The Wonder Herb of Ladakh

Ladakh never fails to mesmerize us with it’s snow covered, barren yet beautiful landscape.

It gets its name from “La” means Passes and “Dhak” means numerous, together meaning the “Land of High Passes”.

With extremely cold climate, (temperatures well below -30 degrees during the 7 month long winters) Ladakh appears mostly barren and devoid of vegetation. However, surprisingly, it is home to around 1,100 plant species. Amongst them, a large numbers have been cherished since ancient times for their medicinal and aromatic qualities.

More recently, In 2014, Indian scientists re-discovered a “wonder herb” in Ladakh. One which  regulates the immune system, helps adapt to high altitudes and, above all, protects us from radioactivity. It is the flowering herb Rhodiola Imbricata, locally known as “Shrolo” or “Solo”.

This herb is a stone crop, as it grows alongside stones. While, the leafy parts of the plant are  consumed as food by locals, it also has therapeutic benefits. In Ladakh, Tibet, Mongolia and other regions, Rhodiola species have been used as traditional medicines for more than 1,000 years for the treatment of weakness and diseases caused by infections. It has secondary metabolites and phytoactive compounds which help in enhancing the immune system. Its roots are traditionally used for the treatment of colds, coughs, lung problems, fever, pulmonary diseases and energy loss. 

More interestingly, ‘Solo’ has adaptogenic qualities, that is, it helps in adapting to difficult climatic conditions, like low pressure and oxygen environments. The plant is also has the radioactivity protecting ability. These qualities, help our Soldiers posted in such harsh environments.

It has also been found that “Solo” has anti-depressant, immunostimulatory, antioxidant, antitumor, anti-aging, anticancer, antidepressant, cardioprotective, anti-inflammatory and healing dermal wounds properties. The herb aids in work performance, elimination of fatigue, improvement of physical endurance, reduction in depression, longevity and in treatment of asthma, fatigue, impotence, haemorrhage etc. Some people have used “Solo” herb to treat diabetes, tuberculosis, aging and liver damage. It also helps in improving hearing, strengthen the central nervous system and the immunity.

Given the endless list of its multi-dimensional beneficial properties, scientists believe that the herb “Solo”, could possibly be “Sanjeevani”, the mythical herb that revived Lakshman in the epic Ramayana.

‘Solo” is just one among the 1,100 herbs available in wild abundance in Ladakh.

One wonders how many more such treasures can be unearthed in our pristine “Land of High Passes”, Ladakh.


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