Popular medicinal plants of Kodagu

Kodagu Connect Exclusive

With its unique wild habitat, Kodagu is home to several endemic species of medicinal plants. Over the years these plants have become the true backbones of a wide range of local health traditions and hundreds of home remedies.

With the introduction of Allopathy in Kodagu, indigenous use of medicinal plants has taken a serious beating over the years. Despite all the affinity for ‘English medicines’, even now for ailments like jaundice and herpes many people in Kodagu prefer herbal medicines because natural products are safe and free from side effects.

Following are some of the medicinal plants found in Kodagu which can be used in home remedies.

Doddapatre (Indian Borage)
With a pleasant fragrance, the leaves of these plants are of high medicinal value. Consuming the leaf along with betel leaf, honey, cardamom and pepper helps to overcome cough, cold and also to improve digestion.

Tumbe Gida (Leucas aspera)
The juice extracted from the leaves are used to control pests. In earlier days, it was used as an anti-venom for snake bites. The roots are used as an instant medicine for fever. The plant grows on paddy fields and river banks. The extract from its leaves, flowers, stems and roots are used in manufacturing many Allopathic injections.

Nachike Mullu (Touch Me Not)
A crawling plant with a pink flower, it grows like weed everywhere. Medicinal value of this plant is in its roots and stems. A paste made by crushing its stems and roots can be used to heal wounds.

Aadu Muttada Balli or Kirumanji (Adhatoda vasica)
The leaves and roots of this ubiquitous plant are used to treat stomach ache, digestion problems and fever. It comes in handy for asthma patients. Because of overuse of chemical fertilizers in coffee estates, and due to lack of awareness, this plant is on the verge of extinction in Kodagu.

Ondelaga (Brahmi)
Ondelaga is a common medicinal plant found in Kodagu in two varieties – Neeru Brahmi and Mandooka Parni. The leaves are used to treat cough and breathing problems. It can be used to treat Alzheimer, Dementia and other old age problems.

Amritha Balli (Tinospora cordifolia)
This is a very important medicinal plant in Kodagu. The roots, leaves, trunk and flowers are very useful. The decoction of leaves is used to treat thirst, vomiting and nausea.

Narvisa or Nagadali (Ruta graveolens)
Narvisa is an omnipresent plant in Kodagu. The liquid extracted from its roots and leaves are used to treat fever, indigestion and headache. Toothache swelling can be cured by inhaling the vapours of crushed leaves in boiling water. There is a common belief in Kodagu that snakes won’t enter houses which have Narvisa plants.

Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera)
Also called Winter Cherry, this plant is used as an anti-toxin for snake and scorpion bites. A blood purifier, it can be used to treat back pain, swelling and joint pains.

Gouri Hoo or Thokk Poo (Gloriosa superba)
The seeds and tubular of this plant are used to treat skin diseases and during labour pain.

Jaayikaayi (Nut meg)
A tree of high medicinal value, it can grow up to 60 feet. A reddish seed covering (aril) is used in preparation of medicines to lower the blood pressure and stomach ache.

Lolesara (Aloe vera)
The exact from leaves is used to treat wounds while consuming its juice improves digestion. The gel is used as a shampoo moisturizer too.

These are some of the important medicinal plants among hundreds in Kodagu. Due to lack of interest among the young generation and due to over dependence on Allopathy, a lot of these plants are on the verge of extinction. It is time we protect our medical plants and pass on the valuable knowledge to our future generations.

(Text and photos: Hareesh K G)

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