Basella alba is an edible fleshy, perennial, climbing creeper which is used as a leafy vegetable. It is popularly known as Indian spinach, Malabar spinach, Country spinach and it is identified as Upodika in Ayurveda . It is generally grown as a pot herb in every part of India, as it is very easy to grow except in hilly region. There are two types of Basella - red variety and green variety. In south India, it is commonly used in mouth ulcers. Ayurveda recommends Basella in anemia &dysentery. The plant is rich in proteins, carbohydrates, minerals like Iron, Calcium, and Vitamin A & C. The essential amino acids present in it are Arginine, Leucine, Isoleucine, Lysine, Threonine and Tryptophan. Hence, it is used for checking malnutrition in children. It is also rich in mucilage and is credited with antioxidant properties. The mucilage present in Basella alba is reported to have hypoglycemic activity. It has been attributed with gastro-protective activity, ulcer healing, anti-inflammatory activity, wound healing activity. Basella alba is reported to improve testosterone levels in males, thus boosting libido. Decoction of the leaves is recommended as a safe laxative in pregnant women and children. Externally, the mucilaginous leaf is crushed and applied in urticaria, burns and scalds. It is consumed in the form of Dal, Chutney, Soup, Curry and various other forms in almost all parts of India.
Dr. Shubhashree M.N.