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| Last Updated:: 23/06/2014

Medicinal plants

                       

          Medicinal Plants constitute an important component of the plant resource spectrum of Kerala. Recent analysis shows that out of estimated 4600 flowering plants in Kerala, about 900 possess medicinal values. Of these, 540 species are reported to occur in forest ecosystems. Over 150 species of plants that are either indigenous or naturalized in Kerala are used in the Indian system of Medicine like Ayurveda and Sidha. The rural folk and tribal communities make use of about 2,000 species of lesser-known wild plants for various medicinal uses. About 60 to 65% of plants required for Ayurvedic medicine and almost 80% of plants used in Sidha medicine are found in the forests of Kerala.

 

 

Major Medicinal Plants    

              The major medicinal plants obtained from the forests of Kerala are Asparagus racemosus, Solanum anguivi, Desmodium gangeticum, Cissus quadrangularis, Psuedartheria viscida, Strobilanthes ciliatus, Dysoxylum malabaricum, Piper longum, Aristolochia indica, Ceasalpinia bonduc, Tribulus terrestris, Sarcostemma acidum, Baliospermum montanum, Aristolochia bracteolata etc.

 

 

 

Karingali

 

 

Scientific Name : Acacia catechu

Common Name: Karingali

Description of the Plant: Acacia catechu belongs to the family Fabaceae and are medium sized thorny deciduous tree grows up to 13 meters in height. Leaves bipinnately compound, leaflets 30-50 paired, main rachis pubescent, with large conspicuous gland near the middle of the rachis. Flowers pale yellow, sessile, found in axillary spikes. Fruits flat brown pods, with triangular beak at the apex, shiny, narrowed at base. Seeds 3-10 per pod. The gummy extract of the wood is called kath or cutch.

Medicinal Properties: The tree's seeds are a good source of protein. The extract of the plant called catechu is used to treat sore throats and diarrhea. In Ayurveda, plant pacifies vitiated pitta, kapha, skin diseases, cough, pruritus, and obesity. Useful in tooth ache, increases the strength of teeth.

Useful Parts : Bark, Heartwood, Kath.

 

 

 

Vayambu

 

 

Scientific Name: Acorus calamus

Common Name: Vayambu

Description of the Plant: Acorus calamus, commonly known as Vayambu, a plant from Acoraceae family. It is a rhizomatous, perennial semi aquatic plant grows up to 40 cm in height. Leaves simple, bright green, distichous, thickened in the middle, ensiform; flowers seen in densely packed spadix inflorescence, fruits oblong berries seeds few suspended from the apex of cells. Underground rhizomes are creeping, branched about 1 cm in diameter.

Medicinal Properties: It is widely employed in modern herbal medicine as an aromatic stimulant and mild tonic. The root has been used as a rejuvenator for the brain and nervous system and as a remedy for digestive disorders. The root is anodyne, aphrodisiac, aromatic, carminative, diaphoretic, emmenagogue, expectorant, febrifuge, hypotensive, sedative, stimulant, stomachic, mildly tonic and vermifuge. It is used internally in the treatment of digestive complaints, bronchitis, sinusitis etc. In Ayurveda, plant pacifies vitiated vata, kapha, insomnia, insanity, other mental diseases, epilepsy, mania, stomatitis, hoarseness of voice, colic, flatulence, amenorrhea, dysmenorrhea, neuropathy, renal calculi, cough, inflammation, arthritis, kidney diseases, hemorrhoids, skin diseases and general debility.

Useful Parts: Underground rhizomes.

 

 

Adalodakam

 

Scientific Name: Adathoda beddomei

Common Name: Adalodakam

Description of the Plant: Adathoda beddomei belongs to the family Acanthaceae and is a large shrub or small tree grows up to 3-4 meters in height. Leaves simple, opposite, ovate-lanceolate, acute or acuminate and shiny. Flowers arise from axillary condensed spikes, white; fruits capsules.

Medicinal Properties: The extraction of leaf is a good medicine for Asthma and cough. It is a good medicine to stop internal and external bleedings like bleeding gums, piles and peptic ulcers. According to Ayurveda, it is a good ingredient in decoctions for all types of fever due to kapha and pitta doshas. It is expectorant, antispasmodic and good blood purifier. It speeds up the child birth.

Useful Part: Whole plant.

