Saturday, August 29, 2009

Vinca, the Always Cheerful

In India, Vinca is known as Sadabahar, which means always cheerful. Ihe plant has flowers throughout the year. It does not need any special care . It thrives in poor soils also.
The flowers are many colours , the most common being the white and the pink . Vinca which is a tropical and subtropical plant has been used in Indian and Chinese traditional medicine since centuries. In India, it is used to treat diabetes and malaria and for insect bites. It is also used to treat certain cancers. The substances, Vinblastine and Vincristine obtained from Vinca are used in the treatment of leukemia. The patenting of medicines from vinca has given rise to controversy as Vinca has been used for thousands of years in India and China for its medicinal properties.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Butterfly Pea

The butterfly Pea, Clitoria ternatea, is a wild flower which one encounters on walks in the woods. It has two colours, white and blue. There is a single and a double variety too. It is called Shankha Pushpa ( conch flower) in Sanskrit and Kannada.
The roots of the butterfly pea are used for curing whooping cough in children. The blue flowers are used as a food dye. The extract from plant is known to have anti oxidant properties.
The flowers are used in Ayurveda to enhance memory and sharpen the intelligence.
The Shankha Pushpa is the favourite flower of Ganesha, the Hindu god of success.

Saturday, August 15, 2009


Adhathoda Vasaka is a herb that has been used in Indian traditional medicine for centuries to alleviate cough, cold and asthma. It is also called Malabar nut . The name 'Adhathoda' comes from Tamil, which means that goats do not touch this plant.
A tea made from the leaves of the Vasaka plant is helpful in bringing up phlegm.
The plant has white flowers which attracts bees.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Indian Borage

The Indian Borage, Plectranthus amboinicus is a no-trouble plant which grows with very little fuss wherever you plant it. The leaves have a pungent smell, reminiscent of aniseed. There are two types, a green one and a vareigated one. Both are good herbs, used in cooking and healing.
The leaves alleviate cough when chewed. Ground leaves mixed with pepper and yoghurt is good for indigestion and dispepsia.
The herb looks pretty when grown in a pot.

Saturday, August 1, 2009


The hibiscus is one of the best loved flowers in India. Many varieties and colours of hibiscus are grown in Indian gardens. The flowers are used to offer in worship to Hindu deities. The red hibiscus rosa sinesis is used with coconut oil to give strength and shine to hair. The ground leaves are used as a natural shampoo.
Hibiscus is used as a food in South Kanara. Delicious preserves are made using the flower. My grandmother was given a diet of boiled hibiscus flowers when she had the typhoid, in an age when typhoid was a deadly disease, and she was cured.
Tea made of hibiscus flowers is a well known recipe for lowering blood pressure.
The white hibiscus is used in Ayurveda for kidney problems. It is a natural diuretic.
The hibiscus is the national flower of Malaysia.