Posts Tagged ‘ Ayurveda ’

Lavanga (Syzygium Aromaticum) (Clove)

Lavanga’s aroma & power

Known as lavanga, devakusuma and shripushpa in Sanskrit and Syzygium aromaticum scientifically, clove is an aromatic spice used in most of the Indian homes. Though a native of South-East Asia, clove is so much embedded in Indian culture that apart from its culinary or medicinal use, it forms an essential part of the ritual offerings made to the gods since time immemorial.

Ancient ayurvedic texts describe the dried flower buds of the clove tree, which are its usable part, as bitter and pungent in taste and light, sharp and unctuous in action. Clove alleviates kapha and pitta and, contrary to the general belief, Ayurveda considers it to be cold in effect. An analysis of clove shows it to contain protein, fat, carbohydrates and minerals. The clove buds, on steam distillation, yield a volatile oil.

Charaka has described clove as agnimandya-nashak (remover of anorexia). Other scholars have explained it as aromatic, stomachic, antiflatulent and antispasmodic. It stimulates various body organs like the salivary glands, the skin, the liver, the heart and the kidneys and also acts as a deodorant, expectorant, antipyretic and bitter tonic. Clove oil contains ingredients that help stabilise blood circulation and regulate body temperature.

Clove is a widely used drug in Ayurveda. It cures indigestion, loss of appetite, excessive thirst and vomiting. It checks tooth decay and counters halitosis (bad breath). It is also prescribed in hyperacidity and gastritis.

Clove is used in chronic cough, bronchitis and hiccup. In China and Persia, it is considered to be an aphrodisiac.

Clove forms an essential part of the household kit to treat many ailments. Here are a few tips:

Taking half a gram of the powder of fried cloves in a teaspoonful of honey promotes enzymatic flow and boosts the digestive function. The decoction of clove is also a good digestive cordial and is given to persons after the ritual fasting. In cough associated with bronchitis, clove works as a mucolytic agent if its powder is taken in honey with a little powder of mulethi. The famous Lavangadi Vati is an effective medicine to allay bouts of dry or wet cough of any etiology. The use of clove in toothache is a common practice. In tooth decay or cavity, the application of clove oil not only relieves the pain. Due to its mild antibacterial properties it also fights infection. It is a commonly used ingredient of mouth freshners.

Clove oil, though a skin irritant, is used in many linaments and oils which are applied to relieve joint pains, sprains and other soft tissue and bone injuries. In the market, cloves from which the oil has already been extracted, are also sold. Having poor curative value, these are light-weight and small in size. They exude less aroma than normal and have a wrinkled appearance.

Many classic ayurvedic medicines such as Avipattikar Churna and Lavangadi Churna contain cloves as an important ingredient. The average daily dose of the clove powder is 1 gm whereas of its oil it is one to three drops. Prolonged use may cause inflammation and ulceration of the tongue and the mucous membrane of the mouth cavity.

Amaltas (Cassia Fistula)

Amaltas: a gentle laxative

Called by many names such as Aragwadha, Chaturungal, Karnaikar and Rajvriksha in Sanskrit and Cassia fistula scientifically, amaltas has been amply described in ancient Indian literature including the Ramayana and the Mahabharata. Its medium-size tree is found throughout the greater part of India and is favoured for planting along roadsides and in gardens. Though all parts of the tree are medicinal, it is the long cylindrical fruit that generally represents the herb.

Amaltas has been used in Ayurveda as a gentle laxative which can be taken safely even by children and expectant mothers. Charaka was so much impressed by its efficacy that in his compendium he named a special chapter after it. Sweet in taste and heavy, soft, unctuous and cold in effect, amaltas is a pacifier of vata and pitta but has also been described as the purifier of vitiated pitta and kapha of the colon.

Though the root, leaves, flowers and fruit pulp of amaltas have common laxative properties, all of these have different medicinal value also. Whereas the root is a strong purgative and killer of intestinal worms, the leaves are a blood purifier and anti-inflammatory. Amaltas flowers have demulcent and lubricating properties and the fruit pulp is a soft laxative. It is also an anti-pyretic, a diuretic and an expectorant agent.

