Rattan palm: The anti-diabetic and anti-cancer ayurveda plant

The Rattan palm grows in Southwest Asia and is a source of cane or rattan for manufacturing furniture, umbrella, and wicker-work. Apart from cane, it is used in Ayurvedic formulae for treating various disorders.

Although this plant is awaiting scientific inquiry and validation, it is widely used in traditional medicinal systems of Asia. For example, a paste made from herbs of liquorice, the arjun, rattan palm, and Eugenia jambolana (also known as rose apple or java plum or jamun), when applied externally, forms the traditional treatment of Paittika granthi (a small tumor associated with Pitta Dosha).

Botanical name: Calamus rotang
Family: Arecaceae
English name: Common rattan, Rattan palm
Hindi name: Bet, Bettu, Bemt

Bet is a scandent slender shrub, with cylindrical uniformly thick yellowish white stems armed with short flat spines on leaf sheaths.
Leaf sheaths: glabrous, hollowed below, ochrea short, truncate, margined with small straight or recurved spines having laterally compressed bases.
Flowers: unisexual, male spadix very long, flagelliferous, spathes elongate tubular; the female flowers are scattered along with the slender branches of the spadix.
Fruits: seated on the minute perinath, sub globose, mucronate, scales many pale yellow in vertical series.

Parts used as medicine: Whole plant

Ayurvedic recommendations

Root: It is astringent in taste and has acrid, expectorant, anti dysenteric, hypotensive, depurative, anti inflammatory, diuretic, and tonic qualities. The herb is useful in conditions such as vitiated conditions of Pitta, burning sensation, hyperdipsia, cough, bronchitis, dysentery, leprosy, skin diseases, inflammations, urinary caliculi, chronic fever and general debility.

Leaves: Leaves are bitter and astringent in taste. They have acrid, depurative, and expectorant qualities. Leaves of Bet are useful in conditions such as vitiated Kapha, cough, skin diseases, and pruritus.

Sprouts: Sprouts are sweet in taste and have acrid thermogenic quality. They are used in treating vitiated conditions of Kapha and Vata.

Therapeutic uses

1. The young shoot is used as a vegetable for regular consumption and it is recommended for snake bite by folk medicine practitioners.
2. In Ayurveda the young shoot decoction is recommended for liver and spleen malfunctions and pruritus.
3. The seeds when taken with warm milk help improve whooping cough.
4. In traditional medicine of Himalayan India, rattan is used as an anti-diabetic agent.
5. In Ayurveda, rattan extract along with a few other herb extracts is used to treat certain types of cancer.

Side effects: No recorded evidence of side effects.

Source: Dr K Gowthaman, Medical Director, rVita (rVita Ayurveda Centers)
Image: sudoking