Foreigners make beeline for ‘sugar ka ped’
A Facebook post has helped a little-known Indian herb take root in the lucrative ayurvedic medicine market with inquiries pouring in from Saudi Arabia, Germany, the US and Thailand, say forest department officials in Uttarakhand’s Nainital district.
Over the past 18 months, authorities have sold 20,000 Kasni herbs that traditional medicine experts say are effective in treating kidney and liver diseases, high blood sugar as well as piles.
The plant has gained popularity at a time when the once-sleepy Indian ayurvedic medicine companies have woken up to the opportunity to sell herbal remedies to urban Indians.
Forest officer Madan Singh Bisht discovered the herb in the state’s Dehradun district around two years ago. He says he knew about its medicinal properties and wanted to pass on the benefits to the people.
Bisht started selling the plants for Rs 10 apiece through the government nursery at the Forest Training Institute (FTI) in Haldwani city.
The officer says the benefits of Kasni build up on chewing the leaves when the juice mixes with the saliva.
“My phone keeps ringing all the time as many people want to procure the Kasni plant for its remedial benefits,” he told HT.
Sources said the herb’s demand surged after Facebook user “Polythene Baba” posted about it on the social media site.
Soon, testimonials filled up the register at the FTI nursery with many people saying their sugar levels had come down and their kidneys were performing better.
Kasni, with the scientific name Cichorium intybus, is found in nature in Uttarakhand, Himachal Pradesh, Punjab, Jammu and Kashmir, Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka.
But the plant is reportedly on the verge of extinction because of weeds and excessive use of pesticides.
The medicinal properties of Kasni are well-known in ayurveda and one of the varieties is used in preparing the liver-care Liv 52 tablets by Himalaya Herbals, experts say.
The plant has, however, been out of reach for the common man.
Botanist RS Rawal said Kasni is recognised for providing relief in liver ailments and diabetes.