Ayurvedic texts have indicated the use of amaltas in a wide range of diseases. Though its most common use is for relieving constipation, it is also a very efficacious drug in various skin diseases like scabies, pruitis, boils and glandular swellings.

Amaltas is used in liver disorders, upward flow of the abdominal gas (udavarta), bronchitis, arthritis and some of the metabolic disorders.

Since amaltas is easily available, it can be safely utilised as a household remedy in a number of diseases. Here are a few tips:

Constipation and piles: As a soft and safe laxative, 10 to 20 gm of the pulp should be soaked in a glass of water for a few hours. After straining, this water can be taken at bed time. To manage occasional piles, boil together 10 gm each of amaltas pulp, hararh and munakka and take this decoction for a few days at bed times. Besides clearing the bowels, it also helps in checking the bleeding resulting from external or internal warts.

Gout and rheumatoid arthritis: As a first step towards the treatment of arthritis ayurvedic texts recommend using Rasna Saptak Qwath which, along with other ingredients, contains almaltas. Yet as a home Remedy in rheumatoid arthritis, a decoction of its pulp can be taken as a vehicle with 2 gm of the powders of sonth, hararh and giloy.

Skin diseases: The dressing of the juice or paste of the leaves of amaltas is very effective in ringworm infections. It is also applied in chilblains. The famous Aragwadharishta is a useful medicine in a number of stubborn skin diseases.

Caution: To avoid adulteration, it is better to purchase the dried amaltas fruit instead of the pre-extracted pulp. Fresh pulp can be obtained by breaking it open. Though the use of amaltas is generally safe, an overdose can result in griping in the abdomen besides temporary discolouration of the urine.

Anar (Pomegranate)

Anar: fruit and medicine

Dadima or dantabeeja literally means a fruit whose seeds resemble the teeth and Lohitpushpa stands for red flowers; that is how anar — the popular fruit — has been mentioned in Ayurveda. Though it is a native of Afghanistan, Baluchistan and Persia, its small trees are cultivated in large parts of India. The root bark, flower bud, fruit and fruit rind of anar are used as medicine.

Almost all ancient texts of Ayurveda, including the works of Charaka and Sushruta have eulogised the medicinal qualities of anar. Though it has been categorised under three types — sweet, sweet-sour and sour, the Kandahari anar is considered best.

Anar is sweet, astringent and sour in taste and light, unctuous and slightly hot in effect. It pacifies vata, pitta and kapha — all the three doshas.

Different medicinal benefits are attributed to the various parts of the anar tree. The root and stem bark are astringent, cooling and anthelmentic, killing specially the tape worm. The flowers are styptic to gums and the fruit and seeds are astringent, stomachic, aphrodisiac — and a heart tonic. The fruit juice is rich in vitamins and citric acid and is antioxidant whereas the rind and the stem bark contain tannin and many alkaloids.

Ayurvedic texts have prescribed the use of anar in several diseases. The anar fruit is a drug of choice for treating anorexia, hyperacidity, anaemia, urethritis, excessive thirst, general debility and fatigue. The flowers and the fruit rind are used as a mouthwash and also in diarrhoea, dysentery, bleeding piles and epistaxis. Apart from medicinal purposes, the dried seeds of the fruit are commonly used as a souring agent in chutneys and pickles. Some of the important medicinal uses of anar are as under:

Diarrhoea and dysentery — As a home remedy, the dried and crushed rind of anar, which is known as naspal, is perhaps the most commonly used medicine for controlling diarrhoea. In dysentery, one gram of its powder, with an equal quantity of dry ginger, can be taken two or three times a day. A decoction of anar rind is a good and safe remedy for infantile diarrhoea.

Anorexia and acidity — Dried anar seeds (anardana) are famous for stimulating the salivary glands, thus promoting digestion and appetite. Unlike other citrus fruits, anar juice, if taken in a small quantity, relieves acidity. Morning sickness, excessive thirst, burning sensation, exhaustion and weakness respond well to the intake of anar juice.

Dental care — Whereas the ash of anar rind is used in many traditional tooth powders, gargles of the decoction of anar flowers is recommended for curing spongy and bleeding gums as well as mouth ulcers. Rural people use anar twigs for oral and dental hygiene.

