Wednesday, 23 November 2011

Efforts on to increase momordicin content in bitter gourd to make it more diabetic friendly

Syed Akbar

Hyderabad:  The humble karela or Indian bitter gourd is now the centre of world research as scientists rack their brains to find out the ideal variety that could beat diabetes.

International teams from India, Tanzania and Thailand are busy unraveling the chemical mystery of the Indian bitter gourd to find out whether grandma was right in her belief that karela fights diabetes. The karela has since lost much of its anti-diabetes properties thanks to commercial hybrids, which have brought down the bitterness and pungency of the vegetable.
The present search is for the ideal karela 
that was part of the grandma’s original Indian recipe.

As many as 10 hybrids of the Indian bitter gourd are being studied for their germplasm and chemical constituents particularly momordicin in Hyderabad, Bangkok, and Arusha in Tanzania. The higher the content of momordicin, the higher is the anti-diabetes effect.  Hyderabad has been selected for the project bitter gourd as it has emerged as the diabetes capital of the country. India has the highest rate of
diabetes in the world. The teams are also finding out whether the anti-diabetes compounds present in bitter gourd could be increased to make it more effective against the silent killer-disease. They will
suggest bitter gourd recipes that will keep the momordicin content in tact. At the end of the study, an ideal bitter gourd variety will be identified for recommendation to diabetics.

The research gains significance as no two bitter gourd varieties have the same chemical constitution and anti-diabetes properties. Different bitter gourd varieties have different levels of bioactive compounds. Identifying the proper bitter gourd is important to keep diabetes away. 

Along with the Indian hybrids, 10 hybrids from Thailand are also included in the Project Bitter gourd sponsored by the Asian Vegetable Research and Development Centre (AVRDC).

“We are screening germplasm and commercial lines to identify and select suitable parents for our breeding program. We will be selecting varieties high in antidiabetic compounds as well as those with good horticultural traits,” a senior scientist associated with the project told this correspondent.

Studies so far with animals and humans suggest bitter gourd (whole fruit, juice, or extract) has a role in diets for glycemic (sugar) control of diabetes. “There is a need for well-designed research to assess germplasm diversity to optimise the content of anti-diabetic compounds in bitter gourd,” said Dr Dyno Keatinge, director-general,
AVRDC. He was in the city visiting the project bitter gourd centre at Patancheru.

Thursday, 10 November 2011

Curcuma caesia: Black turmeric cures white patches, leprosy sores, wounds

Syed Akbar
Black turmeric or Curcuma caesia is an endangered medicinal plant grown in hilly areas of the country. It is fast dying and needs to be conserved for future generations. Curcuma caesia is a wonder herb and contains the highest content of curcumin, a chemical substance with many curative properties, among all curcuma or turmeric species. It is perhaps one of the few medicinal plants that is used in black magic as well as herbal 
Curcuma caesia is used in Kali pooja and many practitioners of black magic use the herb in the fire pit set up for the purpose. Apart from its “spiritual ability” to drive away evil forces, Curcuma caesia has wide ranging herbal properties. It is prescribed for treatment of piles, impotency, menstrual disorders and epilepsy. It is used both externally and internally. Externally, it is used for treatment of wounds, white patches on the skin and leprosy sores. It is capable of enhancing fertility levels.
Some herbal doctors prescribe it for treatment of piles and enlargement of spleen and certain types of tuberculosis. The rhizome as well as the leaves of the plant are used in medical formulations.
Home remedies
If you are suffering from toothache, take a little quantity of Curcuma caesia or black turmeric powder and rub it gently against the teeth. You will get relief from the problem. Ensure that only a little quantity is used, as excess of Curcuma caesia powder may induce vomiting.
Take a fresh rhizome of black turmeric or kali haldi, wash it properly and crush it. Apply it to wounds and nagging sores for relief and quick healing.
Those suffering from leucoderma or white patches on the skin may apply the paste of Curcuma caesia rhizome on the skin. Readymade herbal preparations are also available in the market.
Curcuma caesia provides relief from stomach problems including indigestion. Take a little of the rhizome and chew it for relief from indigestion or stomach pain. It also helps in easy digestion and proper functioning of liver and kidneys.

