Food is thy medicine



In one of my notebooks, this one devoted to the medicinal value of herbs, I have noted the counsel of Hippocrates, who lived in the Island of Cos, Greece, in 460 B C " Let thy food be thy medicine'.

Recently, a friend from the days we were in the boarding at the school on Darley Road and later read Greats at Peradeniya, gave me a call to confirm that he has found a cutting of one of my articles in the Island paper written decades ago on medicinal herbs, in an old escritoire (pettagama) and re-reading it. Very adept at the piano, he had the ability to play masterpieces to the delight of his friends. He recently discovered that his left hand is afflicted with a touch of Parkinson, due to the gradual depletion of dopamine in the brain.

The 20 amino acids involved in protein biosynthesis are divided into two broad groups, essential and non-essential. For good health, eight of these amino acids are essential and must be taken either in the form of pill or capsule, in addition to the minuscule amounts found in the food we eat. The remaining 12 non-essential amino acids,the body can synthesize from the diet. For example, Betamine is a non-essential amino acid. It is found in beetroot. When the tuber is included in the diet, the body uses the Betamine in it for the production of Dopamine. People suffering from Parkinson and those who are not, are advised to include beetroot frequently in the diet.

Remember western medicine has no cure for the involuntary tremors in the fingers, the hallmark of Parkinson, because the disease is unique. What is good for one unfortunate patient may not be good for the other. To form an association to discuss each ones experiences is therefore a dead end, and appropriate for singing nothing more than a few off-key songs. Western medicine goes on voyages of discovery and experiment with different drugs, treatments and therapies to find what is best for each patient, by which time the patient is penniless and worse, knocking at the doors of Kanatte.

When you exploit the bounty of Nature found in medicinal herbs (a) You escape the monstrous side effects of conventional drugs (b)You can laugh all the way to the bank by short circuiting the charges like hospital fees, consultation fees that burn holes in your pocket.(c) Avoid the burden of waiting in a crowded waiting room filled with obnoxious gases and elements not even a chemist will find in Mendeleev's Periodic Table.

Take the plight of a patient suffering from Parkinson and white coat syndrome. If the appointment is at 7 pm, the mere waiting from 7 pm until he is called say at 9 pm is likely to send his blood pressure through the roof. A cynic may ask why not avoid the fees by visiting a free state hospital. If you do, you will find only the benches because the white coats are catching straws, dancing on Main Street.

Carl Sagan, the celebrated American astronomer, whose name is somewhere in a plaque on the moon, whilst lying in the Sloan Kettering Institute dying of terminal prostate cancer, praised the Institute for its enlightened policy of allowing patients to adjust the pain killing morphine drip. The misbehavior of the prostate gland and the eyes due to cataract and glaucoma can be avoided by taking say 50 mg of Zinc, since the prostate and the eye depend on Zinc for good behaviour. Whole grain products like chick peas, green gram are good sources of Zinc.

The simple herb Neeramuliya is ideal for treating prostate problems. If a male nearing the Biblical age of three score and ten finds some tightening whilst urinating, take a handful of Neeramuliya in eight cups of water, boil and reduce to one cup, strain and drink, twice a day, until the tightness disappears. Avoid the dried herb found in most outlets. The fresh herb is available in wayside markets.

Another example is the medicinal herb Athavariya for joint pains due to arthritis, as an alternative for the highly toxic, anti-inflammatory drugs or surgery. It is a creeper which I used decades ago when I was careless with my food. Prepare the way like Neeramuliya, and use with an essential oil applied externally on the joints. I sadly see patients waddling about with an awkward gait after knee surgery. Another useful tip is the simple habit of wearing a copper bangle. Studies show copper levels in the blood of those suffering from joint pains are low. Although l am not suffering from joint pains, for the sake of protection, l use one.

Phlegm is the brutal enemy of the lungs. Thibbatu safely handles the problem. It is a super expectorant. Nurture a plant. It will provide all you need and more. A bare handful from a street market will stun with its cost.

Why the state does not establish modest facilities in the provinces, each run by an RMP or a trained nurse, to exploit the hidden secrets in medicinal plants and for things ancient like acupuncture, rattles the mind. Their secrets help the underclass to lead useful lives without being a burden on others. In our mad rush to build edifices we are forgetting the blind, the lame and the halt. After imbibed in western thought, we seem to lose our roots. A good example is Arthur Dias, a patriarch of the family from Panadura. He tirelessly campaigned for the planting of Jak trees, and was ridiculed for his efforts with the nickname "kos mama" by the western educated gentry.

When this side of midnight is burdened, the other side of midnight is building fly-overs. Learn to play the Notes first. Mozart can come later.



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