Nilavembu has become popular after the serious prevalence of Dengue fever. Its botanical name is Andrographis paniculata. It tastes bitter and generates heat. Having the medicinal property to cure fever different types of fever it has been widely recommended currently to have the water extract of Nilavembu against Dengue. But the extract is not only prepared with Nilavembu but with nine other herbal medicines. The details of its preparation are elaborated by Dr.G.Muthulakshmi, Assistant Medical Officer - Pharmacy for Indian Medicines, Arignar Anna Government Hospital, Chennai.
“The powder used to prepare Nilavembu drink is mixed with other powders of Sukku (dry ginger), Parpaadagam (Mollugo), Vettiver (Vettiveria), Vilamichai root (Plectranthus), Koraikizhangu (Nutgrass), Paeipudal (Snake gourd), Milagu (Pepper) and Sandhanam (Sandal). Generally, merely boiling the leaves or roots or the whole plant of Nilavembu is adequate to cure fever-related illness. It also provides immunity to our body. It is also helpful in curing lever related diseases, low appetite, and also cures skin itches and rashes. It can also cure a headache, sneezing, cough and sinus related illness. It is proven to cure hyperthyroidism and tumors in the uterus.
Besides the medicinal benefits of Nilavembu, other herbs added to it like dry ginger serves as an anti-inflammatory agent. A headache can be cured within a few minutes by applying the ginger paste on the forehead. Adding coriander seed, pepper and cardamom to dry ginger, powdering them together and boiling the powder with water along with palm jaggery can be consumed daily to cure nose block and cold, weariness and making one energetic. Toxic fever can be cured by consuming the extract of dry ginger, pepper, garlic and neem leaf three times for two days.
Parpaadagam is one of the key herbs used in Siddha medicine. It is available in traditional medicine shops. After thoroughly cleaning it with water, grind 5 g of it and mix it with buttermilk. It can be given to children suffering from dysentery and high fever. Its leaves can be ground with milk and applied on the head and then taking bath will improve eyesight and cool down body temperature, and also brings down body odor.
Vettiver is added to the extract of Nilavembu drink. It belongs to grass family and is native to India. It cools down the body temperature and it is fragrant and provides energy. The dry roots of Vettiver can be powdered and soaked in 200-400 mL of water. The extract can be consumed 30 – 65 mL daily to cure fever and gastric diseases. Using of fan made of Vettiver will relieve skin irritation and also satiates thirstiness.
Vilamichai roots are fragrant and help in cooling down body temperature. It is mixed with the hair oil to prevent hair loss and improve hair growth. It is used to get rid of heat-related illness during summer. It can be added to drinking water along with Vettiver to add fragrance to drinking water and gain cooling effect.
Koraikizhangu acts as a diuretic and also facilitates sweating so as to send out toxic chemicals from the body. It also helps in reducing body weight. Applying its paste along with milk on the head improves memory. It can cure fits and fever. Dysentery and blood pressure can be cured by consuming half a teaspoon of its powder twice daily along with honey or milk, before food.
Paeipudal brings down fever. Its leaves can be ground and applied as a paste on the head to cure alopecia. Severe eczema with ooze out and itching can be cured by applying the paste using its leaves. The leaves can be boiled with water and filtered. It can be applied on the chronic wounds, foul-smelling wounds and boils due to diabetes.
There is a specific role played by pepper in Nilavembu drink. It contains minerals such as calcium, phosphorus, iron and also vitamins like thiamin, riboflavin and niacin. To cure running nose and cold take in the powder of pepper mixed with honey. Severe cold can be cured by consuming pepper powder fried in ghee, half a teaspoon, thrice daily. The heaviness of head and headache can be cured by consuming pepper with jaggery, two times a day.
Sandal plays a significant role in curing fever. Fever can be brought down by consuming sandal extract, made by taking half a teaspoon of sandal powder boiled with a half glass of water, filtered and 50 mL of it is taken in thrice daily. Irritation during urination can be cured by drinking half a teaspoon of sandal powder boiled in half a liter of water. Bleeding piles can be cured by drinking two teaspoons of sandal powder boiled in half a liter of water.
Hence, there is a specific medicinal value for each of the ingredient added to Nilvambu drink. By drinking the multi-herbal drink with varied medicinal properties there is no doubt that any type of fever can be cured.
(This article written in Tamil by Maria Belsin has been reproduced in English by V Amalan Stanley)