Famed as the ‘King Of Bitters’, Nilavembu, is one such Siddha herb that has innumerable immune-enhancing properties like anti-pyretic, cholagogue, digestive, hepatoprotective and anti-inflammatory and has been used as a traditional remedy for treating various ailments in the Ayurvedic and Siddha systems of medicine as well as in Unani, Homeopathy, Chinese remedies, and tribal medicine. Commonly termed as ‘Kalmegh’ in Hindi, this herb is the ultimate remedy for the treatment of different types of intermittent fever, which mostly occurs in ailments like malaria, dengue fever, chronic fever, and chikungunya.
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What Is Nilavembu?
Nilavembu which goes by the botanical name, Andrographis paniculata, belongs to the Acanthaceae family. The annual herb that grows to a height of 30-110 cm is cultivated mostly around the autumn season and is widely cultivated throughout Asia. The herb bears dark green, quadrangular stems with longitudinal furrows and winged-angles at the younger parts and slightly enlarged nodes. The leaves are usually dark green, glabrous, lanceolate, pinnate and arranged in an opposite decussate manner on the stems. The flowers of these plants are usually small, whereas they have linear-oblong capsules as fruits which encloses numerous yellowish-brown, sub-quadrate seeds.
Being a potent Siddha and Ayurvedic herb, nilavembu is widely used in almost all ayurvedic formulations that are directed towards shielding the immune system and getting rid of harmful toxins. Apart from alleviating different types of infectious fever, the bitter herb also provides a traditional remedy for improving physical debility or fatigue, promoting liver functions, enhancing appetite, boosting digestion, improving metabolism and stimulating kidney functions. Be it blood disorders, skin diseases, loss of appetite, fatty liver, intestinal parasite, constipation or hepatomegaly, this extremely powerful bitter herb provides a noteworthy remedy for all.
Synonyms Of Nilavembu
This potent immune strengthening herb is also known by several vernacular names. It is known as Andrographis in English, Kirata in Sanskrit, Kriate in English, Nilavembu in Tamil, Nelavemu in Telugu, and Kiryaat in Unani scriptures.
Other names of this bitter plant include Kalmegha, Kalmegh, Green Chirata, Kirata Tikta, Vishwambhar, Hempedu Bumi, Alui, Bhumi nimbak, Yavtikta, Kalpanatha, and Bhu nimba.
What Are The Ayurvedic Indications Of Nilavembu?
The holistic science of Ayurveda knows this rejuvenative herb as Kalmegh. Time and again, this potent herb has been mentioned in several ayurvedic scriptures and journals for various indications which include Jvara (useful in fever), Kasahara (Relieves cough), Deepana (enhances stomach fire), Pachana (helps in digestion), Rochana (stimulates appetite), Anulomana (improves breathing), Vamana (prevents nausea and vomiting), Vayasthapana (prevents ageing), Shwasha (relieves breathing difficulties), Amahara (treats indigestion), Dahahara (relieves burning sensation), Mehahara (treats urinary tract disorders), Prameha (manages diabetes), Trutahara (relieves excessive thirst), Rasayani (rejuvenates the whole body), Balya (improves muscle strength), Hikkanigrahana (controls hiccups), Kantya (relieves sore throat), Triptighno (relieves pseudo-satiation), and Vamanopaga (treats emesis) Shonitasthapana (prevents bleeding), Pandu (treats anemia), Sangrahini (treats diarrhoea), Kustha (treats skin disorders), Kamala (prevents jaundice), Varnya (improves complexion), Krimihara (relieves intestinal worms), Hridaya (treats heart problems), Kanthya (improves voice), Arsha (treats piles), and Krichra (treats painful micturition).
What Are The Chemical Components Of Nilavembu?
Famed as a potent antipyretic and expectorant herb, nilavembu exhibits a rich concentration of diterpenoids, lactones, diterpene glycosides, flavonoids, and flavonoid glycosides. The main active component is considered to be andrographolide and andrographis extract that possesses numerous therapeutic properties like an anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, vermicidal, laxative, hypoglycaemic, hepatoprotective, digestive, and cholagogue.
