Sunday, October 25, 2009

Medicinal Uses Of Ginger

The effectiveness of Ginger in our indigenous medical system and our remedies has been proved often.

Though the Sanskrit name of Ginger is "SINGARA", it has been commonly called "MAHAUSHADHA" by early Sanskrit writers. The raw ginger is called "ARDRAKA" and by 20 other epithets while dry ginger is called "SUNTI" and by 24 other epithets. The Dravya Guna Niganduwa, the encyclopedia of tropical plants and drugs used in Ayurvedic medicine describes it as an ingredient in medicine for constipation, nausea, asthma, colic, palpitation of the heart, tympanitis etc. It also warns patients who suffer from skin diseases, anemia, kidney infection and high fever against using ginger.

A very efficacious medicine for acute colic, diarrhea followed by vomiting is the substance obtained by crushing together ginger, garlic and a piece of the bark from the "Drumstick" tree (Murunga pothu) with a small quantity of Buddha Raja Kalke. Sometimes diarrhea and vomiting makes the patient catch a chill and feel faint.

A home remedy at such a time is rubbing crushed ginger on the palms and soles of the feet and also tieing a little of it on the two big toes. Another remedy for this condition is : Corriander, ginger, iriveriya, kalanduru and beli root (3 kalan or 1 1/2 oz. of each) boiled down in 8 cups of water to one cup and administered twice a day. Yet another remedy which is also effective for amaeobiosis is ginger, kalanduru, atividayan and kelindasal in equal quantities roasted and made into a powder and poured like coffee. This is a safe medicine even for infants with diarrhea when given in small doses of 2-4 teaspoonfuls at a time.

Today there are many cases of fever and with its first sign we rush to the dispensary or the hospital without paying any heed to our local simple remedies. Take 3 kalans (1 1/2 oz.) of each of the following: ginger, Katuwalbatu, batumul and dewadara and 8 cups of water. Boil down to one cup and take twice daily.

Some people may think it is cumbersome preparing a decoction; ingredients are still obtainable in many shops even within the city. Boiling it is the same as making a soup; there is nothing special about it. What you have to do is boil down the 8 cups of water to one cup preferably on a slow fire.

Related Post: Medicinal Power of Ginger

Ancient Medicine in Sri Lanka

The word medicinal herbs often leads us to think of some miraculous and supernatural cure. Our ancient literature has references not only to plants reputed to cure difficult and incurable diseases, but also to plants possessing many magical properties. For example, we read that a certain root chewed increases longevity or that a few drops of juice put in the mouth of a dying patient revives him.

In ancient times a medicine prescribed by a hermit earned more favour and became more famous than the one based on some test or experience. As times passed, and man started doing everything on the basis of reasoning several of the earlier beliefs seemed unsound and it happened that the use of medicinal herbs declined.

Today, the importance and efficiency of medicinal herbs is the subject of discussion, both in the developed and developing countries. In New York a general practitioner, Dr. Robert Giller says "We are learning that chemical pollution of foods and the environment may contribute to cancer, and this has been one of the factors responsible for a return to more therapies rather than loading up on synthetic chemicals, for minor aches and pains."

Most of the traditional physicians run their dispensaries in their homes and the medicines are prepared by the physicians themselves. The therapeutic scope of Ayurveda is very wide. It follows the classified pattern of taking into consideration the history of the patient which is very important for the diagnosis of the disease.

In Ayurveda the environmental factors are considered as a main cause of the imbalance of the three doshas. The "Tridosas" being the very soul of Ayurveda, all theories and principles are built around and based upon them. Thus the early morning hours are what are known as Watakala. The year is divided into six seasons. Food, clothing, and the mode of living during these seasons are clearly shown.

Ayurveda Acharyas insist on psychi-health and mental purification, and with the practical guidance they give for the conduct of daily life, such rules would make people healthy in body and mind. The importance of attending to nature's calls like hunger, thirst, defaecation , sleep etc., are taught clearly.

More than any other medical "pathy" Ayurveda has paid attention to this vital aspect of physiology. The therapeutic scope of Ayurveda helps to offer an appropriate rehabilitative measure to achieve equilibrium in the whole being. The prescriptions and hereditary formulae are composed of local herbs.

The physician is equally concerned with health problems, both physical and mental. The unique method of Ayurvedic treat merit is that it treats the whole person, while Western medicine treats only the disease.

Monday, September 28, 2009

How To Make Your Own Miraculous Yogi Tea?

Herbal tea has become more popular in Western countries than in Sri Lanka. They have started to relieve their sore throats by gargling with simple herbal mixtures, their headaches, colds or flu by drinking pots of spicy herbal tea. In these countries you can purchase aromatic herbal tea-bags. Its preparation is quite easy.

