The Indian Costus and Its Antimicrobial Properties

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Nail fungus which is medically called onychomycosis is a nail condition in which one or more nails of both the fingers or toes are infected with fungi. This may cause nail discoloration wherein the nail usually turns yellow, white, green, or brown. This takes place as the fungus goes deeper into the skin tissues. In some cases, nail fungus may cause pain and discomfort, which may lead to the nail’s separation from the nail bed. This is called onycholysis.

Causes and Risk Factors

Fungi feed off dead tissues of the skin, hair, and outer skin layers. The most common fungi that cause nail fungus belonging to the group dermatophytes. Yeast and molds may also cause nail fungal infections. The most common fungal infections include jock itch, ringworm, and athlete’s foot.

Fungal infections affect the toenails more than the fingernails. They are most prevalent among adults as they become older. When you have any of the following, you are more at risk of getting nail fungus: peripheral vascular disease, diabetes, immune system issues, minor skin or nail injuries, nail disease or a deformed nail, and others.

Symptoms

Some of the most common symptoms include changes in the appearance of the nails such as changes in nail shape, nail brittleness, nail discoloration and distortion, nail thickening, having white or yellow streaks on the sides of the infected nail, having debris underneath the nail, and loss of shine or luster on the nail surface.

Treatment

The doctor may recommend one or two of the following options for a nail fungus treatment: oral antifungals, topical antifungals, laser treatment, and nail removal. Oral medication may take 8 to 12 weeks of treatment. This type of treatment is known for being highly effective, but it also comes with possible adverse effects. The topical medication comes in the form of nail lacquers and ointments. For stubborn cases, temporary or permanent nail removal may be suggested by the doctor.

2All about the Indian Costus

Indian costus or simply costus is also called kushtha, kuth, spiral ginger, aplotaxis lappa, mokko, or tabubungiau in the Philippines. This is a tall and perennial plant or herb. The oil extracted from its roots is used for making medicine. The roots of the costus are almost the same size as the finger together with a yellowish woody part. Historically, this part was used to make perfume as well as a culinary spice.

In Chinese traditional medicine, the costus root is used to invigorate life energy and improve the body’s digestive functions. This is also used to stimulate one’s appetite as well as cure abdominal pain, swelling, nausea, and vomiting.

Historical Uses

This herb was used in ancient Rome to provide flavor to wines and also as a culinary spice. In medieval England, this was used as a popular ingredient in green sauce. In ancient India, the herb was mentioned in the Atharveda and it was referred to as the ancient Vedic plant god. It was also mentioned as a disease remedy that deals with a high fever known as takman. It was believed to be derived from a heavenly plant that grows in the Himalayas.

The costus root has several chemical constituents. It is known to contain the following: costol, dehydrocostus lactone, costunolide, isozaluzanin, alantolactone, costuslactone, α-cyclocostunolide, Saussurea, terpenes, and tannins. It also contains potassium and nitrate.

As an Antifungal and Antimicrobial

A study was conducted to determine the antifungal agents found in the polar and nonpolar crude extracts of Indian costus against the following pathogens Candida albicans and non-C. albicans (NAC) species. The results showed that the extracts of Indian costus could be used as natural bioactive sources that combat pathogenic Candida spp.

Another study looked into the crude extracts from the stems, fruits, flowers, roots, and twigs of the costus and investigated their antimicrobial agents that inhibit the growth of Gram-positive bacteria Streptococcus pneumoniae and Gram-negative bacteria Escherichia coli. The results exhibited that the costus extracts possess antimicrobial activity against Streptococcus pneumoniae but have a weak impact on Escherichia coli.

Other Health Benefits

Apart from the traditional uses mentioned above, the Indian costus has several other health benefits which include the following:

Gets Rid of Indigestion

Costus contains antibacterial, anthelmintic, and antimicrobial properties. Because of these, the herb is useful in managing indigestion. This provides indigestion relief by preventing the growth of bacteria in the large intestines. This herb also suppresses the activities of parasitic worms inside the body.

Treats Asthma

Indian costus has anti-asthmatic properties, which makes it a useful cure for asthma. The roots of the costus plant function as a muscle relaxant and expectorant. This herb can clear the blockage found in the air passage, making it easier to breathe.

Treats Cough

Costus can help treat coughs because of its antispasmodic property. The roots of the herb can get rid of mucus and clear up the air passages by functioning as an expectorant.

Headache Remedy

The roots of the Indian costus possess healing properties that can calm down the throbbing in one’s head, providing relief from headaches. This healing property is extracted from its essential oil which calms the nerves and thus provides relief from headaches.

Treatment for Dysentery

Both the roots and root stalks of the costus possess anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties that help in treating dysentery. The herb helps prevent the growth of bacteria related to microorganisms found in the large intestines. Costus reduces the abdominal pain and inflammation that are often linked to dysentery.

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