Ayurvedic relief for bone and joint pain
By Sheela Rani Chunkath | Published: 11th November 2012 12:00 AM |
I was fascinated when my grandmother explained how appalams were made. We used to make them at home, she explained, with urad dhal and a little jeera mixed into the dough. Pirandai juice, she said, was a must and is mixed into the dough before being made into circular discs, and dried. Pirandai (Cissus quadrangularis), known as Hadjot in Hindi, is a plant which grows wild on fences. It is a strange-looking plant, a creeper with squarish branches. It looks like a thin limp stem of sugarcane with its nodes. The plant is native to India and has been used for medicinal purposes in both Siddha and Ayurvedic systems of medicine.
One of my friends had suggested eating a chutney made of Pirandai for helping with knee pains and general joint health. I remember not being very happy with the preparation, as it ended up giving me an itch in the throat. Oxalic acid accumulates in the nodes and angles of the stem, and this is what causes the characteristic throat itch. I later learnt that the correct method of preparing Pirandai chutney was to choose tender stems, remove the angular edges and the nodes, cut the stem into small pieces and saute it in ghee. For about two tablespoonfuls of the cut pieces, add about two tablespoons of urad dhal and about three tablespoons of grated coconut, a few peppercorns, red or green chilly and salt. The mixture is then ground coarsely. Having this chutney for about 10 days is said to help with joint pains.
Cissus quadrangularis is a painkiller and has been used extensively in Siddha medicine. It is used to increase appetite. Traditional Siddha doctors give a powder of Pirandai for quicker healing of broken bones. A paste of Pirandai is used as an external application by traditional bone-setters.
I was quite impressed that the juice of Pirandai had been incorporated into something like appalams that is eaten frequently in most Indian households. Without our active knowledge we would consume a herbal extract that is good for joint and increases appetite.
Yet another plant which is good at easing the joint pains is the balloon vine (Cardiospermum halicacabum), known as Mudakkatan in Tamil. This plant is also a creeper which grows on fences. Mudakkatan literally means something that gets rid of pains. In many traditional Tamil households the green leaves from this plant is used to make a kind of dosa. The dosa batter is normally made from urad dhal and rice. Mudakkatan is used as a substitute for urad dhal. The green leaves, when ground, become mucilaginous, much like the urad dhal. For about a tumbler of parboiled rice, we use a handful of green leaves which have been separated from the stems. The soaked parboiled rice is ground along with the green leaves as is done for regular dosa batter. Salt is added for taste. It is kept overnight to ferment. The next day the batter is used to make dosas.
Incorporating these herbs which grow wild in our countryside gives good relief from degenerative diseases associated with the joint pain, for which allopathy system of medicine does not have much to offer except surgery or painkillers.
The writer was earlier Health Secretary, Tamil Nadu, and is currently Additional Chief Secretary, and Chairman and MD, Tamil Nadu Handicrafts Development Corporation. She can be reached at Sheelarani.arogyamantra@gmail. com. Earlier articles can be accessed at www.arogyamantra.blogspot.com