[private]Garlic or its scientific name Allium sativum Linn from the Liliaceae family has a good reputation in the traditional medicine practice.  It has a reputation of 5000 years of history, as an ingredient in culinary of a multitude of cultures as well as a source for healing.

Garlic is said to contain antibiotic qualities which can cleanse the body system and is a remedy to a host of ailments, especially to treat indigestion rheumatism. Raw garlic is used by some people to treat the symptoms of acne, asthma, arthritis, cold, sinus infections and sore throat. It can even be effective as a natural mosquito repellent.

In general, a stronger tasting clove of garlic has more sulphur content and hence more medicinal value it is likely to have. Some people have suggested that organically grown garlic tends towards a higher sulphur level and hence greater benefit to health.

Modern science has shown that garlic is a powerful natural antibiotic, albeit broad-spectrum rather than targeted. The body does not appear to build up resistance to the garlic, so its positive health benefits continue over time.

In an article by Hadijah Hassan (AGROMEDIA Issue 1, 1997, published by Mardi) mentioned that garlic has attributes of antibacterial, antivirus, anticancer and effective to prevent heart ailments. There is some evidence that it can assist in managing high cholesterol levels and high blood pressure.

The allicin content in garlic helps prevent tumours by preventing the growth of cells. Garlic is proven to contain two protective minerals i.e celenium and germanium which are good for our health. However it also produces a strong smell. The sulphuric amino acid content in garlics cause bad smell in the mouth and body.

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[private]There are many benefits of the Bangun-Bangun (Indian Borage) plant, comprising for medication, cullinary and also for perfumery.

Its scientific name is the Plectranthus amboinensis from the Labiate family and has many other common names – Broadleaf Thyme, Country Borage, Cuban Oregano, French-Thyme, Indian Borage, Indian-Mint, Mexican Mint, Soup-Mint, and Spanish Thyme. It has thick leaves that look nearly like the Ati-ati, with either sides having hairs and when crushed will produce a nice minted aroma.

The stem is soft, light green in colour and would sag downwards to the ground.  The leaves emerge all along the stems while there are also small leaf branches at each leaf stalk thus making the plant easy to turn into bushes.  The plant is also easily propagated – by simply breaking the stems for bud grafting or inserted in the ground.

The juice from the leaves is said to be effective against cough and asthma. The Malay traditional method is by simply boiling a handful of leaves in water and the mixture is consumed when lukewarm.

Some people use the leaves for aroma in preparing tea.  The practice is also common among those who suffer hereditary asthma. A piece of leaf would normally suffice for a cup of tea.  One would have to quit taking the mixture when there are side effects.

The leaves are also used to relieve headaches, unconsciousness, and animal bites.  For headaches, the leaves are crushed and patched onto the forehead.  To resuscitate a person who fell unconscious, the leaves are put near the patient’s nose.  The crushed leaves are patched onto the affected area of animal bites.

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Ati-ati is a species of shrub plant abundantly available in Southeast Asia. Although the species has more than one colour variety, they have the same leaf form and colour.  Different Ati-ati is named after the colour but the leaves produce the same aroma after being crushed.  The leaf has a heart shape with ‘teeth’ edges.

The colour variety of the Ati-ati – green, red, black, yellow and even ‘batik’ like, make it a popular plant for landscapes and interior decoration.  The stems and branches are green in colour, somehow four-angled, soft and easy to break.  It reproduces easily as the branches would usually sag to the ground and cause them to produce roots to form new branches and shrubs.

The branch skins are soft and thin but hard and when the branches are broken, the skin will open. Although easily broken, for bud-grafting purpose or to be taken for alternative medicine it is advisable to use a sharp knife to cut the branches.

The red leaf Ati-ati species, known scientiically as Coleus atropupureus Benth from the Lamiaceae family, has small flowers in the form of elongated bunch at and along the end of branches. It is easily grown by just breaking the branches and inserted into pots or merely erected on the ground. The black leaf Ati-ati is said to be more effective for alternative medicine.

The whole plant contains alkaloids. The crushed leaves are used to treat all kinds of infammations, hemorrhoids, and to relive muscular pain. It is also used as an active medicine. The red leaves are crushed and the red sap is massaged onto the belly to stimualte menstruation. Some women swallow the sap of the leaves as a contraceptive. In the Malay traditional medicine sphere, the leaves are boiled in water and later consumed.

