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Indian Herbal Medicine: Cures for Constipation

  • Published: 2015-03-19 (Revised/Updated 2015-03-30) : Author: Dr Deepak Acharya : Contact: deep_acharya@rediffmail.com
  • Synopsis: Information on Indian herbal medicines and native herbs used to cure constipation in India.

Main Document

"Tribals collect herbs and prepare medicine by their own. The aim of the current article is to document their knowledge and share it with the modern world."

Traditional medicine system has been prevailing in India since time immemorial. Tribals of Central India mainly Gonds and Bharia have been using their traditional knowledge generation after generation to cure their disorders.

This article mainly deals with an important practice performed by these tribals. This popular article is on curing chronic constipation. Tribals collect herbs and prepare medicine by their own. The aim of the current article is to document their knowledge and share it with the modern world.

Combination of herbs viz., Holarrhena pubescens, Plantago ovata, Terminalia bellirica, Emblica officinalis, Terminalia chebula, Cassia senna and Glycyrrhiza glabra

Drug preparation: Holarrhena pubescens bark (1 tbsp), Plantago ovata husk (2 tbsp), Terminalia bellirica fruits (1 tbsp), Emblica officinalis fruits (1 1/2 tbsp), Terminalia chebula fruits (1 1/2 tbsp), Cassia senna leaves (2 tbsp), Glycyrrhiza glabra roots (1 tbsp).

Dosage: About 1 tbsp powder should be given to the patient, at night before going to bed, with water.

Plant Profiles:

1. Holarrhena pubescens (Buch.- Ham.) Wall. ex DC. syn. H. antidysenterica (L.) Wall.

Sanskrit- Kutaja, Kalinga; Hindi- Kurchi, Karchi, Karra, Kora, Kuar, Kureya, Kura; Bengali- Kurchi; Marathi- Kodaga, Kuda, Dola- Kuda, Pandhara- Kuda; Gujarati- Dhowda, Kuda, Kari; Telugu- Pala, Kodaga; Tamil- Veppalei, Kodagapalei, Indrabam; Kannada- Beppale, Koodsaloo, Korchie; Malayalam- Kodagapala; Oriya- Kherwa, Pita Korwa, Patru kurwa; Punjab- Keor, Kewar; Nepal- Khuria; Bihar- Dudhiari; Assam- Dhutkhuri, Dudkhuri.

A deciduous laticiferous shrub or small tree upto 8 m high. Bark rather rough, pale brownish or greyish, peeling off in irregular flakes. Leaves opposite, subsessile, elliptic or ovate-oblong, 10-25 x 3-6 cm, membranous. Flowers white, in terminal corymbose cymes. Follicles divaricate, cylindric, 15-40 cm long, usually white spotted. Seeds light brown; coma brownish, spreading (WOA, 1997).

2. Plantago ovata Forssk. (Blond psyllium, Ispachula, Spogel seeds).

Persian- Isabghul; Hindi- Isubgol; Bengali- Eshopgol; Marathi- Isabgola; Gujarati- Isapghol, Ghoda jeeru, Umto jeeru; Telugu- Isapgola vitulu; Tamil- Iskolvirai; Kannada- Isafgolu, Visamagolu; Malyalam- Karkatasringi.

A stemless or sub-caulescent softly hairy or woolly annual herb. Leaves narrowly linear or filiform, entire or distantly toothed. Flowers in cylindric or ovoid spikes. Capsules ellipsoid, 8 mm long, obtuse, the upper half coming off as a blunt conical lid, membranous, glabrous. Seeds ovoid-oblong, 3 mm long, boat-shaped, smooth, yellowish brown (WOA, 1997).

3. Terminalia bellirica Roxb. (Belliric myrobalan).

Hindi- Bahera; Bengali- Bhairah; Marathi- Beheda; Telugu & Tamil- Tani; Malyalam- Thani; Oriya- Bhara; Trade- Belliric myrobalan, Bahera.

A handsome tree, with characteristic bark, up to 40 m high and a girth of 1.8-3 m. Stems straight, frequently buttressed when large. Leaves broadly elliptic, clustered towards the ends of branches. Flowers in solitary, simple, axillary spikes. Fruits globular, 1.3-2 cm in diam., obscurely 5-angled (WOA, 1997).

