Giloy (scientific name – Tinospora cordifolia, botanical family – Menispermaceae) is a climbing shrub that grows on trees and has been widely used in the Indian medicine system for ages.
The word Giloy or “Giloe” is a Hindu mythological word implying “a mythical heavenly elixir which celestial beings consume to stay eternally young”. Giloy is known by many names, the famous one’s being – ‘Amrita’ meaning “the root of immortality” & ‘Guduchi’ meaning “that which protects the body from diseases”, thanks to its extensive medicinal properties. As per Ayurveda, Giloy is one of the three Amrit plants i.e., ambrosia or nectar plants (the other two Amrit plants are – haritaki and garlic).
Giloy plant is native to India, however, also found in Africa, Australia, and China. Every part of this incredible medicinal plant (leaves, stem, roots) is used to prepare Ayurvedic medicine, however, the stem of Giloy is of the greatest utility. The uses & benefits of Giloy have been approved by the Food & Drug Administration (FDA).
Table of contents
- Botanical Description of Giloy
- Nutritional Value of Giloy
- What Are The Active Components Of Giloy That Make It Work As A Medicine?
- Benefits of Giloy
Botanical Description of Giloy
Giloy is a sizeable, deciduous (loses leaves every autumn), comprehensively spreading, climbing shrub with many twining and elongated branches.
Giloy plant bears heart-shaped leaves (hence the name Heart-leaved moonseed), resembling betel leaves, and bears reddish fruits. Giloy leaves are simple, without stipules, and with lengthy roundish petioles (stalk) up to 15 cm (6”) long.
The flowers of Giloy are unisexual and appear when the Giloy plant is without leaves. They are greenish-yellow on axillary and terminal racemes. The female Giloy flowers are normally solitary and the male flowers are clustered. Giloy fruits are aggregated in bunches of one to three. The fruits are scarlet or orange-coloured, ovoid in shape, and appear like smooth drupelets on thick stalks.
Nutritional Value of Giloy
The nutritional values of the constituents of Giloy according to their scientific composition are:
- Fibre: 16.19%
- Moisture: 17.69%
- Protein: 4.13%
- Fat: 3.12%
- Ash: 12.01%
- Neutral Detergent Fibre (structural components of the plant): 37.90%
- Acid Detergent Fibre (the least digestible plant component like Cellulose): 34.65%
What Are The Active Components Of Giloy That Make It Work As A Medicine?
The whole Giloy plant is utilitarian due to its medicinal properties, including the leaves and the roots; however, the stem is the most useful due to its high nutritional content. Several essential compounds in Giloy are effective against various conditions like fevers, diabetes, neurological problems, cancers, liver issues, etc. It is possibly due to the following active components:
- Aliphatic compounds
- Essential oils Fatty acids
- Glycosides and many more
Terpenoids are responsible for plants’ colour, fragrance, and taste. They are one of the leading active compounds found in plants. Terpenoids have antiviral, antimicrobial, anti-diabetic, and anticancer properties in them.
Alkaloids are those active compounds that impart a bitter taste to plants. Plant alkaloids are useful in the manufacturing of many prescription medicines.
Alkaloids are therapeutically beneficial for:
- intestinal spasms
- pain relief
- blood pressure
Alkaloids are very powerful chemical compounds. Interestingly, since time immemorial plant alkaloids in the relevant doses have been used as remedies for various illnesses or as poisons.
Lignans are compounds that are located chiefly in fibrous plants. They inhibit the growth of fungi, viruses, and other microbes.
Studies show that Lignans have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, i.e., lignans safeguard cells from oxidative damage. Studies have further discovered that lignans retard growth or even kill certain cancer cells.
Steroids present in the Giloy plant are beneficial for:
- cardiovascular health
- wound healing
- skin health
Some compounds present in Giloy have a chemical structure similar to cholesterol, and they compete with cholesterol for absorption in the intestine. This is how Giloy lowers the cholesterol levels in the blood.
Benefits of Giloy
In Ayurvedic medicine, Giloy is known as the “root of immortality”. This miraculous herb offers a wealth of great health benefits to humans. Below the 10 well-documented benefits of Giloy are enumerated:
- Immunomodulator – Giloy strengthens body immunity
- Cardioprotective – Protects the heart and modulates lipid metabolism
- Hepatoprotective – Enhances glutathione levels and supports the liver
- Antioxidant – Giloy is an antioxidant powerhouse & free radical scavenger
- Anti-diabetic – Stimulates insulin production, lowers blood glucose levels
- Neuroprotective – Giloy modulates the brains antioxidant enzyme system and increases acetylcholine neurotransmitter synthesis
- Prevents respiratory illness – Giloy soothes the mucous membrane due to its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant nature
- Anti-arthritic – Giloy lessens joint pain and inflammation by decreasing the synthesis of pro-inflammatory cytokines
- Anti-osteoporotic – stimulates osteoblasts growth & improves the mineralization of the bone matrix
- Anti-aging – Giloy is rich in flavonoids & enhances collagen production
How To Consume Giloy?
