Monday, 18 June 2012

The beneficial haldi: Curcuma or turmeric prevents cataract in people with diabetes

Diabetes and cataract are inter-linked and cataract is more pronounced in people suffering from the disease. At present, the only treatment for cataract is surgery

By Syed Akbar
Turmeric, a common kitchen ingredient, has been known
for its anti-septic properties, and city nutritionists now find out that
it also has the natural chemicals that are capable of preventing cataract in people
suffering from diabetes. 
"It is for the first time we report that turmeric, at the levels that are
close to average daily intake, can be effective in preventing diabetic cataract.
One of the important observations of this study is that both turmeric and its
chemical constituent, curcumin, delay the progression and maturation of cataract,
despite elevated levels of glucose. These results thus provide a clue, for
the first time, that turmeric or curcumin may act downstream to glucose-
mediated changes," says a study by nutrition scientists of the National
Institute of Nutrition.
Diabetes and cataract are inter-linked and cataract is more pronounced in
people suffering from the disease. At present, the only treatment for
cataract is surgery.

It has been estimated that a delay in cataract onset by 10 years
could reduce the need for cataract surgery by as much as half. The
pronounced effect of turmeric may be due to other ingredients besides 

The NIN study gains significance as any strategy that prevents or
slows the progression of cataract has a significant health impact.
The joint study by P Suryanarayana, M Saraswat, T Mrudula and others
involved feeding Wistar rats a diet including curcumin and turmeric. The
turmeric and curcumin rich diet delayed the progression of diabetic cataract
in rats. "Although, multiple mechanisms may contribute to these effects, the
antioxidant effect of curcumin and turmeric appears to be the predominant
mechanism of action," they said.
The NIN scientists selected Wistar rats and diabetes was induced by
streptozotocin (a substances that damages insulin producing cells). They
monitored the cataract progression due to hyperglycemia (high levels of
sugar in blood). At the end of eight weeks, the animals were killed and the
crystalline profile in the lens was investigated.
"Although, both curcumin and turmeric did not prevent streptozotocin-
induced hyperglycemia, as assessed by blood glucose and insulin levels, slit
lamp microscope observations indicated that these supplements delayed the
progression and maturation of cataract," they added.
The results indicated that turmeric and curcumin are effective against the
development of diabetic cataract in rats. Further, these results imply that
ingredients in the study’s dietary sources, such as turmeric, may be explored
for anticataractogenic (that works against cataract formation) agents that
prevent or delay the development of cataract.

Wednesday, 23 November 2011

Efforts on to increase momordicin content in bitter gourd to make it more diabetic friendly

Syed Akbar

Hyderabad:  The humble karela or Indian bitter gourd is now the centre of world research as scientists rack their brains to find out the ideal variety that could beat diabetes.

International teams from India, Tanzania and Thailand are busy unraveling the chemical mystery of the Indian bitter gourd to find out whether grandma was right in her belief that karela fights diabetes. The karela has since lost much of its anti-diabetes properties thanks to commercial hybrids, which have brought down the bitterness and pungency of the vegetable.
The present search is for the ideal karela 
that was part of the grandma’s original Indian recipe.

As many as 10 hybrids of the Indian bitter gourd are being studied for their germplasm and chemical constituents particularly momordicin in Hyderabad, Bangkok, and Arusha in Tanzania. The higher the content of momordicin, the higher is the anti-diabetes effect.  Hyderabad has been selected for the project bitter gourd as it has emerged as the diabetes capital of the country. India has the highest rate of
diabetes in the world. The teams are also finding out whether the anti-diabetes compounds present in bitter gourd could be increased to make it more effective against the silent killer-disease. They will
suggest bitter gourd recipes that will keep the momordicin content in tact. At the end of the study, an ideal bitter gourd variety will be identified for recommendation to diabetics.

The research gains significance as no two bitter gourd varieties have the same chemical constitution and anti-diabetes properties. Different bitter gourd varieties have different levels of bioactive compounds. Identifying the proper bitter gourd is important to keep diabetes away. 

Along with the Indian hybrids, 10 hybrids from Thailand are also included in the Project Bitter gourd sponsored by the Asian Vegetable Research and Development Centre (AVRDC).

“We are screening germplasm and commercial lines to identify and select suitable parents for our breeding program. We will be selecting varieties high in antidiabetic compounds as well as those with good horticultural traits,” a senior scientist associated with the project told this correspondent.

Studies so far with animals and humans suggest bitter gourd (whole fruit, juice, or extract) has a role in diets for glycemic (sugar) control of diabetes. “There is a need for well-designed research to assess germplasm diversity to optimise the content of anti-diabetic compounds in bitter gourd,” said Dr Dyno Keatinge, director-general,
AVRDC. He was in the city visiting the project bitter gourd centre at Patancheru.

