Jump To: Solanum Nigrum Aka Black Nightshade | Habitat and Physical characteristics | Toxicity and Edible parts | Medicinal properties and Health Benefits | Usage in Ayurveda, Siddha, and Unani | Recipes | Disclaimer
- Has excellent medicinal qualities
- Has antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, anti-tumorigenic, hepatoprotective, diuretic, and antipyretic properties
- Indian ancient medicine systems use the seeds, berries, leaves, and roots in various treatments, including diabetes, liver health, oral health, piles, and gonorrhoea
- Traditionally used in treating mouth ulcers and stomach ulcers, mucus removal, reducing fever and pain
- Glossy ripe berries can be eaten raw
- Green unripe berries are toxic when eaten raw
- Leaves and unripe green berries should be well-cooked before consumption
- Can be consumed once every day
Some herbs have immense medicinal qualities and hence are extensively used in ancient medicine systems. One such herb is Solanum Nigrum (Black nightshade) that finds extensive usage in Ayurveda, Siddha, and Unani medication systems. Besides, several natural remedies use Black nightshade leaves and berries.
The common name is Black nightshade, and other names are Makoi, moko, wonderberry, manathakkali, and mulakuthakkali in different languages.
Here is a detailed account of the habitat, physical characteristics, edibility, consumption tips, and of course, the medicinal properties and use in various medicine systems.
About the plant:
Solanum nigrum grows in tropical and sub-tropical regions and is indigenous to Eurasia. The phenomenal herb also grows in America, Australia, India, and South Africa prominently. It belongs to the nightshade group in the Solanaceae family.
The plant produces fruits that are green initially and turns glossy black when ripe. The leaves and stems do not have hair and are eminently known for lacking stellate glandular hairs and prickles. The leaves are lush green and are arrow-shaped. The petals of the flowers are white.
Toxicity and edibility
Is it poisonous?
For all the medicinal qualities it has, the plant has quite a bad reputation! In some parts of the world, black nightshade is considered toxic.
So, it becomes important to clarify the usage!
Some species belonging to the nightshade family are toxic, such as the Deadly Nightshade. However, Black Nightshade is edible and has great medicinal qualities offering several health benefits, so do not fear to add it to your diet!
Differentiate between Deadly and Black Nightshade:
Many people confuse Black nightshade (Solanum Nigrum) with the plant Deadly nightshade (Atropa belladonna). The latter is highly toxic and is not edible, while black nightshade is absolutely edible though you cannot eat the leaves and unripe berries raw. One distinct difference between the two plants is that Black nightshade produces fruits in bunches, whereas the berries grow individually in the Deadly nightshade. Also, the petals of black nightshade flowers are white, and those of deadly nightshade are purple.
Edible parts and tips on preparations
The leaves of the plant are edible and can be consumed after boiling in water or steaming.
The ripe berries are edible and can be eaten raw; they are full of seeds with a light green juicy pulp and a bland taste.
Do not eat the green unripe fruits raw because they are toxic. The unripe berries have a chemical called Solanine, an alkaloid that makes them harmful for both humans and livestock.
However, you can eat unripe berries after cooking them well. Some parts of India soak the unripe green seeds in buttermilk, dry them, and use it in preparations such as vatha kuzhambu. Also, unripe berries boiled along with leaves can safely be eaten.
There are two easy recipes for you at the end of this article.
Medicinal properties and health benefits of Black Nightshade
Solanum nigrum is a hub of vital medicinal properties. No wonder several ancient medicines hailed the herb high, and even today, several regional cuisines of India include the leaves as a popular food.
- The antioxidant properties in the plant reduce the harm caused to our body by free radicals. By reducing oxidative stress, it prevents illnesses. Besides, getting rid of free radicals prevents premature ageing of hair and skin.
- The anti-inflammatory properties help alleviate inflammation and swelling. They also help get rid of the burning sensation on swollen fingers and joints. You can benefit from both consuming the leaves and berries as food or applying the paste of leaves to the affected area.
