Nilavembu is a small plant that has got wonderful medicinal uses and it has been used in home remedies for a really long time. It's botanical name is andrographis paniculata and it is called king of bitters in English. It is called nilavembu or siriyanangai in Tamil, kirayat in Hindi and kalmegh in Bengali. Nila means soil and vembu means neem, the name literally means a herb that grows close to the soil that 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. 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. Kalmegh | nilavembu kudineer is very famous in Tamil Nadu for its use in treating dengue fever, but kalmegh can be used to treat all kinds of fever, for treating diabetes, for blood purification, skin diseases, allergies and kalmegh plant is also used to ward of snakes, mosquitoes. Any preparation with kalmegh is very very bitter, but it really does wonders. 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. You can also use pure nilavembu powder, if you don't get the fresh herb. The fresh herb grows in any type 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. Side effects: Kalmegh is best avoided by pregnant women.
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