Medicinal Plants

Serengan.jpg (30924 bytes) The serengan plant (Flemingia strobilifera), a species of the bean alliance (Leguminosae), commonly cultivated in villages throughout the Indian and Malaysian region. A decoction of its leaves is sometimes used in treating rheumatism.
(Photo: L.G. Saw)

Peninsular Malaysia is rather unique because of the presence of three active streams of medicinal plant knowledge: the indigenous Malay medicinal knowledge, the Ayurvedic (Indian) school of medicine and the Oriental (Chinese) medicinal knowledge. This makes the study of medicinal plant use highly interesting.

More and more, scientific studies are discovering that indigenous or folk medicines from plants often yield biochemical active substances that have use in medicine. In Rimba Ilmu we have a selection of such plants, which come from Malaysia's own forests as well as from other countries, some, in fact, introduced long ago and which have become a part of the local pharmacopoeia.

On the labels we state some of the main uses of these plant species but we do not state how these are prepared or applied, as that depends very much on one's experience and skill and non-specialists should not be careless in how they prepare or use herbal medicines.

Catharanthus roseus, the common Madagascar Periwinkle, contains alkaloids used to retard the progress of leukaemia.
Photo: Teresa Wong
Brucea javanica (Simaroubaceae), which finds medicinal use against dysentery and worms.
Photo: Teresa Wong
Baeckea frutescens (Myrtaceae) has essential oils used in health tonics and for scenting household preparations.
Photo: L.G. Saw
Andrographis paniculata (Acanthaceae), commonly known as hempedu bumi ("gall of the earth"), in the medicinal plant section. The leaves are useful in treating diabetes and high-blood pressure.
Photo: Agnes Loh
Orthosiphon aristatus (Lamiaceae) or the common Cat's Whiskers, much used traditionally for treatment of hypertension and arterial sclerosis.
Photo: Alan Ng