Introduction to KashmirForum.org Blog

I launched the website and the Blog after having spoken to government officials, political analysts and security experts specializing in South Asian affairs from three continents. The feedback was uniformly consistent. The bottom line is that when Kashmiris are suffering and the world has its own set of priorities, we need to find ways to help each other. We must be realistic, go beyond polemics and demagoguery, and propose innovative ideas that will bring peace, justice and prosperity in all of Jammu and Kashmir.

The author had two reasons to create this blog. First, it was to address the question that was being asked repeatedly, especially, by journalists and other observers in the U.S., U.K., and Canada, inquiring whether the Kashmiri society was concerned about social, cultural and environmental challenges in the valley given that only political upheaval and violence were reported or highlighted by media.

Second, the author has covered the entire spectrum of societal issues and challenges facing Kashmiri people over an 8-year period with the exception of politics given that politics gets all the exposure at the expense of REAL CHALLENGES that will likely result in irreversible degradation in the quality of life and the standard of living for future generations of Kashmiris to come.

The author stopped adding additional material to the Blog once it was felt that most, if not all, concerns, challenges and issues facing the Kashmiri society are cataloged in the Blog. There are over 1900 entries in the Blog and most commentaries include short biographical sketches of authors to bring readers close to the essence of Kashmir. Unfortunately, the 8-year assessment also indicates that neither Kashmiri civil society, nor intellectuals or political leadership have any inclination or enthusiasm in pursuing issues that do not coincide with their vested political agendas. What it means for the future of Kashmiri children and their children is unfathomable. But the evidence is all laid out.

This Blog is a reality check on Kashmir. It is a historical record of how Kashmir lost its way.

Vijay Sazawal, Ph.D.
www.kashmirforum.org

Monday, August 3, 2009

Ayurvedic Medicines in Kashmir

Kalhan may have been the first to record it in the 12th Century but medicinal plants have a long history in Kashmir

MEDICINAL PLANTS OF KASHMIR

Yasar Muhammad Baba (Rising Kashmir)

The Valley of Kashmir known for its beauty all over the world is also rich in herbal and floral wealth. The interest in knowing and admiring the plants in Kashmir has existed since times immemorial. In Kalhana’s Rajtarangini (1149-50 A.D.) we find mention of preservation of plants and plant products for medicinal purposes. Huien Tsang, who visited, “Kashmir yields saffron, lenses and medicinal Plants.” Sir Walter Lawrence in his “Valley of Kashmir” has observed that “Kashmiris turn nearly every plant to some use and attribute medicinal properties to every growing thing.”

Ayurvedic medicines have been in vogue in Kashmir since early times. Dridhabala an ancient physician of Kashmir is believed to have revised “Agnivesa Sambita” a monumental work on Ayurvedic system written by Kanishka’s court physician Charaka. The medicinal properties of various plants after having been ascertained in early times passed from generation to generation as trade secrets. Now such a stage has come when the common people scarcely have knowledge of medicinal properties of these plants since modern methods of chemical treatment have replaced the old indigenous methods employed by native Hakims.

Col. Sir R.N.Chopra, pioneer of Drug Research Laboratory (established in 1942) has recorded that “nearly three-fourth of the drugs used in the pharmacopoeias of the world grow in a state of nature in Jammu and Kashmir and as many as 42 essential oil-bearing plants are grown in the State. The standard of their principles is excellent and compared with the drugs grow else-where.” I have made an attempt to enumerate the plants which possess medicinal properties. It is based on sources such as “Forest Products of Kashmir,” by S. N. Koul, the then Conservator of Forest, 1928, “Valley of Kashmir” by Sir Walter Lawrence, 1895, “Wild Flowers of Kashmir,” by B.O. Coventry, 1923, “Gazetteer of Kashmir” by Charles Ellison Bates, 1873 etc.

A brief description of some of the medicinal plants found in Kashmir:-

KUTH - Its Sanskrit name Kashmirja implies its being indigenous to Kashmir. It is about five feet long herb growing along the higher elevations particularly at Tilel, Karnah. Kuth has been used in Indian medicine since early times. Its roots when dug up are cut into pieces, and used as aromatic, stimulant, stomachic and so on. Kuth root when pounded and mixed with sessanum oil is applied to a rheumatic limb. One part of powdered root when mixed with three parts of sugar is believed to cure stomach ulcers. Kuth was largely used in China and Japan. Stewart in his book on “Punjab Plants” published in 1864 informs us that in the year 1836 nearly 7000, mounds of Kuth were exported from Kolkata to China.

VIRKUM- The plant is found commonly near Srinagar-Tragbal and other areas. Its golden yellow flowers are the earliest ones to blossom in spring in Kashmir. Its fleshy underground corn and seed are used in medicines. Seeds and corn are collected in April and May respectively. Colchicines a well known remedy for gout and rheumatism is extracted from these parts of the plant.

