Be it tapeworms, hookworms, pinworms, flukes, Ascaris or trichinella, these are usually simple parasitic organisms that feed off the human body. Although some may reside in our stomach and intestines for years without causing any trouble, others usually lead to a stomach infection and gastrointestinal issues. There are at least 3000 varieties of parasites known to humans and if Ayurvedic scriptures and research are to be believed, the growth of parasites is mainly stimulated by a weak digestive fire or Mandagni. While allopathic medications may offer a quick fixture, if you prefer the natural way sans any counter indications, Ayurveda brings you an effective remedy from the heart of the Himalayas in the form of Vidanga.
What Is Vidanga?
Vidanga goes by the botanical name Embelia ribes and is a member of the Primulaceae family. Touted as false pepper, due to its close resemblance to black pepper seeds, Vidanga is a versatile herb that has been used since archaic times to treat a variety of diseases but is especially used for successfully curing worm infestation. It is mentioned in several ayurvedic scriptures for all its ayurvedic and medicinal characteristics.
According to Bhavaprakasha Nighantu, Vidanga is a pungent herb that chiefly helps to reduce morbidity, enhance blood circulation, boost appetite, abolish phlegm, make the body light, and is extremely effective in killing worms of all types. Whereas the scriptures of Rajanighantu interpret Vidanga as a pungent, hot, light, herb that strengthens balance between wind and phlegm particles, is beneficial to treat anorexia and promotes digestive power.
Vidanga is a potent herb that is highly beneficial for indigestion and also helps to treat constipation due to its laxative property. Incorporating prescribed doses of Vidanga churna on a routine basis might help to obesity in check while also lowering lipid levels and improving the overall metabolism of the body. The cardioprotective and antioxidant property of the herb shields the heart against cellular damage by free oxygen radicals. Vidanga having strong anti-anxiolytic properties might also be beneficial in mitigating anxiety and depression by improving mood as well as brain functions.
Plant Description Of Vidanga:
Vidanga is a woody, climbing, creeper shrub with slender, brittle and flexible stems and branches which are terete. It mainly has leaves which are simple, alternate, ovate and sharp at both ends. Flowers are usually small, greenish-yellow to whitish-pink coloured and have small petioles. Fruits are small, globose, wrinkled just like black pepper and are found in bunches. The outer covering of the fruits is reddish brown to black and is mainly fragile. The fruit bears a single seed which is spotted from the inside, and a horn from the outside with a mildew appearance. The roots of the plant are brownish grey in hue.
Geographical Distribution And Habitat
Vidanga is mainly found growing in areas up to the height of 1500mts. It usually exists in the hilly areas of India like the lower and Central Himalayas down to the Konkan, Deccan, Western Ghats and South India. It is also widely distributed in China, Bhutan, Nepal and Pakistan. In India, Vidanga is mostly distributed in Andhra Pradesh, Assam, Maharashtra, Arunachal Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Kerala.
Owing to its notable uses and therapeutic benefits, Vidanga has found its way into diverse cultures and goes by the following common names:
English: False black pepper, Embelia fruit, White-flowered embelia,
Hindi: Vaividang, Baibidang, Baba-rang, Karkannie, vaividang Vayvidamg, Baberang, Bhabhiramg
Bengali: Vidang, Biranga, Bidang
Tamil: Vayu vidanga, Vilanga, Vellal, Kattukodi, Vellal, Varnanai Vai vilangam, Vayivilangam, Vayvilankam, Vaivitankam, Vayu-vilangam, Vayu-vilamga
Telugu: Vayu vidangalu, Vidangamu, Potosul, Vaividungalu, Vayi-vitangamu, Vyivilangamu, Vayivilangamu, Vayuvilangam-chettu, Vellal, Vidangamu, Vilangamu
Kannada: Vayu vilanga, Vayi vulanga, Amogha, Vayubaliga, Vayuvilanga, Vidanga, Vilanga, Varana, Vaayu-vilanga, Vayivilanga
Malayalam: Vijhala, Tiriitticanni, Tiruvittikanni, Vayvilankam, Visalam, Vishaul, Pu-valli, Vayivalannam, Vilal
Marathi: Ambti, Karkunnie, Bavidang
Urdu: Baobadang, Baobarang
Siddha: Vaayvidangam, Vellal, Keralam, Vamanai
Some of the quintessential biochemical compounds that are available in this herb are Embelin, homoembelin, christembine, quercitol and vilangine etc. These chemical constituents form the base of the ayurvedic and medicinal attributes.
Uses Of Particular Plant Parts
- Vidanga berries (in powdered form) chiefly help to calm the large intestine, treat digestive issues such as constipation, flatulence, colic, dyspepsia and piles
- The paste of the berries treats fungal infections and skin infections such as ringworm and vitiligo respectively
- The fruit juice acts as a powerful diuretic and laxative
- The leaves of the Embelia plant help deal with sore throats and dry mouth
- The roots mainly help decrease flatulence and treat cough and diarrhoea.
