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Saturday, April 9, 2011
HIMALAYAN VIBURNUMS - MEDICINAL BENEFITS AND USES
Viburnum grandiflorum or Viburnum nervosum is also known as the Himalayan Viburnum, as it grows in the foothills of the Himalayas from altitudes of 1800 feet to 3,000 feet. The Viburnum species consists of between 150 and 175 types and these are related to the honeysuckles. They grow wild in Azad (Free) Kashmir and the Swat Valley in Pakistan and from there spread through to Bhutan and southern Tibet.
The fruit from grandiflorum is a small black drupe, which is sweet tasting and has a single stone in it. It is edible and eaten raw or cooked by locals who also use it for its laxative properties, although it is only a mild laxative, unlike jamalgota and senna pods. It is also used in traditional medicine as a blood purifier and to regulate a woman’s menstrual flow.
The branches from Viburnum grandiflorum are used for fencing and fuel, and as yet there have been few clinical trials conducted on it. It is known by many different local names depending on where it grows, but a few are guch, kullam and amoch and ghiz mava. Its flowers are white through to pale pink
It is believed to be the most ancient of the Dipsacales family of plants, although comparatively little research has been done on its properties until recently. All viburnums are in the Adoxaceae family having recently been reassigned from the Caprifoliaceae along with the Sambucus genus which contains the elder tree and the dwarf elder, making these a relative of these Himalayan viburnums, as is Viburnum opulis, the guelder rose. A 2010 study on Viburnum foetens has shown that it could have anti-cancer benefits as well as having anti-bacterial properties. The leaves of all Viburnums have a foetid smell when bruised, hence the name of this particular variety. The researchers concluded that this species “is a good candidate for isolation of anticancer compounds.”
Typically Viburnums contain saponins, flavonoids, bioflavonoids, anthroquinones and coumarins, and locally this one (V. foetens) is used for its diuretic, antispasmodic and sedative properties. In traditional medicine it is thought to be a protector of the liver, and thought to have anti-inflammatory properties, as well as helpful to the gastric system, and the twigs are used as toothbrushes by the locals as the twigs of the walnut tree are used in other parts of Pakistan.