CHIRAYTA

INDIAN NAME

Chirata, Bhoonimba

BOTANICAL NAME

Swertia chirata

ORIGIN, DISTRIBUTION, AND CHEMICAL COMPOSITION

Chirata as a herb falls in the category of bitters. It is an annual herb indigenous to temperate Himalaya. It consists of entire plant of Swertia chirata (Scartezzini and Speroni, 2000) belonging to family Gentianaceae. The drug grows in the Himalayan region, from Kashmir to Bhutan at elevations between 1200 and 3000 m and in Naga and Kliasi hills. It is also found growing in Uttarakhand, Sikkim, and Arunachal Pradesh. The plant bears alternate leaves and small flowers in a raceme arrangement. In medicinal practice, whole plants or broken pieces of the drug are employed. The plant has indistinct odor and a bitter taste. Xanthones are the main chemicals found in the Swertia species. Xanthones are present as parent polyhydrox- ylated compounds, but most of them present in the drug belong to mono- or polymethyl ethers or are found as glycosides (Hostettmann and Miura, 1977). The drug contains bitter principle ophelic acid, chiratin, and amaro- gentin. It also contains alkaloids, lignans, flavonoids, teipenoids, iridoids, and so forth. The pharmacological efficacy of S. chirayita can be attributed to the presence of major phytoconstituents that include amarogentin (Ray et al, 1996), swertiamarin (Lie et al., 1982), mangiferin, swerchirin (Axino et al., 1997), sweroside, amaroswerin, gentiopicrin, and so forth.

HEALTH BENEFITS

INTESTINAL WORMS

Chirayta possesses anthelmintic activity and is thus useful for the treatment of helminthiasis.

DIGESTIVE PROBLEMS

Being bitter, the drug has a direct action on the salivary and gastric cells. Secretion of saliva and gastric juices helps in the prevention of nausea, bloating, hiccups, and indigestion.

DIABETES

Animal studies on the drug showed that the drug normalizes the elevated sugar level and thus helps in the management of diabetes (Saxena et al., 1991, 1993; Sekar et al., 1987).

MALARIA

Infusion of the herb is a traditional remedy used as a preventive measure during malaria epidemics.

GENERAL TONIC

The drug acts as a general tonic for the heart, liver, and eyes.

FENUGREEK

INDIAN NAME

Methi Dana

BOTANICAL NAME

Trigonella foemtm graceum

ORIGIN, DISTRIBUTION, AND CHEMICAL COMPOSITION

Fenugreek is an erect, scented, and robust annual herb attaining a height of up to 30-80 cm; it consists of dried seeds of Trigonella foemtm graceum belonging to family Fabaceae. This herb is native to the Mediterranean region, and in India, it is cultivated as a vegetable and for seeds. In culinary practice, seeds are used as a spice to give an aromatic taste to curry. It bears light green color compound leaves that are 1.5-2.5 cm in length. During summer, white color flowers appear that finally develop into long, slender, yellow pods containing seeds. Seeds are dark yellow to buff, hard, and angular. Upon soaking in water, seeds gets swell due to the presence of mucilage. Seeds have characteristic aromatic odor and bitter mucilaginous taste. Its leaves are used in the fresh form as a vegetable and are a good source of moisture, proteins, calcium, fibers, and carbohydrates. I foemtm graecnm seeds are a rich source of protein (20%-30%), high in tryptophan and lysine; free amino acids (arginine, lysine, 4-hydroxyisoleucine, and histidine) (25.8%); fat (6.53%); ash content (3.26%), crude fibers (6.28%); energy (394.46 kcal/100 g seed); and moisture (11.76%). The seeds contain a steroid diosgenin, a raw material for the synthesis of many steroidal compounds. The other important sapogenins present in the seeds include yamogenin, gitogenin, tigogenin, and neotigogen. Fenugreek seeds also contain alkaloids, including trigonelline, gentianine, and carpaine compounds. The fiber fenugreekine is also reported in the seeds, a component that may have hypoglycemic activity.

HEALTH BENEFITS

POLYURIA

Polyuria, also called frequent urination, is a condition generally associated with diabetes. In such cases, 2-3 g powder of fenugreek seeds can be consumed with milk to regulate urination.

DIABETES

The seeds contain trigonelline that is reported to exert hypoglycaemic activity; thus, the seeds can be used in the treatment of type-I and type-II diabetes. For this purpose, around 500 mg of seeds is soaked overnight and consumed by chewing slowly on an empty stomach in the morning (Sharrna et al., 1990).

INFLAMMATION AND PAIN

Seeds are made into poultice, warm, and applied directly on the affected part to treat local pain, muscle pain, inflammation, lymphadenitis, gouty pain, and so forth (Chauhan et al., 2010).

ARTERIOSCLEROSIS

This condition is called as “hardening of arteries.” Fenugreek seeds contain steroidal saponins (diosgenin, yamogenin, tigogenin, and neotigogenin) that are reported to inhibit cholesterol absoiption and synthesis, hence indicating its potential role in arteriosclerosis.

