Easy Cures Within Easy Reach
Little Dino was as normal as any eight-year-old would be. Playful, mischievous, up to endless tricks and accident-prone too. Nicks, cuts, scrapes and gashes are part of his daily routine. One typical day while playing with friends he tumbled down a concrete slope and badly hurt himself. Deep gashes and blood were all over his knees, tears streamed down his cheeks. His mother was calm. She crushed a few leaves of an abundantly growing weed – ‘bat iong’, the chaff flower (Eupatorium adenophorum) – applied them to the wounds, and bandaged the knees with strips of cloth. The bleeding and burning stopped almost instantaneously. Dino was back to his well-being the next day.
Such cures are traditional, handed down from generation to generation. The biggest advantage of traditional cures is their easy reach for people and the minimal costs, besides their almost instantaneous results. This may be one reason why about 80% of the world’s population still repose faith in traditional medicine. Modern medical care has made enormous strides but costs are enormous too. Besides longer periods of treatment, the cures may come along with serious side-effects. Still, recovery may not be complete. The mental strain and financial drain often deliver a telling effect on patient and caregiver alike.
Traditional Healing: Simple and Sure
Traditional healing, however, has no extensive pathological tests, no complicated operations involved, little or no hospital stays and no prolonged treatment tenures. Costs can be as little as 80% less than normal hospital expenses. Diagnoses are quick and sure. Some healers are so adept, sometimes zeroing in on the problems with just a look at the patients’ foreheads, their nails or feeling their fingertips.
Herbs and Plants for External Cures
Traditional healing is not only about internal medicine. Many herbs are effective for external applications too. Years ago there was a case of a man brought in to the Civil Hospital in Shillong with an all but severed foot. He was chopping wood when the axe’s blade accidentally flew off the handle and fell on his ankle leaving a deep gash that cut through the tibia and fibula.
The doctors naturally suggested amputation. The man’s relatives declined and returned to their village. There a traditional healer treated him, setting the bones, muscles and tendons in place with bamboo strips, and applying traditional herbs. Three months later the same man walked again with almost no limp. Had he submitted to amputation one foot would have reduced to a stump and his movement supported with crutches?
An amazing 834 plants with medicinal properties are on record in Meghalaya alone. Many are used externally. The following table is just a small list of the herbs/plants healers traditionally use to cure common ailments:
|Sl||Local Name||Common Name||Scientific Name||Part use||Treatment for|
|Leaves, crushed into paste||Cuts and wounds, bites of insects, bugs and caterpillars|
|2||Bat myngai||Goat Weed||Ageratum conyzoides L||Leaves, crushed||Cuts and wounds|
|Garlic||Allium sativum L||Bulbs, fried in mustard oil and massaged;
|Cough in newborns;
|4||Karela||Bitter Gourd||Momordica charantia L.||Leaves, crushed||Rabies, rheumatic pain|
|5||Jama||Dodder Plant||Cuscuta reflexa Roxb.||Whole Plant, crushed||Premature hair fall,
Greying of hair,
|6||duma sla||Tobacco Leaf||Nicotiana tabaeccum Viv.||Whole plant, grounded||Skin infections|
|East Indian Glory Bower||Clerodendron colebrookianum Walp.,||Leaves, warmed and pasted||Rheumatism|
|8||Synsar||Broom Grass||Thysanolaena maxima||Flowers, pasted and mixed with a little slaked lime;
Young stem juice
Stem Juice for eye problems
|9||Jatung||Valerian||Valeriana jatamansii||Leaves and roots, pasted;
Whole plant, pasted
Whole plant paste for nail diseases
|10||Jamyrdoh||Chameleon Plant||Houttynia Cordata||Leaves, crushed||sores and boils|
|11||Sohlyngkthut||Starry Osbeckia||Osbeckia stellata||Leaves, pasted||Cuts and wounds, snake bites, nosebleed
|12||Dieng ksehblei||Himalayan Yew||Taxus baccata||Leaves, pasted with ginger||Tumors|
|13||Khong||Sarsaparilla||Smilax glabra||Leaves, crushed and juiced, or dried and mixed with mustard oil||Skin diseases|
|14||Lathynrait||Wintergreen||Gaultheria fragrantissima||Leaves, pasted||Bone fractures, sprains|
|15||Latyrpad||Bay Leaf||Cinnamomum tamala||Leaves, fried in mustard oil||Toothache|
Phytochemicals: The Power Behind Traditional Cures
Ever wondered how do plants have medicinal properties? It is because of their phytochemical compositions.
‘Phyto’ means plant in Greek and phytochemicals, or phytonutrients, are the natural non-essential chemical compounds of plants that give them their colour, flavour, smell and taste.
Based on their chemical structure phytochemicals classify into alkaloids (morphine, piperine etc) terpenoids, Carotenes (beta-carotene, lycopene etc.) steroids, polyphenols, flavonoids, curcuminoids, Aromatic acids (capsaicin, gingerols etc), allicin, amines and thousands of other compounds.
However, apart from medicinal and health benefits, phytochemicals can also release poisons and toxins. Therefore, only experienced and knowledgeable practitioners who can distinguish a beneficial plant from a poisonous one should administer the cure.
Traditional Healing: Faith of The People
Across communities of indigenous peoples traditional medicine continues to play a pivotal role in healing practices. According to a study the faith people place on the local health practitioners LHPs refuses to dwindle, notwithstanding modern medicine’s growing popularity and convenience. The reason lies in the irrefutable effectiveness of traditional medicines handed down generations of healers.
Emerging research increasingly points to the role ethnomedicinal plants play in providing the source of modern drugs. The health fraternity is increasingly discovering the effectiveness of traditional medicines. The vast repository of traditional medicinal knowledge now augments the effectiveness of modern drugs as well. In fact, through the application of modern technology to traditional medical knowledge, more than 50% modern drugs are now extracted from plant sources.
Traditional medicine’s potential as a preventive and curative form of treatment is thus steadily being proven. The World Health Organisation (WHO) has also chalked out a strategy to assist member states to develop policies and implement action plans strengthening the role of Traditional Medicine. Perhaps the time is not far off for the convergence of traditional and modern medicine through the application of technology. We at Zizira are continuously on the move to explore, discover and tap into Nature’s power. Check out for more of us at www.zizra.com.