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Ayurvedic medicine makes use of the herb hemidesmus indicus in several different ways, most notably as a diuretic and a blood purifier. The herb, also known as false sarsaparilla, is also made into a tonic that is used to improve mental function, and it is employed in treatments to help ease skin infections, rheumatism and urinary problems. Hemidesmus indicus also is used in treatments for piles, insect bites, dysentery, gonorrhea and jaundice.
Hemidesmus indicus is given as an emetic, and sometimes it is given in place of ipecacuanha, from which syrup of ipecac, a common emetic, is made. At other times the herb’s leaves are used medicinally for the treatment of whooping cough, bronchitis and asthma. The leaves have a preventive effect in asthmatic patients, with a dose of three to six leaves proving effective in studies, with one leaf given per day. The studies noted some side effects, including vomiting and a loss of the sense of taste.
The herb is a perennial that is native to India and is found in all parts of the country, although it grows more heavily in the south and east. It has several names in India, including country ipecacuanha and emetic swallow-wort. In Hindi hemidesmus indicus is called anantmool or antamul. Ayurvedic practitioners call it sugandi and have used the herb for about 1,000 years. Ayurvedics use it to facilitate a meditative state, treat rashes and ready the mind for dreams.
Problems with the libido and impotence also have been treated with this herb. Healers believe the compounds in the plant’s roots can have a positive effect on the level of testosterone in a man’s body. The resulting increase in testosterone leads to enhanced desire, better performance and a higher sperm count. For women, the root of hemidesmus indicus is used to prevent miscarriage. Traditional Hindi healers also have used this herb to reduce the discomfort of urinary tract infections, treat acne and fight fevers.
In most preparations, the part of the plant that is used for medicinal treatments is the root. Other treatments for the skin and for improved digestion use the entire plant. A tea concocted from the root is purported to lead to a state of lucid dreaming.
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