What Is Pirandai?
Pirandai is a perennial plant, it is a fleshy succulent creeper that is commonly found all over India. Pirandai plant looks like a bunch of elongated fleshy sticks. The stem is quadrangular with internodes at every 4 to 15 cms depending on the length of the stem. The plant produces flowers between July to December and is usually propagated through cuttings.
I don’t grow pirandai in my garden as it is found plenty in the farm, I always collect fresh tender pirandai which easily breaks for using. Many hesitate to use pirandai because of it’s itchy nature, but if we properly handle pirandai, we can prevent itchiness in our hands. First always try to pick tender pirandai, young pirandai can be easily broken with hands and as the pirandai ages it thickens.
To prevent itching in the hands, smear your hands with a bit of sesame oil before handling pirandai. After collecting pirandai, wash it well and break it at the nodes and remove the nodes too. If the pirandai is tender, you can break it with hands easily into two and pull the fibers apart like we do for peeling drumsticks. If the pirandai is a bit aged, after breaking at the nodes, take a peeler and remove the sharp edges like we do for ridged gourd, now the prandai is ready to be used.
Botanical & Common Names Of Pirandai:
Pirandai Nutritional Value:
Pirandai is rich in antioxidants vitamin C & vitamin E. The reason pirandai is so effective for people with bone problems is due to the high amount of calcium and phosphorus it contains.
Pirandai Chemical Constituents:
Pirandai consists of flavonoids, quercetin, kaempferol, quadrangularins A, B and C, reserveratrol, pallid, piceatanon, etc. Some of the important triterpenes found in pirandai are alpha-amyrins, beta-sitosterol, phenols, tannins and carotene.
Pirandai Traditional Uses:
Traditionally Pirandai is mainly for treating indigestion, fractures and sprains. It is also famous as a deworming medicine and is used for treating menstrual problems and as a home remedy for ear pain. Pirandai chutney or thogayal is very famous in my place and if you have young children at home who don’t eat well, try giving this pirandai chutney weekly twice.
Even people who complain of indigestion often can include pirandai at least weekly twice in their diet. Poultice made of pirandai is also used extensively for treating sprains in my place. My elders have always followed the famous adage that prevention is better than cure. If we include these kind of medicinal plants weekly once or twice in our diet, we can prevent many diseases.
In my experience, if we make it tasty, even young children will eat these medicinal plants easily. I have given all the ways that pirandai can be used to the best of my knowledge, hope you will benefit from using this wonderful plant. Try to incorporate it often in your daily diet.
Pirandai Medicinal Uses:
1. Antioxidant Properties:
Pirandai has wonderful antioxidant properties and great helps reduce free radicals that are responsible for the premature ageing of our skin and body. The antioxidant property is attributed mainly due to the presence of high amount of beta carotene in pirandai plant.
2. Bone Healing Properties:
Pirandai has been used for bone healing for centuries and here in Tamil Nadu, it is quite famous for it. Both external application and internal consumption helps with healing bone fractures. Here we apply pirandai poultice and we also consume it internally. The reason it is so effective is due to the presence of high amounts of phytoestrogenic steroids, calcium and phosphorus which helps with fast bone healing.
3. Anti Ulcer Properties:
Another interesting use of pirandai is it helps heal ulcers really well. If you are a person who is suffering from ulcer, I would suggest including pirandai in your diet regularly. The reason it is so effective for treating ulcer is due to the presence of sitosterol and triterpenoids found in pirandai. You can read the study that supports this claim here.
4. Anti Inflammatory & Analgesic Properties:
Pirandai has wonderful anti inflammatory and analgesic (pain relieving) properties that helps reduce pain and inflammation really well. The anti inflammatory property is due to the presence of flavonoids in pirandai. Calcium oxalate, carotene, tetra terpenoids, amyrin and beta sitosterol are some of the compounds responsible for the analgesic properties and you can read the study here.
5. For Menopausal Women:
Many older women suffer from menopause symptoms like joint pain, hot flashes, etc. One of the treatments suggested for it is hormone replacement therapy which helps balance the estrogen and progesterone levels. But though hormone replacement therapy is effective in relieving the symptoms of menopause, it also comes with lot of side effects like bloating, headache, nausea, etc. But there are herbs like pirandai which has estrogenic properties but without any side effects and you can read the study that proves it here.
6. Prevents Osteoporosis:
Another very important benefit of pirandai is it greatly helps with bone growth. This is very significant as more and more women are suffering from osteoporosis. In fact pirandai has been shown to help in fetal bone development if pregnant women consume pirandai and you can read the study that supports this claim here.
7. For Weight Loss:
Traditionally pirandai is used for reducing excessive weight. Though exercise and health diet is key to lasting weight loss, consuming herbs that greatly aids weight loss will help speed up the process. Pirandai if had regularly will help reduce weight, and it not only helps reduce weight, it also helps lower LDL cholesterol and triglycerides. You can read the study that supports this claim here.
