Medicinal Herbs

Medicinal Herbs:

Acorus Calamus (Sweet Flag, Bacch)

A tall perennial rush that is probably indigenous to India, calamus is used in perfumery for the scented leaves and rhizomes, and medicinally as a tonic.  In Ayurveda it is highly valued as a rejuvenator for the brain and nervous system and as a remedy for digestive disorders.  The root is said to be anodyne, aphrodisiac, aromatic, carminative, diaphoretic, emmenagogue, expectorant, febrifuge, hypotensive, sedative, stimulant, stomachic, mildly tonic and vermifuge.  Large doses can be toxic and result in hallucinations.  The US Food and Drug Administration bans calamus and calamus extracts from being added to foods or medicines in the United States.

Andrographis Paniculata (Kalmegh)

An herb native to India, Andrographis Paniculata has been used medicinally since time immemorial.  It is among the most bitter plants used for medicine; several of the regional names refer to this quality (“King of Bitters”; “Bile of the Earth”).  Used to treat infections and stimulate the immune system, the plant extract is reported to be antityphoid, antifungal, antihepatotoxic, antibiotic, antimalarial, antihepatitic, antithrombogenic, antiinflammatory, anti-snake venom, and antipyretic.  It may also act against HIV.

Asparagus Racemosus (Satavar)

Asparagus racemosus is a tall climbing plant with thin leaves, long roots, and small white fragrant flowers.  Known as “the Queen of Herbs”, the processed and dried roots are used to make Satavari, an Ayurvedic medicine. “Satavari is considered to be the main Ayurvedic rejuvenating female tonic for overall health and vitality.”  Said to be an antioxidant, to stimulate the immune system, and to function as an aphrodisiac.

Curcuma Caesia (Black Turmeric, Kali Haldi)

Black Turmeric is a perennial herb with bluish-black rhizomes, native to central India where we farm.  Black Turmeric is on the critically endangered species list because of over-collection in the wild.  We hope by cultivating it to provide an alternative source to illegally collected wild plants.  The claimed medicinal qualities of Black Turmeric vary widely, and include treatment of asthma, cancer, impotency, menstrual disorders, toothache, and allergies.

Curcuma Longa (Yellow Turmeric)

Yellow Turmeric is a perennial plant of the ginger family.  The rhizomes are used for food and for medicine.  Yellow Turmeric is used as an antiseptic and antibacterial, in skin creams, and as a treatment for Acne Inversa, a debilitating skin disease.  The U.S. National Institute of Health is studying the plant’s most active ingredient, curcumin, for treatment of pancreatic cancer, multiple myeloma, Alzheimer’s, and colorectal cancer.

Emblica Officinalis (Indian Gooseberry)

A deciduous tree known for its edible, greenish-yellow, spherical fruit of the same name.  The taste of Indian gooseberry is sour, bitter and astringent, and it contains tannins with antioxidant properties.  It may be valuable in treating rheumatoid arthritis, osteoporosis, inflammation, cancer, age-related renal disease, and diabetes.
In ayurvedic medicine it may be used as a rasayana (rejuvenative]] to promote longevity, and traditionally to enhance digestion (dipanapachana), treat constipation (anuloma), reduce fever (jvaraghna), purify the blood (raktaprasadana), reduce cough (kasahara), alleviate asthma (svasahara), strengthen the heart (hrdaya), benefit the eyes (chakshushya), stimulate hair growth (romasanjana), enliven the body (jivaniya), and enhance intellect (medhya).

Gloriosa Superba (Kalihari)

A climbing vine that can reach 3 meters in height, with brilliant, showy flowers that range from yellow to red to pink.  State flower of Tamil Nadu in India, and national flower of Zimbabwe. The main active ingredient is the alkaloid colchicine, which appears throughout the plant but is most concentrated in the rhizomes, the horizontal underground stems.  Colchicine is said to have anti-inflammatory, anti-leprotic (anti-leprosy) and antipyretic (reduces body temperature) properties.  In Ayurveda, it is considered an anthelmintic (expels parasitic worms) and an abortifacient.  Gloriosa superba can be extremely toxic and must be treated with respect.

