Marvel of Peru scientifically known, as Mirabilis Jalapa is a common herb. There are a number of varieties of this plant. A perennial herb with a tuberous root, an erect, branching stem, oval-shaped opposite leaves heart shaped at the base. The beautiful multi-coloured flowers are bell-shaped in the form of a chalice.
They open in the afternoon and as such the reason for its common name 4 o’clock. The Four O’ Clock plant, originally a native of the Andes Mountains in South America, was introduced to India about 400 years ago. Since then it has become a part of the traditional Indian systems of medicine, particularly Unani and Ayurveda. The leaves and the root of the plant are used in herbal medicines.
In Brazilian herbal medicine, a paste is made of the leaf and flower and applied to affections of the skin such as itchiness, eczema, herpes, skin spots, and skin infections. The juice of the root is dropped into the ear for earaches. Brazilians also use the root to combat worms, intestinal parasites, leucorrhoea, oedema, diarrhoea, dysentery, abdominal colic, syphilis, and liver affections.
A decoction of the roots is employed as a purgative. It acts to eliminate freckles and other skin discolorations. As a decoction, boil 1 tablespoon of crushed roots in ½ cup of water for 5 minutes. Its pounded seeds are used in Malaya, China and Japan for making cosmetic powder.
Powdered root, likewise used for cosmetic preparations, mixed with rice powder and sandalwood. In China, flowers are also used for cosmetic purposes. The root of Mirabilis Jalapa can be consumed as a general body toner and to keep the stomach and the bowel system in good condition.
Dry the root under sun. Powder it and keep it aside in a clean and dry bottle. Take a tablespoon of this powder and mix it with the atta (wheat flour) while preparing rotis or parathas. Do not use this herb without consulting a health care provider first.