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Plants of medicinal values

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Bintangor laut (Calophyllum inophyllum)

Habit: A large tree growing to about 30 m tall.

Uses: The produce rounds fruits each with a single seed that can be used to produce seed oil and applied to body parts to treat rheumatism, skin eruptions and to relieve itchiness. The resin from the bark can be used for wound healing and bark decoction is given as a tonic to women after childbirth. The decoction is also used to treat gonorrhoea and vaginal discharges. Leaf infusion can be used for swollen eyes problems whereas the fruits can be used to treat burns.

Kenanga (Cananga odorata)

Habit: A tree that can grow up to about 16 m tall.

Uses: Popularly known as the ylang-ylang tree worldwide especially in the Pacific islands where its scented flowers are used for individual ornamentation during festivals. Essential oil commercially produced form this plant is used widely in the aromatherapy industry that are said to be an aphrodisiac, antiseptic, antidepressant, sedative and hypotensive. The fresh flower poultice is said to effective against asthma and the dried ones are recorded to have anti-malarial properties. The leaf poultice can comfort pain experienced from insect bites and also can relieve itchiness.

Betik (Carica papaya)

Habit: A small erect tree growing to about 3 m tall.

Uses: Strong claims for the young leaf extract as a remedy for dengue fever. However, there are very limited scientific evidences for these claims while researches still carry out more studies to investigate its potential. Leaf decoction are taken for colic pains and a decoction of seeds as well as latex is used as vermifuge. Fresh leaf poultice is used for treating boils while a decoction of its roots for getting rid of kidney stones. The young fruits and leaf can be used as a meat tenderiser by washing the meat with diluted latex, sheathing it with slightly bruised leaves or just cooking the meat with unripe fruits or leaves.

Kamunting Cina (Catharanthus roseus)

Habit: A small erect perennial shrub growing to about half a meter tall.

Uses: Extracts from this plants have been developed to produce anti-cancer medicines known as vincristine and vinblastine. These chemicals are in hospitals worldwide. The plants decoction has also been traditionally used to treat malaria, diarrhoea, diabetes and skin-related diseases. Plant decoction has also been used as detoxifying agent for post childbirth treatment. The decoction is also used to stop lactation, treat coughs and for hairwash.

Pegaga (Centella asiatica)

Habit: A small herbaceous perennial herb with creeping stems and short internodes as well as with varying leaf shapes.

Uses: A popular ulam eaten with sambal belacan and used in many kerabu dishes. The leaf infusion is used as a tonic for women after childbirth where it is believed to contract the uterus and help blood circulation. Leaf extract is used address skin problems, while leaf poultice assist healing of sores, ulcers and wounds. Leaf poultice is also used to treat keloids, lupus, leprosy, cellulitis and epilepsy. The leaf paste is also believed to have cosmetic properties in preserving youthful looks among women.

Buta-buta (Cerbera odollam)

Habit: A small tree growing to about 15 m tall.

Uses: While the seeds of this species is highly poisonous and have caused deaths, other parts are recorded for its therapeutic values. The latex, bark and leaves can be used as a purgative while the seed-oil can be applied to relieve itch. Leaf decoction is used into aromatic bathing therapy for post-natal recovery.

Kayu manis (Cinnamomum verum)

Habit: A medium-sized tree growing to about 10 m tall.

Uses: The bark is used widely as a spice aromatic especially in Asian dishes. Essential oil derived from the bark is widely used as an ingredient in creating a range of perfumes. Its aromatherapy use relates to overcoming fatigue and depression. The oil has also been recorded to have antifungal, antibacterial and antiviral properties. Bark poultice have been used to treat abscesses and boils. The dried bark and twigs have been noted to treat cancer, high blood pressure as well as other ailments related to the gasto-intestinal track. Infusion of the bark is used as an ingredient for a tonic to address respiratory-related ailments such as coughs and colds as well as used to treating diarrhoea and colic.

Patah tulang (Cissus quadrangularis)

Habit: A climber with tendrils and angular stems.

Uses: Leaf poultice is used to heal broken bones and rheumatism as well as for wound healing, treating boils and burns. Plant extract can be used to treat scurvy, asthma, ear-related ailments and nosebleed. The plant is also edible as a vegetable.

