Go green with 'Nongmangkha' and know its top 12 health benefits

During the Covid pandemic, indigenous flowering plant Nongmangkha is in high demand in Manipur for its rich medicinal properties.


Nongmangkha, an orange flowering plant, which scientific name is Phlogacanthus thyrsiformis, gained popularity in Manipur as it is in high demand during this COVID-19 pandemic. Owing to its anti-bacterial and rich medicinal properties, Nongmakha is believed to help treat several ailments. Both the flower and the leaf are edible and are used in local dishes. During the pandemic, locals turned to this indigenous herb as a home remedy to treat similar symptoms of COVID-19 as there is no cure for the viral infection yet.

True, staying healthy should be a part of your overall lifestyle. Eating right and living a healthy lifestyle can help prevent diseases and long-term illnesses. We’re all becoming increasingly health-conscious, especially in this time of the pandemic. In fact, in the last few years, there has been an exponential growth in the field of herbal remedies and medicines and these drugs are gaining popularity both in the developing and developed countries because of their natural origin and fewer side-effects.

Phlogacanthus thyrsiformis is a genus of flowering plants in the family Acanthaceae and tribe Andrographideae and locally called Nongmangkha in Manipuri language. The  genus  Phlogacanthus (Acanthaceae), which grows wild,  is  represented  by  49  species  confined  only  to  a  few South-East  Asian  countries  viz., Bangladesh, Bhutan, China,  India, Indonesia, Myanmar and Vietnam.

In India, the genus is represented only by 10 species which are restricted only to the North-east region of the country. Out of these 10 species, 8 are recorded in Assam.

In Northeast India, the plant is used medicinally and as a vegetable by the ethnic communities of the region. Nongmangkha is found in the subtropical Himalayas, from Garhwal to Bhutan and NE India, at altitudes up to 1000 m. Phlogacanthus thyrsiformis is used in herbal recipes during Bohag-Bihu, the main festival of Assam.

During the last few decades, the genus has become one of the most important sources of Phlogantholide A, found in the leaves which are considered beneficial in liver and spleen diseases. In the current finding, phytochemical extracts derived from Nongmangkha leaves have been shown as anticancer agents.

Nongmangkha leaf is used for making a food item in Manipuri traditional feast.

Here are the top 12 benefits of Nongangkha leaf or Phlogacanthus thyrsiformis:

1. Whole plants are used like Adhatoda vasica in whooping cough and menorrhagia.

2. Fruits and leaves are burned and prescribed for cold and fevers.

3. Leaf decoction is good for stomach ulcer, intestinal disorder and muscular sprain.

4. Fresh inflorescence is an antidote to pox, prevents skin diseases like sore, scabies etc. Dried leaf powder is good for local application on skin infection.

5. Fresh leaf juice is used in tuberculosis, pyorrhoea and in bleeding gums.

6. It is used as an anti-allergic. Curry prepared from an aerial portion is given orally with rice once daily until cure.

7. The smoke of leaves is used during asthma attacks in the form of a cigarette.

8. It possesses an antihyperglycemic effect in streptozotocin-induced diabetic mice which justifies the traditional use of this plant as ethnomedicine in the treatment of diabetes.

9. Medicinal salt extracted from the ash of the whole plant is used in cases of indigestion, gastritis, pharyngitis, cough, asthma and checked acidity.

10. The paste of the root is used in case of chronic leucorrhoea.  It has also been used in jaundice.

11. Different parts of the plant have been used as an antiseptic and also as a good insecticide. Leaf extract is administered orally in gout and rheumatism.

12. It is used in traditional herbal vapour therapy in Manipur to cure dry cough and pneumonia.

In view of its several benefits, this wild flowering plant can be grown in gardens and in pots too. Plant a few of them in your garden space to treat the ailments mentioned above and enjoy its benefits. 

First Published:Dec. 29, 2020, 4:46 p.m.

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