Flowers not only calm our nerves and senses with their soothing fragrance and vibrant colours but also have healing power to many of our ailments. We had been using many flowers during festivities for decorative purpose as well as for culinary use. For Bathkamma festival in Telangana, the goddess is decorated with a variety of flowers. After the festivities these flowers are immersed in water bodies like rivers and lakes. They purify the water with their medicinal properties. Studies on flowers suggest that edible flowers are rich in phenolics and have excellent anti-oxidant capacity. They can be added to food to prevent chronic diseases.
Neem flowers: In the states of Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka the New Year ‘Ugadi’ festivities start with the consumption of ‘Ugadi Pachadi’ made with Neem flowers, tamarind, jaggary and mangoes. In Tamil Nadu they make neem flower rasam on this day. It is believed that these neem flowers protect us throughout the year treating with intestinal problems, purifies the blood, removes toxins from the body and improves the immune system. It has a cooling effect on the body.
Hibiscus: They are known to contain anthocyanins and anti-oxidants which are helpful in lowering blood pressure and cholesterol levels. These flowers can be brewed as tea and can be consumed. Use them sparingly. Oil obtained from these flowers are very good for hairs. It has nice aroma and keeps your hair nourished.
Lavender: These flowers are added to both savoury and sweet dishes like ice-creams, yoghurts etc. These flowers have anti-septic properties and are also used to get rid of dandruff.
Jasmine: This aromatic flower is said to have anti-carcinogenic and anti-viral properties. This flower is usually blended with green tea for its beautiful fragrance and medicinal properties.
Rose: Rose petals are known to contain phenolics which are said to have anti-inflammatory properties. They contain Vitamin C and are very capable to reduce heart diseases, cancers and diabetes. The petals can be eaten raw to increase blood circulation. The paste of rose petals improves the condition of the skin especially on the face.
Marigold: Marigold which is known as genda ka phool in Hindi has many medicinal uses. The extracts of the flowers are used as a food additive for colouring agent in industries. Marigold is used topically to heal wounds. These flowers are made into paste with honey and used as a face pack. This gives a glowing complexion to the face.
Banana flowers: lt is a maroon coloured cone with cream coloured florets layered inside. These florets are to be cleaned well before they are cooked as a vegetable. These flowers are very nutritious with vitamins, flavonoids and proteins. It has been used to treat bronchitis, constipation and ulcer problems. The extract of banana flowers has anti-oxidant properties that prevent free radicals and controls cell and tissue damage.
Drumstick flowers: Drumstick flowers are cooked as vegetable, they are added to dosa batter for crispiness, added to lentils for tasty dal or fried into cutlets by adding gram flour, onions, chillies, rice flour etc. Apart from being delicious food item it has wonderful healing power. These flowers prevent frequent throat infections, infection in chest and skin allergies and infections.
Chrysanthemum: These flowers too are said to be high in anti-oxidants and minerals, and also have an anti-carcinogenic and anti-inflammatory properties. They give relief to migraine, eye problems, helps in the heart rhythm and acts as good anti-septic for skin problems.
By Nibhanapudi Suguna