India’s Wonderful Herbs

The Indian Subcontinent, aside from being one of the most populous regions of the world, also contains many of the most beneficial medicinal herbs known to man. From the country’s northern mountains to it’s lush southern regions, medicinal herbs have been grown and used by the country’s 1+ billion population for thousands of years. The herbs are both cultivated and found growing wild in virtually all regions, and are used to treat a wide variety of illnesses and complaints including arthritis, cancer, heart disease, intestinal complaints, skin conditions, sexual impotency, and even snake bites.

In this virtual “garden of earthly delights” the herbs are picked and processed into a variety of preparations, many of which are sold worldwide. The names of these herbs are as exotic as the country from which they come; and just a few of them are noted here:

Andrographis paniculata: an extremely bitter tasting herb usually found in southern and southeastern India. This herb is used extensively in treating various types of cancer, inflammatory conditions, and as a treatment for snakebites.

Ashwagandha: Also known as winter cherry, this herb is used to treat a variety of health problems including nervous and stress disorders, anemia, infertility, and is also used to coagulate milk.

Neem tree: A shrub-like tree found in a number of locations ranging from tropical to mountainous, the Neem’s leaves, roots, and berries are used to treat a number of skin disorders ranging from boils to leprosy. It is a very important element in natural or Ayurvedic medicine.

Shatavari plant: A climbing plant found mainly in northern India, the Shatavari is used to treat a number of respiratory ailments including bronchitis, as well as diarrhea, dysentery, and other gastric related problems.

Triphala plant: Also known as “three fruits” the tripahala plant is used extensively to treat conditions of the liver and gall bladder, and is also widely used as a laxative. Due to its cleansing properties, it is often referred to as “nature’s body cleanser”. Due to a high vitamin content it is often used as a food supplement.

Tulsi plant: The tulsi plant is a basil-like herb that has long been used in Indian Ayurvedic medicine. Many refer to it as the “queen of herbs” and its value as a sexual enhancer was even mentioned in the Kama Sutra, the classical Indian work on sexual techniques. The tulsi is also used to treat lung congestion, skin diseases and malaria. It is also a popular spice and is added to a number of food dishes, including curries.

Tumeric plant: Turmeric plant is a popular food enhancer spice that has been used in India for centuries. It is also used to treat a wide range of stomach problems, including gastritis and ulcers. Its benefits in treating cancer is also being studied.

These are just a few of the many kinds of medicinal herbs and plants found on the Subcontinent. There are many more and these can be found in stores and websites specializing in holistic remedies and natural products.