In Sri Lanka we can get enough herbs to use as tea. To make herbal tea from loose herbs, use a heavy weight tea pot (not aluminium) and boiling water. Add one teaspoon of dried herbs or one tablespoon of fresh herbs to one cup of water. Put the herbs into a stainless steel tea pot, and steam in the boiling water for about three minutes, covered to preserve the aroma. Serve with a slice of fresh lemon or lime or a spoonful of honey.

How To Make Herbal Tea?

Make Your Own Miraculous Yogi Tea
It is taken for colds and congestion of the lungs and to improve circulation. Many of the larger health food stores in the West stock this blend. The following ingredients when mixed with a quart of boiling water makes Yogi tea :

How To Make Herbal Tea? - What You Need:

1 tablespoon coriander seed
8 cardamoms
1/2 inch long stick of cinnamon
8 cloves
5 black pepper corns
1 inch fresh ginger (pound slightly)
1/4 teaspoon any standard black tea (optional)
1/4 cup milk (optional)

How To Make Your Own Miraculous Yogi Tea? – Preparation Method
Boil herbal ingredients for 10 to 12 minutes, then add black tea for colour and simmer for an additional 3 minutes. Mix in milk and sweeten with honey.

Though milk is mentioned here, generally the true Yogi tea never includes milk or cream because it clouds the brew and dulls the aroma.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Use of Cardiospermum Halicacabum

When it is the hot season we can get plenty of cooling herbs both as food and as medicine at our doorstep.

In the market and in our gardens we find plenty of 'Penela Wel’. It is a cheap kind of green leaf known to almost every one. In Sanskrit it is called 'Jyotishmati' or ‘Parawitapadi’, which means pigeon's foot. The botanical term is Cardiospermum Halicacabum.

It is an annual herb which is very common in the low-country and throughout the tropics. It is a small delicate, wiry, smooth, climber. Its leaves are alternate and the leaflets are coarsely toothed. The lowest pair of flower stalks are converted into spiral tendrils and the seeds are in three tangled capsules.

Cardiospermum Halicacabum Use #1
It was very largely used by the Sinhalese settlers to allay pains due to sprains and contusions about the joints. The roots and the leaves are commonly used in medicine.

Cardiospermum Halicacabum Use #2
A decoction of the Cardiospermum Halicacabum roots is given in half tablespoonful doses twice a day for bleeding piles.

Cardiospermum Halicacabum Use #3
The leaves are used for rheumatism, nervous diseases, hemorrhoids and chronic bronchitis. The juice of the leaves is put into the ear for ear-ache.

Cardiospermum Halicacabum Use #4
The leaves are used as one of the ingredients in a medicine recommended in the medical book 'Bhavaprakasha' for the abnormal suppression of menses.

Cardiospermum Halicacabum Use #5
Equal parts of Cardiospermum Halicacabum leaves, Sahinda-Iunu (Potassium carbonate), the root bark of Hin-kumbuk (Terminalia Arjuna), Vadakaha (Acorus Calanus) are pounded and made into a paste with milk.This is administered once or twice a day. Dosage: one teaspoonful each time.

Cardiospermum Halicacabum Use #6
Cardiospermum Halicacabum is a cooling drink when prepared as a canjee. You prepare it just like gotukola kenda. It can be taken in the morning as a drink for breakfast.

Cardiospermum Halicacabum Use #7
The external uses of Cardiospermum Halicacabum. The leaves are applied as a poultice for skin eruptions. They are coated with castor oil and are applied on swellings and tumours.

Cardiospermum Halicacabum Use #8
A paste of the leaves is a dressing for sores and wounds. The leaves are prepared into mallum, and used externally for Hydrocele. Some of the English names for Cardiospermum Halicacabum are Baloonvine, Black-Liquorice and Heart-seed.

Cardiospermum Halicacabum Use #9
The crushed leaves are inhaled to relieve headache. The seeds are used as a tonic in fever, and rheumatism.

Cardiospermum Halicacabum Use #10
Cardiospermum Halicacabum is used in preparing an oil for infants when they find it difficult to breath through the nose. Few people know about this.

Common herbs like Cardiospermum Halicacabum have not been catalogued in Sri Lanka, but more than 5,000 varieties of medicinal herbs have been catalogued in China. Most of these have been found to be more effective than Western drugs.

The Advantage Of Traditional Medicines

Health care in the village can still be based on the ancient methods. The primary practitioners of traditional medicine should be supported by the community.

The people still have more confidence in the practitioner of traditional medicine. In the village its importance is in the community's involvement, support and co-operation.
If we look closely we see that the sick in the villages have been helped by their neighbours. Wise men and women are generally asked by the sick for advice. Herbs have been collected and used. In this manner before the advent of modem medicine folk medicine and an indigenous health system flourished.