Bandicoot berry: Leea indica has antioxidant properties, cools the body

By Syed Akbar
Leea indica or bandicoot berry is a small herbal tree found in many parts of the country. 
It is widely used in ethnomedical systems by various tribes in deep forests. There have 
been scientific research studies of late on the medicinal properties of Leea indica and 
they indicate it antioxidant property. Thanks to its antioxidant property it is 
considered as a natural medicine for inhibition or prevention of cancer.

The root and leaves of Leea indica are used in medicinal formulations. Ayurveda and Unani 
doctors also use Leea indica in their preparations. Herbal practitioners consider it as a 
natural coolant that gives a “cooling effect” to the body. During summer it is one of the 
natural coolants that quench the feeling of thirst.

Many tribal communities have been using Leea indica for treatment of diarrhoeal diseases. 
It is also used in cases of chronic dysentery. Other medicinal uses include skin 
ailments, gastric ulcers, vertigo (a severe form of dizziness) and digestive issue.

Home remedies

For relief from colic (sudden, abrupt pain), herbal doctors prescribe decoction obtained 
from the root of Leea indica. Take a few grams of Leea indica roots, wash them properly 
and prepare decoction adding a cup of water. Filter the solution and consume a little 
quantity. Tribal medicine prescribes Leea indica for colic pains.

Intake of a little quantity of powder obtained from the root of Leea indica gives relief 
from chronic dysentery.

A few drops of juice obtained from the fresh leaves of Leea indica sets the digestive 
system right.

Herbal doctors recommend external application of a little quantity of juice of Leea 
indica leaves on the head for relief from severe forms of dizziness like vertigo.

Paste of Leea indica roots if applied on the affected portion of the skin gives relief 
from skin issues like rashes and allergic reactions.

Commiphora wightii: Guggulu gives a feeling of goodness, reduces body weight and fights haemorrhoids

Syed Akbar

Commiphora wightii or guggulu is used widely in homes in India, mainly to drive away evil 
spirits. It is also used for religious ceremonies. Apart from its use for religious 
purpose, guggulu is a natural medicine to reduce the body weight. It is a natural remedy 
for people suffering from overweight and obesity. The gum latex of this plant has several 
medicinal properties and many people burn it as incense for a feeling of goodness.

In English guggulu is known as Indian Bedellium and the plant is cultivated in many part 
of the country. Readymade capsules of guggulu are available in herbal stores and several 
weight loss programmes include it as part of the obesity treatment therapy.

It should be taken in small quantities for better results. In excess quantity it will 
cause health problems like irritation, skin rashes, loose motions and headache. Pregnant 
women should not use guggulu as it may cause miscarriage. Guggulu therapy is not 
recommended for children too.

Herbal doctors recommend guggulu for health issues like urinary disorders, haemorrhoids, 
high blood cholesterol and rheumatic pains. It is believed that guggulu reduces the blood 
cholesterol levels and burns excess fat, keeping the body healthy.

Home remedies

Readymade guggulu capsules are available in herbal stores. Follow the course for weight 
reduction. Alternatively, one may take small quantities of guggulu gum latex twice a day 
to reduce the body weight, burn fat and control blood cholesterol levels.

Herbal doctors recommend smoke of guggulu for earache. According to them, one should take 
a small piece of guggulu gum latex and burn it. The smoke can be directed towards the ear 
in which there’s pain. Guggulu smoke therapy helps in giving relief from earache.

Guugulu extract can be mixed with sesame oil and gently massaged on the affected parts of 
the body for relief from rheumatic pains and swelling of joints.

A little piece of guggulu gum, ginger and honey can be taken to control the body weight 
and fight obesity.

Semecarpus anacardium: Marking nut provides relief from leucoderma or white patches, piles, cough and enlarged spleen

Syed Akbar
Leucoderma or white patches is a skin condition whose occurrence is shrouded in mystery. 
Despite the advancement in medical sciences it’s not still clear what exactly triggers 
leucoderma. Research has been going on the world over to understand the medical mechanism 
that triggers this skin problem, and find a permanent cure through medication.

