Herbs are plants that contain various substances that can be used as medicine. This useful part of a plant may be in a fruit, a leaf, a stem, a root, or another part. Interestingly, about 80 percent of the world’s herbs grow in Indonesia, making it easy for this naturally occurring treatment. Rustam, dkk. (2007) states that Indonesia has an extraordinary biological diversity of about 40,000 species, of which about 1300 of them are used as traditional medicines. According to data obtained from BPOM (Badan Pengawasan Obat dan Makanan), only 283 new species of herbs are registered for the use of traditional medicine/herbs and only 13 new species are cultivated.
Therefore medicines from these traditional plants/herbs may be an alternative to treat your ailment. Especially at this covid-19 pandemic, we need to consume herbs in order to boost our immune system–an integrated physiological system designed to detect internal and external threats, such as viral infections or pathogenic bacteria, toxins, and various other disease causes which then stimulates the formation of antibodies (a type of protein) and lymphocytes (a type of white blood cell). These lymphocytes mark incoming antigens (threats) and then destroy them from a viral attack. Knowing how important the immune system is, we must always take care of it properly. To that end, we need to plant some herbs at home because other than it’s easy to be grown, it can be consumed at any time we want and it’s also cheaper, here are some of the recommendations of herbs that can be readily grown and can boost immune system:
Ginger contains many essential oils with active chemical compounds such as zingiberene, camphor, lemonin, etc. Moreover, ginger also contains various nutrients such as carbohydrates, protein, sodium, iron, potassium, and vitamin C. Ginger is useful for treating impotence, rheumatism, nausea, relieving menstrual pain, flu, reducing the risk of colorectal cancer, and even improves heart health. Leach (2017) concluded that ginger is very effective in preventing or curing various diseases because it contains gingerol which is a very strong anti-inflammatory and antioxidant. In addition, ginger can also be used for cooking spices and food ingredients, for example, we must be familiar with a traditional drink called wedang jahe (a combination of ginger and lime dissolved in hot water) which is usually consumed to warm our throats when we catch a cold or have a sore throat. Ginger can be grown by planting the ginger root that has sprouted into roots. Just water it regularly and after 10-12 months, ginger can be harvested.
This medicinal plant is often used to make soup by Indonesian people. Its name is sand ginger (kencur). Sand ginger contains many chemical compounds, including minerals, cineol, methyl acid, cinnamic acid, borneol, paraeumarin, anisic acid, and alkaloids. Sand ginger provides many health benefits, the first is to treat ailments such as headaches, coughs and stomach aches. Second, it can increase your appetite. Third, it can overcome skin problems by controlling the production of excess oil in the face and tightening the skin because of its anti-inflammatory properties. And last, it can prevent tooth caries because it has antimicrobials compounds which may inhibit the growth of Lactobacillus acidophilus bacteria. Planting sand ginger is very easy. You can plant them in pottery. First, prepare the sets (small rhizomes), then make a small 5-7 cm hole in the ground and put the rhizome in, after that put the bud up. Next, close the hole and water them every day. Sand ginger can be harvested 10 – 12 months after planting.
Galangal also known as Lengkuas is a plant from the ginger family. Generally, people use it as a food ingredient and medicine. Galangal contains phenolic compounds that can be used as antioxidants, it also contains acetoxychavicol acetate and acetoxy eugenol acetate as anti inflammatory, anti tumor and many more. Galangal can be processed by boiling it or grating it and mixing with warm water and then the water can be drunk twice a day.
As a herbal plant, galangal is very easy to grow at home. Galangal can be planted by sets (small rhizomes) with one or two buds. Prepare well-drained soil, after that plant the sets at a depth of 2-5 inches deep and space them about 12 inches apart from other plants. Galangal can be harvested 10 – 12 months after planting.
Turmeric (Curcuma longa), also known as Curcumin, is a spice and medicinal plant native to Southeast Asia. Turmeric contains compounds that have medicinal properties and useful substances scientifically-proven health benefits, such as the potential to prevent heart disease, Alzheimer’s and cancer. It’s a potent anti-inflammatory and antioxidant and may also help improve symptoms of depression and arthritis.
It’s easy to plant Turmeric. Firstly, cut your rhizomes into sections (sets), with two or three buds on each section. Fill 3-inch pots halfway with a good potting soil. Lay the sets flat on the soil, and cover with more potting soil. Water well and slip the pots into clear plastic bags, place the pots in the warmest place you can find about 86 to 95 degrees. Your turmeric is ready to harvest when the leaves and stem start to turn brown and dry, about seven to 10 months after planting.
Temulawak or Curcuma xanthorrhiza roxb, is usually used as traditional medicine which is commonly found in tropical forests. One of the most common compounds in temulawak is starch. Curcuma starch contains a lot of curcuminoids to help with metabolism processes and affect the physiological organs of the body. Temulawak contains essential oils such as limonene. Its flavonoid content also has benefits in healing properties. Temulawak or curcuma is usually used as traditional medicine for the treatment for digestion, jaundice, vaginal discharge, increasing endurance, and maintaining health.
Curcuma is easy to plant. First, prepare the sets by dividing the rhizomes into 4 parts and dry it in 4-6 days. Leave it in a humid place for 1-2 months until it sprouts and is ready to be planted. After that curcuma sets can be planted in well-drained soil, put one curcuma rhizome at a depth of 4 inches, then heap it with the soil. The planting should be done at the beginning of the rainy season. Finally, take care of the plants by watering them once a day in the morning or evening. Harvesting is carried out after 9-10 months after planting.
Apart from the five herbs above, there are many other types of herbs that can be grown at home. There are so many benefits that can be obtained by planting herbs, in addition to cooking ingredients, they can also be used as medicine or just consumed regularly for health.
However, consuming herbs to maintain the immune system is not enough, maintaining the immune system must also be followed by a healthy lifestyle, a healthy mind and regular exercise.