A Guide to Common Medicinal Plants in Asia
Medicinal plants can be defined as plants that have therapeutic properties or exert beneficial pharmacological effects on the human or animal body.
These plants cure some common diseases. These are considered home remedies in many countries. Medicinal plants have been the basis for the treatment of various diseases in traditional African medicine, as well as the basis for other treatments from different cultures around the world.
Here we will discuss about some medicinal plants that have been used to treat various diseases in Asia.
1. Ginger (Ada)
Ginger consists of the dried Southern Asia and in many Tropical countries like Jamaica, Bangladesh, India, Nigeria.
1 The ginger rhizome contains 5 to 8% gingerol. It also contains 0.25 to 3.0% volatile oil, camphene and phellandrene. It also contains 50% of starch. A small amount of sugar.
1. Ginger brings relief to digestions troubled by motion sickness.
2. Morning sickness.
3. It is used as a stimulant, carminative, stomachic.
4. It is also used as a condiment.
2. Malabar Nut (Basak)
3. Turmeric (Halud)
4. Arjuna myrobalan (Arjun)
Arjun bark is the dried bark of Termina Arjuna.
Arjun plant is found all over the tropical countries like Bangladesh and India.
The bark of Arjun contains tannins, saponins, sterols, calcium, salts, arjunin, a-sapogenin, a-flavone, terpene acids, essential oil, sugars and arjunalic acid.
Arjun bark is used as;
1. Tonic, astringent in heart diseases.
2. Relief in hypertension.
3. Diuretic for sores.
5. Asparagus Racemosus (Satamoli)
Shatavari, Satavar, Asparagus.
The drug is derived from dried tuberous roots of Asparagus recemosus.
The plant is a climber found all over India, especially in Northern region.
The active constituents are steroidal saponins, Shatavarin I-Iv (0.1-0.2%). The aglycone unit is sarsapogenin. In Shatavarin-I three glucose and rhamnose molecules are attached whereas Shatavarin-Iv.
1. Roots are refrigerant, aphrodiscae, antiseptic, alternative.
2. Shatamoli has antioxytocic property.
3. Asparagus is also used in diabetes, jaundice and other urinary disorders.
4. It is thought to be effective in preventing the formation of kidney stones.
6. Holy basil (Tulsi)
Babui tulshi, Sweet basil.
Tulsi is the dried leaves of Ocimum sanctum Linn and the other namr is Ocimum basilicum.
Tulshi grows wild in Chittagong hill tracts and Cox’s Bazar. This plant is grown in India especially in Hindu houses and temples for worship.
Tulshi leaves contains (0.7%) of volatile oil. The prominent constituents of essential oil are (71%), methyleugenol (20%), carvacrol (3%), and caryophyllene (1.7%).
1. The plants are used in expectorant, diaphoretic, antiperiodic, antiseptic.
2. Leaves are also used in treatment of bronchitis, cough, lever and gastric disorders.
3. The plant is also used in snake bites and scorpion sting.
7. Indian Acalypha (Muktajhuri)
Acolypha, Indian Acalpha.
Muktajhuri is the dried leaves of Acalpha Indica.
The plant is cultivated in India, South East Asia and Oceania. It is also found in African region.
1. acalyphine and triacetoneamine.
2. cyanogenic glucosides and alkaloids.
1. Muktajhuri is expectorant, emetic, diuretic.
2. It is used in asthma and bronchitis.
8.Azadirachta Indica (Neem)
Neem gach, Indian Lilac, Nimba (sans)
Neem is the fresh or dry leaves and seed oil of Azadirachta indica.
The plant is cultivated in South East Asia, India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Malaya.