Ayurvedic Formulation Of Nilavembu:
Nilavembu Kudineer Churnam
Touted as Nilavembu Kashayam, this powdered formulation is a well-known Siddha medicine in the southern states of the Indian subcontinent. The powerful therapeutic indications of the nine herbal components present in the Churnam offers management and prevention of different types of infections. It is also used in most ayurvedic therapeutic preparations that not only help in boosting immunity but also helps in providing relief from headache, muscle aches, body aches, loss of energy, fatigue, weakness, etc. It is also extremely beneficial for reducing joint pain, muscle pain, joint swelling and rashes associated with certain infectious diseases like chikungunya.
How To Make Nilavembu Kudineer Churnam?
1 part of Nilavembu (Kalmegh) – Andrographis Paniculata
1 part of Vetiver (Ushira or Khas) – Vetiveria Zizanioides
1 part of Vilamichai Ver – Plectranthus Vettiveroides
1 part of Mustak (Nut Grass) – Cyperus Rotundus
1 part of Safed Chandan (White Sandalwood) – Santalum Album
1 part of Sonth (Dry Ginger) – Zingiber Officinale
1 part of Kali Mirch (Black pepper) – Piper Nigrum
1 part of Chichonda (Snake Gourd) – Trichosanthes cucumerina
1 part of Parpadagam – Mollugo Cerviana
Obtain fresh parts of all the above-given herbs.
Wash them properly with water to remove soil and other impurities.
Drain the supernatant liquid containing the impurities.
Keep the herbs under the sun for a week or so until there is no moisture left.
Ground and mix the dried herbs in a grinder until it becomes a fine powder.
Air-dry the powdered mixture to remove any extra moisture.
Pass it through sieve no.100 to remove fine impurities.
Store it in cool places in airtight containers for future use.
Directions To Prepare Nilavembu Kashayam From The Churnam
Boil approximately 2-3 tbsp i.e. 10 gms of the herbal powder in 240 ml of water until the decoction reduces to ¼ of its original quantity. Strain the concoction and keep it for future use. Consume 30 to 60 ml of this warm decoction twice a day on an empty stomach. One can add palm jaggery, mishri or honey to the aqueous decoction to enhance the taste.
Dosage Of Nilavembu Kashayam
30-40 ml of the Kashayam 2-3 times a day before meals or as directed by the doctor.
30 ml of Kashayam along with wither 10ml papaya juice or 2 gms giloy churna twice daily before food or as directed by the doctor.
Therapeutic Benefits Of Nilavembu
Nilavembu For Dengue Fever
Imbued with powerful anti-viral properties, this bitter herb holds high significance in assuaging the symptoms of dengue, thereby controlling and preventing it from happening. The presence of diterpenes and andrographolides attributes towards its anti-dengue action. The plant has sturdy inhibitory effects against dengue virus serotype 1 (DENV-1). Also Read: National Dengue Day: 5 Ways To Prevent This Deadly Fever
Nilavembu For Chikungunya
The bioactive constituent andrographolide shows strong anti-CHIKV effects, that plays a pivotal role in inhibiting the Chikungunya virus from growing and replicating. Nilavembu preparations are extremely effective in reducing fever, joint pain, muscle pain, etc. For quick relief, it can be consumed alongside Ashwagandha, Giloy, Punarnava, Tulsi, and formulations like Kaishore Guggulu, Prabal Pishti, Sadanga paniya, Tribhuvan Kirti rasa, etc.
Nilavembu For Malaria
The potent anti-parasitic action of the nilavembu leaves inhibits the growth of the malarial parasite right at the ring stage and hence prevents aggravation of the infection. When used alongside ayurvedic formulations like Amritarishta, Praval Pishti, Kasish Godanti Bhasma, Laxmi Narayan Ras, Sheetbhanji Ras, Tulsi, and Mrityunjay Ras, it offers an ultimate remedial action against the malarial parasite.
