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Benefits.—Although indigo obtained from other species of Indigofera was used in the Old World, the use of wild indigo by pre-Columbian natives of Mexico to dye cloth and paint in various shades ofblue was passed down to the Spanish colonists (Haude 1997). Indigofera species became important commercial crops in various tropical and subtropical areas. The blue dye was produced by fermentation of the leaves, usually with caustic soda or sodium hydrosulfite, and the exudates processed into dry cake. The blue color developed as the cake was exposed to the air (Simon and others 1984). Indigo was used as a bluing to counter the yellowing in clothes from washing with soap (Vélez and van Overbeek 1950). In the last few decades, natural indigo has been almost wholly replaced by synthetic dyes. Poultices and extracts of wild indigo leaves, alone or in combination with other ingredients, are used in herbal medicine to treat fever, headaches, hemorrhages, convulsions, acute cough, skin parasites, and boils (HealthLink 2001, Liogier 1990). Domestic and wild ruminant animals browse wild indigo plants. It and another Indigofera species are reported to be the sole hosts of the false dusky wing butterfly [Gesta gesta (Herrich-Schäffer)] (Opler and Malikul 1992). Wild indigo is useful as a natural cover plant in disturbed areas. The species may become weedy, but is seldom aggressive or common enough to cause difficulties in croplands.

Welcome to Indigo: A Blue To Dye For, which runs from 19 May - 1 September 2007. This exhibition is touring from The Whitworth Art Gallery, Manchester.

Geetanjali you'll find a lot of useful stuff from the two websites i have listed. It is also being used as an alternative anti-cancer treatment. madhavi


Question: I had recently found a reference to Isatis for the treatment of lymphoadnitis. I found a product called Ban Lan Gen, with Dandelion and Violet in it as well. I am using this for my 4 year old son who has been seeing a holistic MD, mostly using homeopathic (prescription type) but the process has been somewhat slow. I have always gotten good results with herbal remedies, either Ayurvedic or Chinese. I was wondering if you have a product that could be easily taken by a child that would be very pure. My son has been taking the Ban Lan Gen for 4 days now and I think there is some improvement in his breathing through his nose while sleeping. His symptoms while not having an infection, are mouth breathing with only partial nose breathing, especially at night, dry throat and lips in the morning. Any help would be greatly appreciated.

Answer: Ban Lan Gen aka Isatides radix which, by-the-way, is also the source of indigo dye is known to lower the rate of reproduction of many microorganisms. It is often used against viruses and in other cases of inflammation. Dandelion and Violet also have similar anti-inflammatory properties. These herbs can be very helpful when used for the correct diagnosis. Unfortunately, lymphoadinitis is a Western diagnosis, not a Chinese one. If the herbs are helpful, fine. However, they are usually combined with other herbs such as bai zhi and xi xin to treat adenoids and with others to modify the harsh effects of these extremely cold herbs. See an experienced Chinese herbalist.


There is a fantastic book on indigo by Jenny Balfour-Paul. A must read for any one interested to know more about this fascinating dye. Yasmin