2017 Sep 7
Aachchis are firm believers of natural cures. They believe that Western medicine should only be turned to as a last resort. Have you ever whined to your sweet, ol’ grandma about an annoyingly runny nose, a killer headache, or that time a crazed bee stung you right on your nose? No matter what your ailment is, she’s sure to have some kind of strange – and sometimes disgusting – concoction that would put Professor Snape’s magical potions to shame (may he rest in peace).
Here are 21 such natural remedies that our Sri Lankan Aachchis swear by:
My cousin once had a scare when she made the mistake of Googling her symptoms and was subsequently informed that she may have an eye tumour. Turns out it was just a chalazion. Aachchi then told her to go out into the garden as soon as she woke up in the morning, uproot a plant of lovegrass (‘thuththiri’), turn it upside down, squeeze out the extract from the end, and apply it on the chalazion. The key however was to do it in complete silence, without uttering a single word. I don’t know if it was Aachchi’s magical cure or just the immune system doing its job, but two days later, it was gone.
2. Irritated Eyes
Do you have itchy eyes, conjunctivitis or any other eye ailment? Try Aachchi’s oculus concoction! Boil pomegranate leaves in water, strain and let the water cool, and then wash your irritated eyes with the strained solution.
Do you constantly suffer from red eyes, a runny nose and all kinds of other symptoms of allergies? Aachchi says that the smoke produced from burning a raw coconut branch can alleviate your symptoms of allergies. Be careful not the set your whole neighbourhood on fire though!
Sinusitis is something I am all too familiar with. Thanks to the Aachchi-certified remedy however, my sinuses usually clear up within a couple of days, without the need for antibiotics. Boil coriander seeds in water. Then add ‘Adathoda’ leaves and lime leaves as it begins to boil, and inhale the steam religiously for a speedy recovery.
This remedy in particular was truly a godsend for me and I can vouch for its effectiveness with my own personal experience. If you suffer from vertigo or are prone to getting dizzy spells often, add one teaspoon of ground coriander seeds and one teaspoon of dried and chopped Indian gooseberries (‘nelli’) to half a glass of water, and let the concoction sit overnight. As soon as you wake up in the morning, strain it and drink it on an empty stomach. Try it for a few weeks, and I guarantee you’ll notice the improvement.
Burned your hand on the kitchen stove? Aloe vera is a famous cure for burns. First hold the burned area under running cold water for about 5-10 minutes. Then break an aloe vera leaf in half and apply the gel-like substance found inside the leaf on to your burn. It acts as a cooling agent that soothes your burns.
Another famous burn cure hailing from our ancestors’ times is chicken oil. Heat chicken skin on a pan. As it heats up, the oil will begin to separate. Let this oil cool, and then apply on to the burn. Most Aachchis keep chicken skin near the stove for this very purpose. Strange, but hey, if it works…
Oh no, suffering from indigestion on the very day of that make-it-or-break-it interview? Don’t panic. Mix ginger extract and lime juice, add a pinch of salt, and drink up for immediate relief. Crisis averted!
8. Tummy Irritation
For pretty much any stomach ailment, eat a handful of fenugreek seeds. It’ll probably feel like you’re munching on a mouthful of rocks, but the result will definitely be worth the rock-grinding effort.
9. Worm Disease
On the topic of stomach ailments, if you suspect you may have worms, eat the ‘mellum’ made from cockspur coral tree leaves. (Commonly known as ‘Erabadu’ in Sri Lanka, this plant is also referred to as Erythnia.)
10. Constipation & Diarrhoea
Suffering from constipation or diarrhoea? Fear not! Golden apples, commonly referred to as ‘beli’ in Sri Lanka, are a strange cure that can reverse the effects of either extreme. Eat it straight out of its hard shell, and your stomach will return to normal in no time.
11. Dysmenorrhea (Menstrual Cramps)
This one’s for the ladies. Do you spend a good few days limp and lifeless once a month because menstrual cramps get the better of you? There’s no need to put your life on hold. Soak ground coriander seeds in water overnight. As soon as you wake up the next morning, strain it and drink it on an empty stomach. Start the ritual 7 days before your you-know-what is expected to start, and do it every morning that entire week. Once again, I can personally guarantee the authenticity of this one. So bottoms up!