According to Ayurveda, Giloy can be taken as a powder, a kadha (decoction) or even juice.
Nowadays, stores also sell Giloy as a supplement in the form of a capsule or a pill. Dried readymade Giloy powder and juice from stems and roots can also be purchased. Consume it as per the directions of the label, as their preparation may differ from one manufacturer to another.
Giloy can be applied topically as a paste for skin problems. After consulting with your dermatologist, Giloy or Tinospora cordifolia lotion, cream or ointment can be substituted for other prescription creams or lotions.
Giloy’s regular dose is one teaspoon at a time, taken twice a day. This dose might differ depending upon the prescription or type of health problem.
How To Prepare Giloy Juice?
To prepare Giloy juice, get some clean, chopped branches of the Giloy plant. Peel off the outer indigestible hard skin. Blend these chopped Giloy branches with a cup of water. Make a fine, green liquid paste from those branches. Finally, filter or strain this green paste to make the Giloy juice.
Precautions While Using Giloy (Possible Side Effects)
Giloy is safe for use and poses no side effects. Even though Giloy is safe for use, there are certain health conditions and medications mentioned below with which Giloy needs to be avoided:
- Giloy puts the immune system in top gear, if one is suffering from autoimmune diseases (systemic lupus erythematosus, rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis), Giloy consumption is going to further increase the symptoms and should therefore be avoided in this case.
- In case you are allergic to Giloy or any of its constituents, consume Giloy only after the doctor’s recommendations.
- As Giloy puts the immune system into overdrive, it needs to be avoided if you are already taking immunosuppressants.
- Due to the lack of scientific evidence, avoid medicinal use of Giloy during pregnancy and breastfeeding period.
- Giloy lowers the blood glucose levels so keep your blood glucose levels in check if you’re already taking anti-diabetic drugs.
People have been using Giloy for ages in the traditional Ayurvedic medicine system in India. As long as the directions on the product label are followed, it is safe for most people. It is, however, always advisable to discuss with your doctor before starting any herbal supplements.
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Frequently Asked Questions
The Sanskrit word ‘Amrita’ is used for Giloy in Ayurveda due to its abundant medicinal usefulness. The word Amrita or Amruta is a literal translation to ‘the root of immortality’.
The scientific name for Giloy is – Tinospora cordifolia. Its other names are: – Guduchi, Amruta, Amritavallari, Ghanvati, Madhuparni, Chakralakshanika, Chhinnaruha, Rasayani, Gulvel, Somvalli, Amrita, Devnirmita, Jwarari, Vatsadani, and Bahuchinna.
Giloy can be offered to kids for a short period. It can be helpful to control their stomach problems, loss of appetite, fever, and recuperate from general debility.
As per Ayurveda, the methodology of extracting starch to use it for medicinal purposes is called Satva.
How Giloy Satva is made:
1. Take a clean Giloy stem and a vessel.
2. Crush the Giloy stem roughly and soak in water for 6 to 8 hours in the vessel.
3. Afterwards, mash the Giloy stem adequately to enable the release of the Giloy starch into the water in the vessel.
4. Do not disturb the vessel for some time so that the starch settles down at the bottom of the vessel.
5. Take out the clear water from the vessel delicately without disturbing the starch sediment at the bottom.
6. Finally, to obtain the Giloy Satva, dry this starch completely under shade.
Giloy leaves are very valuable for health. The fresh Giloy leaves can be chewed to manage arthritis or to improve general health. Giloy juice made from fresh leaves can be taken for skin diseases as it is useful in flushing out the toxins from the body. In addition, drinking a decoction (kadha) made from boiling fresh Giloy leaves also helps to control gout, fever, and indigestion.
Giloy leaves can also be used as a paste to be applied on wounds besides for eye issues like burning, itching, or redness of the eyes. This is because of Giloy’s Kashaya (astringent) and Ropana (healing) nature. The paste of Giloy leaves can also be applied to the scalp. It is helpful to prevent hair problems like hair fall due to its Katu (pungent) and Kashaya (astringent) nature.
Giloy Kadha or Giloy decoction can be prepared by the following processes:
1. Take a few clean and fresh Giloy leaves or Giloy stem and keep boiling them in water (400ml) till the water is reduced to one-fourth of its original amount. Let the remaining liquid cool down and filter it.
2. If fresh Giloy leaves or stems are not available, you can purchase the Giloy powder from any Ayurvedic store. Use one tablespoon of the Giloy powder and boil it in 2 cups of water. Boil it until the water volume is reduced to one-fourth of the original quantity. Cool the remaining liquid and strain it to get the Giloy kadha.