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KERALA. The Heritage Hub of Traditional Medicine.

Updated on March 26, 2012

Traditional Medicine

Since ancient time man has solved his problems with the means at his hand. Remedies were no exception.

Primitive man used plants what were available in his surroundings for curing his ailments . Over periods of time, the most effective from those plants evolved as remedies.

India has one of the oldest and richest cultural traditions in which indigenious systems of medicines developed. This heritage is still live in country side where rural practitioners of medicine including birth attendants and bone setters using simple home remedies.

Kerala, a tropical country , the favorable child of nature is a strip of land between Arabian Sea and Western Ghats. This made kerala isolated from other parts of India and develop its own culture and a way of living . There are different factors which contributed to the development of kerala systems of treatments , the most important one is unique life style. The climate and environment added further stimulus to it. Kerala with its rich bio-diversity has contributed to a great extent to the development of Ayurveda, the most popular Indian traditional health care system.

Kerala has got its own martial Art called ‘Kalari Payattu’ ,which has its own treatments for injuries and ailments . Oil Massages of different types for different touch spots of body is an important treatment like sports Medicine of modern time.

Other alternative Medicines such as Naturopathy, Siddha and Pancha Karma have their roots in Kerala. Unani system that originated in Greece has wide spread followers among Muslims is also practiced in Kerala.


Pepper-The spicy medicine of Kerala

Long Pepper which is called as ‘ Pippali ‘in Kerala is used as a medicine for different illness. The name pepper is derived from the name ‘Pippali ‘. Black Pepper is also used for curing some diseases. It was used for the treatment of Diarrhea, Constipation and Indigestion. Heart Disease and Insomnia were treated with the help of pepper. Black Pepper was used as a mix in Kerala toothpaste. Black Pepper is widely used to get rid of throat congestion and Cough. When Hysteria and Epilepsy patients faint down, the smoke burnt out from Pepper is given to inhale to make them conscious. Pepper is believed to have the power to neutralize the toxicity in food. Cholera, Smallpox ,Piles, Fever and Cold include the list of diseases treated by Pepper.

Neem (Margosa Tree)

Botanical Name: Azadirachta Indica

Found in kerala and other parts of India , Neem ,a native of India, grow up to 50 feet tall and a life span of 150-300 years. Flowers are white with fragrance of like Jasmine and its fruits are edible. The tree has been declared as the tree of the 21st century by the United Nations.

To Indians Neem is divine and holy with references in Vedas and a panacea for all diseases. Inflammation, infections, dental diseases, and skin diseases are treated with the leaves, flowers, seeds, roots, bark and fruits because it is Anti bacterial, Anti fungal, Anti viral and Anti septic.

Ayurveda uses it in the preparations for blood purifications and Diabetic formulas. Other diseases like flu, fever, sore throat, cold, cough, fungal infections, eye problems, worms, piles, urinary disorder, scabies, leprosy, skin diseases and Malaria are treated with Neem.

Homeopathy uses neem to cure 40 diseases.

Brahmi (Thyme leaved Graticula). The Nectar Herb.

Botanical Name : Bacopa Monnieri

This creeping herb found in marshy areas with thick leaves and small white flowers with four or five petals is used for the treatment of Epilepsy and Asthma.

The drug of Brahmi is popular for its capacity to improve memory and intellect. It makes our immune system strong.

Ayurveda uses it in bad ulcers, tumours, ascites, enlargement of spleen, indigestion, inflammations, leprosy, anaemia, biliousness.

Unani system of medicine uses it as a blood purifier, for scabies, leucoderma, syphilis, diarrhea, and for fevers.

This herb is believed to make us strong for a Marathon life by adding vitality that streghthens the parts of the body and provides power to fight disease, old age and death.


It belong to the family of Turmeric, Cardamom and galangal.

Ayurveda says Ginger can enhance digestion and appetite by improving digestive fire. It is also used for the treatment of joint pain, motion, air sickness. Ginger improves transportation of nutrients to body tissues and clear micro circular channels of the body. It can relieve flatulence and nausea. It strengthens the digestive system and stimulates Glandular secretions. It is consumed when suffering from diarrhea, ear pain, cold, coughs, asthma, piles, jaundice, bronchitis and urinary bleeding. Ginger prevents Gas formation and also used to treat impotency. Ginger is an analgesic, sedative, antipyretic, and has anti bacterial properties. Ginger Oil has anti cancer properties. Ginger can eliminate bad breath and also used as a food preservative.


