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Bishop's Weed

Posted by James R.

The colloquial name for Bishop’s weed is ajwain or ova and its botanical name is trachyspermum ammi. Bishop’s weed is a small and erect shrub and has soft, fine feathery leaves. The seeds of the herb are the important part and have medicinal value. Seeds are irregular, grey colored, have a characteristic odor and have a hot lingering taste. Bishop’s weed is known to Ayurveda Kerala since the very beginning and is included in most of the carminative mixtures because of its carminative properties. It was known to old Greek medicine as well and is included in Greek carminative formulas since then. Bishop’s weed is also a part of unani system of medicine.

Traditional healers recommend this medicine to patients suffering from pain in the abdomen because it has antispasmodic properties. Ayurveda prescribes this medicine for the treatment of colicky pains, flatulence and digestive disorders. Oil extract of the seeds is used in non-specific diarrhea, dysentery, dyspepsia etc. The seeds are taken directly with hot water or in the form of decoction. They can be taken with other herbs in combination with rock salt. The seeds of Bishop’s weed with dry ginger, rock salt and lemon juice is a proven remedy for spasmodic pain in the abdomen. Bishop’s weed is commonly used in respiratory disorders. Ayurvedic practitioners recommend the use of this medicine especially in pediatric patients. It is a famous remedy for chest congestion occurring due to accumulated cough. In conditions like whooping cough and asthmatic bronchitis it is used alongside the main line of treatment. The seeds can be taken orally and/or used externally for fomentation of the respiratory area. They have proven their effectiveness in common conditions like rhinitis, sinusitis, pharyngitis, laryngitis, bronchitis, etc. They are crushed, heated, and put in a small bag of cloth called potli. This potli is multipurpose and can be used for smelling, for chest fomentation or just kept near the pillow of the patient. The seeds are added to boiling water to produce medicinal vapor, which helps in relieving congestion of the nose due to common cold. A beedi (cigarette made by rolling seeds into a leaf, in this case used for medicinal smoking) is an effective remedy for bronchial asthma. This is simple, safe and soothing. Traditional healers from villages routinely recommend smoking this ‘cigarette’ for treatment of respiratory conditions where accumulation of cough is the cause of irritation. Instant relief is seen most of the times. This medicine is very effective when trouble is caused due to seasonal change. Gargling with water in which these seeds have been soaked, is a good method of prophylaxis.

Comments (2)
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Thanks. Interesting post. I was not familiar with this plant and its medicinal aspects.
I hadn't heard of it, either. I wish they would sell it in loose form at herbal teas shops. It's amazing all the things Mother Nature can provide for us, so that we don't have to rely on the pharmaceutical companies. Look at the cough syrups that have had to be pulled off the market!
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