Thursday, 10 November 2011

Curcuma caesia: Black turmeric cures white patches, leprosy sores, wounds

Syed Akbar
Black turmeric or Curcuma caesia is an endangered medicinal plant grown in hilly areas of the country. It is fast dying and needs to be conserved for future generations. Curcuma caesia is a wonder herb and contains the highest content of curcumin, a chemical substance with many curative properties, among all curcuma or turmeric species. It is perhaps one of the few medicinal plants that is used in black magic as well as herbal 
Curcuma caesia is used in Kali pooja and many practitioners of black magic use the herb in the fire pit set up for the purpose. Apart from its “spiritual ability” to drive away evil forces, Curcuma caesia has wide ranging herbal properties. It is prescribed for treatment of piles, impotency, menstrual disorders and epilepsy. It is used both externally and internally. Externally, it is used for treatment of wounds, white patches on the skin and leprosy sores. It is capable of enhancing fertility levels.
Some herbal doctors prescribe it for treatment of piles and enlargement of spleen and certain types of tuberculosis. The rhizome as well as the leaves of the plant are used in medical formulations.
Home remedies
If you are suffering from toothache, take a little quantity of Curcuma caesia or black turmeric powder and rub it gently against the teeth. You will get relief from the problem. Ensure that only a little quantity is used, as excess of Curcuma caesia powder may induce vomiting.
Take a fresh rhizome of black turmeric or kali haldi, wash it properly and crush it. Apply it to wounds and nagging sores for relief and quick healing.
Those suffering from leucoderma or white patches on the skin may apply the paste of Curcuma caesia rhizome on the skin. Readymade herbal preparations are also available in the market.
Curcuma caesia provides relief from stomach problems including indigestion. Take a little of the rhizome and chew it for relief from indigestion or stomach pain. It also helps in easy digestion and proper functioning of liver and kidneys.

Bandicoot berry: Leea indica has antioxidant properties, cools the body

By Syed Akbar
Leea indica or bandicoot berry is a small herbal tree found in many parts of the country. 
It is widely used in ethnomedical systems by various tribes in deep forests. There have 
been scientific research studies of late on the medicinal properties of Leea indica and 
they indicate it antioxidant property. Thanks to its antioxidant property it is 
considered as a natural medicine for inhibition or prevention of cancer.

The root and leaves of Leea indica are used in medicinal formulations. Ayurveda and Unani 
doctors also use Leea indica in their preparations. Herbal practitioners consider it as a 
natural coolant that gives a “cooling effect” to the body. During summer it is one of the 
natural coolants that quench the feeling of thirst.

Many tribal communities have been using Leea indica for treatment of diarrhoeal diseases. 
It is also used in cases of chronic dysentery. Other medicinal uses include skin 
ailments, gastric ulcers, vertigo (a severe form of dizziness) and digestive issue.

Home remedies

For relief from colic (sudden, abrupt pain), herbal doctors prescribe decoction obtained 
from the root of Leea indica. Take a few grams of Leea indica roots, wash them properly 
and prepare decoction adding a cup of water. Filter the solution and consume a little 
quantity. Tribal medicine prescribes Leea indica for colic pains.

Intake of a little quantity of powder obtained from the root of Leea indica gives relief 
from chronic dysentery.

A few drops of juice obtained from the fresh leaves of Leea indica sets the digestive 
system right.

Herbal doctors recommend external application of a little quantity of juice of Leea 
indica leaves on the head for relief from severe forms of dizziness like vertigo.

Paste of Leea indica roots if applied on the affected portion of the skin gives relief 
from skin issues like rashes and allergic reactions.

Commiphora wightii: Guggulu gives a feeling of goodness, reduces body weight and fights haemorrhoids

Syed Akbar

Commiphora wightii or guggulu is used widely in homes in India, mainly to drive away evil 
spirits. It is also used for religious ceremonies. Apart from its use for religious 
purpose, guggulu is a natural medicine to reduce the body weight. It is a natural remedy 
for people suffering from overweight and obesity. The gum latex of this plant has several 
medicinal properties and many people burn it as incense for a feeling of goodness.

In English guggulu is known as Indian Bedellium and the plant is cultivated in many part 
of the country. Readymade capsules of guggulu are available in herbal stores and several 
weight loss programmes include it as part of the obesity treatment therapy.

It should be taken in small quantities for better results. In excess quantity it will 
cause health problems like irritation, skin rashes, loose motions and headache. Pregnant 
women should not use guggulu as it may cause miscarriage. Guggulu therapy is not 
recommended for children too.

