Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Siddha Home Remedies for Jaundice (Manjal Kaamalai)

Jaundice is caused by the increased levels of bilirubin in the blood. This results in yellow pigmentation of the white of the eyes, skin etc. Jaundice is classified into three categories namely pre-hepatic, hepatic and post-hepatic, based on the pathological conditions of the patient.

An increased breakdown of red blood cells can lead to pre-hepatic jaundice. When the pathological process is in the liver, for example hepatitis, this results in hepatic jaundice. Post-hepatic jaundice is also known as obstructive jaundice. Here the bile drainage is interrupted leading to jaundice. Hence a combination of liver function tests is essential in arriving at the diagnosis of jaundice.

The characteristic symptom of jaundice is the yellow pigmentation of the conjunctiva. The urine is yellow colored. There may be pain in the upper right abdomen area where the liver is located. Aversion to food, loss of appetite, vomiting, constipation etc are the other symptoms. In some cases there may be a mild elevation in temperature.

Kizhanelli is a very potent Siddha home remedy for jaundice. Kizhanelli is a tiny herb with very small rounded leaves. This can be found in plenty in damp areas like river banks and near lakes and ponds. Known as stonebreaker, the botanical name for this herb is Phyllanthus niruri.

Kizhanelli kudineer is a Siddha remedy for jaundice that can be prepared using kizhanelli, cardamom and tailed pepper (piper cubeba). A decoction of this herb is prepared with the whole plant along with two cardamom pods and two piper cubeba seeds in 200 ml of water. The water is reduced to one-fourth. 40 ml of this decoction is taken twice a day, preferably in the morning and evening.

Other alternative is to take the whole kizhanelli plant, two cardamom pods and two piper cubeba seeds and grind them to a thick fine paste using water as needed. A (kalkam) bolus of 5 gm is taken with buttermilk or milk two times a day. This is called ‘kizhanelli kalkam’ in Siddha medicinal texts.

Another herb that has a very beneficial effect on liver is ‘karisilankanni’, the False Daisy plant known for its anti-hepatotoxic activity. The ‘karisalai kalkam’ is prepared using a handful of karisalankanni leaves and pepper 1-2 gm ground to a fine paste. A bolus of 5 gm is taken twice a day with buttermilk.

For the treatment to be effective, these Siddha home remedies should be prepared fresh each time. Some time tested Siddha remedies for jaundice that are available in the market include sangu parpam, silajit parpam, annabedhi chenduram, mandoora chenduram etc.

Application of keezhanelli thailam or karisaalai thailam on the scalp for 10-20 minutes before bathing is a well known complementary treatment to those mentioned above. Pancha kalpam made of neem seeds, kadukkai, gooseberries, turmeric, and pepper is an alternative to these oils. This kalpam is applied on the scalp for 10-15 minutes and then washed off with warm, tepid water.

Karisalankanni and kizhanelli are easily available all over South India. Frequent consumption of these herbs strengthens the liver and helps prevent recurrence of jaundice.

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Monday, August 29, 2011

Siddha Home Remedies for Gingivitis

Gingivitis is the inflammation of the gum tissue mostly due to plaque. When left untreated, this can lead to periodontitis, a destructive form of gum disease that can result in loss of tooth, infection of jaw bones etc. Some of the symptoms of gingivitis include swollen gums, bleeding gums after brushing, bright red or purple gums, tender and painful gums.

Conventional medical texts say that bacterial plaque causes gingivitis. Plaque gets concentrated in the tiny gaps, also known as plaque traps, between teeth. One such trap is the tartar formed on teeth. Gingivitis can be prevented with daily brushing and flossing. Hydrogen peroxide as mouthwash is found to be effective in preventing gingivitis.

Conventional treatment for gingivitis includes removal of plaque and reduction of oral bacteria. Of late, using essential oils as mouthwashes is found to be beneficial in treating gingivitis.

Siddha medicinal system uses tripalai (triphala) kudineer to treat gingivitis. The three ingredients of tripalai are kadukkai (Terminalia chebula), nellikkai (Embilica Officinalis), thanrikkai (Terminalia Belerica). 10 gm of the pulp of each of these ingredients is taken and ground to a powder of coarse consistency. This is then added to 800 ml of water and boiled and reduced to one fourth. 30 ml to 50 ml of this infusion is used as a mouthwash and gargle.