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There are a variety of Asparagus species.  Among the most common in Malaysia are the Asparagus Officinalis and the Asparagus Plumosus – both categorised as originated from the Liliaceae family. It is a kind of flowering plant and resembles the fern-like paku pakis (Psilotophyta) plant (abundantly found in Malaysia).

The Asparagus Plumosus leaves are more attractive and are receptive to sunlight and suitable as decorations; while Asparagus Officinalis have thinner and pointed leaves like closely arranged needles that envelope branches. The Asparagus Officinalis grows easier than the former and produces more branches.

The Asparagus shoots are edible as vegetables. The shoots are taken before they ripe at about three to four inches from the top where they are more supple compared to the lower part of the leaves.

The leaves produce a sticky substance and are said to have ‘heaty’ reactions when consume.  Consuming the Asparagus shoots can help clear the vessels in the kidney; relieve backaches; produce more sperms; and assist mothers giving birth.

The Arabs called it ‘Halyun.’ The Asparagus plant can be grown on beds or in pots. It also produces arrowroots at around the stems.

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ASAM KUNDANG (MARIAN PLUM) FOR SHELTER

Posted June 6th, 2010. Filed under Traditional Herbs

[private]It is a kind of evergreen plant and abundantly found in Malaysia and Sumatera.  Some called it as ‘kundangan’ and in some places it is called ‘asam kendung.’ In the Malaysian state of Kedah, it is called ‘setar.’

It grows to height of 25 meters. Its leaves are lanceolate to elliptic in shape, and range from 13 to 45 cm (5 to 17 inches) long and from 5 to 7cm (2 to 3 inches) wide.

The tree is popularly grown at the house compounds in some parts of Sabah and Sarawak as shades and as source for local recipes. Scientifically known as Bouea macrophylla from the Anacardiaceae Family, and is known in English as the Marian plum, gandaria, and plum mango. The leaves are tenacious, oval-shape and grow in pairs along the branch. The fruits are green in colour and mature to an orange/yellow. They grow to roughly 2 to 5 cm in diameter. The entire fruit, including its single seed, is edible. The fruit range from sweet to sour in flavour, and have a light smell of turpentine.

Both the leaves and fruit from the tree can be eaten. The leaves can be eaten raw when they are still young, and can be used in salads. While the seed is edible, the endosperm is generally bitter. Fruit can be eaten raw, or made into dishes such as pickle, compote, or sambal. Unripened fruit can be used to make rojak and asinine.

The nutrition content of the fruit is Vitamin A, C and dietary fibre.

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The Asam Jawa tree is said to have originated from the African continent, but due to its lavish use by the Javanese as alternative medicine against many ailments especially to lowering down body temperature, it adopted the name Asam Jawa. The Arabs called it as the Tamar Hindi, while the English, Tamarind.

A full grown tree can reach up to 10-15 meters height. The tamarind tree is generally described as a slow growing tree.  Tamarind timber consists of hard, dark red heartwood and softer, yellowish sapwood. It grows well in deep sandy loam soil and tolerates limited salinity. The leaves consist of 10-40 leaflets, each measuring from 10–15 centimeters.

The flowers are produced in racemes. The young Asam Jawa flowers are yellow in colour with pink petals. The petals will drop when the flowers start blooming to produce legumes.  The fruit is a brown pod-like legume, which contains a soft acidic pulp and many hard-coated seeds. The seeds can be scarified to enhance germination. When the time comes the legumes will brittle and tear out to exhibit the brown colour pulps. The seeds are black and can produce oil-like substance that are used as mixture for varnish and paint. A tamarind pulp consists of sugar (from 30 – 40%), calcium, mineral and organic acids like citric, tartaric, acitic dan vitamin C.

Besides being used as body coolant, tamarind is effective as remedy for skin diseases. A tamarind juice mixed with rock sugar can be used to heal sour troat and cough.  It is also used as to heal stomache disorders (constipation and air).

The tamarind fruit skin can be dried fry and added with fine salts as alternative medication for constipation. The skin is also boiled in water and the water gargled to treat gum ulcers.

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The Asam gelugur tree is cetegorised as a flatland forest tree. It grows to a height of 20 m and has long trunk, smooth grey bark and drooping branches. The leaves are dark green, shiny, long narrow and with a pointed tip and upturned edges. The tree also produces yellowish and sticky latex. The flowers are dark red and the round yellow to orange fruits are borne singly on twig ends and are 7-10 cm in diameter. They are heavy, longitudinally grooved by 12 to 16 and are flattened at the apex.

