Herbs > Ayurvedic Herbs > Bishop's Weed
By Dr. Satish Kulkarni
The colloquial name for Bishop's weed is ajwain or ova and its botanical
name is trachyspermum ammi. Bishops 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.
Bishops weed is known to ayurveda
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. Bishops 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 Bishops
weed with dry ginger, rock salt and lemon juice is a
proven remedy for spasmodic pain in the abdomen.
Bishops 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
Internal or external use for patients
suffering from tension headaches, cluster headaches,
migraine, etc. gives good and instant relief.
Eating/chewing the seeds and drinking hot water with
it and inhaling vapor or smoking beedi are
common practices. Applying crushed seeds directly on
the forehead enhances results.
Many ayurvedic practitioners use
the potli for conditions like furuncles,
carbuncles, boils and abscesses to ensure early and
complete suppuration. Application of crushed warm
seeds is an effective remedy in painful joint
conditions. Muscle pull, sprain, strain, catch are a
few more conditions where this medicine can be a part
of the treatment.
One ayurvedic school has included
Bishop's weed in the aphrodisiac group of
medicines. The seeds are roasted in pure ghee
(clarified butter) and one teaspoonful of this powder
is taken at bed time with lukewarm milk.
Psychological as well as physical effect is the
specialty of this medicine here.
In short, Bishops weed
is recommended medicine for colicky pains of
smooth muscles and common respiratory conditions. It
can be safely used without medical advice in these
cases. In other problems, use under medical
supervision should be practiced.
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