1. The leaves contain nimbin, nimbinene, nimbandiol, β-sistosterol, ascorbic acid, nonacosane, and amino acids.
2. The fruit contains gedinin, azadirone, and nimbiol.
3. The seed contains 7-descetyl-7-benzoylgedunin.
1. Neem oil is stimulant, antiseptic and used in ulcers, skin diseases like scabies.
2. It is also used in the manufacture of olic acid and stearic acid.
3. Seeds are used as remedies for scorpion-sting, snake bite ase antifungal agents.
9. Black cumin (Kalojeera)
Black cumin (English), kalojeera (Bengali)
Kalojeera consists of the dried or fresh seeds of Nigella sativa.
Kalojeera is commonly available in market. The plant is occasionally cultivated in tropical countries.
1. 40% fixed oil.
2. Fatty acids like linoeic, oleic, staric and palmitic acids.
3. Proteins and amino acids such as glutanic acid, crystine and methonine.
Kalojeera is used in-
1. Stimulant, carminative, diuretic, stomachic and galactagogue.
2. It also possess antimicrobial, anticancer and cardiovascular activities.
3. Treatment of fever, pain of the body, asthma, chronic headache.
10. Coccinia grandis (Telakuch)
Kundri, Baby watermelon, Ivy Gourd.
Telakuch is the dried leaves of Coccinia cordifolia.
Telakuch flower is cultivated in, Bangladesh, Malaysia, Thailand, China, Australia, India and Indonesia.
Telakuch roots contain;
1. Resins, starch, glucose, alkaloids.
2. Also contain ash that constitute about 16%.
3. Gum, fatty acids, carbonic acids and minerals like- calcium,iron and phosphorus.
Telakuch is used to-
1. Treat anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, appetite stimulant.
2. Cardiovascular diseases ( heart disease), cold, laxative, expectorant ( thin mucus) and wound healing.
3. Asthma, diabetes, gonorrhea.
11. Star Fruit (Kamranga)
Chamorro, Star fruit, Kamrak.
Kamranga is the species of woody plant and dried leaves of Averrhoa carambola Linn.
Kamranga is indigenous to;
1. Bangladesh, India, Thailand, Sri Lanka.
2. Cultivated in – Brazil, Israel, Taiwan, China, Australia and other areas of the world.
3. Amino acids, citric acid, garlic acid in gallotannin and L-ascorbic acid.
Kamranga fruits contains;
1. 93.9% moisture, 0.5% protein, 0.2% fat, 4.8% carbohydrate.
2. B- & a- carotene, poly galacturonase & copper, potassium & pantothenic acid.
Kamranga is used to;
1. Treat cough, fever, sore throat, ulcers, eczema.
2. Also used in infections, insomnia, liver cancer.
3. Anti-microbial & antioxydant activity.
12. Gall nut (Hartaki)
Haritaki consists of dried nature fruits (known as Harde) or small fruits (known as Himaj) of the tree Terminalia chebula Retz.
The plant is found abundantly in North India from kangra and kumaon to Bengal and many other tropical countries; Madhya pradesh, Maharastra, Gujarat.
1. In higher forests of the Bombay ghats, Satpuras, Belgaum & Kanara.
2. Hydrolysable tannins (30-40%)
3. Fixed oil containing esters of Palmitic, oleic & linoleic acids.
4. Astringent compound chebulinic acid, ellagic acid, gallic acid & resin.
Haritaki is used as
1. Astringent, laxative & alternative.
2. Externally as chronic ulcers & wound.
3. To treat bleeding, stomach disorders.
13. Potato bush (Chitki)
Chitki is the dried leaves & barks of Phyllanthus reticulatus.
Chitki is cultivated into many Tropical countries. Such as-
1. India, Cuba, Jamaica & Barbados.
2. Mexico, Colombia, Bolivia, Peru.
Leaves and bark contains
1. Gum, tannic acid.
1. Friedelin, betulin, octacosanol, glochidonol & β-sitosterol.
Chitki leaves are used
1. As a diuretic & cooling medicine.
2. In diarrhea of infants.
3. Fruits are astringent to the bowels, treat inflammation.
4. Treating malaria, dysentry.
14. Black pepper (Marich)
Chilli, Red peppers, Green peppers, Bell peppers.
