Wonder drugs – Sri lanka style

Sleeping in the sun

‘Ayurvedic’ medicine has a long history and is one of the oldest organised medicinal systems of treating the human body when things are going awry. Ayurveda means ‘the knowledge for long life’ and about 80% of Indians use it regularly. Ayurveda stresses the use of plant-based medicines and treatments. Complementary medicine has long been dissed by the ‘we must do clinical trials’ brigade, but things are coming back around for the traditional approach and the Sri Lankan government has established a Ministry of Indigenous Medicine to revive and regulate the practice.

Cinammon sticks

We visited the Oak-ray Ayurvedic village in Matale and were shown around by a very well educated botanist who explained how the myriad of different herbs and spices together with the Ayurvedic system of massage can treat many different conditions. He even had a bit of a practice on us – I mean who ever turns down an Indian head massage? He showed us examples of the array of plants and spices and told us what they could treat. For example, you may think putting coconut oil on your hair is the thing to do to make it lustrous and Cheryl Cole-like. Well it is, BUT only if it is from the RED coconut. If it is from any other type of coconut you will just end up with a greasy barnet, he chuckled. Of course he didn’t use the phrase ‘greasy barnet’ but the equivalent in Si Lankan.

Looking for the red coconut

Sri Lankans brush their teeth with Sandalwood and it is frequently used in skin products as it is great for dry skin. I remember there was some of that in my hummus facial I’d had back at the hotel. There were compounds for high blood pressure, low blood pressure, sun burn (aloe vera) insomnia, stopping smoking, toothache, kidney stones, allergies, constipation, stomach  ache, slimming and stress. There were also rather a lot of products for wrinkles which I though best to try out in my own clinical trials. I am currently rubbing Saffron cream into my crows feet on a daily basis. Let’s see how it goes.

Magical herbal potions

Cinnamon is a famous product of Sri Lanka and is also used in many remedies. Production of cinnamon is a labour intensive and highly skilled process involving manually paring thin layers of soaked bark from the cinnamon tree, rolling them together and then drying them into what look like vey long thin cigars. We watched the cinnamon man demonstrating his skill and I’ll never take my mulled wine ingredients for granted again.

Stop smoking potions