Even now traditional medicine has a strong hold in many countries and is accepted by the community. One has to appreciate also that folk and traditional medicine have contributed a great deal to the development of modem medicine.

The advantage of traditional medicine is that it is used according to seasonal conditions and the constitutional state of the sick.

A large part of the population of our country live in rural areas and the majority of them are poor and have no access to the health services.

Health cannot be imposed upon a person; it has to be won in partnership. Our aim should be to bring the health services and the community together to ensure health care to the largest number at a minimum cost Low cost health services should be matched with simple but effective technology.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Benefits Of Medicinal Herbs Gardening

A great deal of the interest in growing herbs lies in the widely varied uses to which they can be put. Herbs are attractive to look at, useful in cooking, beneficial to health and in many cases have a fragrant aroma. When grown outside the home their flowers attract bees and birds to our gardens. The fact that over 100 herbs are used in the distillation of the liqueur Chartreuse will certainly commend them to those who enjoy after dinner liqueurs. Added to this is the fact that with little care, herbs can be grown as indoor potted plants all the year round.

Apart from their practical use many herbs have beautiful flowers of many hues. If many of the herbs with attractive flowers and variegated foliage were offered as house plants in the florists shops it would promote many herbal farms in homes.

A great deal of curiosity is evinced these days in the West about herbs and spices that have medicinal value. Many of these herbs and spices are often preferred to allopathic medicines. John Gerard who was a herbalist in the 16th century knew the great. value of Tulsi or Ocimum basilicus. A pot of Basil in the kitchen window is said to discourage flies.

Several spices are used as herbal medicines and have been administered as aphrodisiacs. Corriander plants are one of them. They are known as an erotic stimulant. A strong decoction of the corriander plant is given with milk and sugar for the cure of bleeding piles and a decoction of corriander seeds is given for flatulence and colic. An oil is distilled from the seeds. It is rather volatile and is given in doses of 1 to 4 tablespoons for rheumatism and nueuralgia.

A poultice of the seeds is applied to chronic ulcers and carbuncles. A watery paste is used as a gargle for the cure of ulceration of the mouth and throat.

Asomodagam or Trachyspemum Ammi spragues or Omum is a seed rich in thymol; it is carminative, a stimulant and an anti­spasmodic. It is given for flatulence, colic, diarrhoea, hysteria and spasmodic disorders. The seeds are eaten with betel leaves. A teaspoon­ful of the seeds with a little rock salt boiled in hot water is a household remedy for indigestion. The infusion of the seeds is an efficacious drink for sore throat and habitual drunkenness. A hot dry fermentation with the seeds is a home remedy for asthma. Omum water is administered to infants who vomit and purge. The volatile oil is used locally for relief of rheumatic and neuralgic pains.

Parsley has been accepted not only as a spice but also as a medicinal herb. It is prized as a herb which enhances virility. Parsley seeds are also said to be a cure for baldness.

Vatsyayana in his "Kamasutra" has given a number of recipes for preparing aphrodisiacs. The ingredients for which are mostly spices and different types of herbs. ­

The health specialists from all over the world have agreed to establish a list of reliable, inexpensive and widely available herbal drugs. The World Health Organization (WHO) has explained in general that the scheme offers a potential solution to many urgent health problems.

It is our greatest advantage that these specialists trust medicines other than quinine, cocaine, mascalin and curare. Valuable medicine can be obtained from herbs which are yet to be discovered. These specialists assert that herbal plants can cure diseases like diarrhea, hypertension and even certain forms of diabetes with the aid of medicinal plants. Now scientific research organizations have sprung up specially for the study of plants used in traditional medicine.

Benefits Of Asafoetida

Asafoetida is a gum exuded from the taproot of the Ferula herb which grows in Kashmir. In Sanskrit it is called Hingu, in Sinhalese Perumkayam. It is also imported from Iran and Afghanistan. Asafoetida though acrid and bitter in taste is extensively used for flavoring curries and pickles.

Asafoetida Benefits

Asafoetida is a carminative and a stimulant which helps digestion; asafoetida also acts as a sedative and a diuretic. It is commonly used in indigenous medicine for dyspepsia, flatulence, colic and diseases of the nervous system. It is also an ingredient in several medicinal oils.

Asafoetida gives relief in cases of asthma, hysteria, whooping cough. In spasmodic disorders of the bowels it is used as a suppository in constipation, or for lack of tension or muscular power of the bowel and also in partial paralysis. Recent studies have shown that it has more sedative properties and is used in diseases of the heart. In Sri Lanka in ancient times it was used as a disinfectant and was tied on the hand specially of infants.

