Cotton (Gossypium Hirsutum) is known as other names: Algodón, Algodón Americano, Algodón Cimarrón, Algodonero, Coton, Cotonnier, Cotton Plant, Cotton Root, Cotton Seed, Cotton Seed Oil, Cottonier, Cottonseed Oil, Gossypium herbaceum, Gossypium hirsutum, Graine de Coton, Huile de Graine de Coton, Wild Cotton, Upland Cotton, Common Cotton, American Upland Cotton…
The cotton plants are an annually growing herb belonging to the genus Gossypium of the Malvaceae family (mallow family). The cotton plant is usually a shrub-like herb that grows up to a height of two to five feet. The plant bears broad three-segmented greenish leaves, which are about 2 inches to 6 inches in length and emerge alternately on the stem. The blooms of the cotton plant are cup-shaped with big and flashy petals whose hue ranges from white to yellow. The flowers have a purplish or reddish spot close to their base. The fruits of the cotton plant enclose the seeds in capsules, also referred to as ‘bolls’. The seeds are surrounded with white-colored soft hairs or the cotton fiber that are easy to spin as they naturally even out and coil when they are dried. The cotton plants bear blooms and fruits almost all year round.
Cotton is the most common fiber and is native to tropical and subtropical regions around the world, including the Americas, Africa, and India. Greatest diversity of wild cotton species is found in Mexico, followed by Australia and Africa.
Almost all commercial production of cotton in the United States originates from different forms of upland cotton (botanical name, G. hirsutum). In addition, some amounts of cotton is also acquired from the sea-island as well as the American-Egyptian cotton – both of which belong to the species G. barbadense. On the other hand, the cotton species – G. arboreum and G. herbaceum – are mainly grown in the Asian regions.
In fact, presently, upland cotton or G. hirsutum comprises most of the cotton produced commercially around the globe. In addition to the fiber, oil extracted from the cotton seeds too is an important commercial product of the plant these days. The oil extracted from cotton seeds is utilized in the production of margarine, shortening, salad as well as cooking oils.
Besides the above mentioned commercial utilities of cotton, the plant is also valued for its remedial properties. Indian and other traditional medicine practitioners regard the cotton plant as a ‘female medication’. Koasati and Alabama Indian women prepared a tea by brewing the root of the cotton plant to alleviate the problems associated with childbirth and facilitate the delivery process. The tea prepared with cotton plant roots are administered to pregnant women just before they are about to give birth. Interestingly enough, even the present day herbal medicine practitioners use the tea prepared with cotton plant roots to ease delivery as they assert that the roots contain a substance that effectively augments the tightening of the uterus at the time of child birth. In addition, herbalists further state that the cotton roots enclose an element that encourages regular menstruation.
Benefits Of Cotton (Gossypium Hirsutum) For Health
These days, herbalists seldom use the roots of the cotton plants as a medication. However, there was a time when herbal medicine practitioners used the cotton roots as an alternative for ergot (Claviceps pulpurea) – an herb used extensively to stimulate and ease child birth. When used medicinally for this purpose, the roots of the cotton not only have a gentle effect, but are also safe. In fact, consumption of a tea prepared by brewing cotton roots just before child birth helps to encourage the contraction of the uterus and also hastens the process of child birth.
While herbalists have been using the cotton root to ease child birth, modern scientists have also endorsed this particular medicinal property of the herb stating that the possibility of the remedy being effective is substantial. Even present day traditional medicine practitioners administer a tea prepared with the cotton root to women to ensure regular menstruation cycle. Several researches on the subject have demonstrated that this particular use of cotton seed is effective.
The roots and seeds of cotton plant have been traditionally used to treat tissue growth inside the nose, development of uterine fibroids as well as other forms of cancer. A polyphenol obtained from the cotton plant, gossypol is known to have features to combat cancer. A moist and sticky tea prepared with raw or roasted cotton seeds are administered to patients suffering from diarrhea, dysentery, bronchitis as well as hemorrhage.
The flowers of the cotton plant too possess medicinal properties. They promote flow of urine and possess the powers of softening or relaxing and are used to treat hypochondriasis, a medical condition wherein an individual is excessively preoccupied with his or her health. The leaves of the cotton plant may be infused in vinegar and applied externally on the forehead to heal headaches. This infusion was also used by the slaves in early America with reasonable success and without any adverse after-effects for inducing abortions.
In addition, cotton roots are also effective in helping abortion or the commencement of menstruation as well as lessen period flow. The bark of the cotton root also promotes blood clot formation as well as breast milk secretion. On the other hand, the oil extracted from cotton seeds is used to alleviate profuse bleeding during menstruation and endometriosis. No doubt, the herb has been named as a ‘female medication’.
Cotton Side effects and Cautions
It’s unsafe to use cotton if you are pregnant. It might cause the uterus to contract, and this might cause a miscarriage.
Not enough is known about the safety of using cotton during breast-feeding. Stay on the safe side and avoid use.
Don’t use cotton if you have a kidney condition.