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herbs

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Kalmegh – Green Chirayta – King of Bitter Herb in Ayurvedic Medicine

In my journey as an Ayurvedic practitioner and then as an Herbalist, Andrographis came up many times as one of the strongest bitters. In 2019, when I was in Dhaka, Bangladesh – there was an outbreak of Dengue fever. I ensured I had Andrographis with me. In Bangladesh, Andrographis is known as Kalmegh or the Black Cloud. Local vendors also call it Green Chirata. It is widely used in Ayurveda, TCM and Thai herbal medicine.

Kalmegh – Green Chirayta – King of Bitter Herb in Ayurvedic Medicine

Since Andrographis is a very powerful herb, therefore, it is utmost important to speak with your ND or Herbalist before taking the herb, especially if you are taking any medication.

I thought I share the Ayurvedic Profile and the benefits of Andrographis in this month’s blog.

Profile of Herb

Botanical Name: Andrographis Paniculata

Ayurvedic Name: Bhunimba (Neem of the Earth)

English: The Creat

Bangla: Kalmegh (Black Cloud)

Dosha’s: PK-, V+

Taste (Rasa): Bitter

Qualities (Guna): Dry, light

Potency (Virya): Cooling

Post Digestion (Vipaka): Pungent

Tissues (Dhatu): Plasma, Blood, Muscle and Fat

Systems: Digestive and circulatory

Parts Used: Leaf and Root. Herbalists can use the whole plant to make infusion or tincture.

Preparation: tea/infusion, decoction, tincture, fresh leaf juice, dried powder in capsule or tablets.

Dosage: for adults, make tea with 2-3 grams of dried leaf or a few fresh leaves to make 15-30 ml tea. However, therapeutic dosages must be taken after discussed with a Herbalist. Dosage for capsules should be on the bottle. Fresh leaf juice 5-10 ml in enough per day.

Medicine System: Andrographis is widely used in Ayurveda and TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine). It is also used in Thailand, Sri Lanka and Malaysian medicine.

Caution: Cannot be used during pregnancy and lactation. In excess Andrographis can cause anorexia, emesis and digestive discomfort.

Constituents: Andrographolide, diterpenoid lactone

Actions: Alterative, anti-bacterial, anticancer, anthelmintic, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, anti-periodic, antipyretic, anti viral, bitter, cardiac tonic, cholagogue, diuretic, depurative, expectorant, febrifuge, hepatoprotective, immune-stimulant, stomachic and soporific.

Contraindication: Do not take Andrographis if you are on chemotherapy drugs, blood pressure lowering drugs, anticoagulant and antiplatelet drugs. Studies also has shown adverse effect if taken with Aminophylline/Bronchodilators, CYP450 and UGT 2B7 substrate drugs.

 

Benefits of Kalmegh or Andrographis

Immune System: A powerful immunostimulant herb that is used individually or in formulas, to protect from viral and bacterial conditions. It enhances the production of white blood cells, specifically NK cells and T helper cells. Its anti-pyretic and anti viral properties make it useful in malaria or any kind of fever. The herb has been studied for its impact on HIV and cancer. Other diseases Andrographis is used in are, mouth ulcers, herpes zoster etc.

Respiratory System: Andrographis is commonly used in traditional medicine for cold, influenza and upper respiratory infections such as flu, bronchitis. It is a common remedy for headaches cause by cold and flu, tonsil inflammation etc. Depending on the condition, Andrographis, either by itself or in combination with other herbs, can reduce duration and severity and recovery tine for cold, flu and fever. Symptoms such as, coughing, sinus congestion, runny nose, sore throat, high fever has shown to improve when given Andrographis. A compound in Andrographis called, andrographolide may help protect lungs from damage during infection. Andrographolide is known for its anti viral actions. It inhibits some aspects of viral replication and the virus’s ability to use their protein to enter human cells.

Liver & Spleen Protective: In Ayurvedic Medicine, Andrographis is used to eliminate “Ama” or “Toxins”. This King of Bitters improves liver functions, increases bile flow and used in many liver and spleen related conditions such as, fatty liver, jaundice. As a cholagogue it stimulates bile flow and relieves constipation that is due to liver/gallbladder stagnation.

Skin Health: Andrographis can purify blood and improve liver function which leads to better skin health. Andrographis has been used In Herbal Medicine or Ayurveda for treating acne, eczema, psoriasis and vitiligo.

