Nilavembu (நிலவேம்பு) is a herb that grows in India and other Asian countries. It is called creat or green chirayta in English. Nilavembu literally means ‘neem of the soil’ as it has a strong bitter taste. Hence, it is also known as ‘king of bitters’. In the state of Tamil Nadu, people are familiar with nilavembu as the Government has been distributing ‘nilavembu kudineer’ (நிலவேம்பு குடிநீர்) for the prevention of Dengue fever.
|Nilavembu or Creat|
I first came across this herb a few years ago, when I was recuperating from chikungunya fever. An ayurvedic powder gave great relief of residual joint pain, and later I learnt that it contained nilavembu.
Nilavembu plants are not found in the neiborhood often. It is a small plant bearing white flowers with purple marks. However, you can easily buy dried twigs of nilavembu at any store that sells native medicines (நாட்டு மருந்து கடை).
This wonderful herb has many medicinal properties and has been used by both Siddha and Ayurveda medical systems from ancient times.
Analgesic, antipyretic and anti-inflammtory properties of nilavembu make it effective in treating dengue, chikungunya and other fevers. According to research studies, nilavembu is effective against common cold; and has anti-diabetic and anti-oxidant properties. Wilson E et al in their review article state that nilavembu is used to treat joint pain and frozen joints. My colleague and an Ayurveda doctor, Dr Paranthaman informs me that nilavembu improves our general immunity.
Nilavembu extract or kashayam (நிலவேம்பு கஷாயம்) can be made easily at home. Boil 2 teaspoons of dried nilavembu twigs in 1 teacup (200ml) of water, till the quantity reduces to half.
|Boil nilavembu twigs in water|
|Continue to boil till the quantity of water reduces to half|
Allow it to cool. Filter out the twigs and drink the extract, which is very bitter to taste. If you find the taste not agreeable, take a few pieces of palm candy after drinking the extract. Nilavembu powder is also commercially available now.
|Nilavembu Kashayam (நிலவேம்பு கஷாயம்) or Creat extract|
Note: Nilavembu is best avoided during pregnancy. If you have any co-existing medical condition or if you are already taking other medications, please consult your physician or Ayurveda doctor before using this herb.
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