While savouring an authentic Amti Dal in Maharashtra, Dum Biryani in Tamil Nadu, or Lucknowi Nahari i.e. meat stew/curry in Uttar Pradesh, you would have certainly recognized a unique flavour in these timeless customary dishes. This is from an exquisite spice, commonly known as “Stone Flower”, infused into the blend of seasonings distinctive to each region – Goda Masala in West India, Chettinad Masala in South India and Potli Masala in North India.
Well, our ancestors were indeed wise to incorporate this fortifying condiment into staple meals, as it perfectly exemplifies the longstanding maxim, “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food”. For not only does stone flower lend a subtle delicate zest and overpowering earthy fragrance to numerous traditional Indian food recipes, but it also holds outstanding medicinal properties for rectifying kidney stones, mending tissue injuries and enhancing overall health. Many researchers even hypothesise that its general terms of “Stone Flower” in English or “Patthar Ke Phool”, “Patthar Phool”, “Pathar Phool” in Hindi originated from its marvellous uses in remedying renal calculi i.e. kidney stones. In the vernacular tongue in the different parts of India, it is referred to as “Dagad Phool” in Marathi, “Kalpasi” in Tamil, “Charila”, “Chadila” in Hindi, “Dagad Da Phool” in Punjabi, “Shailaj” in Bengali and “Kallu Huvu” in Kannada.
Termed as Parmotrema perlatum, Parmelia perlata in scientific nomenclature, stone flower belongs to the Parmeliaceae botanical family and is fundamentally a lichen - a symbiotic association of algae and fungi. However, it is an edible fungus or moss that sprouts amid tree trunks, mountains, rocks in the hilly areas of India, in the Himalayas in the North, highlands and elevations of the West, East, Deccan Peninsula in the South. This is yet another supposed explanation of how the common names of this lichen like “Rock Moss” in English and “Shilapushpa” in Sanskrit were coined. Clad by the Ayurvedic designation of “Shaileya”, “Shilapushpa” in Sanskrit, stone flower is renowned for its potent ability to eliminate kidney stones from the system and uplift renal functions. Moreover, it supplies tremendous merits for wound-healing when applied as a topical herbal formulation, thanks to its strong antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory traits.
Displaying superb capabilities in balancing the exacerbated kapha and pitta doshas, besides relieving asthma symptoms and curing respiratory illnesses owing to its decongestant qualities, stone flower is undoubtedly a panacea from Mother Nature for alleviating myriad health woes. Dive into this essay, that highlights the health benefits, ayurvedic applications and side effects of stone flower or patthar ke phool.
Health Benefits Of Stone Flower:
Treats Kidney And Bladder Illnesses
Stone flower is highly beneficial in curing instances of kidney stones, due to its strong kapha balancing attributes, along with excellent diuretic abilities that help in smooth excretion of urine and liquid wastes from the system. It is also widely applied in traditional ayurvedic formulations as an effective remedy for urolithiasis i.e. formation of stones in the bladder, urinary tract, as well as to treat UTI i.e. urinary tract infection and pacifying cases of dysuria or painful urination.
Repairs Bruised Tissues
Laden with potent anti-inflammatory agents, stone flower or patthar phool works wonders in healing wounds on external tissues of skin. It also possesses amazing antimicrobial properties that thwart infections from stemming in the exposed areas of injured skin. Regular topical application of a ground paste of stone flower mixed with coconut oil is a proven solution for faster wound healing and helps in diminishing scars.
Mitigates Asthma Symptoms
Patthar Phool contains a treasure trove of antioxidants that showcase powerful decongestant traits. This is very useful in resolving asthma symptoms of wheezing, chest congestion, breathing difficulty, chest pain and obstruction in the lungs and respiratory passages. Ingesting some curry or dal prepared with generous amounts of thoroughly boiled stone flower aids in clearing the nasal, throat and respiratory tracts, thus amending discomforting indications of asthma.
Preserves Gut Health
Touted for its Pitta-balancing qualities, stone flower is a time-tested natural remedy for correcting instances of gastritis in the gut, due to its valuable “Sheeta” or cooling potency that helps bring down high acidity and excessive heat in the gastrointestinal tract. Moreover, it comprises astounding antimicrobial characteristics, that are useful in treating inflammation, ulcers in the stomach, intestines, triggered by bacteria.
Augments Heart Wellness
Stone flower is a proven ayurvedic herb for rectifying a host of heart-related conditions such as hypertension i.e. high blood pressure and atherosclerosis. Like the potent herb Arjuna, stone flower powders and decoctions also work as a powerful cardiac tonic, with strong phenolic antioxidants, that prevent clogging of blood vessels with unhealthy fats of triglycerides, bad LDL cholesterol and increase the good HDL cholesterol levels in bloodstream.
Stone Flower Effect On Doshas:
Stone Flower possesses an intrinsically Tikta or bitter and Kashaya i.e. astringent taste - Rasa. With an oily, loose texture – Snigdha and guna of Laghu i.e. easily digested and assimilated in the body, stone flower is an ideal ayurvedic remedy for addressing several kidney and gut woes. It holds a Sheeta or cooling potential and is beneficial in regulating the Kapha-pitta Shamaka and maintaining tridoshic balance in the body.
Stone Flower Dosage:
The general safe dosage is 1 to 3 grams of stone flower powder daily or a 30 to 40 ml decoction of the paste, as recommended by certified Ayurvedic practitioners. Nevertheless, consult with a medical professional before taking stone flower in case you have some pre-existing health conditions, to prevent any detrimental side effects.
Side Effects Of Stone Flower:
In general, there are no grave side effects experienced from consuming stone flower in moderate doses, either as a spice in food or in the form of an ayurvedic herbal powder, paste, decoction. In people with already cool bodies, taking stone flower may aggravate cough and cold. It is also advised to consult with a doctor prior to taking stone flower, for those people who are already on prescription medications for other health anomalies, to avert harmful interactions of drugs in the body.