There is a famous Ayurvedic Chumanamed "Hingusgrashtaka". This is composed of Asafoetida, ginger, long pepper, omum or asamodagam, cummin seeds and rock salt. Take equal parts, reduce to powder and mix well. Dose: 20 grams to be taken with the first mouthful of rice with butter at breakfast. This is administered to produce an appetite and increase the digestive powers and cure flatulence. It may be taken with lime juice in the form of a pill.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Home Remedies for Eye Diseases

During the hot season eye diseases are common. The remedy is simple. Firstly, wash the eyes with king coconut water every morning and evening. If you have very red eyes which you find difficult to keep open and if they tear, there is a reason for it.

During the hot season, due to the intake of heaty food you get very small pimples-like blisters inside the eyes at the corner or on the eye lid, both upper and lower. For this there is a very effective and easy remedy. Take a Gallnut (Aralu), clean it and wash it. Then give a small tap to it and smash it. When the rice is boiling put the gallnut into the pot. When the rice is cooked take the gallnut and remove the seed inside. Put the rest into a fine clean piece of cloth and squeeze the juice into the eye.

Turn the eyeball and let the juice get in. Every morning and evening sore eyes must be washed with king coconut water. When the eyes become irritating and swollen it is good to ferment with delum (pomegranate) leaves and saman pichcha leaves boiled in water.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Sri Lankan Home Remedies for Coughs

There are many children suffering from coughs and colds. We are used to giving them antibiotics. This helps to reduce the cough and cold but the remedy is too quick and the cause remains. As a result coughs and colds recur over and over again. Parents have no patience so they go in for more and more antibiotics or come to the conclusion that these children are allergic to some pollen or domestic animals like cats and dogs.

But let us try a home remedy. Take equal parts of Elabatu, Tibbatu, Katuwalbatu, Babila, Adathoda and Muddarappalam (Weigh in Kalandas approximately one ounce). Prepare a decoction with 8 cups of water boiled down to one cup on a slow fire. Use 1/3 of a tea cup for a dose twice a day. Take 2 1/2 Kalandas of Aratta, Adathoda, Bebila, Katuwal battu, Weltibbatu and boil in 8 cups of water down to one cup. Half a cup taken for a dose twice a day is very effective for fever with a cough.

When having a cough and cold dry ginger should not be used. It is better always to use raw ginger. Any kind of cord drink, ice cream etc., should be avoided. Plenty of Gotukola, red onions should be taken with your food. Spring onions or lunugas in salad form or plain with food is health giving food for such children. Every morning a teaspoon­ful of Gotukola juice with bee's honey is a good cure for catarrh.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Sri Lankan Herbs - Medicinal Power and Usage of Nelli

Nelli is found in plenty these days as it is the season. We see basketfuls of nelly sold cheap on the pavements. Very few people stop to buy these fruits. It is one of the most important medicines in indigenous treatment. There is hardly any disease for which it is not used, singly or in combination with other herbs. It has a specific effect on the eyes and is given to strengthen the retina or for weak or defective sight.

Soak the dried Nelly overnight and extract the juice. Take it with sugar candy to taste every morning on an empty stomach or the last thing at night. It is a good laxative for constipation. Nelly leaves boiled are very effective for skin eruptions. For eczema Nelly leaves ground and used as a plaster gives quick relief to the unbearable burning sensation. It also dries the weeping wounds.

Two tablespoonful of Nelli mixed with one tablespoonful of bee's honey taken regularly every morning helps to reduce the bleeding of piles. Nelli will also give you a good complexion. Nelli must be eaten raw. If you drink half a cup of nelli twice a week, it helps to keep bowel movements in order.

Nelli is very cooling. Therefore while nelli is eaten or drunk any other cooling food or drink should not be taken on the same day. Frequent use of nelli is not good for catarrah patients; but is very good for eczema and rheumatic patients. Also for patients suffering from hemorrhoids. Application of nelli leaves as a plaster on hemorrhoid glands helps to reduce the burning sensation.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Health Benefits Of Pomegranate (Delum)

Pomegranate is very often used in indigenous medicine in Sri Lanka. The rind of the fruit is dried and powdered like coffee. Two tablespoonful can be taken thrice a day for dysentery.

Pomegranate For Chronic Bowel Complaint

For any chronic bowel complaint the following medicine is very effective:

One ounce each of pomegranate rind, corriander, cummin seed, walangasal, thippili and quarter ounce of pepper and dry ginger.

Powder all ingredients together.

Two tablespoons of this powder poured like coffee in half cup of hot water. Mix one tablespoon of bee's honey and drink thrice a day. The bark of the root of the Pomegranate tree is considered a specific cure for tapeworms. It is given in decoction form: 2 ounces of the root bark is boiled in one and a half pint of water and is reduced to 3/4 pint.

Pomegranate For Bleeding Piles
Pomegranate is very effective in cases of bleeding piles. Take one cup full of the juice of the green fruit. Mix together aralu, cloves and dry ginger and powder it. Take one teaspoonful of this powder and mix it in the pomegranate juice and drink every morning.