8. For Diabetics:
Pirandai is very good for diabetics as it not only reduces blood sugar levels but helps prevent many of the complications associated with diabetes. Pirandai modulates the activity of carbohydrate metabolizing enzymes thus reducing the blood glucose levels. If you are a diabetic patient who is suffering from high blood sugars consuming pirandai on a regular basis will help maintain stable blood sugar levels and you can read the study that supports this claim here.
Pirandai Side Effects:
Pirandai lowers blood sugar levels so if you are on blood pressure medications, please monitor your blood sugar levels closely. Pirandai also causes itching when we touch it and for some people, it might cause severe itching so always handle it after applying oil on your hands. Pirandai if had in moderation like we do traditionally does not have any side effects and even pregnant women can have it in moderation.
We get pirandai capsules and powders in the markets for reducing joint pain and faster bone healing and usually the suggested dosage is around 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon. But if you are on any medication, please consult with your physician before taking it on a regular basis.
Where to Buy Pirandai?
Nowadays many departmental stores in Tamil Nadu sell small packets of fresh pirandai in the vegetable section but if you don’t have access to fresh pirandai, you can buy pirandai oil and pirandai powder in nattu marudhu kadai (herb shops). You can also order pirandai capsules and pirandai powder through online shops too….
5 Top Ways To Use Pirandai At Home:
1. Pirandai Thogayal | Chutney: For Gastritis, Indigestion & Lack of Appetite:
Pirandai thogayal treats all digestion related problems like gastritis, indigestion and lack of appetite. Pirandai thogayal can be made in matter of minutes and tastes really good. To make the thogayal, take around a cup of cleaned, finely chopped pirandai. Heat around 1.5 tbsps of sesame oil in a pan and roast 3 tbsp urad dhal, 3 dry red chillies, a small piece of asafoetida separately till golden and remove from the pan.
Now take the cut pirandai pieces in the same pan and fry well till the color of pirandai changes to pale color. Grind the fried spices first to a coarse powder in a blender, now add fried pirandai, 1 tsp of tamarind, salt, a pinch of jaggery and grind to thick coarse paste with very little water. You can season with mustard and curry leaves, if you prefer.
This thogayal gives best results if consumed weekly twice, especially if you suffer from indigestion, gastritis or if you are a person who eats out a lot. It is also good home remedy for piles. To eat, mix the thogayal/ chutney with hot rice and little bit of ghee. This pirandai thogayal tastes wonderful, but make sure to fry the pirandai very well till the color changes.
2. Pirandai Poultice For Sprains:
Pirandai poultice is very good for treating sprains and swollen joints (suluku in Tamil). It is also one home remedy that many people in our village use often for minor injuries, as it heals the minor sprains and fractures very fast. Take pirandai and clean like I mentioned above, now take a cup of pirandai and grind it in a mixer with very little water and extract the juice.
Take the juice along with a tbsp of tamarind paste, a tsp of salt, tsp of pure turmeric powder and warm it in a pan. Now test the temperature of the mixture and if it’s hot wait for it to come to lukewarm temperature, apply this mixture over sprains, just like we apply sprain creams. Some people grind the pirandai pieces as such without extracting the juice before heating it, you can try both methods…
3. Pirandai Appalams:
There is also an easy and delicious way to consume pirandai, without any effort on our part and that is by consuming pappads. Sounds good right? Traditional urad dal appalams were always made with pirandai. I will just give the general instructons for making the appalams: Water is added to stone ground urad dal flour along with pirandai juice, pepper powder, salt and little bit of pickling lime.
It is pounded well to make it into a soft pliable dough and then made into appalams. If you can buy traditional appalams made with pirandai juice, it will be very good, you can also order these appalams online. Here in Tamil Nadu, the famous Kallidaikurichi appalams known for it’s taste and quality were always made with pirandai juice, which gives it’s unique wonderful taste.
4. Pirandai For Children:
It is difficult to make young children eat pirandai thogayal, so try giving pirandai in the form of vathal. Regularly including pirandai vathal in their diet will prevent them from getting stomach disorders. Clean the pirandai and cut into small pieces, now take a cup of thick buttermilk and add required amount of salt.
Soak the pirandai in the butter milk for 4 to 5 days. On the fifth day, remove from the butter milk and sun dry till crisp and store it in a air tight box. Whenever necessary, fry the vadams in little oil till crisp. These crisps are perfect accompaniments for any rice. Pirandai can also be ground and added to dosa batter to make pirandai dosais.
5. Pirandai for Treating Menopausal Symptoms:
This paste if had regularly for a few days will help reduce menopausal symptoms. For the treatment take pirandai and cut into small pieces after cleaning and scrapping. Now take little bit of homemade ghee in a pan and fry the pirandai pieces well, till the color changes. If you don’t fry pirandai well, you will have the itchiness in your throat after eating it.
After frying it well grind it to a paste well in a blender by adding very very little boiled water to a paste. Make sure to fry the pirandai in ghee well as we need to store the ground paste for almost 10 days. Store this in a bottle in the refrigerator and consume a 1/4 tsp of this paste daily, it will help reduce many of the menopausal symptoms like joint pain, hot flushes, etc. This treatment also improves bone health.