There are various classic ayurvedic formulations in which anar is used. The famous Dadimashtaka Churna is an effective home remedy for various digestive problems like the loss of appetite, gas trouble, indigestion, diarrhoea and dysentery. This churna can be made at home by mixing dried and powdered anardana 80 gm, bach, sonth, kali mirch and magha (pippali) 40 gm each, banshaalochana, dalchini, tejpatra and chhoti elaichi 20 gm each. Two grams of this churna can be taken two or three times a day with satisfactory results.

Bhringaraja (Eclipta Alba)

Bhringaraja: hair herb

Called by many names as bhangara, kesharaja and Eclipta alba (botanically), bhringaraja is prominent among the herbs chosen by Ayurveda for hair-care. Depending upon the colour of its flowers, ancient texts describe bhringaraja to be of three types — white, yellow and blue. Practically, only the first two varieties are found as the blue form seems to be the transformation of the white one at the ripe stage. The whole plant (panchang) is medicinal.

Bhringaraja is pungent and bitter in taste and light, dry and hot in effect. Experts in modern medicine have drawn an alkaloid known as ecliptine from it. Bhringaraja pacifies vata and kapha but aggravates pitta. Ayurveda texts have described bhringaraja as keshya, which means something beneficial for one’s hair. The less known but equally important virtue of bhringaraja is its salutary effect on the liver. It is also carminative, digestive, diuretic and laxative. It helps in blood formation and is a rejuvenator and tonic of immense value.

Both Charaka and Sushruta have mentioned several uses of bhringaraja, whereas another leading light of Ayurveda, Rishi Vagbhatta, has written about bhringaraja kalpa, which is a specific regime for the purpose of rejuvenation only. In case of liver disorders like jaundice, bhringaraja is a promising herb. It is also used in a number of other problems like skin and ophthalmic disease, anaemia, hyperacidity, migraine and non-specific glandular swellings. Some of the common uses of bhringaraja are as under:

Hair and scalp tonic: Since time immemorial bhringaraja is used to prevent hair loss, dandruff and premature greying. Oils prepared with bhringaraja are, therefore, found occupying an important place in the hair-care kit in every Indian home. Though there are many formulations of the famous Bhringaraja Taila, it can be made at home by simply processing one kilogram of its juice in 4 kg of sesame oil.

Liver and spleen disorders: Taking 10 ml of the fresh juice of bhringaraja daily is a good adjunct in the treatment of jaundice and also in the enlargement of the liver and the spleen. It improves appetite and digestion too.

Hyperacidity: Chronic cases of acidity respond well if given 2 gm of the powder of dry bhringaraja, hararh and amla, all crushed in equal parts. Sootshekhara Rasa, the well-known classic ayurvedic, medicine for acidity and ulcer, is actually prepared by stirring the core medicine in the juice of bhringaraja.

A tonic: To gain the tonic effect, ayurvedic texts mention a number of formulations containing bhringaraja. Whereas 10 to 20 ml of its simple juice is prescribed to be taken every morning for at least 40 days, another way of taking 2 gm of triphala churna with 10 ml juice of bhringaraja dissolved in a cup of water daily is described as an anti-aging prescription.

Other uses: Bhringaraja is also used for treating many diseases like leucoderma, migraine and skin disorders. Though it is better to use bhringaraja in its fresh form, in winter, when it is out of season, its powder or decoction can be adopted by procuring it from the pansari shop in the dry form.

Bansa (Adhatoda Vasica)

Bansa — an effective spectorant and more

BANSA is probably one of the first Indian medicinal plants which went into commercial utilisation. About one hundred year ago, a few readymade caugh syrups which contained it as the chief ingredient hit the market. Even today, a number of proprietary expectorant formulations using it are being sold in the country.

Called by many names such as vasa, vasaka and sinhasya in Sanskrit, Adhatoda vasica scientifically and basuti in popular terms, Bansa is a two to four feet tall dense shrub which grows in wastelands throughout the plains and foothills of India. Depending upon its colour, it has two varieties — white and black. Fresh or dried leaves, flowers and the root of the plant are used as medicine.

Ayurvedic texts have described Bansa as a cure for diseases arising from vitiated kapha and pitta. It is bitter and astringent in taste and dry, light and cold in effect. Its chemical composition consists of an alkaloid known as vascine which is considered to be its main active principle. Bansa also contains a volatile oil, resin and an acid named adhatodic.

