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article imageIndian scientists may have found 'wonder herb' in Himalayas

By Sravanth Verma     Aug 31, 2014 in Health
Indian scientists may have found a multi-functional "wonder herb" that can regulate the immunity system, adapt to challenging environmental situations and help people stay protected from radiation.
The herb known as Rhodiola, was found in the high altitudes of the Himalayan mountains.
Rhodiola is found in cold and highland climates, and scientists say this could be very well be the herb known in Indian mythology as Sanjeevani. In the Ramayana epic, Rama, the avatar of the god Vishnu, uses the mythical herb to bring his brother back from the brink of death during battle.
Rhodiola is also found in the United States and China. It is used in traditional Chinese medicine to combat altitude sickness. Mongolia's physicians also prescribe it for tuberculosis and cancer. Researchers in Russia have also studied its efficacy for athletes and cosmonauts.
Rhodiola is known as Solo in the mountainous Ladakh region, in the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir. Here, the leafy parts of the plant are used as a vegetable.
Research work from the Leh-based Defence Institute of High Altitude Research (DIHAR) has shown that the herb holds great potential in helping military troops cope with high altitudes, such as the Siachen glacier, which at 5400 meters (17,700 feet) is the highest battlefield on the planet, where the Indian and Pakistani armies face each other.
"Rhodiola is a wonder plant that has immunomodulatory (enhancing immune), adaptogenic (adapting to difficult climatic condition), and radio-protecting abilities, due to the presence of secondary metabolites and phytoactive compounds unique to the plant," R.B. Srivastava, director of DIHAR, said. "A concerted effort involving conservation, propagation and sustainable utilisation of this unique medicinal herb will surely result in rediscovery of Sanjeevani for the troops deployed in extreme climatic condition along Himalayan frontiers," added Srivastava.
The Rhodiola herb can also reduce the effects of gamma radiation used in nuclear bombs.
Other good qualities of the plant include accelerating recovery after strenuous physical activity, enhancing memory, and reducing cardiac stress.
"Our research reveals its potential for anti-aging, tissue regeneration, protecting neurons during lack of oxygen, and cognitive improvement," said Sunil Hota, who is investigating medicinal properties of the plant at DIHAR.
"While its adaptogenic qualities can help the soldiers in adjusting to the low pressure/low oxygen environment, the plant has also been found to have anti-depressant and appetizer properties," claims Srivastava.
The natural vegetation of India is incredibly diverse and holds much potential for the pharmaceutical field. Researchers are investigating the potential of several herbs and plants, from the Western Ghats in South India to the Himalayan mountains,
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