Its other name is Garcinia while scientifically called Garcinia atroviridis from the Guttiferae family.  A full-grown Asam Gelugur tree looks like a cone, with the branches entangling against the length of the trunk.

Young sprout leaves can be consumed as vegetable.  Its main use is as apetiser or culinary ingredient.  The fruit is extremely sour but useful as remedy in the alternative medicine world.

The most known quality of an Asam Gelurur is its remedy for cracked heels. Just boil the dried fruits in water and when lukewarm dip the affected areas into it for a few minutes. A riped fruit is cut into pieces and patched on the forehead to ease prolong headaches.

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[private]Ara tanah or known as the Asthma Weed, Hairy Spurge, Cats Hair, Fei-yang ts’ao, is a kind of grass plant with dark greeen and oval-shape leaves. The stems and branches have sparse of tiny and split hairs.

Also known in Malaysia as Gelang Susu and Keremak Susu, its scientific name is Auphorbia hirta Linn from the Euphobiaceae family. The leaves grow in pairs along the stem.  Each leaf has intersperse veins that are also sparse.  The flower is yellow and spots like a button that emerges from the stem in between two leaves. The plant has no taproot structure and is easly pulled from the earth. The grass like plant grows easily in open spaces and in flower pots.  It grows upright to a maximum of 30 centimeters height.

Asthma Weed is usually used against skin disorders like warts and cuts.  The leaves are first cleaned and then pounded or milled and then patched on the affected skin area.

It is also said to be effective against joint paints, gouts, and high blood pressure by consuming the water that has been boiled with all parts of the plants.

It is also known as the ‘goat’s milk grass.’ In his book, ‘Introduction to Medicinal Herbs,’ Abd. Rahman Md. Derus writes that the plant has whitish latex that contains some amount of narcotic.

The latex and liquid obtained from the leaves are used as remedy for post-natal depression. It is also said to be useful against eye disorder. However, those who wish to use them to treat eye disease should obtain advice from herbalist first.

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Ara Songsang Merah is a shrub that covers land surfaces and grows up to 15 centimetres in height.

Its stem and leaf are dark red while the flower resembles the shape of a cat’s tail, and the fruits are small and thorny.  It grows on spacious areas even at the road side and currently people plant them as ‘blankets’ and ‘hangovers.’

Ara Songsang Bunga Merah, as it is called in Malay, is scientifically known as Asystasia sp. from the Acanthaceae family. It is known to have many alternative qualities.  Highly associated as remedy for Haemorrhoid (piles) and bleeding soil. Common method of preparation is by boiling all parts of the plant in water including the roots and then sifted to drink twice a day.

In the Malay alternative medicine world, it is usually mix them with other plants like the starfruit or ‘belimbing’ (Averrhoa spp.). The mixture is believed to be highly effective to treat high blood pressure, diabetes, kidney problems and heart diseases.

Mixtures in the traditional Malay traditional sphere are prepared in a traditional pot made of earthen clay while metal base utensils are not advisable as they are believed anti-herbal and would usually deter the desired healing properties.

While boiling the mixtures, the earthen clay is left uncovered to allow the evaporation of unwanted and ‘hazardous’ substance.

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[private]Ara Songsang or Asystasia, and some called it as the Chinese Violet, is a kind of plant most commonly found along jungle edges.  It is also called ‘Rumput Israel’ and if left growing wild will cover crops and difficult to get rid off, except being sprayed with weed killers that often encroach into the soil and remain active for weeks.  Diuron is one example of solution used for this purpose.

The leaves are thin like those of spinach, whitish with hint of purple.  The branch is soft and black in colour and often watery.  It is a creeping plant and would overpower the plants surrounding it.

Farmers however would often plant them in rows between young growths of rubber and palm oil to hinder the growth of other plants such as grass and wild plants.

The flowers are white, normally blooming out of the stem upwards to the air and do not produce any scent.

It is strongly proven to have good qualities in solving urination problem.  For this purpose the roots and flowers of the plant are collected and boiled to boiling temperature until the volume remains one third, sifted and drank when it is lukewarm.

The leaves of the plant when pounded can also be used to cover wounds.  Another popular use of the leaves is to ease the effect of rheumatism and muscle pull by.  The leaves are pounded and mixed with red onions and pasted on the affected area.

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