Wednesday, 2 November 2011

Andrographis peniculata: Kalmegha is natural substitute for antibiotics

By Syed Akbar

These days everyone talks of antibiotics abuse, overdose and resistance. There are also reports of new strains of bacteria emerging thanks to unscientific use of antibiotics. But long before modern medicine came out with the magical powers of antibiotics, ancient Indian systems of medicine including Ayurveda and Unani have benefited from Kalmegha, a natural antibiotic.
Kalmegha is technically called Andrographis peniculata. The herb is also popular by other names like Kalpanath and Kiryat. Like the neem, Kalmegha is bitter in taste and unpalatable. But it has a myriad of medicinal properties including its ability to fight leprosy, boost immunity, kill bacteria, viruses and other pathogens, control fevers of various origin including malarial and typhoid, keep the stomach in good health, and provide relief from haemorrhoids.
Of late, research has been taken up on the medicinal properties of Kalmegha. The studies were centered around Kalmegha’s ability to kill cancer cells, reduce upper respiratory tract infections and as a general health tonic. Thanks to its antibiotic properties, it kills all harmful germs that invade the body. There are also claims of Kalmegha improving the immunity in people living with HIV and AIDS.
Home remedies
Kalmegha powder is available in herbal stores. It can be taken in prescribed quantities with honey to improve the immune system and protect the body from harmful germs. Kalmegha tea can also be prepared by using its leaves. The tea serves as a general health tonic. It is a good antibiotic too.
For ages a number of tribal populations in India, Malaysia, Indonesia and China have been using Kalmegha decoction or infusion to treat fevers and skin diseases. Take a couple of fresh or dried leaves of Kalmegha and boil them in a cup of water. Filter the decoction and use it. Alternatively, crush the fresh leaves and soak them in water, filter the solution to obtain infusion.
Liver disorders can be treated by adding a teaspoon of honey to a teaspoon of Kalmegha decoction. In case of extract (available in market), it should be consumed in a small quantity i.e. about four ml or less twice daily.

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