Ancient authors have explored its medicinal value and described it as an excellent expectorant a bronchodilator, a respiratory and cardiac stimulant and an antispasmodic agent. Experimental studies have shown that Bansa is also endowed with anti-diabetic, blood pressure-lowering antacid, antiviral and anticonvulsant effects. Charaka has specifically attributed antipyretic and cooling properties to this plant.

Bansa is extensively used in Ayurveda as a sedative and an expectorant and also as a remedy for cough, bronchitis and asthma. It removes respiratory spasms and relieves irritable cough by its soothing action and softens the sputum which makes expectoration easier. Bansa is widely used in jaundice and raktapitta (haemorrhagic disorders). It is helpful in controlling diarrhoea and dysentery and some skin problems too.

In bronchitis and asthma simply taking two times a day 10 to 20, ml of the juice of Bansa mixed with one teaspoonfuls of honey, proves beneficial. If the phlegm is more sticky, one gram of the powder of black pepper can be mixed in it. In associated feverish conditions, this regime can be fortified by adding one teaspoonful of fresh ginger juice. A jushanda of bansa leaves, banfsha, mulethi, nilofer and a few pieces of unnab helps remove the spasm and facilitates gentle cleaning of the bronchial tree.

Bansa is also recommended in many other diseases, like epistaxis, dysfunctional uterine bleeding Burning Hands and Feet Syndrome, and diarhhoea or dysentery. A simple decoction of its leaves can be taken independently or as a vehicle with any other suitable medicine. The average daily dose of its fresh juice is 10 to 20 ml two or three times a day. Overdose may result in nausea or vomiting.

Bansa is used in many classic ayurvedic medicines. To name a few Vasavaleha, Vasakarishta and Bansa Kshar are used for respiratory problems. Darvyadi Qwath is given in uterine diseases and Panchtikta Ghrit Guggul is prescribed in stubborn skin diseases. Bansa is a natural germicidal like neem and is toxic to all forms of lower life. Rural people use its fresh or dry leaves to preserve water, food, clothes etc.


Mango, the fruit medicine

MANGO has fascinated Indians from time immemorial. The cluster of mango leaves can be seen in many of the paintings and sculptures of Ajanta and Elora. The unique fragrance of its blossom and the unrivaled sweet taste of its fruit have been immortalised in the ancient Sanskrit literature which include the Valmiki Ramayana and the voluminous work of Kalidasa.

Ayurvedic texts also didn’t lag behind and have abundantly eulogised the medicinal qualities of mango. Known as amra and rasala in Sanskrit, mango had been explored for its healing properties by the ancient seers who have written in detail the usefulness of whole of its tree including the leaves, flower, fruit, seed kernel and the tree bark.

The unripe mango fruit is astringent and sour in taste and light, dry and cold in effect. But the ripe one is sweet, heavy and unctuous and also pacifies vata and pitta. Its chemical profile renders it to be a fruit of very high nutritive value.According to modern analysis, mango is rich in vitamins and also contains amino acids, starch, sugar content and an alkaloid known as mangiferin.

According to ayurveda, varied medicinal properties are attributed to different parts of the mango tree. Its leaves, root and bark are astringent, acrid, haemostatic, antiemetic and constipating in nature whereas the seed kernel is refrigerant, killer of abdominal worms and is also a uterine tonic. Unripe mango fruit has been described as digestive, carminative and appetiser. Ripe fruit is sweet, laxative, emollient, anti-oxidant, aphrodisiac and cardiac and general tonic.

Ancient ayurvedic texts have mentioned the application of mango fruit and other parts of its tree in various diseases. The root, bark, leaves and the fruit kernel are given to cure vomiting, hyperacidity, diarrhoea, intrinsic haemorrhages, uterine inflammations and other female disorders like white discharge and excessive menstruation. The unripe fruit is known to have very good effect if used in case of heat stroke, burning sensation, loss of appetite and urinary incontinence. The ripe mango is mildly laxative and is indicated for emaciation, anaemia, liver and spleen diseases and also in general weakness.

Mango is used as an easy household remedy throughout India. The bark of mango tree has an astringent action on mucous membranes and in case of diarrhoea and dysentery, its two gm dried powder, if taken two three times a day with water or buttermilk, has very good effect.

