Fah Talai Jone – Bitter remedy

This small plant is an annual herb, probably native to India and Sri Lanka but found and used since ancients times allover Southeast Asia. It grows up to 30 – 110 cm and can survive in various areas, such as hillsides, plains, coastlines or cultivated areas. In Thailand it can be found wild allover the country but its distribution is concentrated in the North. The plant is cultivated and used since ancients times, due to its strong medical properties. The plant, scientifically knows as andrographis paniculata, is famous for its extreme bitterness in all parts of its body. Thus the Malaysian gave it the name hempedu bumi, meaning “bile of the earth”. In India and the Ayurveda medicine the plant is known as Kalmegha or “dark cloud”. In India the plant is also known as bhui neem, meaning “neem of the ground”. The leaves of the neem tree, in Thailand known as sadao have a similar bitter taste, thus the wordplay. The Thais gave the plant the name fah thalai jone, which literally means “heaven which beats thieves”. The name reflects the strong medical attributes of this plant which can counter multitude of diseases. Since ancient times till today the plant is used to counter various diseases. The plant contains substances which boost the immune system and help the body get rid of viral infections. It is commonly used to counter colds, flues, sore throats and respiratory diseases. But the plant is also useful to alleviate fever, counter inflammations, cure diarrhea and treat infections of the urinary tract. Recent studies even showed that this plant has the power to counter the growing of certain cancer cells. The plant can be bought fresh at local markets or in tablet form. The fresh plant can either be eaten or added to hot water to produce a very bitter tea. Otherwise there are dried plants available which are also used to make tea.


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