Pomegranate For Eye Diseases
When the eyes become irritating and swollen it is good to ferment with delum (pomegranate) leaves and saman pichcha leaves boiled in water.

Friday, April 17, 2009

How to Prepare a Decoction?

When boiling the decoction the vessel must not be covered. It must always be over a low fire. The liquid must be strained and never kept in the same vessel, with the boiled herbs. The strained liquid could be sweetened with bee's honey. It is always best to use bee's honey because by itself it is a medicine.

Adding bee's honey to the medicine must be done when the liquid is slightly warm. It is not advisable to drink the decoction before meals as it would dilute the gastric juice and interfere with digestion, unless it is specially advised by the physician.

Related Blog Post:

Decoctions, "Peyavas" And "Kalkas"

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Healing Plants: Best Way to Good Health

Early man believed that the Creator had put a sign indicating the use of plants-some for food, others for their curative value. A red resin for example meant that the plant was good for the blood. A heart shaped leaf signalled its cardiac properties, a liver shaped leaf was a sign of efficacy against Jaundice.

Man probably put most plants into his mouth. Many were harmless; a few nourished him and a number relieved him from discomfort or sickness. The modem concept of healing plants began in Europe with the appearance of herbals in the Sixteenth Century. Healing plants act in a variety of ways. Many (e.g. Carminatives) exert a soothing action. A large number act on the nervous system. Others have muscular activity. In herbal plants there are variable benefits.

Plants like cannabis have been valued from the earliest times for their powerful psychoactive and physical effects. Cannabis contains many healing properties. It is a very important plant used specially in many kinds of Guli (Pills) in indigenous medicine. It was used as a sacred plant for ceremonial use. It was known in India and China as early as 1500 B.C. or even before. At present it is classified as a narcotic.

The curative value of most beneficial plants and their healing art has been handed down from generation to generation. These herbs still have a useful place in coping with many ailments. As home remedies, this is particularly true in the case of minor ailments such as indigestion, coughs and pains. Nature has many remedies for our ailments and they have been tested over the years.

Herbs still claim our attention as natural remedies. The efficaciousness of herbs in fevers is something very important.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

How to Treat Fever?

In treating fever there is a strict method in indigenous practice. Fasting is advised at the beginning of fever arc at the second stage canjee water should be given. At the third stage medicine is adminis­tered, and on recovery a laxative must be given. This method differs with children. Instead of fasting, children are given only a liquid diet.

The laxative at recovery is also given according to the age of the child. Canjee water or rice boiled in water is very good medicine for fever. For children of one or two months of age water in which rice is boiled could be fed at intervals. In the ancient days canjee water was drunk instead of bed-tea. In the decoction administered for fever, Margosa is a herb frequently used. If you take Margosa (Kohomba) daily or at least twice a week you will be healthy.

Related Blog Post:
Treat Your Fever with Herbal Recipes

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Treat Your Fever with Herbal Recipes

The following is a list of herbal medicines for fever.

Herbal Recipes for Fever #1

Margosa bark,
Corriander, Dummalla (Vatica obscura),
Rasakinda (Tinospora Cordifolia),
Aralu (Terminalia Chebula),
Bulu (Terminalia Belerica),
Nelli (Phyllanthus embilica).

Preparation Method:
Equal parts are boiled into a decoction in the usual way.

Dosage: Half a tea cup twice a day. This decoction is for adults only.

Herbal Recipes for Fever #2

The following decoction is for infants.

Patpadagam (Aporosa-cardiosperma),
Veniwelgeta or Bangeta (Cosinium Femestratum).

Preparation Method:
Equal quantities of two kalandas must be boiled in six cups of water; simmer down to half a cup.

Dosage: Three teaspoonful to be administered morning and evening.

Herbal Recipes for Fever #3

The following decoction is for fever in older children (8 to 15 years).
Patpadagam (Aporosacardiosperma),
Kalanduru (Cyperus Rotandua),
Rasakinda (Tinospora Cordifolia),
Binkohomba (Munronia Pumila)

Preparation Method:

Equal quantities of 2 1/2 kalandas must be boiled into a decoction (eight cups of water boiled down to one cup).

(If the fever is not cured by-these remedies a physician's advice must be sought.)
Related Posts:

Thursday, March 5, 2009

How to Make Herbal Teas and Other Herbal Medicines?

Herbal tea is very popular in the west and it is gaining good ground even in Sri Lanka. Those who drink herbal tea must try to store their own herbs properly. You could also build up your own family herbal store. When preparing herbal tea, use the purest water possible. Preferably use bee's honey to sweeten your herbal tea.

Infusion is different from decoction. Place the plants in a tea pot, pour onto them a prescribed quantity of boiling water, cover and leave to infuse for the necessary length of time.

