Rural folk are largely simple people.
Their needs and wants are limited. Their lifestyles are simple and devoid of stress. They are more in tune with Nature. So their health problems are less complicated as compared to that of city-dwellers.
Their robust health may be because of their dependence on the myriad natural plant remedies for most of their ailments. The villagers may not know it but their plant remedies are chock-full of phytochemicals, the plants’ own defence mechanisms. These phytochemicals have incredible and innumerable beneficial properties. They protect from diseases. They cure illnesses and mend injuries. They resolve health problems and strengthen bodies’ immune systems.
One such remedy is that of an endangered Himalayan plant called Potentilla fulgens. This plant is one species among about 500 species of the genus Potentilla, or cinquefoils, of the rose family Rosaceae.
Potentilla fulgens is also one of the thousands of medicinal plants that populate the forests of India. Commonly called the Himalayan Cinquefoil this plant has of late attracted a good amount of interest in the scientific community.
5 Amazing Medicinal Benefits of Potentilla Fulgens
Have a look at some of Potentilla fulgens’ amazing medicinal benefits:
- It prevents diseases of the gums and teeth, like pyorrhoea and caries
- It prevents various forms of cancer, especially oral cancer
- It is gastro-protective, protecting the intestines from ulcers and increasing gastric juice pH.
- It kills harmful intestinal worms like tapeworms and liver flukes
- It controls blood sugar levels
- It controls high blood pressure
- It is cardioprotective
Potentilla Fulgens in the Indian Sub-continent
Potentilla fulgens grows wild in Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Sikkim and Northeast India, including Nepal, Bhutan and Tibet. They thrive in moist regions in temperate and alpine Himalayan upper ranges between 1800m to 4350m. They love heavy soils, grow well on rocky grasslands or under shades of Rhododendrons.
These plants grow from 15 cm to 75 cm in height. Their roots are woody and stocky, with palmate leavesin a pinnate (alternate) arrangement oneither side of the stem. Flowers are small and yellow, 1-2 cm in diameter. Floweringis during June-July and fruiting happens in July-August. By September the leaves start to age and fall.
In Meghalaya, the plants have a symbiotic relationship with an endophytic
fungus called Penicillin verruculosum that lives within its healthy tissues. This way the plant protects the fungus from herbivores while the fungus aids its abundant growth despite heavy rainfall.
Potentilla fulgens is well known in the Ayurvedic, Tibetan and Chinese systems of medicine. It is also widely used in traditional and indigenous medicine because of its wide therapeutic value.
Potentilla Fulgens is known by various names. They are commonly called:
English – Cinquefoil
Hindi – Bajradanti
Nepali – Dentamanjari
Tibetan – San ge Zil pa
Khasi (Meghalaya) – Lynniang, Lynniangbru, Langning or Langsning
How Potentilla Fulgens is Used in Traditional Societies
Traditional societies partake of the plant either in raw form, dried or powdered, or both. Every part of the plant is used, including the root peel which has anti-cancer properties. Its total edibility makes it safe as a remedy.
- The root-peel extract is very effective against intestinal parasites like tapeworms and liver flukes.
- The roots are also used as cures for diarrhoea, high blood pressure and high blood sugar.
- The whole plant parts are very effective in cases of gum and mouth diseases such as pyorrhoea (bleeding gums), caries and toothaches.
- Some societies use the twigs as toothbrushes
- Roots are also used to alleviate wounds from animal bites
- Leaves are used for stomach ailments, sore throats, coughs and colds, intestinal and peptic ulcers
- Rural folk often administer a decoction of the whole plant to de-worm their cattle as well as to improve their fertility
Why Potentilla Fulgens Is so Effective Against Diseases?
It’s because of the plant’s main phytochemical compounds — the polyphenols and flavonoids and other bioactive phytochemicals.
The polyphenolic compounds have anti-cancer properties. They interfere with the proteins present in cancer cells and inhibit the growth of the cells.
The flavonoids also demonstrate cell toxicity (cytotoxicity) on cancer cells besides being anti-oxidant with high free-radical scavenging properties.
Some important polyphenolic compounds and their properties
- Polyphenols – anti-hyperglycaemic and hypoglycaemic
- Tannins – anti-hyperlipidimic, anti-tumour and anti-oxidant
- Flavonoids and triterpenoids – anti-inflammatory and anti-ulcerogenic
Other compounds are catechin, ellagic acid, kaempferol and quercetin.
Polyphenols are also anti-oxidants and free radical scavengers.
They form stable compounds with metal ions, proteins and polysaccharides.
- Heal wounds and burns.
- Reduce inflammation and slow down degenerative diseases.
- Block gut secretions, protect mucous membranes from irritants and toxins, and control caries in teeth.
What Scientific Research Reveals – Therapeutic Benefits of P.Fulgens
This seemingly ugly looking root has incredible curative properties.
Scientists attribute these properties to the synergistic action of the plant’s high total phenolic content (TPC) and its other bioactive components.
Scientific studies have revealed many therapeutic benefits of P.fulgens.
Some of them are:
- It has significant antioxidant potential, offering protection against effects of oxidative stress by effectively scavenging free oxygen radicals.
- It helps reduce blood sugar levels and improve glucose tolerance.
- It is a potential enzymatic pathway inhibitor against elevated blood sugar levels in diabetics. Thus it can prevent secondary complications in organs such as the retina, nerves or kidneys.
- It possesses destructive effects on intestinal parasites making it an excellent natural anthelminthic and vermicide
- It is a potential anti-carcinogenic agent with cytotoxic and antioxidant properties that can kill human cancer cells
Potentilla fulgens holds the promise of valuable substances with therapeutic value. Realising this, scientists have also called for more detailed studies to draw out the full potential of the plant.
What Is to Be Made of Potentilla Fulgens?
The plant’s medicinal properties have resulted in its rampant harvesting from its wild habitat. It is now in the list of endangered plants of the world. Fortunately, there is some effort by governments to protect this precious herb (and many other valuable plants) through gene pool conservation.
This brings hope for the future generations’ medicinal remedy needs.
If it works for the indigenous tribespeople, it will work for everyone else too. A piece of the root in the everyday diet should do no harm but great good.
Potentilla fulgens surely can be one root to root out your health problem!