Ulam raja (Cosmos caudatus)

Habit. An erect annual herb growing to about 1 m tall.

Uses: The young leaves are eaten as a ulam often together with sambal belacan. The plant extract is used for cleaning the blood and also presumably make bones stronger, due to its high calcium contents. Scientific studies have shown various therapeutic properties such as a source for anti-oxidants, a remedy for diabetes and hypertension as well as having anti-inflammatory, anti-microbial and anti-fungal values.

Bakong (Crinum asiaticum)

Habit: A small plant with a short stem about 1.5 m tall with an underground onion-like bulb.

Uses: An ingredient for a poultice made from a variety of plants such as Hibiscus, Belimbing Besi and Gardenia treat fever, lumbago, headache and swellings. Slices of bulbs used to treat sores and juice from roots are taken to induce vomiting. The bulb extract can be used as an expectorant and laxative as well as flatulence and urinary-related problems. Bulb poultice has been used to treat rheumatism and help during delivery. Its leaves are recorded to help in treating sprains, injury and inflamed joints.

Kunyit (Curcuma longa)

Habit: An herb with prostate underground rhizomes with erect leaves reaching to about a meter tall.

Uses: This herb can be considered as the most revered as its records of medicinal values goes back to about 2,500 years ago being mentioned in Assyrian texts as well as noted in Ayurvedic scriptures. The species is commercially cultivated for the production of turmeric powder as well as for its fresh rhizome. The young rhizome, young leaves and flowers can be consumed fresh as ulam. Its rhizomes boiled with milk can relieve colds, helps with digestion, alleviate problems with infection of the urinary tract, stomachaches as well as chest and back pains. Flatulence-related problems in children can be addressed with a decoction made with the rhizome together with garlic and onions. A poultice of the rhizome has been used for centuries on skin as a cosmetic to maintain a youthful look. Scientific research has proven remedy for a number of ailments including AIDS, cancer, skin-related diseases, inflammation, high cholesterol and indigestion or flatulence-related complications. It is also very commonly used as a spice as well as a natural colouring substance for various food dishes around the world. The species also been used as a pesticide against insects, fungi and nematodes.

Serai makan (Cymbopogon citratus)

Habit: A clump-forming perennial grass growing up to 1.5 m tall.

Uses: Popularly used as an ingredient for its strong flavours especially in making sambal dishes. Lemongrass-flavored tea is a very well-known and popular drink in many countries around the world. The essential oil from the plant has also been used for making perfumes and is a prominent essence used in aromatherapy. Its oil or lotion is used topically to relieve joint and rheumatism, sprains and other muscle-related pains. Decoction of roots and leaves are taken to address urinary tract infections, stomach pains and flatulence. Traditionally its leaf infusion is also used as a hairwash and its root extracts have been used as an ingredient in making perfume, shampoo and soaps.

Serai wangi (Cymbapogon nardus)

Habit: A clump-forming perennial grass growing up to 1.5 m tall.

Uses: This species the source of the well-known citronella oil which is widely used as an ingredient for insect repellent and also aromatherapy. The fragrant citronella oil also has antiseptic properties and thus have been used as an ingredient for making soaps and detergents. Leaf decoction is used as an ingredient for post-birth treatment. Other traditional uses include treating rheumatism and problems related with digestion. The oil has also been used as a biopesticide to control mosquito and cockroach problems.

Keremek, Aring-aring (Eclipta prostata)

Habit: A small annual prostate herb.

Uses: Young leaves can be eaten as ulam. Root decoction together with cumin seeds is given as a tonic for post-birth treatment. Leaf poultice is used for treating skin-related problems while the root extract can be used to treat conjunctivitis. The leaf decoction can be used to promote hair growth while leaf extract can be used as a natural hair dye.

Tutup bumi, Tapak Sulaiman (Elephantopus scaber)

Habit: A strong-rooted and small perennial herb growing to about 30 cm tall.

