3 Top Medicinal Uses Of Cleome Gynandra Plant | Nalvelai | Ajagandha | Vaminta

Cleome Gynanadra is a small plant that is commonly found all over India. It has wonderful health benefits and medicinal uses and is widely used in traditional home remedies. I had the good fortune to meet an amazing person last month, my uncle introduced me to him. He is now 72 years old and had spent most of his adult life in the forest. It was amazing to listen to his old tales, he had lead a peaceful life that very very few lucky people will have.

Since he was living for months together in the forest, he had developed a very good relationship with local tribes (outsiders are strictly forbidden in their area) and he could spot animals before hand expertly. Since he was living in the forest he has an amazing knowledge of herbs and he generously shared all of his remedies with me. One of the herbs that he spoke about was African cabbage (common name).

Cleomegynandra Plant Common Names:

It is called Nalvelai in Tamil, Ajagandha in Sanskrit, Vaminta in Telugu and it’s botanical name is Cleome Gynandra. There are many species of Cleome and the variety that is very commonly found here in our place are Cleome Gynandra and Cleome Viscosa (actually Cleome Gynanadra is more common).

Cleomegynandra Plant:

Last weekend when I went trekking with our friends, I found pink Cleome Hassleriana there but Cleome Gynandra and Cleome Viscosa are the ones used the most in remedies. The plants have a unique strong distinctive smell and since these plants grow in abundance along the road sides and waste lands, you can easily find them.

It is said to have first originated in Africa and that is why it is also called as African spider plant or African cabbage. You can also grow the plant from the seeds very easily, this plant needs full sunlight and once you have a single plant, you will find that they spread very fast.

Cleomegynandra Plant Traditional Uses:

Cleome Gynandra is actually eaten as greens in our village side, it is slightly bitter so it is always had along with lentils or other greens. It is a very safe herb to consume but if you have too much of it, it will increase the body heat. This plant is very very highly nutritious and is said to contain very high amount of vitamin C, beta carotene and protein. It also has wonderful medicinal uses.  Try your best to include this plant in your diet and also use it in home remedies like given below…

3 Top Medicinal Uses Of Cleomegynandra Plant:

1. For Treating Sinus Infection:

For treating sinus infection, use the leaves for steaming. The leaves are very very effective in easing sinus headaches and infection.

2. For Insect Bites and Wounds:

For insect bites and wounds, take the leaves and crush them in mortar and pestle. Apply it directly in the affected area as a thick poultice.

3. For Chest Congestion & Mild Fevers:

The leaves are very effective in treating chest congestion and mild fevers. To use it as a remedy, pound 1/4 tsp each of cumin seeds and peppercorns coarsely in mortar and pestle.

Add 5 leaves along with 1 flower head, crushed pepper and cumin and 1 cup of water in a bowl. Boil till it reduces and drink. It is not very bitter and I prefer to have it without any sweeteners but if you prefer add good quality honey after straining.


  • The best way to include the plant in the diet is by mixing it with lentils or with other greens.
  • This plant is found plenty in forests so if you ever find yourself bitten by insects or bugs you can use the leaf poultice immediately…



  1. Anonymous
    October 7, 2015 / 3:31 am

    "The best way to include the plant in the diet is by mixing it with lentils or with other greens. "Which Dal and green is best for this?

    • Ramya Venkateshwaran
      October 9, 2015 / 4:06 am

      Try with either toor dhal or green gram dhal, both will be good. For greens, you can mix it with any greens that is not bitter like thavasi keerai, etc…

    • sara
      April 18, 2016 / 5:24 am

      Hi Ramya,Could you give details of thavasi keerai. I'm searching for its health benefits.Thanks

    • Ramya Venkateshwaran
      June 4, 2016 / 5:05 am

      Hi Sara, Thavasi keerai is one of my favorite keerai's as it is one of the tastiest greens we can find. I will try my best to post about the complete benefits very soon…

  2. Anonymous
    October 9, 2015 / 12:22 am

    Ramya we should never boil honey. Or add honey to anything hot like water or milk.They say it causes low BP. I used to add it to hot water for a drink and an Ayurvedic practishner told me about it. Ekta.

    • Ramya Venkateshwaran
      October 9, 2015 / 5:28 am

      Thanks for the information Ekta, I usually don't boil honey but I do add it to hot water and other liquid liquids….

  3. Padma
    October 9, 2015 / 7:51 am

    Ramaya I grew bhringraj that I got from my moms place at my home in Maharashtra, somehow the plant does not smell the same , it grows it's full strength but does not smell the same, the smell of bhringraj is very nice and fragrant, but this one is dull. Even avacado, the taste is less sweet here.

  4. Anonymous
    May 23, 2016 / 1:24 pm

    Madam – Can we get this in powder format in Cities Like Chennai? We badly need this kind of Natural Medicine. Pls advice.

    • Ramya Venkateshwaran
      June 7, 2016 / 3:26 am

      I am not familiar with shops in Chennai. But one of my friends suggested Dhaba chetty shop in Chennai for all herbs, why not try there?

  5. Anonymous
    July 21, 2016 / 6:22 am

    Mam what to do with aavaram ilai and poo

    • Ramya Venkateshwaran
      August 5, 2016 / 4:32 pm

      We use the avarampoo flowers for making tea and you can include the flowers in bath powders too. The leaves can be used in hair wash powders. I have bath powder and tea recipes using avarampoo in the blog, please check it out..

  6. Suwarna Hande
    February 25, 2017 / 8:30 am

    I really like your blog but one request I would like to make ….can you please include the regional names and places where one can find or grow such useful herbs! Just a request!

    • Ramya Venkateshwaran
      February 25, 2017 / 3:59 pm

      Dear Suwarna, I will do my best to include the information you asked from now on….

  7. Unknown
    June 30, 2017 / 9:56 am

    Good vegetable herb

  8. Unknown
    June 30, 2017 / 9:56 am

    Good vegetable herb

  9. sarah harding
    July 2, 2017 / 6:18 pm

    Wow,pretty pink Cleome surprise our 1st.spring here. Multiplies each yr., I call her Cleo. After read this, I'll be experimenting now, thanks !! 😊

  10. Anonymous
    October 19, 2017 / 5:35 am

    Hi Ramya. I have Cleome viscosa at home. Can I use its leaves to steam as well to relieve sinusitis? Thank you for your blog — it's a fantastic resource! Gayathri

  11. purity kaki mwinzi
    July 6, 2018 / 3:27 pm

    why can i get it please,i need it?

  12. purity kaki mwinzi
    July 6, 2018 / 3:28 pm

    i meant where can i get it please,i need it??

  13. Ruth N.M.
    March 22, 2023 / 6:49 am

    In πŸ‡ΏπŸ‡² we cook as relish and eat it.

  14. Luben Kumar Paul
    January 28, 2024 / 8:30 am

    If you need Dry leaves, I will send .

  15. MKhulu
    March 30, 2024 / 1:32 pm

    In Africa South it is cooked as relish. We even sun dry it after cooking to reduce the bitterness and stash away to use in hard times. It’s called lerotho in Sesotho languages

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