This fern a day, will keep the doctor away

The seedless plant has high nutrition value and increases immunity

Azolla, the fern

The St John’s Hospital has decided to recommend to the State government to allow usage of the fern, Azolla, in food to boost people’s immunity and nutrition levels. The hospital also plans to ask the State government to take up large-scale cultivation of the fern.

The hospital has already included this fern in the diet for its staff and select patients. Since maintaining immunity is the biggest challenge for the HIV/AIDS patients, this fern is soon to be included in the diet given to the patients. The community medicine department of the hospital is already growing it in a large scale.

Elaborating on the fern, Dr Sunny Chunkapura from the hospital said a number of research works had been carried out in foreign countries on Azolla, a fern from South America, which proved that it was highly nutritious and can be a good diet, even for the space travellers as an alternative diet.

“It is a kind of crytogams or seedless plant that multiplies very fast. This plant, which grows in water, needs little space to grow. Even a tub of water is enough to grow it. With zero investment anyone can grow it at home. The speciality of this plant is its high nutritious value,” said Dr Chunkapura.

At St John’s Hospital, this fern is being served along with upma, curries, cutlets and salads. “You can make a chutney of it or add in any food to increase the nutrition level in your diet. It is quite good for diabetic patients because it has no starch or fat but only the high nutritious elements,” said Dr Chunkapura.

Along with this fern, the hospital grows Lemina Minor, which is a seed bearing plant, and has similar nutrition value like Azolla. However, Lemna Minor is not given to the human beings. “Lemna’s extract is widely used in homeopathy. It is rich in protein, fats, starch and minerals but because we have no knowledge of whether it is tested in India for human consumption, we have not tried it. But we are growing it in our hospital,” he said.
Azolla and Lemna Minor are already given to some animals in the hospital campus and the results were quite surprising and encouraging. “We have an Emu in our hospital which has grown stronger after consuming Azolla and Lemna Minor. We stressed more on giving Azolla to animals, fish and poultry birds because the Food and Agriculture Organisation has found benefits like increase in milk production, meat and egg production. It also helps reversing green house effect,” the doctor said.

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