Capsicum consists of the dried, ripe fruits of Capsicum frutescence.
Capsicum cultivated in tropical regions of India, Japan, Southern Europe, Mexico & Sri Lanka.
It also contains 1.5% of Capsicum contains fixed oils (0.1-1%), oleo- resin, carotenoids, capsacutin & ascorbic acid (0.2%). of volatile oil, liquid alkaloid, carotene & a red colouring matter, capsanthin.
Marich leaves are used
1. As a stimulant & counter-irritant.
2. Externally in the form of ointment & plaster.
3. Internally used as a pungent stomachic carminative & stimulant.
4. In the treatment of flatulence & dyspepsia.
15. Bryophyllum pinnatum (Patharkuchi)
Koppat, Miracle leaf, Cathedral bells.
Patharkuchi is the dried leaves & barks of Kalanchoe pinnanta (Lam).
Patharkuchi has become naturalized in tropical & subtropical area, including-
1. Australia, New Zealand, West Indies, Hawaii.
2. Parts of Asia, Colombia, Melanesia.
Patharkuchi leaves contains-
1. Bryophillin A which showed strong anti tumore promoting activity in vitro.
2. Bryophillin B showed insecticidal properties.
3. Ascorbic acid, Riboflavin, Thiamine & Zinc.
4. Bufadienolide compounds isolated from Bryophyllun pinnatum.
Patharkuchi is used to-
1. Treat inflammation, Arthritis, Hypertension.
2. Kidney stones, Diuretic, Wound healing.
16. Onion (Piyaz)
Bulb onion, Bulbus alii cepae, Pyaz.
Piyaz is the flowering plant & are motocots of Allium cepa.
Piyaz is cultivated in-
1. Bangladesh, India, Australia, Nigeria.
Indigenous to –
1. Quercetin, fructose, glucoside.
2. Isorhamnetin – 4 – glucoside, Thiosulfonates.
Piyaz is used to-
1. Treat hair fall, flavouring agent.
2. Insect bite, flatulence.
17. Carissa carand (Karamcha)
Karamchari India, Indian beech, Karanj.
Karamcha is the dried leaves & fruits of Pongamia pinnata.
Karamcha is cultivated in many tropical countries –
1. Hawaii, India, Sena, Maharastra.
2. China, Japan, Australia.
1. Fatty acids, galactosides, stigma sterol.
2. Oleic acid (44.24%), Stearic acid (29.64%) & Palmitic acid (18.58%).
3. Hiragonic & Octadecatrienoic acid (0.81%).
Karamcha is used to –
1. Treat gonorrhea.
2. Bleeding piles and whooping cough.
3. Lamp oil, in leather tanning & soap making.
4. Also used as a fish poison.
18. Garlic (Rashun)
Lehsun, Rasun, Belluli, Vallaippundu, Garlic.
Lehsun consists of the fresh compound bulb of Allium sativam Linn.
Garlic is cultivated in-
1. India, Russia, USA
2. Italy, Southern Europe.
1. Essential oil:
a) Alliin, a sulphur containing amino acid.
b) Allicin, allyl sulphide.
c) Polysulphide responsible for the unpleasant smell of the oil.
2. Amino Acid: Leucine, methionine, S-methyl cysteine, S-allyl cysteine
3. Allyl propyl disulphide.
4. Vitamins A,B,C and D.
5. Fatty acid, Mucilage, and albumin
6. Minerals: Calcium, iron, and zinc.
7. Carminative, gastric stimulant and aids indigestion and absorption of food.
8. Used in the treatment of malignant tumors.
9. Tuberculosis and whooping cough.
11. Piles and duodenal ulcer.
12. Treatment of epilepsy.
As our lifestyle becomes more tech-dependent, we are moving away from nature. Although we are part of nature, we cannot escape from it. As herbs are natural products, they have no side effects, are relatively safe, are environmentally friendly, and are locally available. Traditionally, there are many herbs used for diseases associated with different seasons. To save lives, we need to promote them.