Kalmegh | Nilavembu | நிலவேம்பு is a small plant that has got wonderful medicinal uses and is especially used for treating diabetes and dengue fever. Here in Tamil Nadu, nilavembu kashayam | nilavembu kudineer is very very famous as it widely used for treating dengue and chikungunya fever.
Nilavembu has been used in home remedies and ayurvedic medicine for a really long time. It is commonly called King Of Bitters all over the world, Kalmegh in most parts of India and Nilavembu in Tamil. Nila means soil and vembu means neem, the name literally means a herb that grows close to the soil and is as bitter as neem, nilavembu is very very bitter just like neem!
The first thing that will come to anyone’s mind after hearing the word nilavembu is dengue fever, nilavembu is best known for it’s use in treating and preventing dengue. Here in Tamil Nadu I am sure many will be aware of nilavembu as even doctors advise us to use nilavembu for dengue treatment. The word nilavembu has become synonymous with dengue treatment that we forget it’s other wonderful uses.
Nilavembu Plant Description:
The botanical name of kalmegh is Andrographis Paniculata and it belongs to the family Acanthaceae and genus Andrographis. Kalmegh is an annual, branched herb that grows up to half to a meter high.
The best way to identify this amazing herb is by it’s unique flowers and fruit capsules. The plant produces plenty of small flowers that are white in color with specks of purple.
The plant is native to India and Srilanka and it is also found in Southeast Asia, China, America and West Indies. The aerial parts of the plant and the root are used for medicinal purposes.
Nilavembu Common Names:
Nilavembu Traditional Uses:
Nilavembu Chemical Constituents:
Many bio active compounds have been isolated from kalmegh plant. The most notable among them is terpenoids followed by flavonoids, noriridoides, polyphenols, xanthones and trace elements. Of the terpenoids isolated from kalmegh plant, andrographolide is the most prominent compound that exist in large quantities.
Other than andrographolide, neoandrographolide, andrograhoside, 14-deoxyandrographolide are other prominent terpenoids and they are mostly found in aerial parts. Other than these compounds certain miscellaneous compounds also have been isolated from the roots.
Nilavembu Kashayam | Nilavembu Kudineer:
Nilavembu kudineer is very famous in Tamil Nadu for its use in treating dengue fever but nilavembu can be used to treat all kinds of fever, for blood purification, for treating diabetes, skin diseases and allergies. Nilavembu plant is also used to ward off snakes and mosquitoes. Any preparation with nilavembu is very very bitter but it really does wonders.
The fresh herb grows in all types of soil easily and here in Tamil Nadu it is not very commonly found everywhere, but of late many have started growing this plant after the dengue campaign. If you don’t get fresh nilavembu leaves, you can also use pure nilavembu powder. But please remember that nilavembu kudineer is not made with plain nilavembu herb, it is a siddha formulation in which nilavembu is just one ingredient.
Nilavembu Medicinal Uses:
1. Anti Microbial Properties:
2. For Respiratory Tract Diseases:
3. Anti Inflammatory Properties:
4. Antioxidant Properties:
5. Anti Diabetic Properties:
6. Insecticidal Properties:
7. Anti Cancer Properties:
8. Protective Effect On The Heart, Liver & Kidneys:
9. Anti Pyretic Properties:
10. Anti Allergy Properties:
Nilavembu has amazing anti allergy properties and I have personally witnessed the amazing ability of nilavembu to cure acute allergy. Two days back my mother had a sudden allergic attack. She has never got any allergic attacks before and I was very surprised when she called me about her allergic attack.
Her whole body had started itching and she didn’t know the cause for it and the itching was getting unbearable. There is an old person in our village who is an expert in herbs and treats everyone in the village. What moves me the most is that although she is not well off, she will not accept money from anyone and does it for the good of others.
She gave a pea sized herbal paste and asked my mom to swallow it, immediately the itching started to diminish. When I asked her what herb she used, she said a name I didn’t recognize and when I asked her to show the herb, it was nilavembu | kalmegh. The main problem with herb identification is the multiple names for one herb even in the same locality.
But I am looking forward to learning a lot from her and hopefully with god’s grace I will be able to record all of those treasures in the blog for everyone to benefit. After seeing first hand the effect of kalmegh in treating allergies, I think it will be the first herb that I will pick for allergies from now on.
Where To Buy Nilavembu Powder?
We can easily get nilavembu powder in most herb shops or you can order it through online shops. You can also make your own nilavembu powder by sun drying fresh nilavemu leaves till crisp and then powdering it in a dry mixer. Fresh nilavembu plant can be got from nurseries, most nurseries stock nilavembu plant as it is very famous.
In Tamil Nadu, if you ask for nilavembu powder, we are usually given a blend of ingredients called nilavembu kudineer choornam used for making nilavembu kudineer. It is not pure nilavembu powder so if you want only nilavembu powder, make sure to ask specifically for it. We also get nilavembu tablets, they are usually sold as kalmegh tablets. We get kalmegh syrup or kalmegh drops too, nilavembu is made into a syrup and sold.