 

 

Koovalam

 

Scientific Name: Aegle marmelos

Common Name: Koovalam

Description of the Plant: Aegle marmelos is a species of tree native to India, belongs to the family Rutaceae. These are medium sized thorny deciduous tree grows up to 10 meters in height. Leaves trifoliate, aromatic, and alternate. Leaflets are ovate-lanceolate. Lateral leaflets are sub sessile and terminal long petioled. Flowers are greenish white, found in axillary panicles. Fruits are globose woody berry with yellow pulp. Seeds are numerous, oblong and embedded in pulp.

Medicinal Properties: The tree is one of the most useful medicinal plants of India. Its medicinal properties have been described in the ancient medical treatise jn Sanskrit, Charaka Samhita. All parts of this tree-stem, bark, root, leaves and fruit at all stages of maturity have medicinal virtues and have been used as medicine for a long time. The fruit's medicinal value is very high when it just begins to ripen. The fruit is aromatic, cooling and laxative. It arrests secretion or bleeding. The unripe or half-ripe fruit is good for digestion. It is useful in preventing or curing scurvy. It also strengthens the stomach and promotes its action. In Ayurveda, plant pacifies vitiated kapha, vata, body pain, poison, diarrhea, dysentery, vomiting, and intermittent fever. Pulp of unripe fruit is constipating whereas that of ripened fruit is laxative. Leaves cure diabetes, cough, inflammation and asthma.

Useful Parts: Leaves, Root, Fruits

 

 

Kolinji

 

Scientific Name: Alpinia galangal

Common Name: Kolinji

Description of the Plant: Alpinia galangal, a plant in the family of Zingiberaceae, is an herb used in cooking. The plant grows from rhizomes in clumps of stiff stalks up to two meters in height with abundant long leaves which bears red fruit. It is native to South Asia and Indonesia. The robust rhizome has a sharp, sweet taste and smells like a blend of black pepper and pine needles.

Medicinal Properties: The rhizome has been shown to have antimalarial activity in mice. The rhizome contains the flavonol galangin. It is used against rheumatism, bronchial catarrh, bad breath and ulcers whooping colds in children, throat infections, to control incontinence and fever. Alpinia species show promise as anti-fungals, hypotensives, enhancers of sperm count and motility. Anti-tumor and anti-dementia effects have been observed in rodents. It is a stimulating aromatic and has been successfully employed to aid the digestive process, preventing fermentation and removing flatus. It is useful in case of dyspepsia, preventing vomiting or sickness of the stomach and facilitating digestion. It may be used in all cases in which a stimulating aromatic is indicated. It is used against nausea, flatulence, dyspepsia, rheumatism, catarrh and enteritis. It also possesses tonic and antibacterial qualities and is used for these properties in veterinary and homeopathic medicine.

Useful Parts: Roots

 

 

Karimthumba

 

Scientific Name: Anisochilus carnosus

Common Name: Karimthumba

Description of the Plant: Anisochilus carnosus, is an armatic annual herb belongs to the family Lamiaceae, found in the Western Ghats. Stems are erect, 30-60 cm tall, robust, branched. Leaf stalks are 1.3-5 cm long, densely white velvety. Leaves are ovate-oblong to circular, 5-7 × 5-7 cm, white white-velvety, sparsely red glandular, base heart-shaped to rounded, margin crenulate, tip blunt to rounded. Flower spikes are 2.5-7.5 × 0.9-1.9 cm, long stalked, 4-angled in fruit.

Medicinal Properties: The leaves of Anisochilus carnosus are used traditionally in the treatment of gastric ulcers and stomachache.

Useful Parts: Leaves and aerial parts

 

 

Chemmaram

 

Scientific Name: Aphanamixis polystachya

Common Name: Chemmaram

Description of the Plant: Aphanamixis polystachya, is a medium or large sized tree, 15 to 20 meters in height, belongs to the family Meliaceae. The leaves are large, imparipinnate. The leaflets are opposite, elliptic-oblong, acuminate, glabrous on both the surface. The male flowers are numerous in axillary panicles; female or bisexual flowers are larger than male axillary or supra-axillary solitary spikes. The fruits are globular, smooth, yellow when ripe. The seeds are with scarlet aril.

Medicinal Properties: The plant specially the bark is used as astringent and applied on swelling after a fall. It is also used in spleen, liver diseases, tumour and abdominal complaints. Seed-oil is used in rheumatism.  In recent times anti carcinogenic ingredients are found from this plant.

Useful Part: Bark

 

 

Karalakam

 

Scientific Name: Aristolochia indica

Common Name: Karalakam

Description of the Plant: Aristolochia indica is a creeper plant, belongs to the family Aristolochiaceae, found in Kerala in India and also Sri Lanka. It reaches a height of several metres on trees and covers the branches with thick foliage. It flowers once a year to produce seeds. It can also be propagated by roots.

