Noted fitness expert PEG JORDAN examines the global
resurgence of interest in natural healing methods and answers queries from
THERE is little question that centuries of colonisation
takes a toll, its tragic toll on a country's people, religions and languages,
but one of the most lasting effects is the attack on its original healing arts.
Both Muslim invasions in the 11th and 12th Centuries and later British
colonisation imposed their own medical beliefs to the point where both Indian
folk medicine and Ayurvedic medicine were suppresssed. The British Medical
Journal from the 1920s labelled the oldest healing system in the world as
"unsupported metaphysical dogma". But despite being marginalised for
decades, Ayurvedic medicine is the final victor. Today, there is a global
resurgence of interest in natural healing methods, and Ayurvedic medicine tops
the list in terms of the West's latest "alternative" health
While Ayurvedic remedies are sold through many new
companies through Europe and the United States, there are numerous Ayurvedic
clinics and treatment centres arising as well in the West, where a single
treatment balancing doshas draw celebrity clientele willing to pay thousands of
dollars. The popularity of plant-based healing systems is even evidenced in new
An international franchise known as the Body Shoppe has
launched a new line of Ayurvedic-herbal lotions and skin care products with a
mass marketing campaign that aims at younger consumers interested in natural
Similarly, the other ancient healing systems of India
are gaining credibility among plant researchers. As drug companies encounter
more resistant strains among bacteria and viruses, older methods of treatment
such as the Ayurvedic recipe of dita tree bark to treat malaria, chronic
diarrhoea, fevers and skin diseases, become valuable as non-toxic options.
Not only Ayurvedic medicine, but other forms of folk
medicine have suddenly attracted researchers for their vast knowledge of leaves
and poultices to treat anemia, heart disease, cough, intestinal colic and
Medical anthropologists have recently convened panels
on the ancient medical system of the Tamil culture, Siddha, and its use of herbs
to reduce the toxic effects of metals in remedies.
An ironic twist to this worldwide clamour for India's
ancient healing philosophies is the fact that India itself has become a premier
supplier for low cost pharmaceuticals drugs. Ranbaxy Laboratories, in New Delhi,
pours out generic drugs , such as popular antibiotics like amoxicillin, as a
central player in India's low cost pharmaceutical industry. Churning out
inexpensive copies of generic drugs due to its strategy of reverse engineering
know-how, Ranbaxy's earnings were reported over $500 million and it has expanded
operations to China and the U.S..
Herbal sources for sleeping well
My last column described the pervasive problems of
sleeplessness for millions of people, and offered some natural herbs and
techniques. It must have struck a chord among readers, because over 60 of you
wrote to me, asking for local names of herbs, sources and other types of
I was able to find an excellent natural herbal formula
by a company in Bangalore, The Himalaya Drug Company. Their propietory herbal
blends are based on ayurvedic plant knowledge, and are being studied in clinical
trials. A company spokesperson reported that seven decades ago, the founder of
The Himalaya Drug Company discovered people feeding some roots to pacify
elephants on a trip to Burma. The root was Rauwolfia serpentina, a plant known
for its calming properties in this Burmese region. Upon further research, it was
discovered that the plant was not only a natural tranquiliser, but it lowered
high blood pressure as well.
Other herbs researched by the company include
Commiphora mukul (Guggul) for helping the immune system, Garcinia Cambodia for
promoting normal lipid metabolism and helping with weight control, and Capparis
Spinosa for improving liver function. One of the finest collections of herbs is
offered in their "StressCare" formula, containing chyawanprash,
Emblica officinalis (Indian gooseberry), ashwaganda, asparagus root, and gotu-kola
(Centella Asiata Urban).
Otherwise, your search for herbs that promote a good
night's rest may be facilitated by knowing their botanical names: Kava kava
(Piper myethysticum), Valerian root (Valeriana officinalis), Passion flower (Passiflora
incarnata) and As for the other recommendations: Melatonin supplements (three mg
at bedtime) or 5-http (50 mg at bedtime) are available online
throughwww.mothernature.com, www.allherb.com, and www.drugstore.com.
If you have muscle cramps or "restless legs"
that disturb sleep, try taking magnesium (250 mg at night) and vitamin E
(400-800 IU daily.)
Other recommendations include avoiding caffeine and
alcohol later in the day. Starting your day with some protein, then eating
carbohydrates such as whole grain cereals and breads in the evening may help
sustain nighttime serotonin (a brain neurotransmitter) activity through the
night, and assure a good sleep.
E-mail the writer at email@example.com.