Ancient Indian medical texts have described the problem of leucoderma in detail and have 
suggested that Semecarpus anacardium is a natural remedy. Though the skin problem does go 
completely through Semecarpus, it helps in keeping it under check. Semecarpus anacardium 
is known as bhilavan in Hindu and Urdu and as marking nut in English.

A number of health benefits have been attributed to this herb by Ayurveda and Unani 
doctors. It is also practiced by tribals and those following the forest medicine. The 
health benefits include control of white patches on the skin, piles, cough, nervous 
problems, infertility in men, healing of wounds, and relief from joint pains, baldness 
and enlargement of spleen.

As is the case with many herbs, Semecarpus should be used with caution, particularly when 
it is consumed internally. It may create health issues in young children, pregnant and 
lactating women and the elderly.

Home remedies

Those suffering from piles may take Semecarpus tonic readily available in herbal stores. 
Alternatively, one can prepare extract from the Semecarpus fruit at home. Take the fruit, 
wash it properly and boil it in a little quantity of water. A tablespoon of this 
decoction can be taken. In case of juice obtained from Semecarpus fruit, a few drops are 

The oil obtained from Semecarpus fruit can be mixed with coconut oil and applied on white 
patches, wounds, and skin portions affected by acne, ringworm and eczema. The oil can be 
applied on the scalp for treatment of alopecia or baldness.

The oil of Semecarpus can be applied on swollen and painful joints for relief from 

The juice obtained from Semecarpus can be applied on cracked heels for relief from pain.
A little quantity of Semecarpus tonic is used internally every day for treatment of 

Wild carrot: Daucus carota fights acidity and depression and serves as a natural contraceptive

By Syed Akbar
Daucus carota or wild carrot is an important medicinal plant whose herbal properties have 
been known to man for almost two millennia. Wild carrot or jangli gajar has a number of 
medicinal properties and herbal doctors down the ages have been prescribing it for 
problems ranging from acidity and gas to control of blood sugar, and from treating common 
cold to fighting depression.

Care should be taken while selecting the plant as it closely resembles poison hemlock. 
Wild carrot seeds, leaves and flowers should be purchased only from a reputed herbal 
store. While selecting the plant one should take the help of a botanist to make sure that 
it is Daucus carota and not poison hemlock.

This plant is grown in hilly areas and is native to north India. It is rich in ascorbic 
acid (vitamin C). It kills worms in the stomach and intestines. It also fights bacteria. 
Essential oil obtained from wild carrot prevents formation of wrinkles on face and body. 
Some herbal doctors prescribe wild carrot for treatment of schizophrenia. It has 
anti-inflammatory properties too.

Home remedies

Take a few crushed seeds of wild carrot and consume them for birth control. The natural 
chemicals present in wild carrot interfere with the reproductive system and prevents 
formation of pregnancy.

Herbal tea prepared from wild carrot leaves keeps the body in good health. Take a couple 
of leaves, put them in a cup of water and boil it. Filter the decoction and consume it 
twice a day.

Infusion obtained from the wild carrot plant is said to keep the stomach and intestines 
in good order. Soak the wild carrot leaves or seeds in a glass of water for at least six 
hours and the infusion that obtained can be filtered and used for a healthy digestive 

Infusion of wild carrot has diuretic properties and thus it promotes easy flow of urine.

Herbal doctors often recommend wild carrot infusion to fight renal (kidney) stones.

Chewing of a few seeds clears the gas from the digestive tract and provides relief from 

Decalepsis hamiltonii: Swallow root kills typhoid germs, fights diabetes, checks cholesterol formation

By Syed Akbar
Decalepsis hamiltonii or swallow root is an ancient herb that has been used for centuries by tribes deep in the jungles, down the Vindhyas.
Though there have been several claims on its medicinal properties, it's only of late that scientific studies are conducted to verify some of them. It has been found to be good against bacterial infection
including Salmonella typhii that causes typhoid and Helicobacter pylori that is responsible for ulcers in the stomach and even cancers.

The root of Decalepsis is used in herbal medicine, particularly Ayurveda and Unani. It is regarded as a blood purifier and general health tonic to boost the immune system. Research on rats has shown that it has anti-diabetic properties. It is found to protect the liver and prevents formation of cholesterol deposits in the blood vessels.