Medicinal Properties: The plant has a number of historical medicinal uses. This plant contains Aristolochic acid is a rodent carcinogen found in Aristolochia and Asarum, both in the Aristolochiaceae family of plants. In addition to its carcinogenicity, aristolochic acid is also highly nephrotoxic and may be a causative agent in Balkan nephropathy. However, despite these well-documented dangers, aristolochic acid still is present sometimes in herbal remedies (such as for weight loss), primarily because of substitution of innocuous herbs with Aristolochia species. In Ayurveda, plant pacifies vitiated kapha, vata, poison, skin diseases, intestinal worms, colic, arthritis and ulcers.

Useful Part: Whole plant.

 

 

Sathavari

 

Scientific Name: Asparagus racemosus

Common Name: Sathavari

Description of the Plant: Asparagus racemosus, commonly known as Satavari in India is a climbing plant from Liliaceous family. It widely grows in low forest areas throughout India. It grows one to two meters tall and prefers to take root in gravelly, rocky soils high up in piedmont plains. Satavari has small pine-needle-like leaves that are uniform and shiny green. In July, it produces minute, white flowers on short, spiky stems, and in September it fruits blackish-purple, globular berries.

Medicinal Properties: The healing qualities of Asparagus racemosus are useful to a wide array of ailments. The plant has been used in Ayurveda for various conditions. Its main use has been as a galactagogue to increase milk secretion during lactation. It is known as the Indian 'Female Rejuvenative', as it is helpful in cases of low milk production, low sex drive, menopause, PMS, and infertility. It helps to balance hormonal system of women and regulates menstruation and ovulation. It is also useful for decreasing morning sickness, infertility, menopause, leucorrhoea, inflammation of sexual organs, and general sexual debility. The male reproductive system will also benefit from sathavari. It can be used in cases of sexual debility, impotence, spermatorrhoea, and inflammation of sexual organs. The powdered dried root of sathavari is also used in Ayurveda for dyspepsia. The herb is also useful in gastric ulcers, hyperacidity, dysentery, bladder infections, chronic fevers, rheumatism, inflamed membranes of the lungs. It also used as a nervine tonic and is good for heart. It also strengthens and increases muscle tone and increases general body strength and used as an Aphrodisiac in India.

Useful Part:Tuberous Roots

 

 

Kanikonna

 

Scientific Name: Cassia fistula

Common Name: Kanikonna

Description of the Plant: Cassia fistula, known as the ‘Golden Shower Tree’ but see below for other names, is a flowering plant in the family Fabaceae, native to Southern Asia, from Southern Pakistan east through India to Myanmar and South to Sri Lanka. It is the national tree of Thailand and its flower is Thailand's National flower.  It is the ‘Regional Flower’ of Kerala. The Golden Shower Tree is a medium-sized tree growing to 10-20 m (33-66 ft) tall with fast growth. The leaves are deciduous, long, pinnate with 3-8 pairs of leaflets. The flowers are produced in pendulous racemes 20-40 cm (8-15 in) long with five yellow petals of equal size and shape. The fruit is a legume long and broad with a pungent odor and containing several seeds.

Medicinal Properties: It is a popular ornamental plant and is an herbal medicine. In Ayurvedic medicine, it is known as aragvadha, meaning "disease killer". Its fruit pulp is used as a mild laxative, against fevers, arthritis, vatavyadhi (nervous system diseases), all kinds of rakta-pitta (bleeding, such as hematemesis or hemorrhages), as well as cardiac conditions and stomach problems such as acid reflux. The root is considered a very strong purgative, and self-medication or any use without medical supervision is strongly advised against in Ayurvedic texts.

Useful Part:  Whole Plant

 

 

Maramanjal

 

Scientific Name: Coscinium fenestratum

Common Name: Maramanjal

Description of the Plant: Coscinium fenestratum, a large woody climber belongs to the family Menispemaceae. It grows with cylindrical and yellowish stem. Leaves simple, oblong, deltoid, alternate, minutely tomentose beneath, smooth above, with yellowish tint. Flowers yellow, unisexual in supra axillary inflorescence. Fruits globose drupes, smooth contains one globose seed.

Medicinal Properties: Eye and skin diseases, inflammation, wounds, ulcers, abdominal disorders, jaundice, diabetes, fever, general debility, skeletal fractures. In Ayurvedic medicine, plant pacifies vitiated kapha, vata, skin diseases, diseases of the eye, inflammations, wounds, jaundice, diabetes, fever and general debility.