4. Emblica officinalis Gaertn. syn. Phyllanthus emblica L. (Emblic myrobalan, Indian gooseberry).

Sanskrit- Adiphala, Dhatri, Amalaka; Hindi- Amla, Amlika, Aonla; Bengali- Akla, Amlaki; Gujarati- Amali, Ambala; Telugu- Amalakamu, Usirikai; Tamil- Nelli; Kannada- Amalaka, Nelli; Malyalam- Nelli.

A small or medium-sized deciduous tree with smooth, greenish grey, exfoliating bark. Leaves feathery with small narrowly oblong, pinnately arranged leaflets. Fruits depressed globose, upto 2.5 cm in diam., fleshy and obscurely 6-lobed, containing 6 trigonous seeds (WOA, 1997).

5. Terminalia chebula Retz. (Chebulic myrobalan).

Hindi- Harra; Bengali- Haritaki; Marathi- Hirda; Gujarati- Hardo; Telugu- Karakkai; Tamil- Kadukkai; Oriya- Haridra; Punjab- Har, Harar; Assam- Silikha; Trade- Myrobalan, Chehulic myrobalan.

A tree 15-24 m in height and 1.5-2.4 m in girth, with spreading branches. Bark dark-brown, often longitudinally cracked, exfoliating in woody scales. Leaves ovate or elliptic with a pair of large glands at the top of the petiole. Flowers yellowish white, in terminal spikes. Drupes ellipsoidal, obovoid or ovoid, yellow to orange-brown, sometimes tinged with red or black and hard when ripe, 3-5 cm long, become 5-ribbed on drying. Seeds hard, pale yellow (WOA, 1997).

6. Cassia senna L. syn. C. acutifolia Delile, C. angustifolia Vahl (Alexandrian, Bombay or Tinnevelly senna).

Bengali- Sannamakki, Sonpat; Gujarati- Middiawal, Senamakki; Hindi- Bhuikhakhasa, Hindisana; Kannada- Nelavarike, Soonamukhi; Malyalam- Nilavaka, Sunnamukhi; Marathi- Bhuitarvada, Shonamakhi; Oriya- Shonamukhi; Sanskrit- Bhumiari, Pitapushpi, Swarnamukhi, Swarnapatrika; Tamil- Nattunelavarai, Nelavagai, Sooratnilla avarai; Telugu- Neelaponna, Neelatangeedu; Rajasthani- Senna.

A variable, branching, erect shrub, up to 1.8 m in height. Leaves pinnate, pubescent; leaflets pale green to bluish green, 3-9 pairs, lanceolate or elliptic, varying on the same plant, 1.5-5 x 0.4-2 cm. Flowers brilliant yellow, in erect, terminal racemes. Pods light green when young to dark brown or black when mature, flat, thin, oblong, pubescent, 3.5-7 x 0.2-2.5 cm. Seeds obovate-oblong, 5-7, dark brown (WOA, 1997).

7. Glycyrrhiza glabra L. (Licorice)

Sanskrit- Madhuka, Yashti-madhu; Persian- Bikhemahak; Hindi- Mulhatti, Jethi-madh; Bengali- Jashtimadhu, Jaishbomodhu; Marathi- Jeshta madha; Gujarati- Jethi madha; Telugu- Yashtimadhukam, Atimadhuramu; Tamil- Atimaduram; Kannada- Yashti madhuka, Atimadhura; Malyalam- Iratimadhuram.

A hardy herb or undershrub attaining a height up to 6 ft. Leaves multifoliolate, imparipinnate. Flowers in axillary spikes, papilionaceous, lavender to violet in color. Pods compressed, containing reniform seeds (WOA, 1997).

References:

WOA. 1997. Wealth of Asia (AHEAD).

About the Authors:

Dr Deepak Acharya: He is the Director of a herbal formulation company in Ahmedabad, India. He has been documenting ethnobotanical knowledge of tribals of Central and Western India. He has written 30 research papers in National and International journals of repute. He writes popular articles for web and magazines. Meet him on his homepage dracharya.tripod.com or contact via email on deep_acharya@rediffmail.com

Ms Garima Sancheti: She is a research scholar, working in the field of Radiation and Cancer Biology from Department of Zoology (University of Rajasthan, India). She has to her credit various research papers in scientific journals as well as articles on web. Contact her on garimasancheti@rediffmail.com

Dr Anshu Shrivastava: He is a Botanist and PhD from BSI- Jodhpur, currently working as Research Associate in SRISTI- Ahmedabad. He can be contacted on ansh24@gmail.com

Dr Sanjay Pawar: He is a botanist in Chhindwara, Madhya Pradesh. Contacted him on drpawar@rediffmail.com

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