Decalepsis should be used in small quantities as excessive intake may lead to health troubles. Pregnant women and lactating mothers should avoid Decalepsis as a precautionary measure. Those planning for a
surgical procedure should stop taking Decalepsis at least 15 days before hospitalisation, as the herb is known to dilute the blood. Those on anti-coagulant and blood thinning medicines should avoid

Home remedies

The root extract of Swallow root works as a general tonic since it hasanti-oxidant properties. It also prevents cancers of various types. Ready-made root extract of Swallow root is available in herbal stores.
One may also go in for Swallow root tonic to keep the physiological functioning of the body in good condition. Alternatively, one can take a few grams of fresh or dried root and prepare decoction adding it to
a glass of water. Filter the decoction and consume it.

A little quantity of Swallow root powder daily will help in prevention of complications linked to diabetes.

Recent studies have shown that Swallow root can be used in cancer therapy along with the regular medicines. Root extract or powder can be consumed in a little quantity to prevent cancer complications.

Swallow root powder is often prescribed to reduce swelling (inflammation), and in treating typhoid. It is regarded as a good appetiser. A little of root powder before the meal will increase the hunger.

Delphinium denudatum: Jadwar is a de-addiction herb

By Syed Akbar
Delphinium denudatum, known as Jadwar in Hindi and Urdu, is a plant that lives in high 
altitudes. It once dominated many parts of high mountain regions including Himalayas. But 
today it is an endangered species and only a few plants are left. In Sanskrit it is 
called Nirvisha. The root of Delphinium is used in medical formulations in Unani and 

Research studies have shown that Delphinium has been quite useful in de-addiction of drug 
addicts. The root extract has been found to reduce the withdrawal symptoms in people on 
de-addiction therapy. Ayurveda and Unani doctors prescribe Delphinium for a number of 
diseases and health issues including treatment of infertility in men and menstrual 
problems in women. It is a natural analgesic and is prescribed for relief from toothache.

Herbal doctors also recommend Jadwar in treatment of fungal infections, skin diseases, 
asthma, cough, jaundice and nervous problems. It is considered as a natural blood 
purifier. Jadwar is also prescribed for people who have digestive problems. It provides 
relief from painful wounds and inflammation.

Home remedies

Those addicted to drugs and on de-addiction therapy may try the root extract of 
Delphinium denudatum for relief from withdrawal symptoms associated with drug abuse. 
Herbal doctors prepare root extract at their de-addiction centres.

Paste obtained from the root of Delphinium can be applied to injuries for relief. The 
paste can also be applied to skin for relief from inflammation and dermatological 

A little of Delphinium root paste can be applied to the aching tooth for relief from 
pain. Just gently rub the paste against the affected tooth.

Many herbal doctors recommend Delphinium for treatment of infertility in men. Root powder 
can be taken in small quantities daily to improve the sperm count and motility. In case 
of women, the root powder can be taken to control irregular monthly cycles.

Readymade herbal formulations of Delphinium are available in herbal stores and with 
Ayurvedic and Unani doctors.

Consume more fruits, vegetables and keep coronary artery disease at bay

Syed Akbar
Hyderabad: Coronary artery disease (CAD) in Indians below 30 years is mainly due to inadequate consumption of fruits, vegetable salads and foods rich in folate and vitamin B 12 rather than mutations in certain genes.

A team of city researchers has found that a majority of young heart patients examined as part of the study consumed inadequate quantity of fruits and salads and foods fortified with vitamin B12 and folate or folic acid.

When their genetic makeup was studied to find out whether any mutation in genes was responsible for CAD, only a few patients showed such mutation. A majority of the young heart patients studied had no genetic mutations, and yet they got coronary artery disease mainly because of low intake of B12 and folate-rich foods, particularly vegetables and fruits.

The team comprised doctors from the Institute of Genetics and Hospital
for Genetic Diseases, Apollo Hospital, Care Hospital and Gandhi
Hospital. Coronary artery disease is linked to high levels of an amino
acid (homocysteine) and this is linked to mutations in genes known as
MTHFR and MS. But in 100 young heart patients examined, only a handful
had the mutation, while a majority of them had low levels of B12 and
folate. The quantum of homocysteine also goes up if dietary intake of
B12 and folate is insufficient. Smoking, intake of tobacco products
and lack of physical exercise added to the problem.

