Aak | Madar | Erukku Plant | Crown Flower Medicinal Use & Health Benefits: Remedy For Painful Heel Syndrome
We call giant milkweed plant or crown flower erukku in Tamil, madar in Hindi. It is a plant that grows wildly all over in Asian countries like India, Pakistan, Thailand, Sri Lanka & Philippines. Many of us think this plant has very little use but on the contrary every part of this plant has got wonderful medicinal values. We make a garland out of the flowers for worshiping and when I was a child, I used to love making the garland as it is one of the easiest to make. Crown flower's botanical name is calotropis gigantea and belongs to the family apocynaceae. Though it is widely used in ayurvedic medicine, all parts of this plant is poisonous at certain dosage. When you cut the leaves and stem, a milky juice will flow out, this juice was used as an arrow poison in olden days. If you break the leaves from the plant, a white milky latex will flow out, if we touch this latex and then touch our eyes, it will cause reversible eye blindness. Though this plant is very poisonous, if we know how to use it correctly we can get wonderful benefits out of it. Even still today, many people use the juice to treat all kinds of poisonous bites. For that the leaves are ground to extract the juice and the juice is mixed with little bit of honey and given to the patients, but the dosage is very very important. Another important use is for boils, when the slightly warmed leaves are tied around boils, it makes it mature very fast. The juice of the crown flower leaves are used for treating constipation too, for that the juice is extracted and 3 drops of the juice is mixed with 1.5 tbsp of castor oil and give internally. Though I am writing all the remedies here, please remember that when taking internally, it can be toxic at certain levels, so do it very carefully under the guidance of an experienced person. You can use the plant for external applications without any problems or side effects. Here in Tamil Nadu, using erukku leaves for treating heal pain is very very famous. I was quite surprised when I came across a study that was conducted regarding the effect of crown flowers on patients who were suffering from heel pain. The study was conducted on 60 people with heel pain, this study was done for a period of 180 days and the final conclusion was that all the patients experienced significant positive results. The researchers concluded that if the patients continued the treatment for longer periods of time, they will experience very very good results. A few important things about the study was that it was done for almost 180 days and the patient were given warm flower compress twice a day daily. So you have to do it regularly at least for a few months to see results and the treatment has to be done regularly. It is always nice when our traditions are backed by science and I hope in the future, more studies like this are done to prove clinically all our home remedies. There are two varieties of the plant that is very common in India, one produces white flowers and another produces purple flowers like in the picture above. The white flowers are regarded highly than the purple flowers. Though you can use both flowers interchangeably, if you happen to get the white plant, please use that. Pregnant women should never ever consume this plant internally.
1. Remove the leaves from the plant, you will find milky latex flowing from the broken part. Wash the leaves well to get rid of the latex.
2. Take a brick and heat it over open fire. Once hot, place the 3 to 4 leaves over the hot stone and press the heels over it. Keep pressing the heels over the leaves till the brick loses it's heat.
3. Another method using a stone: Heat a small stone that retains heat well. Place 2 to 3 fresh leaves over the heels and then with a help of a cloth, take the heated stone and press it over the leaves. This is also very effective.
4. The method done in the study: Boil water in a pan, once it comes to a boil add the flowers and heat it for a few minutes till it is wilted, switch off and remove the flowers.
5. Place the flowers over the heels and cover the flowers with a cling film (in the study they used polythene sheet) and tie a coarse, thick cloth like a bandage over it.
This treatment should be continued regularly for a few months to get very good relief.
In the study, the flower poultice was kept on the patient for 8 hours (I think overnight) and no pain killers were given in the time period.
All the patients showed improvement in their walking and inflammation was significantly reduced on the 10'th day itself.
Most importantly, there was no side effects using the treatment (the patients blood was checked for toxicity).
You can do either the treatment with flowers or the leaves but when handling the hot stone be very very careful.