Showing posts with label the healing herbs of India. Show all posts
Showing posts with label the healing herbs of India. Show all posts

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.

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.

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. 
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