If there is one chronic health malady plaguing the populace all over the globe, and even defying the ever-growing medical facilities, it undoubtedly has to be Diabetes. Medically termed Diabetes mellitus, this severe metabolic, chronic malady primarily affects how the body makes use of the dissolved sugar or glucose in the blood and the presence of blood insulin respectively. If not dealt with on time, high blood sugar or relatively low blood sugar levels can cause severe damage to the vital organs like the heart, kidneys, pancreas, eyes etc.
While the chronic stage of the condition may require mainstream medical intervention, if you have borderline diabetes, want to keep the medically treated blood sugar levels under control or simply prefer the natural way, trust us when we say, Himsra can be your saviour. Ayurveda, holistic science of alternative healing practice brings us a wealth of herbs, spices and home remedies that offer a solution to almost all medical conditions. And one such incredible Ayurvedic herb imbued with ‘Madumeha nashini’ quality is Himsra.
What Is Himsra?
Himsra, a.k.a Caper Bush is a perennial plant known for its fleshy leaves and large striking white to pinkish-white blossoms. The name Caper Bush was bestowed owing to its Capers, the raw flower buds of this plant that possesses a characteristic tangy, pungent, exotic taste making it an integral component of Mediterranean cuisines. Himsra is an extremely significant herb as every part of it, right from the roots, leaves, stems, buds and flowers have curative qualities and are used for folk remedies. While the presence of anti-diabetic properties, helps people assuage diabetes by taking Himsra, the antioxidant and anti-inflammatory qualities of the herb help in remedying liver anomalies and relieving arthritic pain respectively.
How To Identify Himsra?
Himsra, which goes by the botanical name Capparis sepiaria, belongs to the Capparaceae family. It is a climbing, prickly shrub of evergreen origin that grows to a height of 3 meters. It has cylindrical tapered roots and thin prickly stems. The leaves of Himsra are small, dark-green, ovate and semi-succulent. Flower buds or capers usually develop in the third year of plantation and they are hand-picked in the early hours of the morning before the bud blossoms. If the flowers are allowed to mature, they usually give way to large pinkish-white detailed flowers which then ultimately produce oblong, multi-seeded berries, also known as Caper berries. Be it the Caper buds, Caper berries or the young shoots of Himsra, they taste wonderful when pickled or cooked in other cuisines.
While the plant ideally prefers a warm, humid environment, it can even tolerate and thrive well in extreme drought conditions. It naturally grows in abundance all over Greece, Italy, North Africa, Australia and some Asia Minor regions like Afghanistan and India. In India, it is widely distributed from Punjab to Rajasthan and extends to the Deccan Peninsula. It is also cultivated in the plains, lower Himalayas, and the Western Ghats.
Common Names Of Himsra
Though the plant is exotic, it is now cultivated in several parts of the world. In the Indian subcontinent, it has already made its way into the home remedies of several cultures owing to its wide range of properties. Some of its common names include:
Kannada: Kaadu kathari, Kattiri gida, Mullukattari, Katharimullinagida
English: Hedge caper, the Wild caper bush
Sanskrit: Ahimsra, Gridhranakhi, Himsra, Kantaka, Tikshno, Tikshnagandhaln, Kanthari
Hindi: Aundi, Chaili, Chhail, Kabara, Hainsaa, Kanthara
Malayalam: Kakkathondi, Kapparo
Tamil: Cirukattiri, Peykkattiri, Kattukathiri
Telugu: Nalla uppi, Kokilakshamu
Marathi: Kanthar, Maastodi, Kabar
Punjabi: Barar, Kaur
Phyto-chemical Constituents Of Himsra
Himsra is imbued with a plethora of pharmacological components like flavonoids, glycosides, saponins, starch and terpenoids. It also comprises significant entities like Glucobrassicin, neoglucobrassicin, 4-methoxyglucobrassicin, alkaloid stachydrine, 3-hydroxystachydrine, glucosinolates, sinigrin, glucoiberin, glucoraphanin, glucocleomin and glucocapangatin. Capers buds are a storehouse of essential vitamins and other nutrients such as Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Vitamin E, Vitamin K, Vitamin B2, Vitamin B3, Vitamin B12, iron, potassium, sodium and fibres.
Laden with this impressive profile of constituents, Himsra innately exhibits anti-diabetic, antioxidant, antiviral, immunomodulatory, anti-inflammatory, anti-biliary, anti-depressant, carminative, anti-microbial, anti-parasitic, bronchodilatory properties which primarily helps in the treatment and management of diabetes, oxidative damage, liver problems, psychotic issues, digestive anomalies like indigestion, constipation, arthritis, respiratory woes, worm infestations, dental problems, and even maladies related to the skin.
