Indian Medicinal Plants

by Kanhoba Ranchoddas Kirtikar | 1918

A comprehensive work on Indian Botany including plant synonyms in various languages, habitat description and uses in traditional medicine, such as Ayurveda....

Notes on the elementary (cardinal) properties of medicines

In his interesting report on Punjab Drugs [in Baden Powell’s Handbook of the Economic Products of the Punjab], the late Dr. Burton Brown wrote

“At the present day the native physicians have adopted, with some modifications, the idea of Galen respecting the method of operation of medicines; this was, that the uses of all medicines were derived from their elementary or cardinal properties,—namely, heat, cold, moisture and dryness; and that all diseases could also be classed under the above heads, but that in the treatment of disease a medicine should always be employed which was of a contrary nature to the disease treated; thus a cold disease requires a hot remedy, and the converse.

The following is a list of some of the drugs employed, showing their nature according to native ideas, and also the real use in European medicine.

Scientific name. Native name. Use.
  Cold Medicines.  
Phyllanthus emblica... Amla Astringent and acid purgative.
Rosa Gul surkh... Astringent.
Rosa Gulab Astringent and purgative.
Citrus aurantium Narangi Astringent, tonic.
Tamarindus indica Imli Refrigerant.
Terminalia chebula Halela Astringent.
Rhus coriaria Samak Astringent.
  Hot Medicines.  
Semecarpus anacardium Bhilawa Acrid.
Corylus avellana Findak Demulcent.
Dracocephalum Royleanum. Balangu Aromatic.
Zingiber officinale Soṅth Aromatic.
Moschus Mushk Aromatic.
Aquillaria agallocha ’U’d Tonic.
Caryophyllus aromatica Karanful Aromatic.
Amber Kahruba Tonic.
Narcissus tazetta Nargas Acrid.
  Dry Medicines.  
Prunella sp—, Ustukhudus Aromatic.
Raw Silk Abresham... Inert.
Centaurea Behmen Bahman Tonic.
Poly podium... Bisfaij Tonic.
Dracocephalum Royleanum. Balangu Aromatic.
Psoralea corallifolia (corylifolia) Babchi Tonic.
Laurus cinnamomum Darchini Aromatic.
Laurus cassia Taj Aromatic.
Pastinaca Shakakul Demulcent.
Crocus sativus Zafran Inert.
Mentha sativa Pudina Aromatic.
Myristica moschata Jaiphal Aromatic.
Scientific name. Native name. Use.
  Moist Remedies.  
Phyllanthus emblica Amla Astringent.
Tamarind us indica Imli Purgative.
Silica Tabashir... Inert.
Vitis vinifera Zirishk Demulcent.
Camphora Kafur Aromatic.
Onosma sp-, Gauzaban... Tonic.
Coriandrum sativum... Dhanyan Aromatic.
Rosa Gul surkh... Astringent.
Nymphœa... Nilofar Inert.
Citrus aurantium Narangi Aromatic.

From the above list it will be seen that many of the cold remedies, are what are used in European therapeutics astringent medicines, while the hot remedies are principally aromatics; but that very various remedies are classed under the terms moist and dry.”

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