Scientists Find a ‘Wonder Herb’ in the High Himalayas

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By Sarah Thomas | August 28, 2014 8:53 AM EST

A "wonder herb" growing from the roof of the world, Himalayas was discovered by Indian scientists. Amidst extreme environments this new herb was found. It is said to regulate the immune system and protect from radioactivity. It also helps adapt to the mountain environment.

Reuters
Clouds rise behind Mount Everest, the world's highest peak at 8,848 metres (29,029 ft), as seen from Kongde near Namche Bazar in this file picture taken March 5, 2009. Nepal's cabinet plans to meet at the base camp of Mount Everest in November to highlight the impact of global warming on the Himalayas ahead of next month's U.N. negotiations on climate change, a minister said on November 2, 2009. Picture taken March 5. REUTERS/Gopal Chitrakar/Files (NEPAL ENVIRONMENT SOCIETY POLITICS)

The herb, Rhodiola was found in the ice clad mountains and has led scientists to question if it really is the powerful "sanjeevani", a mythical herb that is said to bring anybody back to life. The leafy parts of the plants were used by the locals in Ladakh, but they were unaware of its medicinal properties that have now been discovered with the research conducted by Leh-based Defence Institute of High Altitude Research (DIHAR). The research found that Rhadiola could be of enormous helps to the soldiers who are on duty in such high altitudes, living on the Siachen glacier.

RB Srivastava, director, DIHAR, told IANS and explained that the herb was a complete wonder; it had medicinal properties unlike anything they had seen in the past. The plant has "immunomodulatory (enhancing immune), adaptogenic (adapting to difficult climatic condition) and radio-protecting abilities due to presence of secondary metabolites and phytoactive compounds", which are unique to the herb, he stated.

Research on the Rhadiola has been going on for more than a decade and they have found that it lessens the effects of gamma radiation used in bombs. The herb needs to be conserved and efforts need to be made for a sustainable utilization. This would lead to a "rediscovery of sanjeevani for the troops deployed in extreme climatic condition along Himalayan frontiers", Srivastava said.

The plant is seen to have anti depression properties as well. Most of the troops in the Siachen glaciers go through depression due to an abundance of ice and they are only exposed to the colour white. It also helps adjust to the climate and the altitude because of its adaptogenic qualities.

It also has appetizer properties that would help the troops get rid of their low appetite caused due to the harsh conditions. The DIHAR have already developed herbal adaptogenic appetizer and herbal adaptogenic performance enhancer.

This herb is not just restricted to the Himalayas and has been found in the U.S. and China as well. These countries are doing their own research on the Rhodiola. The other benefits of the herb include memory enhancement, rapid recovery from heavy workouts and cardiac stress reduction.

Sunil Hota, who is working on investigating medicinal properties of the plant at DIHAR said that the research also shed light on its anti-ageing and tissue regeneration properties.

Chaurasia stated that that they are trying in vitro propagation of the plant to increase its population.

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(Photo: Reuters / )
Clouds rise behind Mount Everest, the world's highest peak at 8,848 metres (29,029 ft), as seen from Kongde near Namche Bazar in this file picture taken March 5, 2009. Nepal's cabinet plans to meet at the base camp of Mount Everest in November to highlight the impact of global warming on the Himalayas ahead of next month's U.N. negotiations on climate change, a minister said on November 2, 2009. Picture taken March 5. REUTERS/Gopal Chitrakar/Files (NEPAL ENVIRONMENT SOCIETY POLITICS)
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