Uses: Widely used is local folklore preparation of jamu, a concoction made from many herbs used by bomoh (shamans) to ward off evil spirits. Leaf broth is used to relive coughs, roundworms and treat venereal diseases. The plant decoction is taken to treat fevers and as a diuretic. Therapeutic use of the plant has also been recorded for conjunctivitis, hepatitis, cirrhosis, encephalitis and eczema.

Ketumbar (Eryngium foetidum)

Habit: A small perennial herb growing to about 50–80 cm tall.

Uses: Not to be mistaken with the common coriander or cilantro (Coriandrum sativum) used widely as food garnish, this plant also smells like coriander, used in food flavoring and sometimes used as a substitute for coriander. Its known as sawtooth coriander relating to the serrated leaf margin of the plant. The young leaves can be consumed raw or lightly cooked to be eaten as a vegetable. This species is widely reported to have medicinal values. Its root decoction can be used as a diuretic, treat fever as well as a tonic. The plant infusion is said to reduce blood pressure and also an aphrodisiac.

Tongkat Ali (Eurycoma longifolia)

Habit: A small tree reaching to the height of about 12 m.

Uses: Perhaps the most popular species in Malaysia referred especially for its aphrodisiac properties in men. Supported with scientific evidence for aphrodisiac, its roots (sliced or powdered) are commercially sold as well as used as an additive in products such as in coffee and heath drinks. Many other uses have been recorded such as its decoction taken as a tonic, to treat intestinal worms, dysentery, diarrhoea, indigestion, mouth ulcers, jaundice and many more. It is also recorded to relieve headache, bone pains and stomach ache. Besides being used as an aphrodisiac the root decoction is also a source of antioxidant as well as an energy booster and can be taken as a general health drink.

Asam Gelugur (Garcinia atroviridis)

Habit: A tall tree reaching to about 25 m in height.

Uses: The young reddish leaves are edible and consumed as a ulam. The fruits are often sliced, dried and used in making curries as a replacement for tamarind. A lotion made from the fruits is used on the abdomen of women after their childbirth as a natural cosmetic. The leaf extract is taken as a tonic after delivery and the shoots are consumed to treat high blood pressure.

Bunga Raya (Hibiscus rosa-sinensis)

Habit: A woody shrub growing to about 5–6 m tall.

Uses: The plant is well-known for its medicinal values where many scientifically published and anecdotal records are known. All parts of the plant are known to be have medicinal values. Flowers as tonic and get rid of toxins in the blood and to treat bronchitis. Leaf and flower poultice to treat skin problems, mumps, fever and as an antiseptic as well as to treat boils and ulcers. Leaf poultice to treat and relieve sore eyes, coughs, boils and venereal diseases. The bark of the stem is recorded to regulate menstruation cycles. A variety of products made from hibiscus is available commercially such as lotions, herbal tea, slimming products and herbal extracts for problems related to kidney and the gastrointestinal tract.

Kangkung (Ipomoea aquatica)

Habit: A prostate plant that is perennial or annual with erect shoots.

Uses: The shoots can be eaten as ulam and also popularly stir fried with garlic. The plant is taken to deal with constipation problems, to relieve headaches and as a remedy for insomnia. The mashed leaves can be used to treat sores, ulcers, boils, piles, haemorrhoids, wounds and swellings. Leaf infusion is taken for coughs while the root infusion can be used to treat arsenic poisoning complications. Flower bud poultice can be used to treat ringworms.

Melur (Jasminum sambac)

Habit: A small much branched shrub.

Uses: Cultivated mainly for their scented flowers used as decorations or made into jasmine flavored tea. Essential oil extracted from flowers is widely used in perfumes and aromatherapy. Pounded leaves used for skin-related problems and wound healing while the leaf infusion is used to treat fevers. Extract from its roots is used to address venereal diseases, and root poultice is used to treat sprains and bone fractures. Its root decoction or flower infusion is used to treat pulmonary catarrh, bronchitis and asthma while abscesses can be treated with stem poultice.

Jarak (Jatropha multifida)

Habit: A small plant with succulent stem growing to about 6 m tall.

Uses: Widely used as a horticultural plant. Its seeds are used to induce vomiting and diarrhoea. Its milky sap its applied to treat wounds, scabies, ulcers and skin infections. An infusion of dried roots can be used to treat colic pains and indigestion.

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