This will depend on the type of plant. This is how an infusion is prepared. For a decoction, place the given amounts (12 kalandas) of herbs in a saucepan or a pot and pour 8 cups of cold water and boil on a slow fire to one cup; strain and use as prescribed.
Decoctions should not be kept for too long a period. One cup of decoction should be finished in one day or in one and a half days.

Maceration - softening by soaking. Put the prescribed amounts of herbs into the given quantity of liquid: leave to soak for the specified length of time, strain through a clean cloth, squeeze all the juice out of the plants.

The most important thing when preparing an infusion or decoction is to remember to respect the prescribed amounts in use, and not make your medicines on assumptions. If so, it would not do any good, but certainly does no harm. Herbs never cause the havoc that certain drugs do.

Herbal plants can provide a flexible and effective form of medical therapy, totally without dangerous side-effect and adaptable to the needs of each individual patient.

The indigenous physician is thus able to prescribe a personal course of treatment that is appreciated a great deal by the patient, who feels he is being treated as an individual and not like every one else. There is a revival of interest in herbal treatment in Sri Lanka, and it is going through its second infancy.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Nature and Herbal Plants for Better Health

Plants engage in a real alchemy drawing from the soil vital nutritive substances which they store and convert into food. They are therefore a natural reservoir of precious elements.

Plants like human beings, have their own particular preferences and characteristics so we must know to look for them and learn to recognize them. This is more difficult than recognizing the people we often see.

Nature is the best gardener in the world, but with the chemical invasion of the world we must be very cautious in gathering plants. Never gather plants that are grown on cultivated land or in orchards; they may be well poisoned and in any case they no longer remain as nature created them.

The soil that feeds them is saturated with chemical fertilizers and synthetic hormones intended to destroy weeds. They are also repeatedly subjected to a fall out of equally poisonous insecticides.

You must gather your herbal plants far away from civilization. There are still areas uncontaminated by human intrusion and waste lands, valleys and mountains to satisfy those who have a liking for herbal infusions.

The Ayurveda books such as Susruta and Charaka pay much attention to the gathering of herbs. Herbs should be gathered at the right moment.

Even the great Western herbalist Dioscorides has said that before all else, it is proper to use care both in the gathering of herbs during the correct season and in storing them.

It is according to these rules that medicines either do their work, or become quite ineffective.

The moon is the closest planet to the earth and most rapid in its motion. It has a great influence upon plants and all other living things when it waxes and wanes every month.

The curative components contained in plants vary according to the age of the plant, the time of picking, the nature of the soil and the climate. Hence the cardinal rule that must be followed by us, is that they should be gathered at the moment of full maturity. It is best to gather herbs on a dry and sunny day. You should not start to pick them too early in the day, nor continue too late. The herbal roots must be pulled out after the rains. Even handling of herbal plants needs a certain amount of care. You should not squeeze or crush the flowers and leaves you' gather, because if they become warm or bruised they will be less effective.

Herbs are ruined mainly due to the careless way in which they are gathered. You should not remove too many leaves or branches from the same plant.

If a plant is stripped of too much bark or leaves it will die. You should refrain from taking too many roots within a limited radius as it is the mainstay of the plant.

In collecting herbs you should also have a choice of plants. The ancient Ayurvedic Acharyas have laid down that a wild plant is always better than a cultivated plant. Choose plants that have the most fragrance, taste and colour. Also select plants which are healthy, bitter, and not attacked by pests or disease.

How to Store Herbs?

Storing the herbs for your use needs a lot of care. Before you store, dry the herbs in a well ventilated place. Do not expose them to the direct rays of the sun. Spread out the herbs as soon as you collect them, or else they will rot.

Never wash the plants before putting them to dry. Spread them out in a single layer. For the first few days keep turning them over so that the drying is even and thorough. When the drying is over, cut them into small pieces, and store the herbs in a clean bottle with a lid. In the case of roots, they must be washed and cut into small pieces before drying.

Never store the herbs whether dry or fresh, in plastic bags or wrappings. Scientific experiments have shown that plastic wrappings bring about certain chemical alterations, and the herbs kept this way no longer have the same efficacy.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

The Art of Healing with Herbal Plants

Study of herbal plants is not something one can master at once. Whenever there is time at one's disposal, one can set oneself the pleasant task of studying plants, one by one at a time. Then you will be well prepared to meet an emergency when it comes.

In this way, you will learn to recognize them when you see them growing wild, and you will begin to acquire an intimate knowledge of herbs. You will learn to grow them in your garden. You will not miss the right time to gather them, and you will build up for yourself that natural pharmacy which will be very useful to you.

Much patience is needed before you get the feel of the herbs and can predict the effect that a plant will have on a particular case. The plants that are all around us, e.g. garlic, onions, ferns etc., are so familiar that we cannot believe in their efficiency.

