Thursday, 29 May 2014

Local Health Systems and Ayrveda (1)

Heat and Cold Properties
The local health system is based on concept of ‘heat’ and ‘cold’. When people feel ‘heated’ they put water in their ears, tie kaanuga (Pongamia pinnata) leaves to their navel or put the paste of tangedu (Cassia auriculata) leaves on their heads. Eating the naagadaaru (Opuntia monacantha) fruit is considered cooling. Applying menthulu (fenugreek) on the head is also said to be cooling. Castor oil is also considered cooling, and is applied on the head.. Uduga (Alangium salvifolium) and mushti (Strychnos nux-vomica) leaves are used to prepare bath water for the mother who has just delivered. When someone recommended these leaves for preparing bath water to be used when a patient recovers from pox, it was countered with the fact that these were heating, and so were only good for the baalyantha (mother who has recently delivered) as it counters gaali (spirits). For the bath after pox only the cooling neem leaves are used. Nagarajakka said she did not conceive for many years because of ‘heat’ in her body. So in summer she would soak in a new pot, bark of neem, banyan, tangedu (Cassia auriculata) and sugandha roots (Hemidesmus indicus) and drink that water early in the morning. She said she conceived soon after that. For cooling purposes, sugandha verlu are also boiled, and the decoction kept in a new pot and taken. Foods are also ‘heating’ or ‘cooling’. Also, it is said that the stage of the plant matters for determining its cooling or heating nature. For instance, ‘gurugaaku’, a weed whose leaves are cooked and eaten, if taken when the plant is flowering causes increase of kapha, or phlegm. It is said that water should be drunk immediately after eating sitapalams (Annona squamosa), or that one is sure to catch a cold. Cooked rice kept soaked in water overnight and had the next morning is considered very cooling, and is preferred in summers. Curd is considered heating.

Rice straw is considered heating, and for that reason is laid under the mat for the mother who has just delivered. Cowdung is considered cooling. It is said that the rainwater is better for plants than irrigation water because rainwater is cooling. The shade of the kaanuga tree is considered cooling, while the shade of a neem tree is considered heating. Modern medicines and chemicals are also classified as heating or cooling. Glucose drip is considered cooling. People say that the body actually feels cool after that. Penicillin is also considered cooling. Pesticides are considered heating.

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