KUMARI (Aloe indica)
Kumari in Sanskrit, means a young, virgin girl. As the herb imparts youthful energy and enhances femitity, hence the name. It also mitigates kumari roga i.e. menstrual disorders, so it might have been named as kumari. It has various synonyms like ghrta kumari – its juice being sticky like ghee (clarified butter), dirghapatrika has big and long leaves, bahupatra – it has many leaves etc. It is one of the herbs mentioned in all ancient Sanskrit scriptures. It has been categorized as bhedaniya – accumulation – breaking herb, pliharogaghna – ameliorating diseases of the spleen and netrarogaghna – alleviating ophthalmic diseases.
The plant grows in a semi wild state throughout the drier parts of India. It is also cultivated. The plant grows 30-60 cm in height, is a perennial, with short stem. The leaves large, 40-50 cm long, thick, fleshy, lance shaped, with sharp apex and spiny margins. The color of leaves varies from species to species – grey to bright green, chocolate brown to black.
The botanical name of kumari is Aloe indica and it belongs to family Liliaceae. It is also called as Aloe barbadensis. The pulp contains a glucoside, barbaloin, isobarbaloin and barbalion. The leaves also contain glucose, galactose, galacturonic acid, mannose, aloesin and volatile and non volatile oils, gum, resin, emodin, chrysophanic acid and traces of coumarin. Aloesin and aloesone isolated,malic, citric and tartaric acids from leaves The jelly from leaves composed of four partially acetylated glucomannans which differ in their glucose to mannose ratio and acetyl content.
The whole plant kumari is bitter and sweet in taste, seed in the post digestive effect and cold in potency. It alleviates all the three doshas. It possesses heavy, unctuous and oily attributes.
The dried pulp of leaves or solid extract – elio, is bitter in taste, pungent in the post digestive effect and hot in potency. It possesses dry, hot and light attributes. It is a good rejuvenative and contract uterine muscles.
The fresh gel or its solid extract is used for medicinal purpose. The plant is equally salutary both, internally as well as externally. In inflammatory conditions, associated with pain and swelling, the external application of its leaf extract, bola-elio, is very beneficial. It is also an effective remedy for chronic wounds, as it possesses vranasodhana wound cleansing and vranaropana wound healing properties. To alleviate the swelling and pain due to enlarged spleen, the pulp with turmeric powder, applied externally is said to be helpful. The pulp when applied on forehead relieves the headache. It is also useful in conjunctivitis, for which the strained juice of the pulp is instilled in the eyes. In inflamed piles, when the pulp is applied externally, it alleviates the pain and imparts a cooling effect. Kumari pulp gives excellent results in burns and scalds. The bola effectively reduces haematoma, the accumulation of blood, due to traumatic injuries. Now days, it is one of the popular cosmetic aids as it moisturizes, heals and regenerates the skin.
Internally, kumari is useful in number of diseases. In small doses, it is an effective appetizer, digestant, liver stimulant and in large doses, it works as an anthelmintic and purgative. It is very useful a blood purifier, hence valuable in skin diseases and jaundice due to viral hepatitis. It is one of the common most used ingredients in the liver preparations, available in the market. As it increases the urine output, it works well in urinary problems. The nasya nasal drops, of its leaf juice with ghee are a traditional panacea for jaundice. The combination of its leaf juice, vasa juice, pippali and clove powder when given with honey, relieves the cough very effectively. In splenic diseases, the leaf juice is beneficial when given with turmeric powder. Abdominal pain due to flatulence is instantly relieved with kumari ghrta – medicated ghee of kumari, and marica powder.
In ascites and anasarca, the leaf juice works well with Arogyavardhini. The enlarged spleen due to anemia, chronic fever of catabolic disorders like meda ksaya, rakta ksaya is effectively treated with leaf juice and turmeric powder. To correct anemia, the leaf juice is better given with iron preparations like loha or mandura bhasmas. The leaf extract – bola is one of the popular medicines for menstrual disorders, as it contracts the uterine musculature and improves the endometrial circulation. It is contraindicated in pregnancy for the risk of abortion.
Kumari is a valuable herb in the treatment of tumors also. It is an effective medicament in the skin disease like scabies, erysipelas, multiple abscesses etc. For such, the leaf juice with turmeric powder is a very effective combination to combat infection and pus formation. The pulp can be used as an aphrodisiac, to augment seminal fluids. As a domestic remedy, the leaf juice is used in various ailments. It is used to increase the appetite and cleanse the bowels, with honey. It alleviates pitta when taken with rock candy. With a pinchful of salt, the juice of roasted leaf is effective in cough and bronchial asthma. It is used as a general tonic, with sugar. Kumari combines well with manjistha and haridra (turmeric) in treating raktapitta, in epistaxis and bleeding per rectum.
The leaf extract – bola should be used in small dosage for short duration. In large doses, it causes pain and bleeding per rectum. It is strictly contra-indicated in pregnancy.
Classical Ayurvedic Preparation
- Kumari asava
- Kumarika vati
- Rajahpravartani vati etc.