RHINITIS, COUGH, AND COLD

Around 2-3 g of seeds is soaked in water for 5-6 h, boiled, and filtered. The prepared decoction is used to get rid of conditions like rhinitis, cough, and cold. This decoction should be consumed at least 3 times a day.

MOUTH ULCERS

An infusion of leaves helps to cure recurrent mouth ulcers.

GASTR0PR0TECT1VE

The biological effect of fenugreek seeds {T foemmi graecum) compared to that of omeprazole was studied on ethanol-induced gastric ulcers in animal models, and it was revealed that the aqueous extract and a gel fraction isolated from the seeds have significant ulcer-protective properties.

The leaves boiled and fried in butter help to remove biliousness.

BELERIC MYROBALAN

INDIAN NAME

Bahera, Bibhitaki

BOTANICAL NAME

Terminalia belerica

ORIGIN, DISTRIBUTION, AND CHEMICAL COMPOSITION

Terminalia belerica is a large deciduous tree, 50 m tall and up to 3 m in diameter with a round crown. The plant is native to India; its more than 100 species are distributed throughout the world. This tree is grown as an avenue tree and can be found growing in lower hills and plains of Southeast Asia, hr India, it is found in Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, and Rajasthan. The plant bears dark green, large, and glabrous alternate leaves. The plant has small, solitary, and greenish-white flowers with honey-like odor. The generic name “Terminalia” comes from a Latin word ‘terminus’’ or “tenninalis” (ending) and refers to the habit of the leaves being crowded or borne on the tips of the shoots. The fruits are drupes, gray-brown in color, ovoid, and have a sweet kernel inside. Its fruits are similar to Terminalia chebula but without ridges. The fruits are an ingredient of famous Ayurvedic formulation Triphala. In Ayurveda, the fruits are believed to nourish the dhatus and pacify the tridosha. Fruits are rich in tannins like gallic acid, ellagic acid, and chebulagic acid. They also contain mannitol, glucose, galactose, fructose, and rhamnose (Saroya, 2011).

HEALTH BENEFITS

EYE DISORDERS

Traditionally, the powder of fruits is mixed with water and left overnight; in the morning, the liquid is strained and is used to treat epiphora. A paste of the bark is made with honey and is used as an eyeliner to treat eye pain.

LOSS OF APPETITE

The powder of bahera fruits alone or in combination with amla and harad helps in strengthening the stomach. After the meals, up to 5 g of fruit powder can be consumed to improve digestion and help in the loss of appetite.

COUGH

It is a household remedy for cough. Traditionally, the fruit is fried in cow ghee and covered with wheat flour and roasted again. This recipe is used to cure cough and catarrh.

CONSTIPATION

The pulp of half-ripe fruits can be used to treat constipation; however, dried fruits should be avoided as they have a completely opposite effect (Ghani, 2003).

DIARRHEA

Traditionally, roasted fruits of bahera are used to treat diarrhea.

RHEUMATISM

Seed oil is applied to swollen joints to treat rheumatic inflammation.

PHARMACOLOGICAL PROPERTIES

It possesses analgesic, antidiarrhoeal, antihypertensive, anti-Sahnonella, antispasmodic, bronchodilator, and antimicrobial activities as reported in various scientific studies.

ISAPGOL

INDIAN NAME

Isabgol

BOTANICAL NAME

Plantago ovata

ORIGIN, DISTRIBUTION, AND CHEMICAL COMPOSITION

Isabgol plant is a small, hairy annual herb. Isapgol word is a combination of two different words Isap meaning horse and gol/ghula meaning ear because the seeds have the shape of an ear of a horse. The plant is indigenous to the Mediterranean region and West Asia. It is also cultivated in Spain, Cuba, and France. At present, India is the largest exporter of psyllium seeds. In India, the plant is cultivated for commercial purposes in Gujarat, Rajasthan, Punjab, and Maharashtra. The factoiy for psyllium husk is situated in Sidhpur, Gujarat. It consists of cleaned, dried, and ripe seeds of Plantago ovata belonging to family Plantaginaceae. RI-87, 89, GI-1, 2, HI-1, 2, and MIB-121 are some of the famous varieties of Plantago. The seeds are small, 1-2 mm in length, reddish-brown, and odorless but with a bland and mucilaginous taste. The outer seed coat contains about 30% mucilage

(hydrocolloidal polysaccharide), fixed oil, steroids, tannins, proteins, and iridoid glycoside acubin. It is mainly composed of xylose, arabinose, and galacturonic acid with rhamnose and galactose. Two polysaccharide fractions are isolated h orn its mucilage. Of which, one is soluble in cold water and on hydrolysis produces D-xylose (46%), aldobiouronic acid (40%), L-arabinose (7%), and insoluble residue (2%), while the other fraction is soluble in hot water fonning a highly viscous solution that sets to a gel on cooling and yields on hydrolysis D-xylose (80%), L-arabinose (14%), aldobiouronic acid (0.3%), and traces of D-galactose.

