HIMALAYAN HEALING – MEDICINAL PLANTS OF NEPAL

There is an universal belief that goes like this, “if it’s true, it’s not new. If it’s new, it’s not true.” This belief particularly holds true to the ancient medicinal practice around many areas of Nepal where traditional healing using plant materials are quote prevalent till today. Naturopathic practitioners known as Amchi who gain their knowledge from seniors that have passed on their knowledge for ages.

“Medicine is passed down like a religious lineage, from father to son. It is also like a dance and a game. People offer what they know, sometimes adding new ideas from what they have seen and done. In our tradition, we learn to take from our teacher’s ideas and our books to create new ideas, which come into full bloom like a lotus flower when combined with the soil of experience”. – Gyatso Bista, Co-founder of Lo Kunphen

The unique terrain of Nepal makes the tiny nation a very diverse country for animals and birds. The terrain creates an equally diverse terrain for plants and thus Nepal is abundant with plants that can and are used for various medical purposes.

SYNOPSIS OF PLANTS PRESENT IN NEPAL:

According to a study conducted by the National Institute of Health (NIH), U.S. National Library of Medicine, “Nepal is ranked as 9th among the Asian countries for its floral wealth with an estimated 9,000 species of flowering plants.” Moreover, NIH states that of the 6,653 species of flowering plants that have been reported, almost half of them are the rubrics “useful” and “ethnobotanical meaning that they have some form of relationship with human beings and about 25%–50% are ethnomedicinals or traditional medicine.

CORDYCEPS SINENSIS (YARSAGUMBA)

Cordyceps sinensis (Yarsagumba)

Cordyceps sinensis (Yarsagumba)

One of the folklores in remote Nepal is similar to the Chinese folklore where the emperors of old times had many wives and that they sought natural remedies to keep themselves young. While the Chinese highlight herbs and practices of acupuncture to keep their sex lives healthy, remote places in Nepal have used Cordyceps sinensis (Yarsagumba) to accomplish the same. Aside from being a natural aphrodisiac, Cordyceps sinensis is believed to help with memory retention, a natural general tonic and an effective supplement to combat migraine and epilepsy. In Ayurvedic world as well, Yarsagumba falls under Rasayana which deals with promoting perfect health, total bliss, and longevity. In the last couple of decades, Cordyceps sinensis has gained a great deal of notoriety after being studied and researched using scientific methods. Several universities have conducted a double blind studies and published peer reviewed research papers valdating the claims that have been made for centuries about the benefit of this mushroom to human health.

GOJI BERRY (LYCIUM BARBARUM):

If you are with us on our Langtang Trekking around September and October, you will see the Langtang valley and surrounding areas light up with vividly red berries called Goji Berries. The locals around here have long believed that Goji is the king of all berries and that the consumption of these berries will enable us to lead a healthy and long life. In recent years, Goji has garnered a great deal of attention in the western world as well and there are stores in the west that sell these berries for up to $20 a pound. So what’s so glorious about these berries?

Goji Berry (Lycium barbarum

Goji Berry (Lycium barbarum

Here is what the US National Institute of Health concluded from a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, clinical study of the general effects of a standardized Lycium barbarum. “Significant differences between day 1 and day 15 were found in the group (of participants) in increased ratings for energy level, athletic performance, quality of sleep, ease of awakening, ability to focus on activities, mental acuity, calmness, and feelings of health, contentment, and happiness. Moreover, it concluded that the berries “significantly reduced fatigue and stress, and improved regularity of gastrointestinal function” compared to the placebo group. Based on the outcome, NIH concluded that the results “clearly indicate that daily consumption of GoChi for 14 days increases subjective feelings of general well-being, and improves neurologic/psychologic performance and gastrointestinal functions.”

PASHANBHEDA – BERGENIA CILIATE

Another common plant medicine that is used in parts of Nepal and all across South Asia is Bergenia ciliate. Bergenia ciliate, known as Pashanbheda in Sanskrit is found mainly in southwestern Nepal and you are likely to come across them while on Chitwan or Bardia National Parks in early spring. Traditionally, these plants are used for Anthelmintic, nausea and vomiting (very commonly used by pregnant women for morning sickness), diarrhea, gallstone, indigestion, dysentery and gastric trouble (Source National Institute of Health). Multiple peer reviewed studies have concluded that Bergenia ciliate successfully works on human bodies in preventing formation of urinary calculi and thus protecting from ailments such as gallstone, indigestion, dysentery and gastric troubles.

Bergenia ciliate

One of the advantages of communal and old societies is that social knowledge stay intact for generations and Nepal has no shortages of such communities. The diverse climate of the country moreover supports an abundance of plants and people who seek to remedy ailments by natural means are attracted to the cure that nature offers. Nepal has plants that are known to treat simple health problems like Toothache to sprains and fractures to nuisance pests to complicated illnesses such as asthma, pneumonia, bronchitis, jaundice, blood and liver disorders. While some medical claims may lack scientific proof and some may outright be an exaggeration of their medical properties, recent researches have shown that the majority of the claims that have been made for ages have sufficient validity to uphold the traditional claims.

We are blessed to be in an industry for almost 35 years where our guests come from all over the world and with different interests. While the primarily come to see the Himalayas and explore the adventure, culture and wildlife, along with these they also come curious about a few other things. Among the primary curiosity of our guests, yoga and meditation ranks the highest, food is another popular adventure they seek and many come curious about what medical plants are all about and what is so worthy about astrological birth chart. Well, whatever your curiosity is, let us know please. We will be sure to lend you a hand.

COME CURIOUS. LEAVE ENLIGHTENED.