If you were to ask a mainstream physician on how one could maintain eye health, he would not be able to recommend anything more than eating more carrots and a Vitamin A supplement. Since Vitamin A in large doses is toxic, one has to be cautious while ingesting it.
In the Bhaishajya Ratnavali text of ayurveda, in the section on netra roga prakarna, they have explained in detail about a ghee made from triphala rasa called Maha triphaladya ghrtam. This is made mainly from the three myrobalans, terminalia chebula (called kadukkai in Tamil), terminalia bellerica (called tanrikkai in Tamil) and Emblica officinalis (called nellikkai in Tamil). I have written extensively about the goodness of triphala in my earlier articles and will not therefore dwell at length about these plants here.
The decoction of the three fruits which is highly beneficial to the eye is taken along with the juice of Bhringaraja (scientific name, Eclipta prostrata). Bhringaraja is the herb that is used in the preparation of hair oils and is useful for hair growth. The same herb is used for the care of the eyes. I guess the same way that carrots are good for the hair and eyes, bhringaraja is good for both too.
The decoction of the the myrobalans is added to the juice of Adhatoda leaf. This is a plant which grows wild in Tamil Nadu and can be seen everywhere as even goats don’t eat it. It is a useful herbal plant and its planting needs to be encouraged in schools and public places. The juice of two more important but familiar herbs, asparagus and Tinospora are further added to the decoction.
I hope these herbs are familiar to my regular readers as there are many references to them in my earlier articles. In the case of Tinospora, the juice is extracted from the leaves and stem, while in the case of asparagus, the juice is extracted from the roots. Thus we have a mixture of the juices/decoction from six important ayurvedic drugs.
In one of the formulations given for the preparation of the medicated ghee, 800 ml of each of the juices is added to 800 ml of goat’s milk and 800 ml of ghee. I was a little disappointed to learn that some of the manufacturers had deviated from the original recipe and substituted cows milk for goat’s milk.
Stricter supervision from government and self regulation can do much to ensure that classical formulations are not altered. The preparation does not end with merely eight ingredients. A soft paste of 50 grams each of pippali, raisins, blue waterlily rhizomes, liquorice, Tinospora cordifolia stem, Kantankatri and each of the myrobalans is added to the ghee-goat’s milk-juice mixture. The ghee or ghrtam made from this mixture is filtered and stored.
This ghrtam is especially good for the eyes. It improves the sight and strengthens the eye muscles. It is also used as an appetiser and tonic. This ghee when melted and brought to room temperature can be used as an eye drop. I have not personally used the preparation as an eye drop. I am hoping that regular intake of this ghrtam will not only strengthen the eye muscles but also prevent cataract.
(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 firstname.lastname@example.org. More articles can be accessed at www.arogyamantra.blogspot.com)