Not only are flowers capable of emanating fragrances, they also have medicinal properties. In fact, they are considered to be extremely important in Ayurveda. “Pushpa Ayurveda is a special branch of Ayurveda that was developed primarily by Jain priests. KalyanaKarakam, the 9th century text is the first to mention the use of flowers to cure diseases,” says Dr Partap Chauhan, director of Jiva Ayurveda, which focuses on delivering personalised Ayurvedic treatment for chronic and lifestyle diseases.
He explains that flowers are the reproductive parts of the plant and depending on their type, they can be used whole, “as in with the Kumbhi flower (Careya Arborea Roxb.)”, “just the petals like the rose (Rosa centifolia Linn.)”, or the “stigma and the upper portion of the style as is the case with the saffron flower (Crocus Sativus Linn.)” for medicinal purposes.
“They could also be consumed as petals or as a juice decoction and can be applied as tincture or be administered after mixing with other ingredients, too,” Dr Chauhan suggests.
He explains how some major blossoms are used for medicinal purposes.
1.Hibiscus/Shoeblackplant — Petals and leaves of this flower can be found in red, pink, white, yellow and orange colours. Hibiscus is widely used in Ayurvedic teas which help lower blood pressure. It also helps with diarrhea, piles, haemorrhage as well as hair fall, hypertension, cough. It can also be useful as a contraceptive.
2. Rose — Roses are usually pink or red in colour, with long, slender pedicals. The flowers contain tannins, vitamins A, B and C. They also give out essential oils and contain fatty oil and organic acids. Juice of the flower is used to reduce body heat and headaches. Dried flowers are given to pregnant women as a diuretic and petals are used for stomach cleansing.
Roses can also be used for making sweetmeats like ‘murraba’ out of its petals which helps ease digestive issues. Rose in any shape or form can prove to be beneficial and can cure lung-related diseases like cough, asthma, bronchitis, digestive issues like dyspepsia and flatulence. Irritation in the eyes can be assuaged with rose water. Skin problems like acne breakouts can be controlled with rose paste and rose tea can be drunk to alleviate constipation.
3. Plumeria — These are fragrant yellowish to orange flowers that are used in Ayurvedic medicines for various ailments like skin diseases, wounds and ulcers. Decoction of the flower is used for treating nausea, fevers, vertigo, cough and bronchitis.
4. Golden Shower Tree — These are yellow flowers that hang from their tree in long drooping chains. It is useful in the treatment of skin diseases, cardiac diseases, jaundice, constipation, indigestion, and even ear ache.
5. Lotus — Lotuses are white or pink, large solitary flowers. It is of tremendous spiritual and cultural meaning. It has been proven to be effective in reducing temperature, thirst, skin diseases, burning sensation, boils, diarrhoea and bronchitis.
6. Chrysanthemum — Chrysanthemums are ornamental yellow flowers. The juice or infusion of this flower can cure vertigo, hypertension, and furunculosis. A serving of piping hot tea made from its petals can help reduce pain and fever. If you don’t like the taste, dip a cotton pad in it after it’s cool to soothe tired and puffy eyes. It can also be used to cure digestive disorders and works as a laxative.
7. Jasmine — Fragrant white flowers, jasmine tea has long been used by cultures to ease off anxiety and insomnia and other ailments of the nervous system. It also proves beneficial for alleviating digestive problems, menstrual pain, and inflammation.
“As therapeutic as ever, these flowers will help you retain your physical and mental health. If you are on medication, it is advised to consult a doctor and seek professional advice before you try anything new,” Dr Chauhan concludes.