- This remarkable herb contains anti-tumorigenic properties that help to slow down tumour cell activity
- It also has hepatoprotective properties that strengthen liver health
- The herb is a diuretic which means it is great to subside UTI symptoms
- The leaves and berries of the plant have antipyretic properties. They also contain phosphorus, iron, calcium, vitamins A, B, and C and many other micronutrients that help provide the body with the essential nutrients during fever. Consuming cooked leaves is useful in reducing fever symptoms and can reduce associated body pain.
Health benefits of Solanum nigrum
Solanum nigrum is all hearts when it comes to medicinal benefits. Some of the prudent boons of this herb are-
Nightshade berries and leaves are of terrific help in maintaining heart health. The antioxidant properties of the herb regulate cholesterol levels in the body. Boil leaves and tender shoots and take the preparation once a day for good heart health.
Since Solanum nigrum has anti-tumorigenic properties, it affects the growth and production of cancer cells and helps keep oncogenic problems at bay. Making it a habit to consume cooked leaves at least twice a week will protect your body against carcinogens.
The most prominent usage of the herb is for remedying fever. The antipyretic constituents of the plant help in the treatment of fever. Besides, taking frequent sips of the decoction of black nightshade leaves and berries help your body hydrate quickly.
Dysentery and stomach issues
Solanum nigrum offers excellent benefits for your gut. Consuming the cooked leaves increases natural appetite, aids digestion, and boosts metabolism. Besides, it is used to treat dysentery and upset stomach. Cook the leaves in a pot of water by simmering for about 20 minutes. Strain the leaves and consume the water, which is an excellent remedy for dysentery.
Black nightshade provides excellent benefits in reducing cold symptoms both in adults and children. The anti-inflammatory properties help treat cough and other bronchial problems. An excellent cure for cold, the cooked leaves and berries are safe to be given to children too.
Consuming the boiled leaves will reduce body sores. Also, warming the leaves and massaging joints will reduce inflammation and thus relieve pain. Applying the paste on painful joints can be effective in managing pain.
Stomach and mouth ulcers
Another important benefit of Solanum nigrum is the cure for ulcers. A teaspoonful of ripe berries consumed every day for about a week significantly reduces stomach and mouth ulcers. The remedy is safe and effective in children too.
Solanum nigrum in ancient medicine
The herb is extensively used in ancient Indian medicine systems. The herbal formulations use all parts of the plant, including root, stem, leaf, berries, and seeds. You can consult the relevant expert for appropriate dosages.
Solanum nigrum is an integral ingredient of the ayurvedic medication systems too. The following are a few key benefits of Black Nightshade in Ayurveda.
- For boosting liver health
Ayurveda suggests that consuming solanum nigrum as a vegetable and juice can cure liver issues. Hence, Ayurvedic practitioners recommend that regular use of seed and berries extract can completely cure liver issues.
Ayurveda uses the seed powder of Solanum nigrum to eliminate the weakness caused by diabetes. It also affirms that the controlled use of Black nightshade berries can increase insulin production in the body.
- Kidney issues
The Ayurvedic studies prove that kidney issues can go away with the adequate addition of Solanum nigrum in the diet. The diuretic properties facilitate good urine excretion, which further smoothens kidney functioning.
- Oral health
Ayurvedic experts infer regular consumption of nightshade berries for getting rid of mouth ulcers. The system also uses the plant’s seed powder to maintain oral health.
In Siddha and Unani
Traditional medicine systems of Siddha and Unani too use this plant extensively in their treatment methods.
Another surprising benefit of using Black nightshade is in treating gonorrhoea. Unani physicians and Siddha healthcare practitioners suggest that Solanum nigrum can be an excellent plant for accelerating the treatment of gonorrhoea, which is one of the most acute sexually transmitted diseases.
Various research and Unani medication studies prove that nightshade berries are an excellent and naturally proven antidote for piles.
- Gouty joints
Both Unani and Siddha experts indicate that those suffering from gouty joint pain can include medications comprising solanum nigrum extract.
Can I plant Solanum nigrum at home?