Herbal doctors recommend guggulu for health issues like urinary disorders, haemorrhoids, 
high blood cholesterol and rheumatic pains. It is believed that guggulu reduces the blood 
cholesterol levels and burns excess fat, keeping the body healthy.

Home remedies

Readymade guggulu capsules are available in herbal stores. Follow the course for weight 
reduction. Alternatively, one may take small quantities of guggulu gum latex twice a day 
to reduce the body weight, burn fat and control blood cholesterol levels.

Herbal doctors recommend smoke of guggulu for earache. According to them, one should take 
a small piece of guggulu gum latex and burn it. The smoke can be directed towards the ear 
in which there’s pain. Guggulu smoke therapy helps in giving relief from earache.

Guugulu extract can be mixed with sesame oil and gently massaged on the affected parts of 
the body for relief from rheumatic pains and swelling of joints.

A little piece of guggulu gum, ginger and honey can be taken to control the body weight 
and fight obesity.

Semecarpus anacardium: Marking nut provides relief from leucoderma or white patches, piles, cough and enlarged spleen

Syed Akbar
Leucoderma or white patches is a skin condition whose occurrence is shrouded in mystery. 
Despite the advancement in medical sciences it’s not still clear what exactly triggers 
leucoderma. Research has been going on the world over to understand the medical mechanism 
that triggers this skin problem, and find a permanent cure through medication.

Ancient Indian medical texts have described the problem of leucoderma in detail and have 
suggested that Semecarpus anacardium is a natural remedy. Though the skin problem does go 
completely through Semecarpus, it helps in keeping it under check. Semecarpus anacardium 
is known as bhilavan in Hindu and Urdu and as marking nut in English.

A number of health benefits have been attributed to this herb by Ayurveda and Unani 
doctors. It is also practiced by tribals and those following the forest medicine. The 
health benefits include control of white patches on the skin, piles, cough, nervous 
problems, infertility in men, healing of wounds, and relief from joint pains, baldness 
and enlargement of spleen.

As is the case with many herbs, Semecarpus should be used with caution, particularly when 
it is consumed internally. It may create health issues in young children, pregnant and 
lactating women and the elderly.

Home remedies

Those suffering from piles may take Semecarpus tonic readily available in herbal stores. 
Alternatively, one can prepare extract from the Semecarpus fruit at home. Take the fruit, 
wash it properly and boil it in a little quantity of water. A tablespoon of this 
decoction can be taken. In case of juice obtained from Semecarpus fruit, a few drops are 

The oil obtained from Semecarpus fruit can be mixed with coconut oil and applied on white 
patches, wounds, and skin portions affected by acne, ringworm and eczema. The oil can be 
applied on the scalp for treatment of alopecia or baldness.

The oil of Semecarpus can be applied on swollen and painful joints for relief from 

The juice obtained from Semecarpus can be applied on cracked heels for relief from pain.
A little quantity of Semecarpus tonic is used internally every day for treatment of 

Wild carrot: Daucus carota fights acidity and depression and serves as a natural contraceptive

By Syed Akbar
Daucus carota or wild carrot is an important medicinal plant whose herbal properties have 
been known to man for almost two millennia. Wild carrot or jangli gajar has a number of 
medicinal properties and herbal doctors down the ages have been prescribing it for 
problems ranging from acidity and gas to control of blood sugar, and from treating common 
cold to fighting depression.

Care should be taken while selecting the plant as it closely resembles poison hemlock. 
Wild carrot seeds, leaves and flowers should be purchased only from a reputed herbal 
store. While selecting the plant one should take the help of a botanist to make sure that 
it is Daucus carota and not poison hemlock.

This plant is grown in hilly areas and is native to north India. It is rich in ascorbic 
acid (vitamin C). It kills worms in the stomach and intestines. It also fights bacteria. 
Essential oil obtained from wild carrot prevents formation of wrinkles on face and body. 
Some herbal doctors prescribe wild carrot for treatment of schizophrenia. It has 
anti-inflammatory properties too.

Home remedies

Take a few crushed seeds of wild carrot and consume them for birth control. The natural 
chemicals present in wild carrot interfere with the reproductive system and prevents 
formation of pregnancy.

Herbal tea prepared from wild carrot leaves keeps the body in good health. Take a couple 
of leaves, put them in a cup of water and boil it. Filter the decoction and consume it 
twice a day.

Infusion obtained from the wild carrot plant is said to keep the stomach and intestines 
in good order. Soak the wild carrot leaves or seeds in a glass of water for at least six 
hours and the infusion that obtained can be filtered and used for a healthy digestive 

Infusion of wild carrot has diuretic properties and thus it promotes easy flow of urine.

Herbal doctors often recommend wild carrot infusion to fight renal (kidney) stones.

Chewing of a few seeds clears the gas from the digestive tract and provides relief from