 
    The leaf, bark and the underground parts of Picrorhiza, mainly rhizomes are widely used in the treatment of the health ailments. The root of this plant is rich in glucosides including kitkin and picrorhizin, cucurbitacin, D-mannitol, benetic acid, kutkisterol, vanillic acid and some steroids. P. kurroa also contains apocynin, a powerful anti-inflammatory agent, which helps reduce platelet aggregation.

    Experimental studies have revealed the cytotoxic role of curcubitacins (found in the plant) having antitumor activity. It is also said to reduce blood cholesterol levels and the coagulation time. Furthermore studies of plant rhizome, is shown to improve the immunity of the body, as well as known to have a specific action against the parasite Leishmania, which causes the disease called leishmaniasis.

    The plant is also used in treating abdominal pain, stomach disorders, anemia, and for promoting bile secretion. It is helpful in acute viral hepatitis, as immune-modulator, and in treating fever and allergies. Other instances of use include vitiligo, skin disorders, infections, scorpion stings, chronic diarrhea, epilepsy, malaria and rheumatoid arthritis. The plant and its formulations are widely used in treating epidemic jaundice.

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