Young Indians are three times at higher risk of heart diseases than
people living in the West. "Though high levels of homocysteine have
been widely linked to the early onset of heart diseases in other
populations, a definite proof among Indians is lacking," the team
pointed out adding that high levels of this amino acid is linked
mainly to the diet rather than the genes.

The study gains significance as about 25 per cent of heart attacks
among men and women in India occur when they are younger than 40.
"This is unheard of in other populations," the researchers observed.
They said prolonged cooking and frying of vegetables results in loss
of 90 per cent of folate content.

The power of Dhania: Feeling anxiety or nervous? Take a few coriander seeds and chew them for relief from mental tensions

Syed Akbar
Hyderabad: Feeling anxiety or nervous? Take a few coriander
seeds and chew them for relief from mental tensions.

According to a research study by a team of pharmacologists led by
Poonam Mahendra, coriander seeds or dhania influences the mind, calms
it down and provides relief from mental tensions and anxiety.

"The anti-anxiety activity of coriander seeds is similar to the action
of diazepam or anti-depressant drugs," Poonam said, adding that while
drugs have side-effects, coriander seeds are natural and safe.

As part of the experiment, the team fed hydro-alcoholic extract of
coriander seeds to a set of mice and cross-checked the results
obtained from another set of mice fed with diazepam. The action
exerted by coriander was similar to diazepam, but without any
side-effects. For results to be positive, coriander seeds should be
taken in sufficient quantity.

"Anxiety affects one-eighth of the total population in the  world. It
is characterised by a state of excessive fear, motor tension,
sympathetic hyperactivity and apprehension. The drugs available in the
market have unwanted side effects like sedation, muscle relaxation and
temporary loss of memory," Poonam said adding that coriander is the
natural way of finding relief from mental tension and anxiety.

This is the first time that coriander has been linked to the state of
the mind. Earlier research indicated coriander has medicinal
properties that helps in controlling the disorders of digestive,
respiratory and urinary systems. The essential oils and flavonoids,
particularly linalool, gives coriander the property to act on the
central nervous system, and thus soothing the mind. It may also be
used in the management of disorders related to the central nervous

Wednesday, 2 November 2011

Malay Tea or Bawachi: Psoralea fights skin ailments

By Syed Akbar
Psoralea carylifolia or Malay tea is a weed growing in asteland. Nevertheless, this weed has been in use in traditional systems of medicine for more than  two millennia. Ayurvedic doctors regard it as a blessed herb as far as skin diseases are concerned. There has been a
mention of Psoralea (Bawachi or Kusthanasi) in Susruta Samhita and
how it controls major skin problems like leprosy.
Ayurveda and Unani doctors prescribe Psoralea as an ointment for skin
diseases including psoriasis and leprosy. It is particularly prescribed for controlling leucoderma or white patches on the skin. Psoralea has also been found effective in skin inflammation, scabies and ringworm.
The fruit, seed and root of Psoralea are used, both externally and internally, in herbal systems of medicine world over. If applied externally it controls skin diseases, and when taken internally Psoralea kills intestinal works, promotes urine and sweat, controls premature ejaculation and bedwetting. It is also effective in controlling cough and curing impotency in men.
Home remedies
Psoralea seed oil can be applied externally on the affected portion of the skin in case of psoriasis. It provides relief from the nagging problem.
Ayurveda and Unani doctors prescribe Psoralea seed oil for internal consumption in treatment of leprosy. The oil is pungent and generally not palatable, but the benefits it gives outweigh its bitterness.
Those suffering from leucoderma may mix Psoralea seed oil with butter and apply it externally to the affected portions of the skin. 
Ready-made Psoralea oil and powder are available in  leading herbal stores in the form of capsules and tablets for easy palatability. One may try them for problems like impotence, bed-wetting and premature
For common skin ailments like scabies and ringworm, Psoralea seed oil mixed with butter is applied as a skin ointment.

