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 the 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
Scientific name: Indigofera tinctori
Tamil: Aviri, Nili
Assamese: Nilbam , Bengali: Nil
English: Indigo, Indian indigo
Gujrati: Gali, Gari, Nil
Kannada: Karunili, Neeligida, Malayalam: Nilam, Amari
Oriya: Nili, Nila
Sanskrit: Nili, Nilika, Nilini, Rangapatri
Telugu: Nili Chettu, Nili, Aviri
Parts Used: Whole Plant
As per Ayurveda Properties and Action of Indigo plant
Rasa: Katu, Tikta
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
- 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 an equal amount of milk for three days.
For treating spleen and the 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.