With so many benefits to offer, it is a natural inclination for us to grow Black nightshade at home. Growing the plant at home might seem an uphill task to accomplish, but it is relatively easy.
Get some dried berries from the market and search for seeds from them. Or, hold ripe berries between tissue papers and gently squeeze such that the seeds come out. Now, dry them up and collect the seeds. You can also directly purchase the seeds.
Plant them in a pot or your garden. Utilise homemade biodegradable compost for supporting the growth of the plant. Nurture the plant with care, and within a few weeks, your plant will start blossoming.
Some lip-smacking recipes
In the above sections, we explored the advantages of Solanum nigrum. Now let’s have a glimpse at how to use this wonderful herb in our daily diet.
1. Using both leaves and unripe berries
South Indians call the dish as Manathakkali kootu/Mulaguthakkali kootu.
What you need:
- 1 large cup full of leaves, tender shoots, and some unripe berries
- 2 cups of water
- Salt to taste
- Thick coconut milk (optional; to make coconut milk, grind grated coconut with water and then strain the liquid)
- Cooked Toor dal (optional)
- Take the leaves and tender shoots of the plant. Gather unripe berries too. Wash them well and keep them aside.
- Take 2 cups of water and bring it to a boil. Then add the leaves and shoots and the required salt.
- Then cover the pan with a lid and simmer for 20 minutes. Slightly mash it with a ladle.
If you are consuming it as a cure for your fever or cold, you can stop the preparation here and eat as it is.
But, if it is a part of your regular diet, then continue with the following steps:
- Take ¼ cup of toor dal and pressure cook. Mash the cooked dal well.
- Then add mashed dal and thick coconut milk to the already cooked leaves and berries.
You can have this with your rice or roti. It will not only be good for your health but excellent for your taste buds too!
2. With unripe berries
This recipe belongs to South India and is called Manathakkali vathal kuzhambu. It uses spices and powders that are native to that region. If you are unsure about a particular ingredient, you can check on the internet or drop us a comment.
What you need:
- A small cup of unripe berries
- A cup of onion shallots (small onions)
- 1 big sized tomato finely chopped
- 1 tbsp grated coconut (optional)
- Spices: 1 tsp turmeric powder, 1 tbsp coriander powder, 1 tbsp chilli powder
- Tempering: 1 tsp mustard seeds, few curry leaves
- Garnishing: coriander leaves
- Salt to taste
- Gingelly oil to fry berries (2 tbsp)
- Refined oil for tempering (1 tsp)
- Wash the unripe green berries. Heat gingelly oil in a pan, simmer and add the berries. Saute the berries for about 2-3 minutes till they slightly change colour. Transfer the sauteed berries to another bowl and keep them aside.
- In the same pan, add onions and saute for a minute. Then add the chopped tomato. Simmer and saute till it becomes mushy.
- At this point, add coconut and switch off the flame.
- Grind this mixture into a paste. If needed, add some water to grind it well.
- Now, add a tsp of oil to the pan. Splutter some mustard seeds and add curry leaves.
- Simmer the flame and then add the ground paste to the pan.
- Add salt and the spice powders one by one and stir well.
- Add 2 cups of water. Let the mixture come to a boil. At this point, add the sauteed berries.
- Simmer and cook for 10 minutes. Garnish with coriander leaves.
The dish will be a mix of tastes- slightly bitter, spicy, and tangy and will be fantastic with rice and roti.
So, that was a brief wrap about the incredible benefits of Solanum nigrum. As mentioned, there are poisonous species in the Nightshade family. However, Black Nightshade is not, and you can very well include it in your diet. If you are concerned about toxicity, just cook it really well. Rest assured, you will be alright and get the amazing health benefits of Solanum Nigrum!
The leaves and berries are a great add-on to your diet. However, if you want to use it as a cure, please consult the right expert and get the appropriate doses of medicine. What you take in a diet is for your general health and will not be potent enough to cure diseases such as diabetes or liver damage.
Edited by love4wellness | Images: canva.com