Ayurvedic Indications Of Himsra
Ayurveda, the holistic science of herbal remedies has broadly appraised this herb in several ayurvedic scriptures and journals for various indications which include:
- Prameha (manages diabetes),
- Mehahara (treats urinary tract disorders),
- Rasayani (rejuvenates the whole body),
- Deepana (enhances stomach fire),
- Pachana (helps in digestion),
- Rochana (stimulates appetite),
- Anulomana (improves breathing),
- Vayasthapana (prevents ageing),
- Kasahara (relieves cough)
- Shwasha (relieves breathing difficulties),
- Amahara (treats indigestion),
- Dahahara (relieves burning sensation),
- Trutahara (relieves excessive thirst),
- Kantya (relieves sore throat),
- Triptighno (relieves pseudo-satiation),
- Hridaya (treats heart problems),
- Chakushya (treats eye problems),
- Shonitasthapana (prevents bleeding),
- Pandu (treats anaemia),
- Raktamandala (treats ringworm infections),
- Kustha (treats skin disorders),
- Kamala (prevents jaundice),
- Medhya (improves intelligence),
- Varnya (improves complexion),
- Krimihara (relieves intestinal worms),
- Krichra (treats painful micturition)
Health Benefits Of Himsra
Himsra is an excellent herb for managing Diabetes, a.k.a Madhumeha by improving metabolism due to its Tikta (bitter) and Ushna (hot) properties and Kapha-Vata balancing doshas. The excellent anti-glycemic nature of the herb plays an exemplary role in ameliorating the blood sugar levels of the body. This herb readily activates the pancreas and boosts the secretion of a balanced amount of Insulin and also supervises the metabolism of carbohydrates. This action readily helps the extra glucose circulating in the blood to get converted into glycogen which in turn inhibits sudden spikes in the blood sugar level. It is a natural herb that assists diabetic patients to retain control over the glucose levels in the blood naturally.
Remedies Pain And Inflammation
Himsra innately possesses powerful analgesic and anti-inflammatory properties in addition to Vata reducing quality, which is extremely beneficial in curtailing joint and muscle pain, thereby reducing the chances of chronic autoimmune inflammatory diseases like Rheumatoid arthritis or Amavata and Osteoarthritis or Shandhivata which chiefly occurs due to the vitiation of Vata Doshas in the joints and bones. Additionally, being a natural vasodilator, it is also used to deal with painful muscle spasms, sore muscles, gout and various other arthritic conditions.
Aids Weight Loss
The wealth of alkaloids and flavonoids in the herb helps the body remove excess weight faster. Owing to its property to vitiate AMA doshas from the body and appetite suppressant action, Himsra plays a key role in removing unwanted toxins from the body, satiating sudden hunger pangs and deterring one from overeating. Hence, consuming this every morning on empty stomach plays a pivotal role in one’s weight loss regimen. The herb also decreases the accumulation of LDL (i.e., Low-Density Lipoproteins or bad cholesterol) in the body, thereby improving metabolism and helping the body maintain a proper weight.
Thanks to the presence of specific flavonoids, the root extract of Himsra helps in preventing and treating different infectious conditions. Additionally, Himsra possesses strong anti-fungal, antibacterial, and anti-parasitic properties that primarily inhibit the growth and multiplication of fungi responsible for fungal infections, and parasites causing intestinal worm infestation in the stomach and other parts of the body.
Augments Skin Health
The antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties characterized by the incredible herb showcase blood purifying activity. It also eliminates toxins from the blood and hence helps in managing skin diseases. The application of this herb powder is extremely useful in managing inflammatory conditions like eczema, skin eruptions, boils, psoriasis, scabies, pimples, and acne. Not only does Himsra prevent oxidative radical damage to the skin but also arrests the various signs of ageing like blemishes, dark circles, wrinkles, fine lines, spots, pigmentation etc and helps to bestow a crystal-clear skin.
Make a paste of powdered dry Himsra roots and water and apply it all over the skin or affected areas to get rid of parched skin and also treat other skin maladies.
Culinary Uses Of Himsra
- Caper buds are pickled and used as a flavouring in dressings, salads and other food items etc.
- Caper fruits and tender branch tips can also be pickled and used as a seasoning ingredient
- Capers act as a key ingredient to generate flavour in a variety of sauces including remoulade or tartare
- Pickled buds are used as a topping in pizzas and dressing antipasto salads
- They are commonly used in cooking meat dishes, salads, pasta salads, and pasta sauces.
- Capers are recognized for being one of the ingredients of tartar sauce.