Mango seed kernel is famous for its salutary effect in non-specific leucorrhoea and is given to eat in roasting form. Mango leaves tone up the gums and are used in many tooth powders. Gargles of decoction of mango leaves are beneficial in case of mouth ulcers and spongy gums.

The amra phala prapanaka (panha) made with juice of unripe mango, sugar, cardamom and pepper is a popular home dish which allays excessive thirst and is a prophylactic remedy against heat stroke. Though mango is used in many other forms like sharbat, murabba, pickles, squashes and is also eaten as fruit, pushyanug churna and chandanadi churna are the famous classic ayurvedic formulations which contain mango as an important ingredient.

Apamarga (Achyranthes Aspera)

The stone-breaker

APAMARGA (Achyranthes aspera) has been described as a divine medicine in the Vedas. Acharya Charaka was so much convinced of its efficacy that in his famous work Charak Samhita, he specially gave the name of one of its chapters after the great herb. Apamarga grows in plenty in wasteland and by the roadsides throughout the Indian subcontinent. It is more commonly known as puthkanda.

Apamarga is pungent and bitter in taste and light, dry, sharp and hot in effect. It not only alleviates kapha and vata but purifies pitta also. The whole plant, which is medicinal, contains an alkaline substance — specially “potash”. Depending upon the colour of its flowers apamarga is of two types —red and white. But the medicinal properties of these two are the same.

All ancient ayurvedic texts have attributed a wide range of actions of apamarga on the human body. It is famous as a herbal lithotriptic agent (that breaks the urinary stones) and is a diuretic. It is also carminative, digestive, expectorant, anti-inflammatory and a killer of intestinal worms. Having blood-purifying and anti-endotoxin properties, it is also a bitter tonic.

Apamarga is used both internally and externally for many ailments. Because of its diuretic and alkaliser properties, it is a drug of choice for urinary afflictions like calculus and irritation in the bladder and the urethra. It is also used in various other diseases like anorexia, colic, ear infection, bronchitis and skin diseases. In rural India, apamarga is the first medicine to be used to counter pain and swelling associated with a scorpion bite.

Ayurvedic texts describe the use of apamarga kshara to gain the maximum medicinal benefits. To make it, the whole dried plant is burnt and its ashes are washed in water. This kshara is used in a number of diseases. If taken in the dose of 250 mg mixed in a teaspoonful of honey two or three times a day, it acts as a good expectorant. Given with warm water and half a teaspoonful of ajwain churna the kshara also works well in acute abdominal colic.

To treat small urinary stones, apamarga kshara is considered the foremost ayurvedic medicine. For this purpose one gram of the kshara can be given two or three times a day with the decoction of gokhru (Tribulus terrestris) which, in addition, is itself a very good diuretic and stone-breaker. To treat chronic sinusitis and the related heaviness of the head, giving snuff made of apamarga seeds is used.

Apamarga is the chief ingredient of the famous apamarga kshara tailam which is a classic medicine for the treatment of chronic ear diseases. The juice of fresh powder of apamarga is also used to treat chronic febrile conditions, bleeding piles, intestinal worms and post-delivery uterine problems. The average daily dose of its kshara and juice is up to 2 gm and 20 mg daily respectively.

Manjishtha (Rubia Cordifolia)

Manjishtha for charm & stimulus

Commonly called majeeth but scientifically known as Rubia cordifolia, manjishtha is one of the foremost curative herbs used by ancient ayurvedic physicians. Its big climber plant is found up to the height of 8,000 feet in the hilly areas of the Indian subcontinent. The root of manjishtha is used as medicine.

Varnya (improving the complexion), rakta prasadaka (a booster of the haemopoietic system), rakta shodhaka (a blood purifier) and vishaghna (a detoxifier):that is how manjishtha has been described in revered ayurvedic texts. It is also an astringent antiseptic, a carminative, a digestive and an haemostatic agent. Some acharyas, while attributing anti-inflammatory and uterine stimulant properties to manjishtha, have written that it is a bitter tonic also.

