Medicinal Uses of Malaysian Herbs

Medicinal Uses of Malaysian Herbs
Credits: Mrs Indu Bala Jaganath and Encik Razali A Rahman of the Strategic, Environmental and Nature Resource Centre, MARDI Serdang.

Many of the plant species that are found in the rain forests, cultivated in our gardens, or even those growing wild by the roadside and public parks, are said to possess medicinal properties. Here are some examples of medicinal herbs.

Hempedu Bumi (Andrographis paniculata)
Traditionally recommended for dietary health, this blend of ''rain forest bitters'' is taken as a supplement to bitter tonic throughout South-East Asia, China and India. Laboratory and clinical trials have demostrated its effectiveness in cases of liver damaage, poor liver function and hepatities. The primary active constituent, andrographolide, has been found to produce a stronger choleretic and hepatoprotective effect than silymarin from milk thistle. It further acts as a strong anti-oxidant, protecting the liver and digestive system; it is effective in cases of cardiovascular diseases and diabetes and is also a remedy for snake bites.

Tongkat Ali (Eurycoma longifolia)
Traditionally used for promoting health and enhancing male vitality, much of the research has been on the plants'' quassinoid constituents for its anti-tumour and anti-cancer properties. The isolated constituents as well as the whole plant extract, have displayed aphrodisiac, anti-malarial, anti-histaminic, anti-tumour, anti-ulcer and anti-viral activity. A recent five years study found that the plant indeed possesses properties that enhance male sexual activities in rats. It is also suitable for treating hypertension, body pain, exhaustion, infections and fevers.

Senduduk (Melastoma malabathricum)
This plant enjoys a long tradition of use as a uterine tone for female health care; usually following childbirth to strengthen the womb and accelerate healing. Its flowers, seeds, even leaves are sweet and astringent, reduce white discharge, even diarrhoea and indigestion. Senduduk can also be applied externally to bruises, haemorrhoids and soreness of the leg.

Selasih (Ocimum sanctum)
Selasih, or Holy Basil, is traditionally regarded as a cure-all and used to maintain a healthy life. It has been proven to have a positive effect on enhancing immunity, thus confirming its long history of use for infections especially of the respiratory system. Research has also shown its tonic effect on the nervous system in improving endurance and maintaining the overall health.

Misai Kuching (Orthosiphon stamineus)
A traditional preparation for the relief of joint achess and stiffness, the plant is said to be effective treatment of arthritis, gout and rheumatism. Misai Kuching has a long history of use in Asia as a safe and effective herbal diuretic, blood purifier and in treating hypertension and kidney stones. Used regularly, it helps to remove excessive metabolic waste and acids from the body.

Pegaga (Centella asiatica)
In ancient traditions, pegaga was used to detoxify the blood formula and aid skin condition. Research on pegaga in 1949 indicated the plant''s success in accelerating healing and relieving inflamation on leprosy sores and ulcers. Its other medical uses include treating skin diseases, asthma, hypertension, poor appetite, poor blood circulation, kidney stones and leg cramps. It is also said to improve intelligence and memory retention.

Kacip Fatima (Labisia pumila)
Used in the treatment of dysentry, rheumatism and female ailments due to child birth.

Mengkudu (Morinda citrifolia)
Said to be effective in the treatment of hypertension, diabetes and stomach aches. It improves vitality.

Kulit Kayu Manis (Cinnamomum zeylanica)
Cinnamon as an essential oil is a carminative and anti-gripping remedy. It works well as a tea too. It has a mild anti-diarrhoea action.

Patiwali/Serutum (Tinospora crispa)
Claimed to be useful for treating malaria, intestinal worms, cholera, diabetes, hypertension and bacterial abscessess.

Gelanggang Besar (Cassia alata)
Useful for ringworm treatment.

Ati-Ati Hitam (Coleus artropurpureus)
Said to help with chest pain and cancer.

Nilam (Pogostemon cablin)
Works as an essential oil and eases headaches.

Serai Wangi (Cymbopogon nardus)
Works as an essential oil. It is an effective insect repellant, cleaning agent, and as air freshener.

Kunyit Terus/Bonglai Putih (Zingiber cassumunar)
Said to be effective in the treatment of sinus, cardiovascular diseases, rheumatism and headaches.

Kunyit/Temu Hitam (Curcuma phaeocaulis)
Used in the treatment of coughs, wounds and asthma.

Jerangau (Acorus calamus)
Said to be effective against malaria, high fever and sinus.

Cekur (Kaempferia galanga)
Claimed to be effective in the treatment of coughs, dandruff or scabs on the head, sore throats, fevers, sore eyes, swollen and tender breasts.