Useful Part: Stem.

 

 

Neermathalam

 

Scientific Name: Crateva magna

Common Name: Neermathalam

Description of the Plant: Crateva magna a deciduous tree belongs to the family Capparaceae. This  grows up to 7-9 m. height, leaves compound, 3-foliate, leaflets ovate, 5-13 cm long, flowers large, greenish white, polygamous, in dense terminal corymbs, stamens are longer than the petals, fruits fleshy, ovoid berry, seeds are embedded in pulp.

Medicinal Properties: Roots, leaves and the skin of the bark are used for edema, cervical adenitis, rheumatism and spleen enlargement. The bark acts as an appetizer, cholegogue, laxative, vermicide, tonic, anti-inflammatory and its decoction is taken internally for the same diseases above, plus tumors, liver disorders, anorexia, fever and also mixed with ghee for flatulence. In Ayurvedic medicine, plant pacifies vitiated vata, kapha, renal and vesical caliculi, asthma and bronchitis.

Useful Parts: Leaves, Bark.

 

 

Manjakoova

 

Scientific Name: Curcuma zedoaria

Common Name: Manjakoova

Description of the Plant:Curcuma zedoaria is a perennial herb and member of the family Zingiberaceae. The plant is native to India and Indonesia. A rhizomatous perennial herb grows up to 1 meter. Leaves elliptic or oblong- lanceolate, about 50 cm long with long petiole; Dark violet streak along the midrib is the classical discriminative property of the plant. Flowers pinkish yellow, seen in inflorescence with pinkish showy bracts. Fruits globose, dehiscent trilobate capsules.

Medicinal Properties: It is used in some traditional eastern medicines, where it is reputed to be an aid to digestion, a relief for colic and an agent for purifying the blood. It is also used as an antivenom for the Indian cobra. This has been used to treat coronary heart disease, liver cancer, anemia, chronic pelvic inflammation and helps prevent leukopenia due to cancer therapies. In Ayurvedic medicine, plant pacifies vitiated pitta, kapha, indigestion, flatulence, dyspepsia, skin diseases, cough, bronchitis, urinary retention, allergy, leucoderma, and as general tonic. The rhizomes are a source of Shoti Starch, used as a food for babies and convalescents, recovering from chronic stomatitis. It is cooling and demulcent.

Useful Part: Rhizome

 

 

Muthanga

 

Scientific Name: Cyperus rotundus

Common Name: Muthanga

Description of the Plant:Cyperus rotundus is a species of sedge belongs to the family Cyperaceae. The perennial grass grows up to 30 cm of height. Leaves crowded in the base, about 10-20 cm long, linear, acuminate, flat, one nerved; spikelets in compound umbels. Nut grayish black colored. The root system of a young plant initially forms white, fleshy rhizomes. Some rhizomes grow upward in the soil and form a bulb-like structure from which new shoots and roots grow, and from the new roots, new rhizomes grow. Other rhizomes grow horizontally or downward, and form dark reddish-brown tubers or chains of tubers

Medicinal Properties: In modern ayurvedic medicine uses the plant for treating fevers, digestive system disorders, dysmenorrhea and other maladies.  Plant pacifies vitiated kapha, pitta, diarrhea, indigestion, anorexia, fever, and urinary retention. Increases and purifies breast milk. Recent studies recommend the plant to treat nausea, fever and inflammation; for pain reduction; for muscle relaxation and many other disorders.

Useful parts: Root tuber.

 

 

Orila

 

Scientific Name: Desmodim gangeticum

Common Name: Orila

Description of the Plant: Desmodim gangeticum is a plant in the Fabaceae family. The plant is a sub-tropical perennial spreading herb that grows in dry hilly areas. It is found in all over the areas that are upto the height of 5000 feet.

Medicinal Properties: It is a general tonic and aphrodisiac, has a calming, sedative effect and also used control inflammation, fever and neurological imbalances.  The plant has unique medicinal value to regulate the function of the nervous system, venous system and arterial system.

Useful Part: Whole Plant

 

 

Nelli

 

Scientific Name: Emblica officinalis

Common Name: Nelli

Description of the Plant: Emblica officinalis is the the Indian gooseberry, is a deciduous tree of the Phyllanthaceae family.  The tree is small to medium sized, reaching 8 to 18 m in height, with a crooked trunk and spreading branches. The branchlets are glabrous or finely pubescent, 10–20 cm long, usually deciduous; the leaves simple, subsessile and closely set along branchlets, light green, resembling pinnate leaves. The flowers are greenish-yellow. The fruit is nearly spherical, light greenish yellow, quite smooth and hard on appearance, with 6 vertical stripes or furrows.

