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Enchanting Kerala


ISSUE: 222


Tribal medicines of Kerala

Upon the mighty Ghat mountain regions and dense forests of Kerala exists the original inhabitants of this land who lived and learnt from nature who is their mother and protector. Reckoned as the descendants of the Negrito race their harmonious life with nature and their constant communication with its pristine elements have inculcated in these indigenous people the knowledge of several traditional healing systems.

These simple folks are a treasure of secretive and time-tested knowledge in healing diverse disorders with simple herbals. Their method doesn't involve any toxic chemicals or harmful technologies. Instead they depend on the innumerous herbs, plants and trees growing in the jungles for their medicines.

Among the 35 tribal communities in Kerala, the major ones are Urali, Paniyan, Kapu, Kanikkar, Kadar, Irula, and Mala arayan. Almost all these tribal groups have developed their own traditional systems of medicines that are often accompanied with the paraphernalia like symbolic sacrifices, magical incantations and mysticism. Along with it they also follow special diets to cure the diseases. In most cases the tribes will not disclose their secret medicines. The herbs are collected from near and around their settlements and are prepared and served directly to the patient. The most remarkable fact is that a single plant is used in different ways and for different types of diseases.

Though their method of diagnosis and therapeutic practices are deemed unscientific their methods of curing have been found rational and effective too. It has been discovered that these indigenous healers have effective remedies for cough, toothache, stomach ache, rheumatism, jaundice, urinal stone, itching, diarrhoea, ulcer etc. For instance inhalation of smoke from the leaves and flowering twigs of Kattukarpuram (Asteraceae) is an ideal remedy for asthma. Similarly leaf paste obtained from veppu (Meliaceae) is used in the treatment of chicken pox.

This undocumented and priceless knowledge of the tribes of Kerala has recently crossed the borders of their dense forests and attained much attention. People from urban areas have started approaching these tribal healers to cure their diseases.

  Topics: History   Heritage   Culture  

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