- The fruits are primarily used for remedying haemorrhage, headache, rhinitis, epilepsy, and insomnia
- A decoction of the dried fruits is extensively used to treat fever, and manage chest and skin disease
Vidanga portrays the following medicinal attributes:
Ayurveda, the holistic science of alternative natural remedies has extensively mentioned the use of Vidanga since the archaic times in several ayurvedic scriptures and journals of Charaka Samhita, Raj Nighantu and Susruta Samhita. It is especially prescribed for the following health anomalies :
- Krimihara (relieves intestinal worms)
- Jantujit (treats worm infestation)
- Deepana (enhances stomach fire)
- Pachana (helps in digestion)
- Rochana (stimulates appetite)
- Amahara (treats indigestion)
- Rasayani (rejuvenates the whole body)
- Dahahara (relieves burning sensation)
- Trutahara (relieves excessive thirst)
- Shopajit (reduces swelling)
- Ruchi (improves taste)
- Agnimandyahara (relieves indigestion)
- Balya (increases body strength)
- Vayasthapana (prevents ageing)
- Jvara (useful in fever)
- Pandu (treats anaemia)
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Health Benefits Of Vidanga
Cures Worm Infestation
Worms, a.k.a Krimi in Ayurveda mainly occur in the stomach and intestines due to low Agni or Mandagni (weak digestive fire). This low digestive fire renders a favourable environment in the stomach for the growth and multiplication of worms and parasites. Vidanga possessing powerful Krimighna (anti-worms) trait helps in the treatment and management of worm infestation and killing parasites and worms including threadworms, roundworms, pinworms etc.
Alleviates Digestive Anomalies
Agnimandya a.k.a Indigestion in medical terms chiefly occurs due to vitiation of the Pitta dosha and depicts a state of an incomplete process of digestion. Being a potent digestive herb, Vidanga actively helps in treating a wide range of gastrointestinal anomalies as well, like Gerd or gastroesophageal reflux disease, flatulence, peptic ulcer, constipation, heartburn, and stomach pain. Thanks to the powerful carminative nature of the herb, prescribed usage extensively helps in demolishing the food particles in the stomach and intestine. This action stimulates the creation of digestive juices and thereby improves the absorption of essential nutrients in the body cells. It also helps to eliminate abdominal gas and in turn curtails bloating, abdominal distension, bloating and gaseous cramps.
Augments Skin Health
Vidanga plays a crucial part in treating various skin woes effectively. The abundance of antioxidants in this herb is incredibly effective in destroying the harmful free radicals from the body and its antipruritic essence rids the itching sensation caused due to allergic conditions like psoriasis, scabies, patchy skin, eczema, acne, sunburn etc. Several studies show that Vidanga has dominant anti-bacterial and anti-parasitic qualities that are vastly used for eliminating bacteria from the body. The bioactive compounds present in this herb not only deter worm infestation but also treats wounds and speed up healing.
Relieves Stress And Anxiety
Thanks to its powerful adaptogenic quality, Vidanga is highly vital in treating numerous psychotic situations like depression, dementia, Parkinson's etc. It normalizes the Vata and Pitta doshas in the body which in turn maintains the serotonin levels under control and helps to curtail various symptoms of anxiety which includes restlessness, uneasiness, cold hands, feet, etc.
The dominant antidepressant trait of the herb also helps in steadying the mind, lessening all sorts of physical and mental stress, and irritability and boosting energy and stamina.
Combats Respiratory Issues
Blessed with powerful anti-inflammatory, anti-biotic, and anti-asthmatic properties, Vidanga plays a key role in dealing with a host of respiratory troubles. It is considered used for the treatment and management of the common cold, flu, sore throat, cough and other viral infections. It also reduces and slackens the catarrh particles within the chest and nasal compartments and hence eases breathing and helps to eliminate mucus from the body. It is also effective in treating bronchitis and asthmatic disorders.
Vidanga is intrinsically blessed with the following Ayurvedic traits:
Rasa (taste): Kashaya (astringent), Katu (pungent)
Guna (physical property): Laghu (light), Ruksha (dry), Teekshna (piercing)
Virya (potency): Ushna (hot)
Vipaka (metabolic property after digestion): Katu (pungent)
Effects on Doshas
It harmonizes Vata (air) and Kapha (earth and water) Dosha owing to its hot potency and an excess of it can aggravate the Pitta (fire and air) Doshas. Owing to the fundamental properties and doshas, Vidanga 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), Majja (i.e., cartilage) Asthi (i.e., Bones) and Shukra (i.e., Reproductive Fluids).
The beneficial medicinal dosage of Vidanga may fluctuate from person to person on account of their age, physical strength, impacts on appetite, the stringency of the condition, and potential of the patient. It is strongly advised to consult an ayurvedic doctor or medical practitioner before taking the medication.
Vidanga is available in three forms:
Churna: 2-4 grams twice a day after meals or as suggested by the doctor
Arishtam: 10-15 ml with an equal amount of water twice a day after meals or as suggested by the doctor
Seed/Fruit powder: 2-5 grams of seed powder, with 5 grams of honey for two consecutive days on an empty stomach in the morning or as suggested by the ayurvedic doctor. Care should be taken that the patient also consumes an acceptable purgative such as castor oil a few hours after intake of the powder.
The herb has numerous medicinal benefits and helps in mitigating umpteen health conditions in the prescribed amount. But owing to its high Pitta trait, an excess of it may cause excessive heat in the body and stomach, diarrhoea, hyperacidity, loose stools, anger, etc.
Vidanga is contraindicated in the case of pregnant women due to its hot potency. It may cause sudden bleeding, and abortion and stimulate early contraction. Additionally, without much valid information about using the herb during the breastfeeding period, medical professionals and ayurvedic doctors mainly instruct lactating women to refrain from using it. People diagnosed with infertility issues or trying to conceive should abstain from using this herb because of its contraceptive and anti-infertility effects. In the case of males, Vidanga impairs spermatogenesis and lessens sperm count to a level of infertility. Whereas, in females, consumption of fruit or other plant parts brings about a change in the uterine environment which impedes the process of implantation owing to its anti-implantation and anti-ovulatory effects.
Since historical times, Vidanga has been mentioned in several ayurvedic texts as a go-to remedy for numerous health abnormalities. Infused with powerful vermifuge, carminative, anti-inflammatory, and anti-bacterial properties, it successfully deals with worm infestations, hinders the growth of bacteria, promotes digestion, relieves skin infections, remedies stress and aids in weight loss.