Thuthuvalai, the rejuvenating leaf
In traditional societies, nutrition and health care are strongly interconnected and many plants have been consumed both as food and for medicinal purposes. Nearly one thousand species of plants with edible leaves are known. Solanum trilobatum Linn (Family: Solanaceae) is one of the important medicinal plant, more commonly available in Southern India .
Solanum trilobatum is extensively used as food as well as medicine in Indian traditional medicine to cure various human ailments. Solanum trilobatum is commonly called purple fruited pea egg plant. It is a climbing shrub with sharp recurved and short compressed spines. The leaves are rich in calcium, iron, phosphorous, carbohydrate, protein, fat and crudefibre .
Common names in Indian languages
- English - Climbing brinjal,
- Sanskrit - Alarka
- Telugu - Alarkapatramu
- Tamil - Tuduvalai
- Marathi - Mothiringnee, Thoodalam
- Oriya - Bryhoti
- Kannada - Kakamunji
- Malayalam - ‘Tutuvalam’ 
Solanum trilobatum is used in the Siddha system as an expectorant and in the treatment of respiratory diseases, asthma, chronic febrile infections, tuberculosis, cardiac and liver diseases. Sobatum, β-solamarine, solaine, solasodine, glycoalkaloid and diosogenin and tomatidine are the constituents isolated from this plants .
Atopic allergy implies a familial tendency to manifest conditions such as asthma, rhinitis, urticaria and eczematous dermatitis, alone or in combination. The use of synthetic antihistamines to control atopic allergy over a prolonged period of time could lead to potential side effects, and the relief offered by them is mainly symptomatic and short-lived. A safe and effective management of atopy through plant resources has received much attention in recent years .
The most common way of consuming solanum is by preparing a thuvayal(chutney). The leaves are washed, fried in gingelly oil with dried chilli, red dhal, little tamarind and ground to a fine paste. This can be mixed with white rice and consumed.
Unripe fruits are prepared as curry or roasted in gingerly oil and taken orally along with food to strengthen the body.
The leaf juice is taken orally to treat cough and itching.
Leaves can be washed, dried and powdered. About half a teaspoon mixed with water can be taken in empty stomach.
- Gnana Sundari et al, Int j.Res Ayurvedha pharm 4 (3) 2013
- Nadkarni KM. Indian materia medica, vol.1, 3rd ed. Popular Prakasan Pvt. Ltd.; Bombay: 1976 p. 1153-4
- Sahu et al, Solanum trilobatum – an overview, Journal of natural remedies, Vol 13 (2) 2013
- Subramani et al, Solasodine levels in Solanum sisymbriifolium Lam. Indian J Exp Biol 1989; 27: 189
- Ranjitsingh et al, Solanum trilobatum in the management of atopy, Res. Pharmacognosy: 2010 (1): 10–14
Image Credit: Wikipedia/ Drorchidaceae