But kalmegh syrup is not usually just made with kalmegh alone, it contains other ingredients like papaya, milk thistle, etc and is generally recommended for gastric and liver problems. Finally we get kalmegh juice, it is usually made with only kalmegh leaves. You can take nilavembu in any one of these forms but make sure to follow the dosage.
Nilavembu Side Effects:
a. Nilavembu Side Effects For Men:
b. Nilavembu Side Effects For Pregnant Women:
Nilavembu is best avoided by pregnant women. If at all you want to consume nilavembu during pregnancy do so only under expert guidance. It is also best to avoid it while breast feeding too.
c. Nilavembu Drug Interactions:
Nilavembu might interact with pressure, immunosuppressant and anticoagulant medications so if you are any of these medications please practice caution.
d. Nilavembu Side Effects For Children:
For children, it is best to give nilavembu under medical supervision. Since nilavembu is very bitter it might cause minor gastro intestinal problems if the correct dosage is not given.
5 Top Medicinal Uses & Health Benefits Of Nilavembu | Kalmegh
1.Kalmegh | Nilavembu for Diabetes, Arthritis, Liver & Cancer:
Nilavembu is one of the most important herbs that is a sarva roga nivarani meaning cure for all diseases. It lowers the blood sugar levels and is excellent for treating diabetic patients. But it is best done under medical supervision as diabetic patients have to lower the diabetic medicines that they are already taking.
Kalmegh prevents cancer cells from forming and it is a powerful cancer preventive medicine. Kalmegh decoctions is a liver tonic. Many things affect the liver like too much alcohol consumption, powerful medications, eating foods sprayed with pesticide and consuming kalmegh is one of the best ways to keep the liver functioning properly.
Kalmegh has got anti inflammatory properties making it ideal for treating arthritis and gout. A simple decoction made by boiling 15 to 20 leaves of fresh or dried kalmegh leaves in a cup of water till it is reduced in half can be used for treating all the above said diseases. The decoction is very very bitter and can be consumed along with palm candy or with honey.
2.Kalmegh | Nilavembu for Allergies:
This was the paste that was given to my mother for her allergies. Fresh kalmegh leaves are ground in a mortar and pestle along with very little water to get a smooth, thick paste. Take a pea sized amount of paste, make a ball and swallow it along with water. The bitterness might linger in the tongue for sometime.
If you find it very uncomfortable, just take a tiny amount of honey. This has to be taken in an empty stomach for 3 days continuously. This remedy is a very good remedy for allergies that gives very good results immediately. You can also try it with good quality kalmegh powder that is sold in the shops…
3.Kalmegh | Nilavembu For All Kinds of Fever:
Kalmegh is a natural antibiotic that can be used to treat all kinds of fever, though it is best known for it’s use in treating dengue fever. For treating fever, we make a decoction by pounding a tiny bit of turmeric, 4 to 5 peppercorns and 10 kalmegh leaves coarsely in a mortar and pestle and then boiling it in a cup of water till it is reduced in half. This decoction can be given to children and adults. For children around 2 tbsp of this decoction can be given, for adults around 3 to 4 tbsp will work well.
4. Kalmegh | Nilavembu Kudineer for Dengue Treatment:
Here in Tamil Nadu we get a herbal powder made out of 9 herbs in which nilavembu is the main ingredient for treating dengue. After the dengue outbreak this drink is getting very popular as it is considered the most effective remedy for dengue. This powder is sold under the name of nilavembu kudineer chooranam and you can easily order it online.
If you don’t want to eat the chooranam, there is an other effective preparation that is very effective and that can be easily made at home. My uncle taught me this remedy: Take 1 part of a single papaya leaf, 10 kalmegh leaves, 5 peppercorns and 1 tbsp of palm candy powder, pound it once in a mortar and pestle and boil till it is reduced to half a cup. Drink it for 3 days in an empty stomach, for children reduce it by half.
Both kalmegh and papaya leaves are very effective in treating dengue fever and this decoction works very well. An article written about this treatment in a journal made me smile, it was written that finally a grandmas remedy has been proven to be the most effective for treating dengue and has been approved even by medical community. If only we listen to our grandmas, I think we will lead a much healthier life…:)
5. Kalmegh | Nilavembu for Cold:
Nilavembu can be used for treating all cold related problems.The fresh juice when taken internally is the best remedy for treating cold related problems. The only problem with nilavembu concoctions is the bitterness. There are a few things that we can follow while drinking bitter kashayam.
Drink it at a go without even tasting it and drink little bit of water immediately. You can also immediately take a spoon of honey after drinking the decoction. With the nilavembu paste the bitterness lingers longer, so tilt your head up, pop in the paste and immediately swallow it with water.
For treating cold, collect fresh leaves, wash them well and take them in a blender along with little boiled water, grind well and strain. You can also pound it in a mortar and pestle to get the syrup. For adults 1 tbsp can be taken and for children 1 to 2 tsp will work well. Remember to always drink the juice immediately after making it.