Coleus amboinicus: Indian borage

Family: Lamiaceae
Common name: Indian borage, Country borage, Ajwain, Panikoorkka, Carrom plant

A very common plant in Indian gardens, Indian borage is now losing its place to fancier ornamental plants. A succulent with a distinct odor and taste, the leaves of this plant has been used for medicinal purposes.

It can also be grown successfully indoors, provided there is sufficient indirect sunlight. The plant grows to a height of 1 meter, covering the pot beautifully with leaves falling over the edges of the pot. The leaves are rounded with toothed edges, about 7 cms long. The leaves are covered with hair, especially on the lower surface.

There is another variant available with variegated leaves, having white outline around the edge of the leaves. This one is not as popular as the plain green-leaved variety.

They also produce small purple flowers that look very similar to that of Tulsi, in bunches of 10-20 on long racemes. Ajwain or Carrom seeds are smooth, brown, roundish and flattened; and is used in cooking.

These seeds mixed with salt and warm water helps treat stomach pain, indigestion and acid reflux. They are also used in treatment of cough, cold, liver diseases and tooth pain.

Indian Borage is primarily used to treat cough, cold, fever and bronchial issues. Juice extracted from the leaves can be given to children and adults to treat fever and cough. Steam inhalation with hot water, infused with these leaves, helps clear nasal and throat congestion.

It is also used for insect bites, skin allergies, stomach ailments, mouth ulcers and indigestion. A medicinal plant yet to be glorified to its rightful place, Indian Borage is a panacea for a variety of ailments.

Propagation is through stem cuttings, with very high success rate.