Nature’s pharmacy: The medicinal value of various plants

The Moringa or drumstick tree is one such example

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Ayurvedic
Picture: Pixabay

The Ayurvedic tradition believes that every plant offers medicinal value of some kind. In fact, some plants are believed to be more valuable than others because all their parts–leaves, flowers, fruit, stem, bark, etc.–are of medicinal value. The Moringa or drumstick tree is one such example. Another example is the Arjuna tree, the bark of which makes an excellent heart tonic. Ayurvedic literature features an extensive list of more than 7500 medicinal plants, as more and more continue to be discovered.

While modern medicine and biotechnology have progressed by leaps and bounds, many of these medicinal plants remain unmatched in their value. The list of such plants is very long, but I’ll take you through some of the commonly used ones.

If you have an aloe vera plant at home, you are sure to have experienced its outstanding skin-soothing properties. The gel found inside the aloe leaf is used to relieve minor cuts, scrapes and burns, and treat more chronic skin conditions. The benefits of the aloe plant extend to many  other conditions, like the Bladder Pain Syndrome (BPS), which affects the quality of life across large populations.

Ginger is commonly used for its nausea-relieving properties in conditions like motion sickness, morning sickness and also chemotherapy. While we don’t fully understand how ginger works, it is speculated that it acts either by releasing enzymes that break down the food in the body, or by blocking the neural receptors in the gut that induce the feeling of nausea. You can consume ginger in a variety of ways–by chewing on the slivers of raw ginger or boiling it to prepare ginger ale or tea. 

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Candied ginger is a good option for those who don’t enjoy the taste otherwise. Chewing on saunf or fennel seeds is an excellent remedy for indigestion, a problem that commonly confronts most of us. Licorice root, also known as mulethi or yashtimadhu, is known to treat throat infections. This makes it all the more relevant during this pandemic. To treat a sore throat, take a small piece of the root, pour some hot water over it, and sip it through the day. The root offers anti- inflammatory and pain-relieving properties. 

When it comes to the treatment of throat infections, there is hardly anything better than honey. Honey is often more effective than many OTC cough syrups. You can concoct an effective home remedy for a sore throat by adding honey to warm water along with the juice of a lemon.  Honey is also an excellent antiseptic, and has been used to expedite wound healing since the ancient times. The different kinds of honey offer varying healing properties. Manuka honey is regarded the best in this aspect. Look out for a UMF (Unique Manuka Factor) value in the range of 10-18 to be assured of high anti-infective properties.

Neelanjana Singh
Nutrition Therapist &  Wellness Consultant

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