- They are often served with cold smoked salmon or cured salmon dishes to enhance their taste
- Dried caper leaves are also used as an alternative for rennet in the manufacturing of high-quality cheese.
Effect On Doshas
Himsra, the miracle herb for diabetes, is blessed with Tikta Rasa (i.e., bitter taste) and Laghu (i.e., light) and Rukshna Guna (i.e., rough quality). It inherently depicts Ushna Virya (i.e., hot potency) and Katu Vipaka (i.e., pungent metabolic taste). Being rough and light, it curtains the vitiated Vata (i.e. air) and Kapha (earth and water) doshas, whereas having a pungent metabolic taste and hot potency, the herb often aggravates the Pitta (fire and air) doshas. Owing to the existence of the inherent important properties and doshas, the herb has an optimistic effect on the various Dhatus (i.e. body tissues) which are Rasa (i.e. Plasma), Rakta (i.e. Blood), Mamsa (i.e. Muscles), Asthi (i.e. Bones) and Shukra (i.e. Reproductive Fluids).
The crucial remedial dosage of Himsra may differ from person to person relying upon the age, body strength, effects on appetite, and severity of the condition. It is strictly advised to consult an ayurvedic doctor or medical practitioner as he or she would analyze the patient’s indications, and past medical conditions and prescribe a beneficial dose for a specific period.
Churna/ Powder: 1-1.5 gm twice a day or as directed by the Ayurvedic physician
While Himsra has been regarded as safe to consume and is documented to be extremely beneficial in treating umpteen diseases, it is still crucial to consume it in the prescribed amount. Since the capers naturally contain high amounts of water, excessive intake can cause bloating and oedema. People suffering from high blood pressure or on a low sodium diet should avoid consuming an excess of the caper supplement or in foods as the presence of sodium in it make increases pressure. Patients going through any surgical procedure may have to avert consuming Himsra supplement or caper buds in foods as they act as a blood thinner and may result in excessive bleeding.
Since there is not enough reliable information regarding the consumption of Caper buds, berries or the herb extract in case of pregnancy and lactation, those who are pregnant or are breast-feeding their little ones, are strictly prohibited to consume the herb in any form without the consent of their treating doctor.
Frequently Asked Questions
Does Himsra Relieve Hair Problems?
Himsra has been a blessing for concocting folk remedies that help promote hair growth since ancient times. Owing to the inherent anti-microbial and anti-inflammatory properties, the herb treats various scalp and hair infections like folliculitis, itching and dandruff. It nurtures the hair follicles with essential nutrients, improves blood circulation in the scalp and strengthens the hair shafts from the roots. Regularizing the secretion of the stress hormone Cortisol, it also impedes hair fall and breakage due to stress and anxiety.
Does Himsra Help In Enhancing Digestion?
Although a secondary indication, Himsra is known as an outstanding digestive herb. The appetizing property of the Capers obtained from Himsra decreases the formation of gas in the alimentary canal, thus deterring flatulence, bloating and abdominal distension. Consuming formulation containing this herb daily also diminishes indigestion, increases appetite, and enhanced sufficient absorption of nutrients in the body tissues. The multitude of bioactive constituents present in the herb also helps in staving off various intestinal infections.
Extract the juice of Himsra bark and drink it twice a day to treat constipation and ward off stomach infections.
Do Himsra Safeguards Liver Functions?
Granted with hepatoprotective and anti-biliary components, Himsra is an outstanding natural solution to rectify all liver-related woes. By governing the blood cholesterol levels, and lipid balance and dispelling all impurities, and toxins from blood circulation, Himsra acts as an effective detoxifying herb and an impressive liver tonic. Consuming Himsra powder diluted in warm water aids in preventing cirrhosis, repairing necrosis, and fatty liver symptoms in hepatic tissues.
Does Himsra Assist In Curing Respiratory Anomalies?
Himsra is a beneficial ayurvedic herb for all sorts of Kapha worsening disorders. The wealth of active constituents in the powdered herb extract offers an ultimate antidote for treating respiratory disorders like asthma, bronchitis, COPD, cough and cold symptoms. It also helps in eliminating mucus deposits from the respiratory tract and provides comfort from sore throat, cough and congestion.
Does Himsra Help In Regulating Blood Pressure?
Himsra acts as a natural antihypertensive agent which governs the blood pressure levels and keeps them under check. Owing to the presence of sodium in the Caper buds, Himsra holds high value in low-pressure conditions. Enhancing the heart functions, improves cardiovascular endurance which brings the blood pressure to a stable level and maintains balanced readings. Thanks to the cardio-tonic property of Caper buds and berries, Himsra is quite effective in treating mild to moderate hypotensive conditions and prevents pre-hypotensive activity.