Digestive Health: In Ayurveda the concept of “agni” is extremely important and known to be the gatekeeper of health and vitality. The “Jathara-Agni” is the controller of the digestion and assimilation of food. Andrographis impacts the Jathar Agni by stimulating appetite, relieving flatulence, bloating and by alleviating “Ama” that cause IBS or IBD. Kalmegh also is used in dysentery, ulcerative colitis etc. Andrographis can expel parasites and worms that cause digestive havoc in the body. Since Kalmegh is known to improve fat metabolism (impact Meda Dhatu) as it assists with eliminating excess weight in Kapha’s. In TCM Andrographis is used to treat “leaky gut” syndrome, which if not healed on time, may cause stress on the immune system.

Lymphatic & Urinary System: Andrographis is also known to reduce lymphatic congestion, edema and have a positive impact on the Mutra Vaha Srota (Urinary Tract System).

Reproductive Health: Depending on dosage and duration it has been studied as a male birth control herb.

Hormonal Health: As a bitter tonic, kalmegh has great influence on the pancreas and insulin. Therefore, it has a positive impact on people with diabetes.

Inflammatory Disease: Andrographis improves the anti-inflammatory response. This herb is used for ulcerative colitis and arthritis.

Bone and Joint Health: Andrographis promotes joint health by reducing swelling and pain in the joints and prevents cartilage damage. It also reduces joint stiffness, joint flexibility, and weakness.

In fold medicine, Andrographis was also used as an antidote for snake bite.

 

Andrographis combined with Melatonin:

A combined treatment with melatonin and andrographis promotes autophagy and anticancer activity in colorectal cancer. 

Although Andrographis is a wonderful herb, its best to use it as per the recommendation that comes from your ND or Herbalist. When you drink as tea or tincture, swish around your month and then swallow.

If you have had an personal experience or success story with Andrographis please share with us in the comment section.

If you have any questions with regards to Andrographis you can also write us on the comment section.

 

Reference:

  1. https://ca.iherb.com/blog/andrographis/1496
  2. Singh Khalsa, Karta Purkh and Tierra, Michael, The Way of Ayurvedic Herbs, Aug 14, 2018
  3. Dass, Vishu, Ayurvedic Herbology. Lotus Press. 2013
  4. Pole, Sebastian, Ayurvedic Medicine. Singing Dragon
  5. Elliotsone, Susan, Advanced Herbal Medicine, Course Materials.
  6. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/35089340/#:~:text=in%20colorectal%20cancer-,A%20combined%20treatment%20with%20melatonin%20and%20andrographis%20promotes%20autophagy%20and,Carcinogenesis.

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Fruit Tree Leaves:

For centuries, fruit tree leaves have been used in traditional medicine to treat various diseases including diabetes, cancer, rheumatism and hypertension. Fruit tree leaves are great sources of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and other health-promoting compounds that have been used for centuries to treat a variety of deceases. While these claims were originally met with skepticism they are increasingly being backed by scientific exploration into their antioxidant and vitamin properties.

For example, the bark of the wild fig tree has long been used in Ayurvedic medicine as a tonic to strengthen the liver and kidneys while also improving blood circulation.

Some of the leaves and their benefits are as follow:

  • Papaya Leaf:

    This one magical fruit that we can use all of its part as remedy – is most valuable in disease prevention. We can use the leaf, the gum/milk from raw papaya, raw papaya, ripened papaya, seeds and the skin. Here we will be focusing on just the leaf.

    Dosha: VK

    Taste (Rasa): Bitter, Astringent and slightly pungent.

    Energetics (Virya): mild heating

    Attribute (Guna): Dry and light

    Post Digestive (Vipaka): Pungent

 

How to Consume Papaya Leaf?

There are three ways to consume Papaya Leaf – fresh leaf juice, dried/fresh leaf tea, or in capsules. Drinking 60-80 ml as tea form in a day is good. Always confirm dosage with your local Herbalist. In North American apothecary’s I have seen Herbalists make tinctures from the papaya leaf.

The juice has been found to treat symptoms related to dengue, malaria and chikungunya. Juice of one to two leaves is good.

Papaya leaf is used to improves digestion, stimulates appetite, reduces inflammation, improves blood sugar (Diabetes support), promotes skin health (reduces acne and opens clogged pores) and hair health (dandruff & hair fall) health. Traditionally papaya leaf has been used to assist people with gastric ulcers, heartburn, cholesterol, cirrhosis cancer and HPV. Additionally, papaya leaf reduces menstrual cramps and the symptoms of PCOS.

Papaya leaves contain high amounts of vitamins A, C, E, K, and B vitamins and minerals like calcium, magnesium, sodium, iron, beta-carotene, and fatty acids. It also contains a natural plant chemical called Carpain that is known to reduce parasites in the body and impact the central nervous system.