On the whole, people tend to have more faith in drugs that come from the farthest and most advanced regions, or those which cost the most money.

A good medicine is one that makes use of all the resources that nature and man's intelligence have put at our disposal. Nothing should be neglected.

The art of healing did not start in the 20th century. It has a long history, and at the same time we accept the progress of science. But to cure common ailments or in order to help in the treatment of serious illness, you can use herbs. To trust in nature does not mean that you must deprive yourself of the discoveries of modern science.

During the time of the Great Asoka, the Hindu Materia Medica contained about 700 herbs which were used by the vaidyas. They were mostly cultivated in the gardens allover the country. The time of collection, the parts used, the methods of curing, the reservation were well known.

Since the number of drugs commonly used in those days was not very large, no elaborate descriptions were given with their identification. The student of medicine used to live with his Guru in the Gurukulas, and received practical training in connection with the identification and proper time of collection.

Medicinal Power and Uses of Spinach

Indigenous medicine is always guided by seasonal behaviour, as it regulates the three forces in the body. We have started the hot season, and many suffer with skin eruptions and cracked skin in the soles of our feet. Some even suffer from sore mouths.

During this season we must avoid 'heaty' food and eat more cooling vegetables and those which contain a higher percentage of water.

Spinach is one such vegetable which gives energy and strength. Spinach has come to us from the Middle East. It was grown in the 11th century in Spain, and in the 15th century in France. It is rich in protein; it helps digestion and is a stimulant of all secretions of the stomach, the liver, and the pancreas.

Medicinal Power of Spinach
It is also very rich in minerals. Most people know that it contains a lot of iron, but according to scientific experiments, it also contains phosphorous iodine and many other elements essential to keep the system in good shape. Spinach can be recommended for children, adolescents, con valescents, anaemics, and all chronic invalids. It is called "Snigdhpatra" or "Gramini" in Sanskrit and its botanical name is Basella Alba.

There are creepers with a red stem and a green stem. It also grows as a shrub. The shrubs are known as "Upodaki or Galodaki". All these varieties have the same type of curative value.

In Ayurvedic books it is said that spinach is cooling, suppresses the Rakta and Pitta imbalance. It is a good laxative. It helps to enrich your complexion. This herb helps to reduce the suppression of urine.

In the old texts on Ayurveda, spinach is mentioned as "Sukkra Janaka" which means that it is an aphrodisiac. Spinach is one of the basic medicines given for insomnia and insanity.

Eat more and more spinach if you need good rest in the night. Spinach leaves are bandaged on to the forehead for severe headaches. It is used as a poultiee for l!lcers. Niviti is a good remedy for eczema, and can be applied on the skin.

In old Ayurvedic books, it is mentioned that niviti improves eyesight. It can be used as an infant food to cure worms. It is an accepted remedy for anaemic invalids as it improves the blood circulation.

Spinach (Niviti) generally grows in cold and water-logged places. It also could be grown in pots as an indoor plant.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Ayurveda Cures for Prickly Heat

Natural Remedies for Prickly Heat

This is more annoying than painful as it irritates all the time.

Prickly Heat Cures #1
A cold water bath taken sometime after applying a watery paste of gram (kadalay) four on the body brings relief.

Prickly Heat Cures #2
The powder of sandal wood used as a dust all over the body is effective in giving relief in cases of prickly heat.

Ayurveda Cures Cures #3
The paste of the pini-jambu (Big Jambu) applied over the body cleans the skin and relieves the itching.

Ayurveda Cures Cures #4
When prickly heat is severe, an infusion made overnight of 180 grains each of lightly crushed pomegranate roots, cummin seeds, corriander seeds, red rose petals and sugar is given the following morning; this drink relieves itching caused by prickly heat.

Sri Lanka Ayurveda Cures for Pimples

Home Remedies for Pimples
This is a problem of youth. Mischievous fingers always squeeze out pimples. When they are pricked they remain as black heads or even leave tiny holes on the skin. Let us not meddle with them. Instead apply a paste of cummin seeds (suduru) over the pimples. It gives wonderful relief. A paste of nutmeg (sadicka) made with milk is an efficacious remedy for removing pimples on the face. A paste of red sandalwood (rathadun) and turmeric (kaha) made with milk is a useful local application.

A mixture made of one part sandalwood oil and two parts mustard oil is also a very effective application.

Home Remedies for Ringworm

This skin disease leaves marks on the skin. It is very irritating and sometimes the patches are moist. It is also highly contagious.

Ringworm Home Remedies #1
A paste of the Ehela (Cassia Fistula) is applied over the parts affected by ringworm.

Home Remedies #2
A paste of the roots of Aththora (Aristida Setacea) mixed with honey or a paste of the roots made with sandalwood or the seeds mixed with butter-milk is very effective.

