The importance of our body’s defence mechanism has never been debated. However, the significance of immunity has increased manifold over the last few months in the context of COVID-19 pandemic. According to experts, a strong immune system can reduce your risk of this deadly viral infection. While scientists are burning the midnight oil to find a vaccine against it, a cross section of experts are of the opinion that Ayurveda can play a pivotal role in battling the pandemic. Ayurvedic herbs like ashwagandha and giloy have long been used for various medicinal benefits, including their immune-boosting properties.
Giloy, scientifically known as Tinospora cordifolia scientifically, is a perennial creeper. “The therapeutic benefits of this herb have been established through centuries. Reams of research have found that giloy an immunomodulator. In Ayurveda, we call it a rasayana, meaning rejuvenator. This herb nourishes all your tissues and percolates through your system without leaving any residue. Giloy also opens up trillions of microchannels present in our body which are otherwise blocked. These blocked microchannels are the culprits behind many of our metabolic disorders,” says Dr. GG Gangadharan of Ramaiah Indic Specialty Ayurveda—Restoration Hospital, Bengaluru.
WHAT MADE GILOY SO POPULAR AMIDST THE PANDEMIC?
Giloy has antipyretic properties, an attribute that brings down fever and bolsters your immune function. Moreover, it is endowed with an active chemical compound called berberine which has anti-viral properties. All these factors, combined together, make it a potential weapon in our battle against the COVID-19 pandemic. “Primarily, giloy is cooling in nature. It helps you deal with pitta problems. Pitta refers to anything that has a heating effect in the body including fever,” explains Dr. Partap Chauhan, Director, Jiva Ayurveda, a leading player in the field of alternative medicine.
HOW DOES GILOY BOOST YOUR HEALTH?
In the Ayurvedic school of thought, giloy, an antioxidant that tastes bitter, is known to balance all the doshas of the human body: Vata, Pitta and Kapha. Doshas refer to five states of matter: Ether (space), earth, water, air, and fire. While the vata dosha is associated with ether and air, pitta dosha is linked to fire and water, and the kapha dosha is related to earth and water.
Apart from boosting immunity, treating viral infections and bringing down fever, there are many other ways giloy revs up your health. “It is very good for your skin and liver. Giloy can be used as a hepatotonic, a substance that helps in maintaining a healthy level of liver enzymes. This herb also has anti-cancer and anti-HIV effects,” says Dr. Chauhan. Here, we guide you on the top health benefits of this Ayurvedic miracle.
“Giloy enhances natural insulin secretion which inhibits excessive glucose production. This gives you a better control over diabetes or high blood sugar level,” explains Dr. Chauhan.
Giloy can help you deal with the symptoms of asthma along with those of other respiratory issues. Giloy is rich in adaptogen, a non-toxic substance (extract) that helps our brain adapt to stress. “It balances our vata dosha. According to the Ayurvedic school of thought, stress is the result of too much vata in the brain,” says Dr. Chauhan.
According to Ayurveda, vata dosha is the cause of angina, a condition characterised by insufficient blood supply to the heart. Giloy is known to balance vata and reduce the symptoms of this condition.
Being anti-inflammatory in nature, giloy helps in reducing joint pain. This herb also strengthens your bones, finds a study published in the journal Maturitas.
DOES IT HAVE SIDE EFFECTS TOO?
Though the medicinal benefits of giloy are well-established, this Ayurvedic herb comes with its own set of side effects. If you take it along with your usual diabetes medicine, you may experience a condition called hyploglycaemia, where your blood sugar levels reduce to an abnormal low. In some cases, it may also lead to constipation and an overactive immune system. So, it’s best to consult your doctor before making this herb a part of your medicine cabinet.
HOW MUCH GILOY SHOULD YOU HAVE?
Giloy is commercially available in the form of powder and tablet. Both the tablet and powder are made from different parts of this herb, especially the stem. It’s best to consult an Ayurveda expert for the right dosage. However, general wisdom in the field suggests that adults can have two capsules while kids above 5 years of age can have 1 tablet every day. As far as the powder is concerned, it’s okay to have 3g to 5g a day.
HOMEMADE GILOY PREPARATIONS
You can reap the benefits of giloy through homemade preparations. Here are two prescriptions from our Ayurveda experts.
Giloy stem decoction
“Cut the stem of a giloy plant into small pieces, 2 inches long each. Crush them slightly and keep aside. Now, boil some water and pour it in a container. Slide in the crushed stems in the boiled water and let it rest overnight. Strain the mixture and have it the next morning,” suggests Dr. Gangadharan.
Giloy and amla paste
Take a few sliced giloy stems, an amla fruit and a thorny fruit named gokhru (English name: Land Caltrops). “Crush each of them into fine powder. Mix equal amounts of each powder to form a churan. Take 1-2 grams of this churan, add a little bit of water to make a paste and have it,” prescribes Dr. Chauhan. It’s good to have it once a day.
GROWING GILOY IN YOUR GARDEN
This herb, which requires a hot dry climate with medium rainfall, can be grown from seeds or by cutting old stems from the mother plant. However, the stem cutting method yields better results. You can source both the stem and the seeds from a nursery. Here is what a giloy plant primarily requires.
Sandy loam soil: Though this herb easily grows in all kinds of soil, one with good drainage capacity works best for giloy. This is because it cannot sustain in a soil that retains water. Moreover, being porous in nature, sandy loam soil allows sufficient entry of air.
Moderate watering: Giloy cannot survive if there is waterlogging. So, be aware of excessive watering.
Mango or neem tree: Being a creeper, this herb needs some sort of support. It is believed that when planted with a neem or a mango tree, giloy’s medicinal properties are enhanced.