One advantage of this mouthwash is unlike the conventional mouthwashes this does not disturb the natural balance of bacteria in the mouth. The herbs have good wound healing properties and rapidly heal the gingival ulcers and strengthen the gums.

One simple complementary remedy would be ‘nallennai koppulithal’ or ‘oil pulling’ with sesame oil. Oil pulling helps in maintaining oral hygiene and quick healing of gingivitis. Oil pulling or oil swishing is the process where a tablespoon of sesame oil taken and swished in the mouth first thing in the morning, for 15 to 20 minutes till the oil loses its viscosity and becomes thin. The oil is then spat out, and the teeth brushed in the regular manner.

The tripalai and oil pulling regimen should be continued until the resolution of gingivitis. Oil pulling can be continued and made into a regular practice to prevent formation of tartar in the future. Oil pulling has a number of other health benefits too. Neem and cinnamon twigs can be used in cleaning the teeth. While extensive scrubbing with twigs can damage the gums, when used in moderation they are very effective in curbing bad breath, and offer the same protection as tooth brush without any chemical laden toothpastes.

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Sunday, August 28, 2011

Some Common Siddha Medical Terminologies

The Siddha medicinal system is one of the oldest systems of medicine, older than Ayurveda by a couple of centuries. It was the Siddha system that first put forward the adage ‘food as medicine and medicine as food.’ It said man the ‘microcosm’ is the reflection of the ‘macrocosm’ Universe. The simplicity of the system masked its inherent potency and dynamism to effect cure with the help of herbs, minerals, metals and animal products.

This system originated in South India and the texts are in Tamil. The general philosophy of the Siddha system is similar to Ayurveda in almost all aspects. Disease is the imbalance of the three doshas, vata, pitta and kapha. Environment, diet, climate and stress can cause this imbalance. Of the five basic elements earth, water, fire, air and ether, earth and water corresponds to kapha, fire corresponds to pitta and air corresponds to vata.

Diagnosis involves examination of tongue (na), varna (color), swara (voice), kann (eyes), sparisam (touch), malam (stool), siruneer (urine), and naadi (pulse) for disease symptoms.

The treatment regimen strives to reestablish the lost balance. The Siddha system goes a step further and helps maintain the regained equilibrium with the help of lifestyle changes that include diet and disciplined life. The aim of the system is to attain Kaivalya or perfection. For this it has developed the Kayakalpa chikitsa, a discipline for longevity.

The seven elements combine together to contribute to the psychological and physiological functions of the human body. The seven elements are saram (plasma) essential for growth, nourishment and development; next is cheneer (blood) to nourish muscles; third is oon (muscle) that provides the body shape; fourth, kozhuppu (fat tissue) responsible for lubrication of joints; fifth elumbu (bone) for structure, locomotion and posture; sixth moolai (brain) for strength and seventh is sukkilam (semen) for reproduction. Adequate nurture of these seven elements is essential for good health.

The three treatment modalities are namely deva maruthuvam (divine), manuda maruthuvam (human), asura maruthuvam (surgical) methods. The deva maruthuvam makes use of chendooram, parpam, kuligai, pashanams etc in treating a disease. The manuda maruthuvam has within its repertoire churanams, vadagam, kudineer etc obtained from herbs, to treat disease conditions. Asura maruthuvam involves incision, blood letting, leech therapy etc.

This can be further classified into nine categories based on the therapy namely emetic therapy, purgative therapy, steam therapy, fasting, yoga therapy, solar therapy etc.

Siddha remedies were prepared making use of medicinal herbs and shrubs (thavaram), inorganic substances (dhatu) and animal products (janganam). The dhatus are further classified into salts (uppu), pashanam, uparasam, loham (metals), rasam (mercury) and gandhagam (sulfur).

One notable difference between Ayurveda and Siddha systems is in their philosophical outlook on the actions and predominance of the three humors in human life cycle. Ayurveda is of the view that kapha dominates childhood followed by pitta in adulthood and vata in old age. Siddha system holds a diametrically opposite view. It emphasizes the dominance of vatam in childhood followed by pittam in adulthood and kapham in old age.

