April 10, 2022
April 10, 2022
Bitter sweet neem

On my way back to home while traversing through my picnic route, yes, that’s how I name the Chandaka jungle route, shrill calls from 3 village urchins made me screech my car to a halt. They were selling these neem buds in bunches. We Indians and especially Odias do not leave any part of a plant and churn out some delicacy out of it unless and otherwise it is a poisonous plant.

Out of curiosity when asked my friends about a recipe of neem buds, not one or two but 5 different recipes popped up. Bingo! I made two out of them in two instalments. These budding neem flowers in this season are not just for titillating the taste buds but have their scientific significance as well. Known for their bitterness, it actually emanates a typical smell, for which many are mad after it.

In Odia it is said that “bujha na bujha padha GitA, ruchu na ruchu khaa pitA”– whether you understand or not should read the Bhagwat GitA; slowly you may understand its meaning some or other day and would know its benefit. Similarly, whether you relish or not some bitter should be taken in meals, be it neem or bitter gourd and you’ll be benefitted anyway. 

If we study epidemiology, trend of diseases, January to March-April is the time for different viral epidemics. Earlier they created similar havoc as we are seeing now in Corona pandemic, in the society and were named as “Mahamaaris” i.e. killing many people at a certain period in good numbers. It was so much correlated with seasons that Small pox was named as “Basanta”, the spring season. Hence  these viral outbreaks are nothing new for us. Also this is the time period for chicken pox, measles epidemics. There are so many non-specific mild viral infections too that even Medical Science doesn’t bother to probe on as they make minor impact on life. And this is the time for budding season of neem. Soft leaves and buds and flowers of neem is consumed in many different ways in Odisha and also used as treatment, not sure about other states though.

But we had many means to tackle the situations. I clearly remember in my childhood when my elder siblings were affected by chicken pox or measles (I used to get away with subclinical infection, mild infection), my mother used to put neem leaves underneath bed sheet, give them bath with neem and haldi paste/water and gave simple food. We never heard of any anti-viral drugs or antibiotics coming to rescue of common people.

It is well-known fact that neem (Azadirachta indica) is an integral part of our life in India; a very good antiseptic, immunogenic, anthelmintic and now its anti-cancer property, detoxifying property etc are also being studied. Below are links to few research papers across the globe. Cutting long story short, Neem’s preventive and therapeutic role is being re-established.

Neem is just one plant product that I mentioned here. With the advent of allopathic medicine and its immediate effect especially in relieving pain, it made us gradually forget our old values and practices. Some superstitions also devalued different practices and they were altogether rejected by the next generation who obtained modern education. A lack of research in Ayurveda also played a role.

People have started thinking they can buy health as long as they have good healthcare systems…but actually it has to be realised that hospitals are just like garages, they can rectify your problems, but can’t give you perfect health. Unless until one disciplines his/her life, obeys food principles, doesn’t nurture spiritual being, health is a far-cry for them.

This Corona lock-down might have brought a realisation that if we wish, we won’t fall ill…with strong auto-suggestion we can prevent diseases even, otherwise how are we managing without hospitals in this lock-down period!

Hospitals are still operating, patients are coming, but the ones who really need help…of course digitalization has made many things easier and health professionals more accessible. But even then we must be careful about preventing diseases rather than getting treated in good healthcare set-ups.

Discussion will continue on recent advances on medicinal effects of Turmeric, herbal holi, different nutritional facts….

Till then bitter-sweet bye. 

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