Study of Neeli (Nilini)

Many parts of the world are opting traditional medicines and treatment methods. Today the use medicinal plants and herbs are increasing on a quick pace among the people. Studies show that the use of medicinal plants act not only on a particular system but on the whole body. Also herbal drugs are less harmful since they cause less side effects and toxicity to the body, compared to the chemical synthetic drugs. Since herbal drugs are not as costly as synthetic drugs, they are also affordable to all people. There are some herbs which are having some toxic effect on the body. But can be used in little quantity after proper purification and herbs are directly related with the prakriti or nature. So one which is nearer to the nature is good for human body also.

Study of Neeli

True indigo is the common name of Neeli. It is known in Ayurveda for its medicinal values and anti poisonous effect. Many scientific studies have been conducted on Neeli to prove its pharmacology activities. It has been widely used in almost all developing countries for its excellent medicinal value.

In China traditional medicine it is used to detoxify liver, as a blood purifier, to reduce pain, fever and inflammation.

Scientific Description of Neeli

Botanical Name : Indigofera tinctoria

Family   : Fabaceae

Plant description:  True indigo is a shrub with light green pinnate leaves with mostly bisexual flowers.  They are found mostly in Asia as well as in Africa.

Chemical properties

Rasa (Taste)                                       :     Tikta (bitter)

Guna (Quality)                                  :     Laghu, Ruksha  (light & penetrating)

Veerya (potency)                            :     Usna (Hot)

Vipaka ( taste after digestion )   :     Katu (pungent)

Chemical composition

Presence of alkaloid in its alcoholic extract of leaves. Presence of steroids, proteins, carbohydrates, phenol.

Karma (Action on body)

It is antibacterial, anti oxidant, anti hyperglycemic, anti inflammatory, hepatic protective, anti diabetic and anti cancerous.  It acts as a laxative, expectorant, anti helminthes, used in  splenomegaly,  epilepsy, gastropathy,  cardiopathy etc.

Medicinal value

  1. In abdominal distraction (Gulma) – It is the chief drug in Nilinyadi ghritam. It promotes digestion.
  2. In Ascites (Udaram) – Chief drug in Nilinyadi churnam. Acts as a hepato protective.
  3. In Erysipelas (Visarpa) – Neeli with milk in the morning. Application of its paste locally over the lesion site.
  4. Skin care – Local application for black heads, acne, burns, wounds and scabies mark.
  5. For tooth decay – Chewing of Neeli
  6. Dysuria – Root of Neeli with goat’s milk. Application of its leaf paste on lower abdomen helps in micturative difficulty.
  7. Washing of body – Use of neeli root with cow’s milk
  8. For respiratory disorders – used in whooping cough, asthma.
  9. For hair care
  • Promotes hair growth, reduce hair fall and thinning, prevents premature graying, improves hair colour and texture. Used in Neelibringadi tailam.
  • Black henna (hair dye) – Neeli leaves are dried and powdered and used as natural hair dye. This hair dye is natural and safe.

Use of Neeli in Visha Chikitsa (in poisonous treatment)

Neeli acts as an anti dot    for poisoning.  It is used widely for poisoning caused by both animal and herbal poisons.  It is used in many agada preparations (anti poisonous medicines).

  1. Insect bite
  • Neeli with Thulasi roots, made into a paste with milk and application at site.
  • Neeli root with rice washed water for drinking and application.
  1. Rat poison
  • Neeli decoction acts as an emetic drug
  • For purgation using neeli, trivruth and triphala
  1. Spider bite
  • For purgation using neeli, trivuth and triphala

Cobra poison

  • Fresh juice acts as a potential antidot which is taken in the form of oral administration.
  1. Rabies and Hydrophobia
  • Fresh juice with equal quantity of milk
  1. Poisonous stings
  • Application of plant paste on wound site.
  • Plant juice taken internally
  1. Arsenic poisoning – Internal use of root decoction
  2. Mushroom poisoning – Root paste with milk

Other uses of Neeli

  1. Soil fertility

Besides its use for humans as a medicine and an antipoisonous agent, it is also used for soil health too. It fixes nitrogen in the soil, improving its fertility and enhancing the soil.

  1. As a Dye

It is widely used as a source for synthesizing dye. Dye is obtained from processing the plant leaves and it is marketed as a natural colouring plant.



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