HEALTH BENEFITS

CONSTIPATION

Psyllium husk or commonly called Isabgol Ki Bhusi is one of the common remedies for constipation. It is generally soaked in water or curd before its use. It works as the osmotic laxative by increasing the mass of stool and thus facilitating its passage. The action is mechanical more than physiological (Voderholzer et al., 1997).

RHEUMATISM

An emollient poultice of crushed seeds is applied to rheumatic and glandular swelling.

NOCTURNAL EMISSION

According to Ayurveda, the nature of the drug is cold, which has a cooling effect on the body and thus reduces the excitement.

DRY COUGH AND SORE THROAT

Pudding made up of psyllium husk produces instant relief in the scratchy throat due to its emollient action and reduces the frequency of dry cough.

OBESITY AND CHOLESTEROL LOWERING

Psyllium husk is one of the richest sources of dietaiy fibers. Intake of dietary fibers can help in lowering the concentration of LDL in plasma. Psyllium intake has consistently shown significant reductions in plasma low-density lipoprotein cholesterol levels ranging from 10% to 24%, according to a scientific study (Anderson et al., 1987).

Isabgol preparations are given after colostomy to assist in the production of smooth solid fecal mass. The mucilage is not digested by enzymes and intestinal bacteria in the gut and comes out unchanged. Jelly-like mucilage absorbs irritating products and toxins of the gut and they are expelled from the body.

HERBS AS NUTRACEUTICALS

The word nutraceuticals is a combination of two words, namely, nutritive and pharmaceutical, means a food stuff (as a fortified food or dietary supplement) that provides health benefits. According to Defelice, “nutraceuticals are food or part of a food that provides medical or health benefits including the prevention and/or treatment of a disease” (Trottier et al., 2010). Nutraceuticals or functional foods are classified according to their natural sources, pharmacological categories, and/or chemical constituents present in the products.

Nutraceuticals are nonspecific biological therapies used to promote wellness, prevent malignant processes, and control symptoms. These can be grouped into the following three broad categories (Hathcock, 2001):

  • 1. Substances with established nutritional functions, such as vitamins, minerals, amino acids, and fatty acids—nutrients.
  • 2. Herbs or botanical products as concentrates and extracts—herbals.
  • 3. Reagents produced from other sources (e.g., pyruvate, chondroitin sulfate, and steroid hormone precursors) serving specific functions, such as sports nutrition, weight-loss supplements, and meal replacements—dietary supplements.

Herbs or their extracts can be used as functional foods, that is, food products that can be consumed as a part of the common diet to have beneficial effects that go beyond basic nutritional function.

The most rapidly growing segment of nutraceuticals is herbal/natural products followed by dietaiy supplements. The generation of scientific research linked foods of plant origin and health has resulted in understanding that plant bioactive compounds have antioxidant and other health-promoting properties (Dahiya, 2013).

Table 4.1 shows some of the herbs used as nutraceuticals.

TABLE 4.1 Some of the Herbs Used as Nutraceuticals

Common

Name

Biological Source

Nutraceutieals

Applications

Turmeric

Rliizomes of Curcuma longer, Zingiberaceae

Curcumin

Antioxidant, anticancer, antiinflammatory, antimicrobial, antidiabetic, antiviral, cardiovascular diseases, and so forth

Licorice

Dried stem and roots of Glycyirhiza glabra; Leguminosae

Glycyrrhizin and Liquiritin

Anti-inflammatory,

expectorant

Birring Raj

Fresh plants of Eclipta; Compositae

Ecliptine,

Wedelolactone

Hepatic tonic, deobstruent, and anticancer

Ginger

Rliizomes of Zingiber officinale; Zingiberaceae

Zingiberene, Shogaols, and Gingerols (Semwal etal.,2015)

Anticancer, anti-oxidant, antimicrobial, antiinflammatory, and antiallergic

Bael

Unripe fruits or slices of Aegle mennelos Corn; Rutaceae

Marmelosin (Bhattacherjee etal.,2016; Bramliachari and Reddy, 2010)

Antibacterial, antihistaminic, antiartliritic, digestive, demulcent, stomachic, nutritive, and antidiabetic

Garlic

Dried bulbs of Allium sativum; Liliaceae

Allin and Allicin (Touloupakis and Ghanotakis, 2010)

Antimicrobial, antiparasitic, antifungal, antiviral, antiinflammatory, cholesterollowering, and antioxidant

Onion

Dried bulbs of Allium сера; Liliaceae

Allin and Allicin

Improves blood circulation, antibacterial, and anticancer

Ashwa-

gandlia

Dried roots of Withania somnifera Dubai; Solanaceae

Witlianoloide A (Aklioon et al.; 2018)

Cancer

Punarnava

Herbs of Boerhaavia Diffusa; Nyctaginaceae

Punamavine (Manu and Kuttan, 2009)

Immunomodulator

Shatavar

Dried tuberous roots of Asparagus racemosus Willd; Liliaceae

Asparagine (Veena et al., 2014)

Anti-oxidant,

immunomodulator

KEYWORDS

  • health
  • health management
  • herb
  • herbalism
  • nutraceuticals
  • basil
  • cumin

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