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Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Medicinal Uses of Cactus Flower, Shenbaga Flower, Pichi Flower

Prickly Pear Cactus Flower Remedies

Flowers of prickly pear cactus are used medicinally to treat various disease conditions. Prickly pear cactus belongs to the cactus family and is known as paddle cactus for its resemblance to the ball and paddle toy. The delicious fruit obtained from this cactus is called tunas. It is grown widely in Europe, Middle East, USA, Mexico, South America, India and in many other countries. Mexico exports a large quantity of this plant to Japan as herbal medicine. This resilient shrub grows well in arid conditions.

The prickly pear cactus flowers have the ability to cure hemorrhoids. For this purpose the flowers are dried in sun. The dried flowers are then placed on the piles and tied with a white piece of cloth. This is repeated for a few days. This is a simple Siddha home remedy for hemorrhoids.

Cactus flowers are ground to a fine paste using a few drops of water. A thick paste is then applied on toenail fungus. This is continued till a complete cure is obtained. This is a painless home remedy for nail fungus.

The paste prepared as mentioned above is also an excellent remedy for joint pains, especially of the toes and foot. A thin layer of this paste is applied on the painful joints.

Shenbaga Flower Remedies

The botanical name for shenbaga poo is Michelia champaca. It belongs to the ancient family of Magnoliaceae that dates back to 95 million years. The Indian folk medicine uses remedies from this flower to treat many diseases.

A kashayam is prepared using shenbaga flower buds along with poppy seeds, fenugreek and pepper. This is an excellent remedy for phlegm in chest. This kashayam is taken twice or thrice a day for a couple of days depending on the intensity.

This flower is a coolant. Shenbaga flower soaked coconut oil is applied on head and allowed to remain so for ten to fifteen minutes and then washed off. This is found to cool down the body.

Pichi Flower Remedies

Pichi flower is a well known coolant used extensively in South India. The heady scent of this flower relieves headaches. Females suffering from headaches can adorn their hair with these flowers; regular usage is found to relieve them of headaches, earaches, shoulder pains and pains in the nape. Pichi flower strings can be used for this purpose.

Pichi flowers are dried in sun and then added to coconut oil. Regular application of this oil on the body results in smooth and soft skin with no blemishes. The oil can be applied on head for 10-15 minutes and then washed thoroughly. This cools the body and mind.

For treating blackheads the flowers are soaked in lemon juice. Frequent splashing of this flower soaked juice on the face of the face is found to be effective in removing blackhead.

One simple and effective Siddha home remedy for acne and pimples is to make a fine paste of pichi poo or pichi flowers and sandalwood. Application of this finely ground paste on acne and pimples results in rapid and effective relief.

Consuming a few pichi flowers raw in the mornings on an empty stomach help in clearing up a bloated tummy.

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Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Medicinal Uses of Tomato Flower, Cauliflower and Ponnanganni Flower

Flowers have been used as home remedies from time immemorial. Indian traditional systems are replete with remedies that utilize various flowers found in nature. In this post I would like to share with you home remedies that are made using of tomato flower, cauliflower and ponnanganni flower. This is a continuation of the series of flower remedies that I have been blogging about for sometime.

Tomato Flower Remedies

Tomato is an edible fruit that is said to have originated in South America. It is consumed raw, added as an ingredient in many dishes and drinks. It is considered a vegetable for culinary purposes which can confuse many. There are around 7500 varieties of tomatoes grown all over the world. Genetically modified and enriched tomatoes are being developed by scientists and this has led to lots of controversies. It is safe not to use GM and enriched varieties of tomatoes.

And now for the flowers. Paste made of almonds and tomato flowers is an excellent herbal face pack that cleanses the skin and keeps it firm and beautiful. Inhaling the scent of tomato flowers has been effective in relieving headaches.

Tomato flowers can be crushed and added to yogurt. Rock candy is added to this and taken as a remedy for stomach ulcers. Similarly tomato flowers are taken with palm candy as a remedy for intestinal ulcers. Juice obtained from crushing the flowers is added to onion juice and taken in the mornings. This is an excellent ‘body coolant’.

