CHENNAI: Women’s health is still a concern in developing countries, particularly risks related to menstruation and pregnancy. Several herbs have been prescribed specifically for Women’s health. Among these, Ipomoea Mauritiana Jacq, widely known as Giant Potato, plays a vital role in improving the health of women.
Giant potato is a tuber-bearing vine with beautiful bell-shaped, pinkish-purple flowers, belonging to the Morning Glory family. The leaves round in shape but palmately 5-9- lobed, and up to 20 cm long and 18 cm wide, the base of the leaves are usually heart-shaped, the leaf stalk is about 10 cm long. The individual lobes have a sharp apex. Inflorescences with several buds, and flowers open in succession. The pinkish-purple flowers are funnel-shaped, and grow up to 6 cm with a narrow tube of 5 cm. The fruits are dehiscing capsules, and up to 1.5 cm long. There are four seeds per capsule, and they are black in colour, covered in cottony-hair.
It is called Vidari or Ksira Vidari in Ayurveda due to its use in inducing lactation. The other popular vernacular name is Paalmuthukku, in Malayalam and Tamil. In Kannada and Telugu, names are similar in meaning — Bhumi Chakkara Gedde and Bhuchakra Gedda, respectively. In Hindi and Marathi, it is called Vidarikand or Bhuyikohala. Vidari is usually found growing in open areas of moist deciduous forests. It is also found growing along rivers, in lowland forests and in grass lands throughout the warmer parts of the India.
It is also cultivated for its medicinal tubers. Tubers are used to moderate menstrual discharge, and often prescribed to increase secretion of milk. It is also advised in case of debility after delivery and to increase weight. Vidari can be used against diseases of the spleen and liver, complaints related to digestion and general debility of men, oligospermia (low sperm count) and weight loss.