Indian sorrel is a small, hairy, annual herb. It has
numerous branches which shoot out from the roots and creep to a length of 12 to
30 cms. The stem of the plant is very thin, delicate and hairy. It
has pale green compound leaves, with delicate, very thin and smooth leaflets.
It also has yellow flowers and cylindrical fruits containing many tiny seeds.
The herb is indigenous to India. Thriving in
moisture, it grows wild during monsoon and on wet grounds. The flowers of
the plant are sour due to a high content of oxalic acid and potassium oxalate.
The herb is rich in vitamin B1, iron and calcium. The leaves
contain a small amount of cellulose.
Healing Power and Curative Properties
The leaves are acrid, bitter and mildly astringent.
It has a predominantly acid taste. It advisable to mix the herb with other
milder tasting herbs. The juice of 15 grams of this herb, mixed with five
grams of basil (tulsi)juice, may be taken with 100 ml of tender coconut
water. This raw juice can also be mixed with cooked greens. The
leaves have a cooling effect and act as an appetizer.
The leaves are useful in relieving symptoms of fever. An infusion of the
leaves can bring temperature down.
The leaves are antiscorbutic and are useful in the
prevention and treatment of scurvy-a deficiency caused by lack of vitamin C.
An infusion of the leaves can be taken for this purpose.
Fresh leaves of the plant are useful in stimulating the stomach and aiding its
action. The leaves can also be eaten as an appetizer.
The leaves are beneficial in mild cases of
dysentery and enteritis. They should be boiled in butter-milk and given
twice a day. Fresh juice of the leaves, mixed with honey or sugar, is also
useful in dysentery.
The herb is beneficial in the treatment of jaundice. A tablespoon of fresh
juice mixed with butter-milk made of cow's milk can be taken once daily in the
treatment of this disease.
Indian sorrel curbs excessive thirst caused by diabetes or severe heat.
The same method of intake as for jaundice can be followed.
The leaves are useful in certain skin diseases like
warts, corns and other excrescences of the skin. They can be locally
applied in these conditions. The juice of the whole plant mixed with onion
is also applied to remove warts. A poultice of the leaves applied over an
inflammation relieves pain, and when applied over boils, ripens them. The
juice mixed with black pepper and ghee, gives relief from red spots and
eruptions on the skin caused by biliousness.
The herb is very useful in the prevention
and treatment of eye disorders. A few drops of the leaf juice put into the
eyes every day keeps the eyes free from strain and prevents opacity of the
cornea and cataract. The leaves are quite effective when applied locally
for correcting the opacity of cornea.
The juice of the leaves mixed with castor oil is useful in
insomnia. The juice should be mixed in an equal quantity of castor oil and
heated to remove the watery content. It should then be cooled and stored
in a bottle. When the scalp is massaged with this oil before going to bed,
it will induce good sleep and also provide coolness to the eyes.
As the Indian sorrel contains high concentration of oxalic acid, its use
should be avoided by persons suffering from gout, rheumatism and calculi or
stone in the urinary tract.