|Spiked ginger lily|
Sm. in A.Rees
Hedychium spicatum is a small, hardy perennial that grows to around 1 m, with green leaves and large orange and white flowers. It is also commonly known as spiked ginger lily, or perfume ginger; with foreign names of sandharlika संधार्लिका (Hindi), kapur kachri कपूर कचरी (Hindi), and takhellei (Manipuri), Cao Guo Yao 草果药 (Mandarin), afer kocher (Amharic).
The Indian medicinal system (Ayurveda) described the species is useful in the treatment of swelling, asthma, fever, and pain. It has pungent, light, bitter, strong, heating properties and used in grime of mouth, swelling, cough, asthma, pain and hiccough. H. spicatum is being used in different parts of the Indian subcontinent since ancient time and having different names in different parts of world. The rhizomes powder is used as an antimicrobial agent and as a poultice for various acnes and pains. The species is also an ingredient of some traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), Tibetan medicine and Unani medicinal system. The powder as well as decoction of the rhizome is carminative, digestive and emmenagogue. A small cup of the rhizome decoction twice in a day is considered expectorant, stimulant, stomachic, tonic and vasodilator. One spoonful powder of rhizomes thrice a day is useful in the treatment of liver complaints and treating fever, vomiting, diarrhoea, inflammation, pain and snake bite. The rhizome powder 3–4 g two times in a day is used in asthma, foul breath, bronchitis, hiccough, vomiting, tridosha and blood diseases. Rhizome powder is laxative to the bowel, and the rhizome decoction is tonic to the brain. Also, the fruit of this species may be cooked and eaten with lentils in savoury Crushed dried rhizomes, both the bruised and the dried, are very aromatic with a fragrant, somewhat pungent smell similar to orris root but more powerful. The essential oil has a scent somewhat like hyacinths and highly perfumed for a considerable period. In Tibetan medicine, the rhizome which has an acrid taste is given as two spoonful powder twice a day for heating potency. ‘Abir’, a fragrant coloured powder marketed for religious ceremonies, is prepared from its dried rhizomes. Powder of the species is used orally for body pain and inflammation; however, small pieces of fresh roots cooked in burning flame and chewed with one glass of hot milk for the treatment of asthma and internal injury. The rhizome is also chewed by the local inhabitants of Uttarakhand to remove the bad smell from their teeth or mouth. The paste of fresh rhizome is given orally with hot water to the cattle and other domestic animals in case of stomach disorder. However, in Manipur, the rhizome is cooked to prepare chutney. In Himachal Pradesh, leaves are used in making mats for the home, combined with wheat straw, enhancing the durability of the product. The aromatic dried root of this plant is often used as an incense in Ethiopia.
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