Sugarcane is a grass of Poaceae family which is rich in sugar. Sugarcane juice has been found to be very beneficial for preventing sore throat, cold and flue. Sugarcane juice helps the body in fighting against cancer. It is a good source of Glucose to the body which is stored as glycogen. Intake of its juice helps hydrate the body when it is exhausted. Consumption of sugarcane juice strengthens stomach, kidney, heart, eyes, brain, and sex organs. It clears urinary flow and also helps kidney to perform smoothly. Sugarcane juice is prescribed to speed up recovery after jaundice. It is very good for digestion.


Elletaria Cardamomum

This herbal spice is a very effective medicine in Ayurveda. It improves digestion and helps those suffering from stomach cramps. It is a good stimulant and given to those suffering from flatulence and gas. It helps to cleanse the body and improve blood circulation to lungs. It is used to treat Asthma and bronchitis patients. Cardamom enhances appitite and cures halitosis, respiratory allergies, sore throat and nausea.


Ellu (Kerala name)

Latin : sesamum indicum

Sesame is considered to be one of the first oil seeds to mankind. It is used in traditional medicines for its nutritive, preventive and curative properties.

Sesame plant is a tall annual herb of the pedaliaceae family. They are high in energy and contain many healthy nutrients , minerals, , antioxidants, and vitamins. The seeds are also very good source of dietary proteins with the fine quality amino acids that are essential for growth. Seeds contains healthy compounds like sesamol, sesaminol, furyl methanthiol, guajacol, phenylethanthiol, and furaneol.

They are very good source of B-complex, Vitamins, such as niacin, folic acid, thiamin (vitamin B1), pyridoxine (vitaminB6), and riboflavin. The seeds are incredibly rich sources of many essential minerals like calcium, iron, manganese, zinc, magnesium, selenium.

In ayurveda , it is used for treating leprosy, Scabies, piles, dysmenorhea and for improving the quality of sperm.

Black Gram

Uzhunnu ( Kerala Name)

Botanical Name: Phasleolus Mungo

Black Gram is one of the most highly protein rich pulses in India. It is an erect, sub erect, or trailing densely hairy annual herb. This is originated in India . It is an annual pulse grown mostly as a follow crop in rotation with cereals. Black Gram being a legume, it enriches soil nitrogen content and has relatively a short (90-120) duration.

Black Gram is boiled and eaten whole or after splitting . The green pods are eaten as vegetables and they are highly nutritious. The hulls or the outer covering of grain and straw are used as cattle feed. Black Gram is demulcent or soothing and cooling agents. It is an aphrodisiac and nervine tonic. Germinated Black Gram , taken with a half a cupful of fresh bitter Guard juice and a teaspoonful of honey is highly beneficial in the treatment of mild type of Diabetes. Black Gram soaked in water for about six hours and then fried in pure cow’s ghee after draining the water is an excellent sex tonic. The above preparation is eaten with half boiled eggs is an excellent tonic for nervous disorders. Washing hair with a pate of cooked Black Gram cures dandruff. Black Gram is used in treatment of rheumatic afflictions.

It is good for old head ache if it is mixed in milk preparation.

Palmyra Tree

Pana (Kerala Name )

Borossis, Feabelliper

The Palmyra, the sugar palm tree, or toddy palm is extremely useful tree that has many purposes. The tree provides food, beverage, utility, and medicine. It can grow up to 30 meter high and produces large brown or black shining nuts which grow in large clusters of 6-12. Inside the nut are sticky white fibers which is surrounded by a small white fruit. The flesh of the fruit is soft and not rubbary as this means it is stale. Palm fruit and juice that the nut produces taste similar to coconut although the fruit texture is gelatinas and transculant.

Toddy and jaggery are the products of the tree. Jaggery is more nutritious and healthy than healthier than regular sugar because it is unrefined and has minerals such as magnesium, potassium and iron. Jaggery contains less colories than table sugar and it is less stogy.

In Kerala it is used in the traditional systems of treatments. Goneria and syphilis are treated with its root. Other diseases like diarrhea, scabies and urinal troubles are treated with toddy.


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    • profile image

      Binu George 

      6 years ago

      useful topic

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      Vivek Raj 

      6 years ago

      Informative and authentic .


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