Today, Irina (the Russian volunteer which is also staying at the International House) and I attended a workshop on medicinal plants at Pitchandikulam (a Bio Resource Center in Auroville). Parvathy, an expert on indigenous medicinal plants, taught us the properties of several plants that can be grown in a kitchen garden, and showed us how to prepare different remedies. I really enjoyed it. It’s such a blessing to be able to use natural remedies to heal and take care of oneself.
We learned that pepper, cumin and dried ginger can be used for lung problems, colds and to improve digestions. We also learned about the many different uses of hibiscus flowers and leaves (the Mother’s name for hibiscus is “Power”, and in Tamil is called sembaruthi). Hibiscus petals are very rich in iron, so taken as an infusion they are great to have a proper blood circulation, to get energized and for women during their menstruation. Along with some coconut or sesame oil you can even get an excellent hibiscus oil for your hair, to strengthen it and make it shiny; and if you crash the leaves and mix them with some water you get a very refreshing hair and body shampoo. As simple as that!
Parvathy also told us about henna (in Tamil, maruthani): made into a plaster it is great as a cooling agent and to protect the skin against infections, specially during the monsoon season to heal fungus infections from toes and finger nails. Besides, of course, its well-known decorative and cosmetic applications.
We were also shown the uses of kuppaimani, a very appropriate plant for mosquito and insect bites, which can be applied immediately after crashing its leaves with your hands .
At the end of the workshop we took a walk around the incredible medicinal garden they have at Pitchandikulam. Parvathy showed us which plants would be perfect to have at home as a “first aid garden”. I took pictures of the several names so we can start creating a medicinal garden at the International House. In fact, we already got some henna and long pepper cuts today!
I definitely feel this is a great area to explore as a part of a self-sustained way of living… I would really love to recover the wisdom of plants and be able to apply their healing energy in my daily life. Interestingly enough, just some months ago I found out that my great grand-mother had this kind of knowledge and helped people to get cured with natural remedies… No one in my family seems to have taken over from her. I hope this wisdom hasn’t been lost. Maybe the information is just in a stand-by mode, waiting for someone to open up and receive it…