Aconitum heterophyllum or Atis root: Devil's helmet kills malarial parasites

By Syed Akbar
Aconitum heterophyllum or Devil's helmet lives in the footsteps of the Himalayas. It is a poisonous herb but Ayurveda doctors have been using it for almost 2000 years, of course after detoxifying it. Susrutha
had listed Aconitum in his medical herbarium and praised it for its unique herbal curative properties.
Ayurveda doctors recognise Aconitum as Vatsnabh Kul or Atis root. Extreme caution has to be taken while using Aconitum at home. It is highly recommended that "detoxified" Aconitum formulations be
purchased from a reputed herbal stores for safety and quick healing results.
The tuberous root of Aconitum is used in Ayurvedic formulations. Its underground stem and leaves are also used in certain preparations. Aconitum has been hailed as one of the best natural treatments for malarial fevers. It is also useful in improving digestion, fighting nausea, controlling vomiting and diarrhoea, purifying blood, reducing swellings and bringing down body temperature (fever).
Aconitum is also often prescribed for reducing body weight (obesity), treating piles, intestinal problems and as a natural birth control agent. It has been hailed as a divine herb, but it is unpalatable in taste. It should
be taken in extremely small quantity as large quantities could produce undesired results.
Home Remedies
Aconitum can be used both externally and internally. In case of external application, it is considered good in fighting tonsillitis. Take a little quantity of Aconitum seeds, crush them into fine powder. Mix the powder with honey. Apply the paste externally on the throat. Only detoxified seeds should be used.
In case of nasal and bronchial congestion, root powder mixed with milk can be consumed twice a day. The daily intake should never cross three grams of dry root powder.
Root powder in small quantities is recommended for malarial fevers. Root decoction can be used for relief from urinary tract infections.
It is an excellent tonic to boost immunity and general health while recovering from sickness. Root powder formulation can be had as general health tonic from a herbal store.
There have been recorded cases of Aconitum being used as an antidote for insect poisons. In this case it is used externally on the affected portion of the skin.

Hedychium spicatum or Karchura: Gulbakawali (ginger lily) removes cholesterol from arteries

By Syed Akbar

Hedychium spicatum or Gulbakawali is a scented herb found in the Himalayas, but now increasingly cultivated in other hilly regions of the country. Its intoxicating fragrance and beautiful flowers make it a garden favourite. Belonging to the ginger family, Hedychium has been used in a number of traditional medicines the world over, including Ayurveda and Unani.
It is also known as Karchura in Sanskrit and ginger lily or garland flower in English. It has a number of medicinal properties, the most important being its ability to fight cholesterol in the arteries and keep the blood flowing to the heart, and other vital organs including the brain. It thus prevents heart and brain stroke, as also paralysis. Ayurvedic and Unani doctors hail it as a natural vasodilator thanks to its medicinal property of dilating or opening up of the blood vessels.
Gulbakawali is also prescribed for problems relating to digestive system and fighting local inflammation. It controls nausea and vomiting. Its antioxidant properties prevent formation of cancerous cells while its antibacterial effect has been established against a number of bacterial species. Some herbal doctors prescribe extract from Gulbakawali for eye infection and dandruff. In case of dandruff Gulbakawali oil can be gently rubbed against the scalp.
Home remedies
Those suffering from painful tonsils may try decoction obtained from the stems of Gulbakawali. Take a small quantity of fresh or dried stems, clean them properly and boil them in a cup of water. Filter it to obtain decoction. Gargle with the Gulbakawali decoction for relief from tonsillitis
Gulbakawali extract is available in herbal stores and this can be used for eye infections. Herbal doctors believe that extract obtained from Gulbakawali improves eyesight.
For relief from joint pains, take a few leaves of Gulbakawali plant, wash them properly and boil the leaves in water. Remove the leaves and apply them on the affected portion. Its analgesic activity starts working and you will find relief from nagging joint pains.
Gulbakawali tonic or extract is prescribed as a vasodilator to widen the blood vessels in case of their clogging with cholesterol. It is considered good for the heart and body as it improves blood circulation and overall functioning of the cardiac system. Since it is difficult to find Gulbakawali plant in the plains, one may try readymade herbal preparations from a licensed manufacturer or a reputed herbal store. Research studies 
have shown its effectiveness as a vasodilator, particularly of coronary arteries.