This one might interest those conscious about their weight. If you’re overweight, peel garlic cloves, soak them in bee’s honey for a few days, and then eat the raw cloves to lose weight. Not the most appetizing of cures, but hey, no pain, no gain (not weight gain!).
Cholesterol can lead to strokes, heart attacks and even death. Fortunately, Aachchi’s here to the rescue. Grind Garcinia (‘goraka’), garlic, curry leaves and pepper together to make a paste, and eat it daily for a few weeks to lower your cholesterol level.
Tip: If you want to go easy on your taste-buds, eat the paste with your regular rice and curry.
14. Back pains
The mellum prepared from the ‘gonika’ leaf is said to be a cure for back pains. Legend has it that a cow had fallen off a hill and ended up fracturing its bones. It then ate the leaves around itself to survive, because it couldn’t get up or move. Miraculously, the leaves it ate had healed its fractured bones, and the cow had finally gotten back on its feet and walked up the hill on its own. And that’s how the ‘term ‘gonika’ apparently came into being, from the Sinhala words for cow, gona, and ate, ka.
15. Sprained Ankles
Mahua oil (commonly called ‘mee oil’) is said to heal sprained ankles when the salve is rubbed on to the injured area.
16. Gingivitis (Gum Disease)
Gingivitis, or gum disease, can be very painful and inconvenient. Rinsing your mouth with ‘Seenakkaran’ which is a double sulphate salt, commonly known as alums, cures gum disease and alleviates pain and discomfort.
Dandruff is the arch enemy that stands in the way of healthy, beautiful hair. No one wants to have white flecks falling from their hair every time they shake their head. So boil lime juice and dill together in water, strain the water, let it cool, and wash your head once or twice a week up to several weeks to do away with dandruff.
18. Healthy Skin
‘Venivel geta’, or the nodes of Tree Turmeric have been known for their positive effects on the skin. If you want glowing, healthy skin, shave off the outer covering of the Tree Turmeric nodes, boil the bits and pieces in water, strain the solution, let it cool, and finally, bathe in the strained water.
19. Skin Diseases
For skin diseases like rashes, boil the leaves of the Neem Tree (‘Kohomba’) in water, strain the water, and bathe the irritated areas with it.
20. Chicken Pox
‘Kohomba’ has a vast spectrum of uses when it comes to skin ailments. If you ever contract chicken pox, sleep on a bed strewn with Neem Tree leaves, because the leaves provide a soothing effect to the lesions on your skin.
And here’s a rather morbid one to finish off with…
21. An Elixir For A Peaceful Passing
Aachchi may be all-seeing and all-knowing, but even Aachchi doesn’t have the cure for death. She does however have a concoction up her saree-jacket sleeve to make the process of dying as comfortable as it can get. Giving pure pomegranate juice to someone on their death bed is believed to make their passing a comfortable and peaceful one.
So there you have it! Don’t expect Aachchi to cure any and all sicknesses you get, because sometimes, you do need a dose of antibiotics or some other prescribed Western medication to rid your system of disease. Similarly, vaccines are also important to protect your body from illnesses. Aachchi may say, “ah, no need to go to these doctors, I’ll give you something for this, putha” every time you get sick, but Aachchi probably doesn’t have a magic shield to protect you from Tuberculosis or some other potentially deadly disease. That said, Aachchi’s remedies certainly have proven to be quite effective for minor ailments. So Aachchi’s prescriptions, coupled with your modern-day common sense, are sure to get you back on your feet in no time!
Disclaimer: The information provided on this article is not intended to be a substitute for professionally-recommended medical treatment. Traditional medicine is vast and complex, and must be used responsibly. Some traditional remedies should not be mixed with certain modern pharmaceutical drugs due to risk of interaction. Please consult your medical care provider before using any of the remedies mentioned afore if you have a known medical condition or if you are pregnant or nursing. You are responsible for your own health, so use these remedies at your own risk.