TETHWEN- It is a white hoary shrub abundant in Kashmir. Santonin extracted from the plant is now well known as a vermicide. In 1924, Santonin was exported from Kashmir @ Rs 720 per Kg.

PYRETHRUM- Pyrethrum could be successfully cultivated in Kashmir after a few seeds were imported from Vilinorin, Paris in 1936. In 1945 its cultivation was extended to over two thousand acres of land with the sale proceeds of its yield at about two lacs of rupees. Pyrethrum is a well known insecticide and has also been employed in destroying farm insect and pests.

JOGI BADSHAH It is called the king of plants of the Yogis. It is a six inch high rare herb found at the elevations above 13,000 feet. Its red-purple flowers blossom in September and October. The large ball of pappus at the apex of the plant when boiled in milk and drunk is said to be a tonic. A decoction of its root in milk is said to be a cure for snake-bites, plague and all women ailments.

MAHA GUNAS- It is beautiful plant about two feet high found growing at Khilan Marg. From a distance it looks like a cobra. Its tuberous roots when pounded and mixed with Vaseline are said to sooth pain. It can also be applied to boils.

BUNAFSHA- It is found throughout the Valley particularly in meadows. Its flowers are used in Unani medicine as a cooling agent and in bilious disorders. Lawrence has recorded that these tiny flowers “used to be exchanged for their weight in salt.”

KAHZABAN- It is found frequently in Gurez and other higher elevations. The plant is used in Kashmir extensively by the Hakims in fever, throat diseases etc.

MAIT-BRAND- It is found all over Kashmir forests, particularly at Gulmarg and Lolab. From the leaves and roots of this tall herbaceous plant is derived Atropine. It is a powerful sedative and reliever of pain. A liniment made from the roots is a valuable application in case of rheumatism and neuralgic pains.

HUND- It is a herb found everywhere in the Valley particularly in meadows. In Kashmir homes it is a common practice to cook its green leaves and eat as a vegetable. Also these leaves are given to mothers after they deliver a baby. It has been found useful in Jaundice, and Dyspepsia.

BUMPOSH- It is found in Dal Lake and other marshes. Its root stock is green in dysentery and its white flowers are often used by the native Hakims and diaphoretic increasing perspiration.

SHAH TAR- The plant is found common at all elevations particularly in wheat fields. Entire plant is used as blood purifier in skin diseases. Its sharbat is also given in case of fevers.

CHARI LACHHIJ- The plant is very common and its seed is utilized as an expectorant and to give strength.

KHULFA- It is found all over the Valley and is commonly used in Unani medicines. Its seeds are diuretic (Increasing flow of urine) and astringent (arresting diarrhea).

BRED MUSHIK- It is both cultivated and growing wild in the Valley. Araq distilled from its sweet scented flowers is prized as a medicine being stimulant.

VAI- It is found in lakes. The root stock when taken in large doses induces vomiting. Otherwise it is stomachic.

VANWANGAN- It is common at Gurez and Gulmarg. Its berries are eaten as fruit. While as its roots yield Podophyllum resin.

BANBALNAG- It grows at high altitudes from 8,000 to 12,000, feet especially on Gilgit road and Khilan Marg. The alkaloid named Indaconitine is derived from its tuberous roots which are collected in summer for the purpose. Aconite is one of the oldest medicines used by Physicians in India in the treatment of fever and rheumatism and as a remedy for cough, asthma and snake-bites.

Besides the aforesaid plants there are much more such as PATHIS used in diarrhea, KAODACH from the stem and bark of which is extracted Rasaut to be used in skin diseases etc. BAZAR BANG from the leaves and seeds of which is extracted Hyoscyamine, and so on. The native hakims regard Pedulivium of the leaves of commonly found willow tree, as very efficacious in Cholera.

The medicinal properties of various herbs and flowers growing in Kashmir need to be publicized so that the local inhabitants particularly villages would not let these plants fall in waste due to lack of awareness. And there is need for saving this God gifted natural resource of Kashmir from smugglers and a wide programme needs to be launched by the government for their proper retrieval and sale which can become useful for the economy of Kashmir.

8 comments:

Barkat Nida said...

The information provided on medicinal plants is very interesting.It is a wonderful story of Kashmiri green gold.The article needs further additions.

Rameez Wani said...

Picture not showing

Shafi Dar said...

Very useful information provided about the medicinal plants found in Kashmir.

zubair chem said...

i need some seed collection from valley can any body help me

Herb said...

...basically its sale is prohibited and illigal
Contact forest department or any unani medical store(kaeshur paeth 'bohris nish):)

Unknown said...

I am a patient of slip disc. A feriwala of kashmiri Cloth told me a Medicin named ZABRANG. Let me know about the medicine or whether it will be suitable for me or not

Unknown said...

No there is trapud plant used for it...

suhail said...

Hoary willow is some medicinal plant i want to know its name in kashmiri so if u know it plz forward thanx