A garden full of goodness

home remedies

A garden full of goodness

Rains, fluctuating temperature and mosquitoes are bringing in a host of ailments. While modern medicines are available, nature too has provided enough and plenty cures, says Rashmi Shrinivas

Incessant rains accompanied by fluctuating temperature together with mosquitoes in alarmingly large numbers are really a cause of concern this season since they are bringing in a number of ailments ranging from the common ENT and gastrointestinal problems to the more serious malaria, chikungunya and dengue. Though modern medicines are available, even for dreaded diseases these days, nature has also provided a host of medicinal herbs that can be used to cure a number of simple ailments, but city dwellers and a lot of people even in villages are hardly aware of this.

Nelanelli, known as Bhoomyamalaki in Sanskrit (both meaning ground bound gooseberry), is one such common herb that virtually grows on all vacant lands as well as in gutters, on roadsides and footpath, and yet goes unnoticed! This modest herb is very useful in treating jaundice. It is easily identified by its small compound leaves with tiny flowers resembling gooseberries on the lower portion of each of its tiny leaflets. In fact, it is a close cousin of the gooseberry. Botanically known as Phyllanthus niruri, it belongs to the family Euphorbiaceae (castor family). You can collect these plants whenever you find them and grow them in pots.

Tumbe or Dronapushpi in Sanskrit is another such small medicinal herb that grows on all vacant sites. Put a few drops of its juice in water, boil it and inhale the steam to get relief from nasal congestion. It can easily be identified by its small white flowers appearing in whorls. Each flower has a larger lower lobe. It has a hard quadrangular stem that is characteristic of the family Labiateae (Tulsi family) to which it belongs. Its botanical name is Leucas aspera (meaning white flowered and rough stemmed plant). This plant too is easy to grow — just spot and pot!

Another herb rich in medicinal properties is the Uttarani, called Aparmarga in Sanskrit. It is found on any moist vacant land. It can be identified by its small bluish flowers arranged on a firm stalk. Even when not flowering, the plant can easily be identified by its small round dentate leaves. Apart from being used in traditional medicine, it has religious importance as well. It forms one of the 21 leaves used in the Ganesha patrapooja at the time of Ganesh Chaturthi festival. It is found on the outskirts of the city and, if you are lucky, at times even on the road median. Botanically known as Echiranthus aspera, Uttarani belongs to the family Amaranthaceae (Dantina soppu family). This also can easily be translocated to pots.

Negilu mullu, called Gokshura in Sanskrit, is yet another useful herb that is found aplenty on vacant lands. This small plant radiates from the centre and spreads on the ground. Negilu means plough in Kannada. Its hard fruit, which is the size of a groundnut, bears two to three sharp thorns and hence the name. It bears attractive small yellow flowers and its fruits are used in treating urinary ailments. Botanically known as Tribulus terestris, it belongs to the family Zygophyllaceae.  This next one needs no introduction. A well-known weed with attractive pink inflorescence, the “Touch-me-not” is a source of amusement to kids and adults alike. Children are fascinated by its leaves folding the moment they are touched. It is only later in school that children learn about the seismonastic movement in plants that causes this action.

Because of this unique quality, it is known as Nachikemullu (shy thorn) and Muttidare Muni (turns into a sage when touched like a sage) in Kannada. Even in Sanskrit, it is known as Lajavanti while in Konkani it is known as Bhattini jhad (priestess plant). This prickly herb is found on all vacant sites. Its pale pink flower head eventually converts into a cluster of small and hard prickly legumes that contain seeds. Actually this common herb is used as an antidote to cobra venom. Botanically known as Mim­osa pudica, it belongs to the subfamily Mimosae of the family Leguminaceae (now known as Fabaceae). Even in Latin, it is named after its seismonastic movement. Pudica means “shrinking” in Latin. This can easily be grown in pots. Being a leguminous plant, it has the capacity of fixing nitrogen in the soil through its root nodu­les.

Another plant that is a boon to a house with small children is Nelabevu or Kiraytkaddi, known as Kiratatikta in Sanskrit. This small herb with simple dark green leaves bears tiny white flowers. The leaves are extremely bitter just like neem leaves and used in traditional medicine to treat cold and fever. It can be identified by its thin but strong stem with longitudinal furrows on it. Botanically known as Andrographis paniculata, it belongs to the family Acanthacea (Kanakambara family). It grows like a weed in coastal areas.

All these herbs are low maintenance and can easily be procured from their natural habitat; they are generally not sold. And since no money is spent on them, you are creating a “zero investment herbal garden”. However, it is important to note that in case your family member is severely ill, it is advisable to use these plants only after consulting a doctor. Otherwise, these plants are a good and natural way of prot­e­cting your family’s health — a perfect home remedy.

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