The herb ‘Sarasaparilla’, better known as ‘Nannari’ is a wonder herb which would come in handy during summer, with its cooling medicinal property of protecting one from common summer ailments.
Our ancestors used to drink a mixture of extracts from ‘Nannari’ roots, adding a tint of lime juice and palm sugar (panamkalkandam) to keep them cool during summer. However, the palm sugar was replaced with white sugar, and in course of time, people were drawn towards other attractive alternatives, says Nagarajan, the Managing Partner of a 100 year old, Sherbet company.
Being a natural coolant, ‘Nannari’ is grown in cool places. The exposed part of the root is brown in colour, while the inner part is whitish. The root has an astringent taste and a pleasant odour. The herb is found in foothills and only the roots of the herb are used for extraction.
Nagarajan explains that ‘Nannari’ roots have the medicinal quality of providing relief from constipation, and acidity, while also purifying blood.
Nagarajan reveals that the ‘Nannari’ extract is prepared from its roots through steam distillation, after which, it is mixed with citric acid, water and sugar, in certain proportions, to constitute the ‘Nannari’ concentrate or syrup. About 50ml of this syrup is diluted with 145ml of cold water and 5 ml of fresh lime juice, to make 200 ml of delicious sherbet.
Dr. Varadarajan, being a Sidha doctor himself, after conducting an extensive research on medicinal herbs, particularly the ‘nannari’ roots, reveals that the herbal mixture has no side-effects, as it acts as a diaphoretic. It is used as a demulcent to relieve body pain, and helps in keeping the body cool. It is also a diuretic, and helps in toning urinary system, while also preventing stone formation. It also controls tonsillitis.
During peak summer, one and all can enjoy the ‘nannari’ drink early in the morning before breakfast, ideally once a day, while thrice a day is also permissible, says Dr. Varadarajan.