Updated: Aug 13
Traditional herbs in India
According to the World Health Organisation, about 70-95% of developing countries in the world rely on complementary, traditional alternative, or nonconventional medicines for health care.
India has recorded 15,000 medicinal plants from which 7,000-7,500 plants are used by the communities for curing different diseases. Basically, it is the phytochemical constituent in the herbs which lead to the desired healing effect, such as saponins, tannins, alkaloids, alkenyl phenols, flavonoids, terpenoids, phorbol esters and sesquiterpenes lactones.
Saga of Ayurveda
Ayurvedic pedagogy native to India dates back to the Vedic era. It is the science of life and longevity. Institutions across the globe have been engaged in reviving the ancient system of medicine for the past two decades. This involves natural means to alleviate the root cause by restoring balance unlike allopathic medicines designed for target receptors primarily for symptomatic relief.
Water-soluble extract by boiling medicinal parts of the plants in appropriate combinations at a controlled temperature is called Decoction, Kadha or Kwatha.
According to traditions of Ayurveda, the physician provides a handwritten recipe of the kwatha and the patient prepares the medicine at home, utilizing herbs procured locally.
However, this tradition virtually disappeared ever since the establishment of Aryavaidya Sala Kottakkal in Kerala, 1902 and the advent of commercially manufactured traditional medicines.
Freshly made Vs commercially manufactured decoction
After decades of research, these herbal remedies were successfully manufactured and sold by extracting and preserving. This involves manhandling and certain agents to retain their properties. For instance, the use of Sodium benzoate primarily as an anti-mycotic agent in liquid pharmaceutical products. As benzene is a carcinogen component, the high levels of sodium benzoate found in the samples tested in the present study are alarming.
More about Decoction
It is amongst the five subtilized medicines of Vedic scriptures. Various studies on decoction therapy affirm the potential in it to completely transform the psychosomatic system from a sick, weak or dull state to a healthy, strong and vibrant state. It is a soft mode healing in harmony with our metabolic system with no negative effects. A decoction of a single herb or mixed herbs is consumed.
The Ayurvedic literature ’Sarangdhar Samhita’ highlighted the concept of poly-herbalism to achieve greater therapeutic efficacy. The active phytochemical constituents of individual plants are insufficient to achieve the desired therapeutic effects. When combining the multiple herbs in a particular ratio, results in better therapeutic effect and reduces the toxicity.
Thapasu Decoction Recipe
This was introduced during this pandemic of Covid19 to take care of respiratory health as defence therapy (might say so). Ingredients used are ginger, cloves, cinnamon, cardamom, black pepper and tulsi.
Let’s take a look at their benefits :
Ginger- Improves circulation in lungs with anti-inflammatory effect against respiratory infection
Turmeric – powerful antioxidant, curcumin may help fight the oxidative stress and airway inflammation
Cloves – Antimicrobial properties helps to kill harmful bacteria.
Cinnamon – Cinnamaldehyde is an active component that has anti-fungal and antibacterial properties, which may reduce and treat respiratory tract infections effectively.
Cardamom – Increases circulation of blood within the lungs and helps relieve breathing problems, the expulsion of phlegm and congestion.
Black Pepper – It contains piperine which helps improve breathing, and reduce inflammation.
Tulsi – Being antibacterial and antiseptic helps fight dry cough, cold, flu, fever and more. It modulates to boost defences against infective threats by enhancing immune responses.
How to prepare ’Kadha’
We in Indian families must have encountered kadha and other home remedies in life. We do things based on estimation like adding salt to curries. Below are the highlights of research from Vedic scriptures telling us not only how (that we know) but also why to do so.
Crushing ingredients – Particle size reduction is another important factor for decoction. Less the size of particles more will be the surface area which ultimately encourages phyto-constituents to enter in the medium(water) and vice versa.
Vessel – Use earthen vessels or stainless steel.
Temperature – Regulation of temperature is significant to protect thermolabile phyto-constituents. ’Madhyamagni’ is the term used to denote mild-to-moderate heat in preparation of decoction or kwath. Therefore, the temperature should be maintained between 85 and 90°C.