Cauliflower Remedies

Cauliflower belongs to the Brassicaceae family. Though white cauliflower is common, there are orange, green and purple colored varieties available. The phytochemicals present in cauliflower is beneficial to human health. Boiling the flower can lead to loss of these beneficial compounds.

It is found to be an aphrodisiac and improves libido. It is rich in calcium. Cauliflower can be taken raw after keeping it immersed it in hot water for sometime.

Thoroughly dried and powdered cauliflower can be added to milk and taken to improve immunity.

Ponnanganni Flower Remedies

The botanical name for ponnanganni is Alternanthera Sessilis. It is also known as sessile joyweed. This grows well in damp and wet spots, mostly around shores of ponds, rivers and lakes. The leaves as well as flowers of this plant have immense medicinal value. Regular consumption of ponnanganni flower improves eyesight. Night blindness can be cured by regular consumption of raw ponnanganni flowers.

Taking a decoction of the flower and cumin seed powder is found to cure eye irritation due to excessive heat. A handful of fresh ponnangani flowers are collected and soaked in half a liter of coconut oil. A spoonful of this flower soaked oil is taken in the mornings for increased energy and vitality.

Flowers should be cleaned thoroughly in running water before preparation of remedies. Regular consumption of the above mentioned remedies help in curing various health conditions without any side effects.

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Monday, August 01, 2011

Medicinal Uses of Flowers

Snake gourd flower

Snake gourd or serpent gourd is a vegetable obtained from Trichosanthes cucumerina, a vine found mostly in the tropical regions. The vegetable is popular in South Asian cuisine. The shoots, leaves, flowers all have medicinal value. This soft fleshy vegetable can grow to a length of 1 m to 1.5 m and has a bland taste. Snake gourd flower is well known for its alkaline property.

Poriyal (Tamil word for dish made from shallow frying of vegetables or flowers) made from thoroughly washed snake gourd flowers is good for the eyes. People with burning sensation or itching in the eyes due to ‘body heat’ can take this regularly for a few days to cool their bodies.

Juice extracted from the flowers (this can be done by crushing the flowers) is mixed with papaya latex and the ensuing paste is applied on eczema, scabies etc. Regular application of this mixture is very effective in curing these skin conditions.

One cure for dry cough is to mix honey with snake gourd flower juice (the juice should be slightly heated and then brought to room temperature before mixing). The mixture should be applied externally on the throat as a thin layer. Regular application results in quick healing of dry cough.

Vallarai flower

Vallarai herb grows abundantly in shady areas by the side of rivers and water bodies. This herb is called brain tonic because of its action on brain tissues. It enhances memory, intelligence, complexion, voice etc. It is an excellent herb for anemia. Flowers of this herb also serve the same purpose.

Vallarai flowers can be dried in sunlight and then powdered to a fine consistency. This can be taken with milk. This is an excellent memory enhancer. The same can be mixed in tender coconut water and taken once in the mornings. This helps alleviate tuberculosis symptoms.

Bitter melon flower

Bitter melon or bitter gourd is the most bitter of all fruits that grows widely in Africa, Asia, and the Caribbean etc. Known for its distinctive warty exterior, bitter melon comes in different varieties and shapes. The leaves and shoots of the bitter melon plant are eaten as greens. Tea made from the leaves is used in preventing and treating malaria. It has substances like charantin and lectin which have hypoglycemic properties.

Bitter melon flowers have anti bacterial and anti viral properties. The juice obtained by crushing the flowers is an excellent vermifuge. This is taken orally for expulsion of worms from the intestines.

Ajwain water (Caraway seeds) is added to crushed bitter gourd flowers and taken in the mornings and evenings. This is a very effective remedy for painful, bloated stomach.

Decoction of bitter gourd flower is an excellent remedy for controlling blood sugar levels in diabetic patients. For this eight to ten bitter gourd flowers are taken and boiled in four glasses of water. The water is reduced to one glass and allowed to cool. This is taken in the mornings on empty stomach.

The flowers are dried in sunlight for a couple of days. The dried flowers are added to buttermilk and taken in the mornings for a week or two. This is found to be an excellent cleanser.