Indian Indigo Plant or Neel Herb Detail

Indigofera tinctoria is also known as Nil, Nili, Aviri etc.  It is oldest known natural dye used for printing, textile and hair colouring. Indigo plant is a perennial shrub native to India which grows up to height of two meters and found throughout India. Indigo is also cultivated in few parts of the country for its commercial use. The whole plant of Indigo herb is dried and pulverised to get a powder. This powder can be used for dying purpose.

In Ayurveda, Neel or Indigo use is recommended in treatment of gout, epilepsy, asthma, lumbago, abdominal and spleen diseases, parasites, cough, poison, phobia, delusion, disturbed mental state, depression etc. Indigo plant has antiseptic, hepatoprotective, hypoglycaemic properties.

Taxonomy of Indigo plant

Kingdom:  Plantae
Division: Magnoliophyta
Class: Magnoliopsida
Order: Fabales
Family: Fabaceae
Subfamily: Faboideae
Tribe: Indofereae
Genus: Indigofera
Species: L.tinctoria
Scientific name: Indigofera tinctori
Vernacular name(s)
Tamil: Aviri, Nili
Assamese: Nilbam , Bengali: Nil
English: Indigo, Indian indigo
Gujrati: Gali, Gari, Nil
Hindi: Nili
Kannada: Karunili, Neeligida, Malayalam:  Nilam, Amari
Marathi: Neel
Oriya: Nili, Nila
Punjabi: Neel
Sanskrit: Nili, Nilika, Nilini, Rangapatri
Telugu: Nili Chettu, Nili, Aviri
Urdu:& Habb-ul-Neel

Parts Used: Whole Plant

As per Ayurveda Properties and Action of Indigo plant

Rasa:  Katu, Tikta
Guna:  Sara
Virya:  Ushna
Vipaka:  Katu
Karma:  Jantu-ghna, Kapha-hara, Keshya, Vata-hara, Vishaghna

Various scientific studies done on Indian Indigo shows following properties.

  • Anti-hyperglycemic  and Anti-diabetic activity
  • Anti-bacterial
  • Antioxidant, anti-toxic
  • Cytotoxicity Effect
  • Anti-inflammatory activity
  • Anti-convulsive activity

In traditional medicine Indigofera tinctoria is used to treat various diseases. As a preventive medicine for hydrophobia, its leaves juice is taken with equal amount of milk for three days.

For treating spleen and liver enlargement, fresh leaves juice or pulverised powder is taken with honey. In treatment of some other diseases such as lung diseases, cough, asthma, heart palpitations, edema its leaves juice is orally administered.  

The decoction of its root is given for treating poisoning.  

The leaves has antiseptic and astringent action and used externally to cure cuts, wounds, ulcers, piles and similar skin conditions.

The leaf powder of Indigo is natural hair dye. It can be mixed with henna powder for colouring hair. Indigo is also used in preparation of various hair oils.

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