Home Remedies #3
The juice of Aththora leaves mixed with butter-milk too can be used to cure this condition.

Ringworm Remedies #4
The mixture of the juice of Pani tora (Cassia tora) leaves with lemon juice or mixed with butter-­milk is an effective remedy.

Ringworm Remedies #5
The juice of tamarind leaves rubbed on the affected area is an easy cure.

These home remedies have been tested for hundreds of years and they have proved to be effective. All we need is to identify the herbs.

Very old men in the villages are often the best authorities on herbs and their curative value. Sri Lanka has an abundance of greenery, so why should we not make use of it.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Home Remedies for Headache and Migraine

Worry, traveling in crowded vehicles, walking in the hot sun are the most common reasons for headaches. When your daily routine of health is in disorder you can get a headache. Herbal plants or herbal seeds can give us much relief by their correct usage.

Corriander seeds made into a paste with cold water and applied on the forehead is an easy and Effective remedy. A paste of raw ginger or cloves or nutmeg with cold water gives quick relief. Raw ginger juice mixed with cow’s milk is very effective. If your headache is a neuralgic headache a paste of ginger, cloves, cinnamon and the roots of the caster oil plant is recommended by the indigenous physician.

The paste of Nelli (Phyllanthus Emblica) fruit and saffron mixed with rose water also gives quick relief. A paste of betel leaf is much better than taking tablets. If your headache is due to a chill, a hot paste of cinnamon made with hot water is applied on the forehead. There are snuffs that you can prepare at home. The mixture of equal parts of very finely powdered Valmi (Liquorice) roots, Atividayan (Atis root) comes in handy. A very small pinch of this mixture will reduce the heaviness in the head and heal the headache.

Home Remedies for Migraine Headache:
This headache comes on periodically and is con­fined to a particular part of the head. This is considered to be an incurable disease. According to my experience herbal plants have done wonders. As a home remedy, the moist paste of three leaves of the Holy Basil (Tulsi) and three black peppers used as smelling salt relieves the unbearable headache. The mixture of the powder of long pepper (Tippili) and the root of Vadakaha (Acorus Calamus) can be used as snuff.

A paste of black pepper made with the juice of Nika (Vitex Negunda) could be sniffed occasionally. If the headache is due to catarrh, dry nika leaves can be smoked. If you suffer from constant headaches it is advisable to sleep on a pillow made with nika leaves. A paste of the leaves applied to the temples makes you comfortable. A medicated oil prepared with nika leaves is also very effective for sinuses.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Herbal Remedies for Ring Worm of the Scalp

Herbal plants and their usage are so many that one cannot limit them only to the medicine chest. Herbs have been around us from the beginning of time. Egyptian hieroglyphics show their use by the Queen of Sheba and her gift of their seeds to King Solomon.

Early records show that many of the herbs we use today were in use centuries ago as medicine, as charms, and as a means to preserve and improve the taste of food. They add a whole new dimension to cooking, bringing the flavour and aroma of foreign lands into our kitchen. Part of the fascination of herbs is the link they provide between the ancient civilizations of China, Egypt, India and Sri Lanka. It is amazing to think that the herbs we pick today, may be the same as those mentioned in the year 2000 B.C.

These herbal plants can cure many of our common ailments and many of them can be found at our door step.

Ring worm of the scalp is a common disease which leaves you worried. This is noticed as round bald patches on the scalp and they spread gradually. Some men even get this disease on the face leaving bald patches on the beard. The following remedies have been tested and found very effective.

The juice of the Oleander (kaneru) leaves is applied on the affected parts of the scalp. The easiest medicine you can get from your kitchen cupboard is a mixture of powdered black pepper, onions and salt. This mixture when briskly rubbed on the bald patches of the scalp caused by Ring worms will not only check the infection but also encourage the growth of new hair.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Home Remedies with Puhul

The root of the puhul creeper with that of the komadu (which is also of the puhul family) made into a paste by rubbing them on a stone can be applied on carbuncles. For severe burns a drink of puhul juice mixed with kitul jaggery is the first thing to be given to the patient. Puhul is also applied on the burnt area of the skin. The five parts of the lime tree, the leaf, bark, root, flower and the fruit ground to a fine paste with lime juice is applied on the burnt surface of the skin.

Sri Lankan Home Remedies for Cracked Lips and Sore-Mouths

At certain times of the year especially in the colder climates we experience cracked lips and sometimes sore-mouths. A good remedy for this is Katurumurunga leaves cooked in gingelly oil. In Sanskrit this leaf is called AGASTI after the great sage and master of medicine. It's also called VERNI meaning enemy of sores. It is very effective for sores and ulcers when used as plaster. Oil made with these leaves brings relief to those suffering from catarrh.