Though manjishtha is at the same time bitter, astringent and sweet in taste and heavy, dry and hot in effect, it is a pacifier of kapha and pitta. Besides the glucosides known as manjisthin and purpurine, its chemical composition consists of various other components which include resins, lime salts and colouring agents. Manjishtha is used in a number of diseases. It is a drug of choice for treating various systemic problems like raised uric acid and gouty arthritis, glandular swellings, recurrent skin infections and other diseases of the skin like pigmentation anomalies and leucoderma. It is also included in various formulations to treat uterine and urinary infections, diarrhoea, dysentery and chronic fevers. Manjishtha holds the reputation of a very good skincare herb. Used externally and internally, it helps one to gain lustre and glow (of the skin) and aids to remove pimples, freckles and discoloration.

Manjishtha promotes the healing of skin tissues damaged by injury or infection. Its finely crushed powder can be simply applied on the face after mixing it with little honey. A combination of dried and crushed orange peels 100 gm, and sandal powder, turmeric and manjishtha powders each 50 gm, makes an excellent face pack.

Since manjishtha has a marked effect on the female reproductive organs, it is useful treating various gynaecological problems, like white discharge and irregular menstruation. To treat stubborn pelvic inflammation taking two or three times a day 2 gm of the powder of manjishtha, ashoka, daru haridra, nagkeshar and lodhra, all crushed in equal parts, have very good results. A decoction of manjishtha, giloy and gokharu can be given in chronic urinary infections occurring in both males and females.

Brihad Manjishthadi Qwath, mentioned in the Sharangdhar Samhita, is the most famous classic ayurvedic formulation which contains manjishtha as its chief ingredient. Though bitter in taste, it is a highly acclaimed medicine. It is indicated in a number of simple and complex problems like pimples, boils urticaria, eczema and psoriasis. The qwath is given as a vehicle with various other medicines to treat obesity, high cholesterol, gouty arthritis and benign enlargements.

Manjishtha is successfully used as a natural dye. It imparts a light reddish tinge to the skin and is included in many cosmetic formulations. The daily dose of manjishtha powder and its decoction is 2 gm and 50 ml respectively, two or three times a day. To avoid possible adulteration, while purchasing herbs, one should get them identified by an expert.

Nagarmotha (Cyperus Rotundus)

Nagarmotha: A detoxifying herb

Ayurvedic texts, while discussing the pathogenesis of disease, have repeatedly mentioned the word “ama” which, if briefly explained, can be called the toxic material produced in the body as a result of faulty digestion. The concept of “ama”, if properly explained to the experts of modern medicine and other health scientists, can really help in making a breakthrough in the treatment of many autoimmune disorders and other serious diseases. Nagarmotha is the herb which has been described in Ayurveda as the best ama-pachaka or corrective and remover of endo-toxins.

This ordinary-looking herb grows wild along water courses or wet places inmost parts of India. Known as mustaka in Sanskrit and Cyperus rotundus scientifically, it has been described as bitter, pungent and astringent in taste and light dry and cold in effect. Nagarmotha is a pacifier of kapha and pitta. Its different varieties possess an aromatic oil, besides protein, starch and carbohydrates.

Nagarmotha has very good digestive and carminative properties. It is an effective killer of intestinal worms, a diuretic and anti-pyretic medicine. Many ancient texts have also described it as an anti-inflammatory medicine, a general and nervine tonic, a promoter of uterine contractions and an excellent binder of stool.

Even in ancient times, nagarmotha was a favourite of ayurvedic physicians for treating a number of diseases. It is a drug of choice now for treating the majority of gastrointestinal problems like anorexia, vomiting, diarrhoea, dysentery and specific and non-specific colitis. Nagarmotha is also used in various other ailments like fever, burning micturation, skin diseases, rheumatoid arthritis, painful menstruation, neurasthenia and general debility. Here area few tips with regard to nagarmotha as a household remedy:

Nagarmotha, sonth and the dried pulp of the bael fruit, all crushed in equal parts, and two grams of this powder, if taken two or three times a day, works well in case of chronic mucous diarrhoea. Similarly, taking twice a day two grams each of the powder of nagarmotha and the pulp of bael and two tablets of the famous Kutajghan Vati has been reported to have reduced the frequency of stool besides controlling abdominal cramps in cases of ulcerative colitis. The same combination can be given with rice water to control the coming of blood in the stool.