Gymnema Sylvestre (Gurmar)

A large, climbing plant.  The Hindi word “gur-mar” literally means sugar destroyer.  The herb has been shown to reduce blood sugar levels when used for an extended period of time.  Consequently, the main use is as a natural anti-diabetic medicine.  The plant contains gymnemic acids, which have anti-diabetic, anti-sweetener and anti-inflammatory activities.  Extracts of gymnema is used to curb sweet tooth, and to treat hyperglycemia, obesity, high cholesterol levels, anemia and digestive problems. According to Ayurveda it helps to treat Madhumeha, i.e glycosuria (excretion of glucose into the urine—a symptom of diabetes), possibly by stimulating secretion of insulin.


Most people have heard of Jatropha because oil extracted from the seeds can be made into biodiesel, but Jatropha has a long history as a medicinal plant as well.  The latex of Jatropha contains an alkaloid known as "jatrophine" which is believed to have anti-cancer properties. It is also used as an external application for skin diseases and rheumatism, and for sores on domestic livestock.  The tender twigs of the plant are used for cleaning teeth, while the juice of the leaf can be used as an external application for piles (hemorrhoids).  Our Jatropha is intercropped between our Vetiver and Calamus.

Mentha Arvensis (Wild Mint)

Wild mint is perennial herb with a distinctive smell.  Mint oil contains menthol, which is prized as a flavoring agent.  Menthol also has recognized medicinal qualities, and is regarded as an antiseptic and antibacterial.  It is useful in treating swollen gums, mouth ulcers, toothache, and  is also effective as a mouth wash against the bacteria that cause bad breath.

Piper Longum (Long Pepper)

Piper Longum, or “long pepper,” is a flowering vine.  The fruits are tiny, about the size of poppy seeds, and are embedded in the surface of a long flower spike.  The English word “pepper” comes from the Sanskrit word for the long pepper, “pippali.”  It is both a spice and a medicine.  The fruit is used in Ayurvedic medicine for respiratory problems such as cough, asthma, or bronchitis.  It can also be used as an analgesic when applied locally for muscular pains.

Phyllanthus Niruri (Phyllanthus Amarus)

An annual herb, Phyllanthus niruri has light green bark, pale green flowers, and tiny, smooth seed capsules.  Extracts of this herb have shown promise in treating a wide range of human diseases. Some of the claimed medicinal properties are anti-hepatotoxic, anti-hypertensive, anti-HIV and anti-hepatitis B.  The plant may also act as an anti-lythic, inhibiting kidney stone growth and reducing urinary calcium.

Rauwolfia Serpentine (Sarpgandha)

A flowering plant of the dogsbane (Apocynaceae) family. Also known as “snakeroot,” for the twisting, winding shape of the roots.  Rauwolfia serpentina has been used medicinally in India for centuries, and is said to relieve tension, anxiety and worry.  The roots are said to be a very effective medicine against high blood pressure.

Trigonella Foenum Graecum (Fenugreek)

Fenugreek plants grow to a height of about 2 feet, and have large seed pods.  Fenugreek tastes bitter but can smell so much like maple syrup that it is used to produce artificial maple syrup flavorings.  Most people would recognize Fenugreek from Indian cuisine as a distinctive tasting spice, but it has a long history of medicinal use in many different countries.  Fenugreek seeds are a galactagogue, a substance used to increase milk supply in lactating women.  The seeds may also be effective in treating diabetes, and in lowering cholesterol.

Withania Somnifera (Aswagandha)

A shrub with yellow flowers and tiny red fruit, related to the tomato. Fruits, leaves and seeds have been traditionally used in the Ayurvedic system as aphrodisiacs, diuretics and for treating memory loss.  Ayurveda considers it a rasayana herb that nourishes the body, revitalizes energy and boosts immunity. Some herbalists refer to ashwagandha as Indian ginseng, since its use in ayurvedic medicine is similar to the use of ginseng in traditional Chinese medicine.  May also treat arthritis and have anti-carcinogenic effects.

Gallery Photos: 
Rauwolfia serpentine (Sarpgandha) Roots
Brij with Tribal Farmers
Withania somnifera (Aswagandha) Under Cultivation
Withania somnifera (Aswagandha) Roots
Rauwolfia serpentine (Sarpgandha) plant
Rauwolfia serpentine (Sarpgandha) Under Cultivation
Withania somnifera (Aswagandha) Powder
Tribal Woman Worker
Asparagus racemosus (Satavar)
Curcuma Caesia, Black Turmeric, Kali Haldi
Mentha Arvensis, Wild Mint
Phyllanthus niruri (Phyllanthus amarus)
Piper Longum
Trigonella Foenum Graecum, Fenugreek
Curcuma longa, Yellow Turmeric