Nilavembu For Influenza
Nilavembu exhibits strong anti-inflammatory and anti-viral properties owing to the presence of the bioactive constituent andrographolide. Regular usage of the nilavembu formulation not only inhibits the replication of the influenza virus but also effectively decreases the action of the inflammatory mediators responsible for inflammation of the lungs.
Nilavembu For Liver Problems
Famed as ‘Sarva roga niramani’, nilavembu leaves possess potent hepatoprotective and hepatostimulative properties which makes it a magical remedy during jaundice, in which the liver gets mostly effected. For getting relief from liver problems, or jaundice, consume a mixture of 1gm of Nilavembu leaf powder, 1-2 gm of Bhumi amla/Tamalki powder, 2gm of mulethi/licorice powder in 200 ml water. Boil the water till it reduces to ¼ quantity i.e. 50 ml. Strain and drink the concoction to prevent and manage liver anomalies.
Other Benefits Of Nilavembu
Remedies Heart Troubles
This bitter herb is also known for its cardio-protective nature. It holds high significance in treating a host of heart ailments. Owing to its strong antioxidative nature, it strengthens the heart muscles, prevents lipid build up in them, and hence reduces the risk of heart attacks, heart blocks, blood clots, etc. It not only plays a crucial role in lowering the levels of cholesterol in the blood but also dilates blood vessels and normalises blood flow, hence managing high blood pressure. Also Read: Top 10 Superfoods For A Healthy Heart
Fights Respiratory Issues
Nilavembu is considered to be a well-known traditional remedy for all sorts of respiratory troubles. Having powerful anti-inflammatory, anti-biotic, and anti-asthmatic properties, the leaves of this plant plays a pivotal role in treating the common cold, cough and flu symptoms. It also thins and loosens rheum deposits within the chest and nasal cavities and hence eases breathing and helps the body to get rid of mucus. It is also beneficial in treating bronchitis and asthmatic conditions. The daily intake of this herb strengthens the lung tissues and enhances lung health. Also Read: 5 Home Remedies To Soothe Sore Throat And Cough
The anti-inflammatory and anti-ulcer properties of nilavembu leaves hold high significance in treating different types of ulcers like ulcerative colitis, peptic ulcer, canker sores or mouth ulcers, etc. The bioactive compound andrographolide plays a crucial role in healing mouth and gastric ulcers. It also helps to speed up the healing process in the inflamed mucosal layer and reduce the risk of ulceration.
Shields Against Infections
The biochemical compounds present in this bitter herb has been used since ancient times to battle germs and shield the body against various infections. Thanks to its strong anti-viral, anti-bacterial, and antifungal properties, nilavembu is not only used for removing bacteria or germs from the body but also used for treating and healing wounds. The bio-active ingredients also help in reducing general debility, weakness, and fatigue and improve the vitality of the body. Also Read: Top 8 Ayurvedic Formulations That Can Bolster Your Immunity
Aids In Digestion
The excellent carminative and digestive properties of nilavembu leaves make it a one-stop solution for all digestive woes. The anti-flatulent property reduces the formation of gas in the alimentary canal, thus reducing flatulence, constipation, bloating and abdominal distension. The antacid property of the herb prevents the formation of excessive acids in the stomach thereby treating indigestion, ulcer, gastritis and promoting better absorption of nutrients in the body. Also Read: 5 Herbs For A Healthy Digestive System
The exceptional hypoglycaemic property of nilavembu plays a pivotal role in pacifying the blood sugar levels in the body. The production of insulin from the β-pancreatic cells becomes active in taking nilavembu formulations. It helps to reduce the breakdown of starch into glucose which in turn leads to low blood glucose levels and thus helps in managing diabetes.
The abundance of anti-inflammatory and anti-arthritic properties of the bioactive ingredients in nilavembu leaves makes it the ultimate choice for providing relief from pain and inflammation due to arthritis. It is also extremely effective against Rheumatoid arthritis which is known as Amavata in ayurveda. Amavata is generally caused due to vitiation of Vata doshas and accumulation of Ama in the joints.
