As more and more cases of swine flu are being reported in the city, people are turning to 'natural' means to combat the virus. Keen to boost their immunity and protect themselves against swine flu, many are buying the Amrutha Balli, a specific medicinal plant.
Last week, the University of Agricultural Sciences (UAS), GKVK, saw people buy close to 1,000 plants and ever since then the number of requests for these plants have gone up.
"We sold close to 1,000 plants last week and are still getting more requests. But we need to give these plants at least three weeks time to grow in the nurseries before being sold. Prior to the outbreak of swine flu, only five or six of these plants would be sold in a day. But now, we sell nearly 10 times more," said Dr M Vasundhara, professor of horticulture and in-charge of medicinal and aromatic section, UAS.
The stems and leaves of the Amrutha Balli, also known as Tinospora Cordifolia, are primarily used for medicinal purposes. The creeper is used in treating illnesses like jaundice and diabetes. It is easily available in the wild, thrives in warm and humid climate and grows round the year. "This plant is even used to treat cancer and liver disorders. It needs to be consumed for at least 21 days to feel the impact. Its leaves when eaten raw have the best effect as some medicinal qualities are lost in the process of cooking. But it has to be consumed as part of the daily diet to help boost a person's immunity," said Prof Vasundhara.
Nearly 3,000 more Amrutha Balli plants are being grown at GKVK's nurseries to meet public demand. However as Vasundhara said, "This should not be seen merely as a cure or preventive medicine to tackle swine flu. The medicinal quality of this plant helps boost overall immunity. There are other herbs that have similar properties. But influential experts like Baba Ramdev have suggested the use of this plant and as such many people have been queuing to buy this particular plant."