Papaya also seems to have antibacterial, antifungal, anti-viral, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and immune-stimulating effects.

During my visit to Bangladesh, I have seen wide use of papaya leaf juice  for dengue fever to prevent blood loss and reduced platelet counts.

How to drink

Bring water to boil and add 1 teaspoon of the dried leaf in the water. Simmer till it’s reduced to about half the quantity. Let cool, strain to discard the leaves, and consume like tea.


Try this delicious and wholesome Green Papaya and Moong Dal Curry by me.

Papaya leaf has unique compounds that established pharmacological potential in test-tube and studies about animal. They contain the properties of minerals and antioxidants. They also contain vitamin A, vitamin C and iron. The leaves are also used to treat various health conditions such as indigestion, vomiting, dysentery etc.

  • Guava Leave: Guava leaves are used in Ayurvedic medicine. Guava leaves are also known to have a cooling effect on the body. The leaf is considered an aphrodisiac and is used to treat impotence, infertility and other sexual disorders. Guava leaves are also used in Chinese medicine for the treatment of diabetes mellitus.

Additionally, guava leaf extract has been thought as helpful to lower the pressure of blood in body, a drop in “bad” LDL cholesterol, and a rise in “good” HDL. Since high level of LDL cholesterol as well as high blood pressure is considered dangerous for heart conditions and stroke, taking guava leaf extract could lead to precious benefits.

  • Olive Leaf: Olive leaf is a natural remedy for many health conditions, including weight loss. These leaves have been used as an herbal tea to help with the symptoms of asthma, diarrhea and upset stomach. Olive leaf also has mild laxative properties, so it can be used as an alternative treatment for constipation.

Olive Leaf Extract is antibiotic that is helpful to fight against infections caused by bacteria, fungi or viruses (including colds). The main compound in olive leaf extract live oil phenols has been shown to kill harmful bacteria like salmonella and E.

 

Get my Medicinal Spice Cabinet describing 101 herbs and spices and their culinary and medicinal uses.

  • Fig Leaf: The fig leaves are the most common and well-known leaves that are being used in traditional medicine from a long period of time. It is cultivating in many countries, like India, Bangladesh, Pakistan and Spain.

Fig leaves are often used to treat fevers as they contain tannins that lower body temperature when applied externally. They are also believed to reduce inflammation by inhibiting the activity of enzymes which cause inflammation or swelling. They are also considered valuable for the treatment of diarrhea because they help to decrease water content from stools.

  • Avocado Leaf: Avocados are known to be high in antioxidants, but avocado leaves have indeed advanced concentrations than the fruit. Avocado leaves have an emulsion called quercetin that removes free radicals from your body. Free radicals are the product of naturally- being degeneration in our bodies as a result of oxygenation.

In addition the avocado leaf also contains high levels of vitamin C, and it’s also a good source of calcium, magnesium and iron. According to researches, the avocado leaves have the properties of anti-inflammatory.

This salad won’t disappoint you and guess what? It is super easy to make: Sprouts, Baby Kale and Avocado Salad Recipe

  • Sidr Leaf: Sidr is one of the most cultivating trees in the area of Arab. It’s fruits and leaves contain numerous minerals, mariners and vitamins necessary. Sidr leaves are an outstanding source of vitamin C and antioxidants, both vital for our bodies. These properties help prevent aging and keep you looking young.

They can be used in salads, soups and stir-frys. For example, a warm soup made from sidr leaves is perfect for a cold winter day. When you picked your leaves make it sure to wash them before making a meal out of them. Powder of sider leaves are consider ideal for washing your hair naturally. The sidr leaves support the hair roots and offer a healthy and vibrant appearance.

If you are in Canada or USA – you can order from Conscious Health shop the pain relief ointment that I have made. You can check out product details, availability, price and reviews here.

This is my personal creation that I created for my parents, then my friends, extended family as well as my clients. 

 

All-natural pain relief formula for tired, achy muscle, tendons and headaches. Contains Ayurvedic herbs and essential oils. A nourishing and strengthening ointment with analgesic qualities, it is used to soothe sore muscles and tendons, flexible joints as well as support an active lifestyle. Apply under your feet and effected area.

Conclusion:

We expect that we have provided you much needed awareness about many healthy and medicinal benefits of fruit tree leaves, including their properties. While this traditional knowledge is increasingly backed by scientific research, it’s important to remember that these are still early days in the field of botanical medicine. It would be a best approach to consult with a qualified medical practitioner or herbalist before attempting any treatments by you at home. That said if you’re looking for new ways to boost your health naturally then experimenting with different fruit tree leaves could certainly be an option worth exploring.

Written By: Syeda Saira

 

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