The decoction of nagarmotha and pitapara is the most common household remedy for excessive thirst arising in fever and an episode of gastroentritis. During the flare-up phase of rheumatoid arthritis one gram each of the powders of nagarmotha, hararh and sonth can be given with any other anti-arthritic medicines. Acting as a detoxifying medicine, it help reduce inflammation and stiffness in the joints.

In the treatment of alcoholism (madatya roga) ayurvedic texts prescribe that the patient should be regularly given a decoction of nagarmotha. In case of alcoholic liver disease various preparations containing nagarmotha are prescribed. The regular use of it also helps lower the raised levels of serum uric acid.

Mustakadi kwatha, Mustkarishta and Mustadi Churna are the prestigious classic ayurvedic medicines which containing nagarmotha as their chief ingredient. The average dose of the powder of nagarmotha is three to five grams twice or thrice a day and that of its decoction 50 to 100 ml daily.

Pudina (Mentha) (Mint)

Pudina: the versatile healer

Can you guess which plant is an integral part of most of our everyday personal care products? Before you hurry to find an answer, just have a thought of some of these items — toothpaste, shaving cream, post-shaving lotion, mouth-wash and fresheners, cough syrups and green digestive capsules, etc. Most of these products, of any brand, have menthol as one of the ingredients. The answer may leave all of us a bit astonished as menthol is the active substance of pudina, the herb we have been using in our kitchen for centuries.

The ancient ayurvedic literature calls it “putiha”. There are more than 20 of its varieties, some original and others hybrid. The garden mint or the spear mint is the most commonly available specie of pudina. It has been described as pungent in taste and hot, sharp, dry and light in effect. Pudina is mainly a pacifier of “kapha” and “vata”. Widely acclaimed as carminative, digestive, aromatic and an anti-emetic agent (that allays nausea and vomiting), pudina is valued as a stimulant, expectorant, anti-spasmodic killer of intestinal worms and a mildly analgesic herb.

Fresh pudina leaves, on chemical analysis, are found to have moisture, protein, carbohydrates and minerals like calcium, phosphorus, iron and a volatile oil. Different varieties of pudina contain different active substances. Menthol and peppermint which give a tingling cool sensation are its popular derivatives which are extensively used in the modern pharmaceutical industry. Pudina is famous for its use in digestive upsets like nausea, vomiting, distension and diarrhoea. Here are some of its simple and remedial uses:

Indigestion — Prepare an infusion of pudina leaves by boiling a couple of its leaves in a glass of water. Taking three table spoonful of it after adding a little rock salt at the interval of two or three hours makes a good carminative and digestive aid. It also helps to ameliorate nausea, vomiting, distaste, morning sickness, flatulence and abdominal colic of mild intensity.

Urticaria — Pudina comes very handy to cure itchy skin rashes or urticaria originated due to food allergies. Take a few leaves of pudina by mashing it with a few pieces of black pepper and a pinch of ajwain. It also immediately neutralises the incompatibility of any food article.

Bad breath — Simply chewing a few leaves of fresh pudina helps in controlling bad odour of the mouth. “Sat pudina” or peppermint is an essential ingredient of many popular tooth powders also. Another of its kind can be made at home by finely crushing together ash of almond shell 250 gm, nagarmotha, bark of moulsiri, kattha and hararh 50 gm each and clove, ash of phitkari and dalchini each 25 gm. Just add and crush 10 gm of peppermint to this powder. To fight bad breath and conditions like spongy gums, this makes an excellent tooth powder.

Other uses — Equal quantities of “sat pudina” and “sat ajwain”, if put in a small glass bottle, and kept in the sun with a closed cap for an hour get liquefied. By this method a unique combination is achieved which can be used both internally and externally in a number of ailments. A few drops of it in a cup of warm water act as a good digestive and anti-spasmodic aid, whereas if applied externally it is an effective pain balm. Old timers will recall the famous “amritdhara” drops of the pre-Partition era. This is the exact formula of once very popular and effective medicine.

Besides being used for garnishing and flavouring dishes, salads and soups, pudina makes some of the mouth-watering chutneys in our kitchen. “Arq pudina” the aqueous extract drawn by the distillation method, is the famous medicine used by ayurvedic and Unani physicians.


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