SIGRU (Moringa oleifera)
The fresh ginger in Sanskrit is known as ardraka, whereas dry ginger as sunthi. It is referred to as Mahausadhi meaning a great medicine and also visvabhesaja the universal medicine. Though it is commonly used in many herbal preparations and food, the ancient tests have classified it under dipaniya – an appetizer, sitaprasamana – anticold, trptighna–anti-saturative, stanyasodhana – lactodepurant, purisa sangrahaniya – gives form to the faeces and arsoghna – anti hemorrhoidal, groups. Sunthi is one of the ingredients of often used preparation by Ayurvedic practitioners, called trikatu – meaning three pungent viz. Sunthi, marika and pippali. The mixture of these, in equal parts, in powder form, works well when given with honey in colds, rheumatic conditions, obesity and tumors.
A perennial herb is widely grown all over India, especially in Bengal, Orissa, Karnataka and Madhya Pradesh. The herb grows up to 90 cm in height, with a large, solid, tough, horizontal rhizome. The rhizomes are aromatic, covered with pale silvery-brown skin and pale yellow within. The leaves, 15-30 cm long and 2-3 cm broad, with sheathing bases and the blade gradually tapering to a point. The flowers are yellowish green, in oblong cylindric spikes, small, soon withering.
The botanical name of this plant is Zingiber officinale and it belongs to ziniberaceae family. Ginger contains 1-2% svolatile oil and 5-8% resinous matter, starch and mucilage. The oil of ginger is a mixture of over 24 constituents. The pungent component is ginger formed in the plant from phenylalanine, malonate and hexanoate. Gingerol does not evaporate with the oil. Detection of heptane, octane, isovaleraldehyde, nonanol, ethyl pinene, camphene, pinene, sabinene, myrecene, limonene, phllandrene and 1, 8-cineole in essential oil by GLC.
Ardraka is pungent in taste, pungent in post digestive effect and is hot in potency, Sunthi alleviates vata and kapha doshas and controls the vitiation of pitta dosha. As a whole it alleviates all the three doshas. It has heavy, dry and sharp attributes. Sunthi has prabhava, meaning a special potency, as an aphrodisiac. Sunthi is rewarding in many diseases like dyspepsia, anorexia, nausea, common cold, asthma, cough, filariasis, heart diseases, piles and ascites.
Sunthi and ardraka both are used internally as well as externally. For the relief from colds and coughs, it is applied on the forehead or chest as a paste. To alleviate pain and swelling, its paste is applied preferable with oil in rheumatic conditions. In excessive perspiration, the massage with dry sunthi powder is beneficial.
Internally, sunthi is one of the distinguished medicines in diseases of vata. A decoction of sunthi, tila and jaggery is the best panacea for rheumatic disorders – amavata and peptic ulcer – parinama sula (Sharngadhara). It combines well with honey as a therapy for cough and asthma. The juice of ardraka and lemon with equal quantity of hony is licked with pippali in cough and colds. Sunthi works well with vidanga given with honey in intestinal worms and loss of appetite.
Hot ardraka tea is of special benefit in bringing on a delayed menstrual period and in relieving menstrual cramps. The juice of ardraka and onion alleviates vomiting. To combat chronic colds, the decoction of ardraka, cinnamon and rock candy is extremely helpful.
For treating colds, cough, loss of appetite and distaste, candied ardraka is commonly used. It is prepared by cutting ardraka into bite-sized spices. Simmer these in honey or sugar. Add saffron, cloves, cardamom to it. Eat a piece after meals. Sunthi is traditionally used in women as a general tonic in post-partum debility. It is used as an adjuvant in aphrodisiac preparations in male sexual debility.
Since sunthi and ardraka are heat producing, they should be sparingly used in summer season and in ailments like Rakta pitta, urinary burning, pittaja fever.
Classical Ayurvedic Preparations
- Trikatu choorna
- Saubhagyasunthi paka
- Pancasama choorna
- Ardraka khanda
- Vyosadhi ghrta