Medicinal Properties: Emblica officinalis is aperient, carminative, diuretic, aphrodasiac, laxative, astringent and refrigerant. It is the richest known source of vitamin 'C'. It is useful in anaemia, jaundice, dyspepcia, haemorrhage disorders, diabetes, asthma and bronchitis. It cures insomnia and is healthy for hair. It is considered as one of the most rejuvenating drugs, imparting a long healthy life and weight gain. It also acts as an antacid and antitumorganic agent. All parts of the plant are used in various herbal preparations, including the fruit, seed, leaves, root, bark and flowers. According to Ayurveda, it is specific to pitta due to its sweet taste and cooling energy.

Useful Part: Whole Plant

 

 

Menthonni

 

Scientific Name: Gloriosa superba

Common Name: Menthonni

Description of the Plant: Gloriosa superba, tender, tuberous rooted deciduous perennials, Belongs to the plant family Liliaceae. Leaves simple, subsessile, alternate, lanceolate, with acuminate tips, extended to tendrils. Flowers handsome, solitary, first yellow colored then changes to scarlet red. Fruits oblong capsules, with many small round seeds.

Medicinal Properties: Plant pacifies vitiated kapha, indigestion, fever, arthritis, obstructed labor, cardio-myopathy, skin diseases, in higher dose or without purification, it is highly poisonous.

Useful Part: Rhizome.

 

 

Kumizhu

 

Scientific Name: Gmelina arborea

Common name: Kumizhu

Description of the Plant:Gmelina arborea is a fast growing deciduous tree belongs to the family Lamiaceae. It is found scattered in deciduous forests throughout the greater parts of India and the Andamans, up to an altitude of 5,000 ft. It is also planted in gardens and avenues. It is an unarmed tree. The bark is smooth and whitish grey. The leaves are opposite, broadly ovate, cordate and glandular. The flowers are in terminal panicles and brownish yellow in color. The drupe is fleshy, ovoid with 1 or 2 seeds.

Medicinal Properties: The root and bark of Gmelina arborea are stomachic, galactagogue laxative and anthelmintic; improve appetite, useful in hallucination, piles, abdominal pains, burning sensations, fevers, 'tridosha' and urinary discharge. Leaf paste is applied to relieve headache and juice is used as wash for ulcers. In Ayurveda it has been observed that the fruit is acrid, sour, bitter, sweet, cooling, diuretic tonic, aphrodisiac, alternative astringent to the bowels, promote growth of hairs, useful in 'vata', thirst, anaemia, leprosy, ulcers and vaginal discharge.

Useful Parts:  Roots, Fruits, Flowers and Leaves

 

Red Listed Medicinal Plants

Vayambu

Acorus calamus L.

Karimuthukku

Adenia hondala (Gaertn.) de Willde

Koovalam

Aegle marmelos (L.) Correa

Nagadhanthi

Baliospermum montanum (Willd.) Muell.-Arg.

Panthapayyin

Canarium strictum Roxb.

Jothishmathi

Celastrus paniculatus Willd.

Maramanjal

Coscinium fenestratum (Gaertn.) Colebr.

Veezhal

Embelia ribes Burm. f.

Menthoni

Gloriosa superba L.

Adapathiyan

Holostemma ada-kodien Schult.

Karimkurinji

Strobilanthes ciliatus Nees

Palakapayyani

Oroxylum indicum (L.) Benth. ex Kurz

Thippali

Piper longum L.

Moovila

Pseudarthria viscida (L.) Wight & Arn.

Rakthachandanam

Pterocarpus santalinus L.f.

Amalpori

Rauvolfia serpentina (L.) Benth. ex Kurz

Ekanayakam

Salacia fruticosa Heyne ex Lawson

Asokam

Saraca asoca (Roxb.) de Wilde

Chandanam

 Santalum album L.

Pachothi

Symplocos cochinchinensis (Lour.) Moore ssp. laurina (Retz.) Nooteb.

Neermaruthu

Terminalia cuneata Roth

Chittamruthu

Tinospora cordifolia (Willd.) Miers.


Source: www.keralaforest.org              

Medicinal Plant Species of Conservation concern Identified for Kerala

Medicinal Plants Kerala