Taking nilavembu on a regular basis helps in controlling the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis. It diminishes Ama by improving the digestive fire and thus helps in balancing the Vata doshas due to its Ushna (i.e. hot) nature.
Relieves Skin Disorders:
The antioxidant, antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties portrayed by nilavembu leaves offer blood purifying activity. Owing to the Tikta (bitter) taste and Pitta balancing property, it removes toxins from the blood and hence helps to manage skin diseases. It is also extremely useful in managing skin eruptions, boils, and scabies.
The precise healing dosage of the nilavembu herb may vary from person to person depending upon the age, severity, and condition of the patient. One must consult an ayurvedic doctor or practitioner, as he or she will thoroughly examine the indications and prescribe the effective dosage for a specific period of time.
The minimum therapeutic dosage for adults for the specific formulations of nilavembu is given below. It is usually consumed 2-3 times a day preferably with luke-warm water, before meals or as advised by the doctor.
For Adults - 5 to 10 ml
For Adults - 1 to 3 grams
Nilavembu Decoction (Kwath):
For Adults - 20 to 40 ml
How To Take Nilavembu For Specific Indications?
Clean and dry the entire Nilavembu plant in shade
Boil 3-4 gms of the plant in water till the quantity of water reduces to one fourth.
Consume this decoction twice a day. You can avoid the bitter taste by adding 1 tsp of honey to it.
Take 1gm of Nilavembu leaf churna, 1-2 gms of Bhumi amla powder and 2gms of mulethi powder.
Boil the powdered mixture in about 200 ml of water till it reduces to ¼ of the quantity.
Strain the mixture and drink up the solution raw or add a teaspoon of honey to it.
Make a mixture of 2gms of each nilavembu churna, amla powder, and Mulethi powder and boil the mixture in 400 ml water.
Continue boiling the mixture until the water quantity reduces to ¼.
Strain and drink the concoction.
Effect On Doshas For Nilavembu:
Nilavembu showcases Tikta (i.e. bitter) Rasa. It is blessed with Rukhsha (light) and Tikshna (i.e. piercing) gunas. It has Ushna Virya (hot potency) and Madhura Vipaka (sweet metabolic property). The bioactive ingredients in this bitter herb balance the Pitta (fire and air) doshas and Kapha (earth and water) doshas and often aggravates the Vata (air) doshas.
Owing to the dry and penetrating qualities, the herb helps to cut through the thick rheum matter caused due to increased kapha doshas, and it also reduces pitta and kapha doshas in the head and chest, helping to uphold a normal body temperature. Additionally, nilavembu also supports a healthy respiratory tract, sinuses, and throat, and can even be used externally to help balance surplus levels of pitta doshas in the skin. The bitter and cooling qualities of Kalmegh helps balance the raised pitta levels in the blood and stagnant pitta doshas in the liver (i.e. ranjaka pitta), promoting liver function, and stimulating the production of bile. The potent herb is extensively useful to eliminate the ama doshas, by promoting agni or stomach fire, that not only improves the appetite but also promotes digestion. Also Read: Introduction To Ayurveda: Learn About Vata, Pitta And Kapha Doshas
Nilavembu Side Effects:
Imbued with potent bioactive ingredients, this traditional herb exhibits no recorded side effects when used in the correct proportion. It is extremely effective in normalising the aggravated levels of Sama Pitta doshas and Kapha doshas in the body. That being said, overdosing of nilavembu can lead to sterility in both males and females and can also cause anorexia, GI distress, and emesis. It is also strictly forbidden for pregnant women, lactating mothers and people suffering from hypotension, duodenal ulcer, bleeding disorder, hyperacidity, and oesophageal reflux disease to consult an ayurvedic doctor before starting to take the herb.
Nilavembu is one such bitter herb that is blessed with umpteen health benefits. Thanks to the goodness of the essential bio-active ingredients, it is widely used for treating flu and feverish conditions, managing cough and cold, sore throat, treating respiratory diseases, preventing viral infections, promoting digestion and many more.