Sikh Medicine and How Babay Bhangra Paunday Nay

As you read this, you may want to press play to hear the accompanying music.

YouTube Preview Image

During my elementary years, my dhadhi would always give me a spoonful of a foul-substance that was called ‘sayth’ (health). For years, everyday, I would take a spoonful from the hands of my dhadhi without crying a word. I have no idea what I was taking or if it had any lasting effect, but as a kid I didn’t get sick that often and today I must admit I think I am healthy.

Many of us may have such memories, but no longer know the contents and usages of such desi remedies. Despite most of us being ‘mind-colonized’ by allopathic medicine, homeopathic medicine for preventative and minor ailment medication is being rediscovered by allopathic medical centers.

In 2005, researchers Davinder S. Sandhu and Michael Heinrich from the University of London’s School of Pharmacy published The Use of Health Foods, Spices and other Botanicals in the Sikh Community in London in Phytotherapy Research.

The researchers’ aims were simple:

In this paper we report on the use of plants as health foods, herbal medicines, and spices in an ethnic community the Sikh of Punjab.

As far as methodology:

The research was carried out in seven Gurdwaras (Sikh places of worship) located in London selected by random sampling from a total of 35.

In total 84 semi-structured interviews were conducted in October and November. Of these interviews 40 (48%) were conducted with male informants, whilst 44 (52%) were with females. One question asked for the first point of call in case of minor illnesses such as headache or influenza. Interestingly 38% of all respondents chose self-medication with Sikh HMPs (herbal medicine products) as the preferred option, another 5% selected self-medication with OTC (over-the-counter)remedies.

Not surprisingly it was the older Sikhs surveyed that had a greater botanical knowledge of desi remedies:

As expected, the average number of species cited (i.e. botanical knowledge) is proportional to age, demonstrating greater knowledge in older generations.

babey.jpgThe sample sets showed that those 60-69 years old could on average cite 18 remedies, those 20-29 could only cite 7. Is this due to our lack of knowledge or a genuine rejection of our grandparents’ knowledge systems in favor of those only after ‘FDA approval’? Along with many other streams of Sikh knowledge, we are rapidly losing that information as we begin to lose our grandparents and parents.

Attached to the article is a fascinating list of various desi remedies and their uses. The most common probably would not be a surprise to many of us and include: onion gunda, garlic lasan/thon, cayenne pepper lalmirch, cinnamon – dhal chini, lemon nimbu, fennel saunf, cardamom elaichi, ginger adrak.

Some may think of these as little more than ‘folk remedies,’ but it is widely known that homeopathic preventative medicine is becoming increasingly popular. Maybe this is also another reason why ‘Babay Bhangray Paunday Nay’ while the rest of us sit and complain about our ‘tuees’ (backs) and ‘godays’ (knees).

Have you taken any of these as remedies? Do you take HMPs? What are your thoughts on the loss of this little-studied stream of Sikh knowledge?


bookmark bookmark bookmark bookmark bookmark bookmark bookmark bookmark bookmark bookmark bookmark bookmark
tabs-top


82 Responses to “Sikh Medicine and How Babay Bhangra Paunday Nay”

  1. P.Singh says:

    Prabhu Singh,

    Homeopathy can negatively effect more than money. Homeopathy practitioners routinely advise their patients to avoid going to allopathic doctors.

    For some, this delay in getting medical treatment can further worsen the condition of the patient. Let me give you an example.

    A friend of mine had a skin condition, exzyma, which for some reason started getting much worse. A homeopathic doctor said he could cure it. The doctor advised her not to go to allopathic doctors, as they would give creams which would simply suppress the exzyma,"push it back in". This homeopathic doctor had other homeopathic doctor friends who also suggested the same advice to my friend.

    Her condition kept getting worse, homeopathic doctor kept telling her to avoid seeking other medical treatment, as this worsening was simply part of the healing process….her condition got so worse, she ended up missing almost an entire semester of university.

    On one of her final visits to the homeopathic doctor, he got angry and said he couldn't promise her his medicine would work – a claim he had been making from day one, all the while charging her money for each visit.

    She went to an allopathic/real doctor, who ran a few lab tests, found out she had a bad staff infection which had aggravated the exzyma and within days of taking the prescribed medicine, she was visibly getting better.

    Because of these quack homeopathic "doctors", she lost close to a semester of school, and went through unneccesary and horrible pain for several months.

    Please don't tell me homeopathic medicine can cause no harm – if not directly, indirectly it definitely can.

  2. P.Singh says:

    Prabhu Singh,

    Homeopathy can negatively effect more than money. Homeopathy practitioners routinely advise their patients to avoid going to allopathic doctors.

    For some, this delay in getting medical treatment can further worsen the condition of the patient. Let me give you an example.

    A friend of mine had a skin condition, exzyma, which for some reason started getting much worse. A homeopathic doctor said he could cure it. The doctor advised her not to go to allopathic doctors, as they would give creams which would simply suppress the exzyma,”push it back in”. This homeopathic doctor had other homeopathic doctor friends who also suggested the same advice to my friend.

    Her condition kept getting worse, homeopathic doctor kept telling her to avoid seeking other medical treatment, as this worsening was simply part of the healing process….her condition got so worse, she ended up missing almost an entire semester of university.

    On one of her final visits to the homeopathic doctor, he got angry and said he couldn’t promise her his medicine would work – a claim he had been making from day one, all the while charging her money for each visit.

    She went to an allopathic/real doctor, who ran a few lab tests, found out she had a bad staff infection which had aggravated the exzyma and within days of taking the prescribed medicine, she was visibly getting better.

    Because of these quack homeopathic “doctors”, she lost close to a semester of school, and went through unneccesary and horrible pain for several months.

    Please don’t tell me homeopathic medicine can cause no harm – if not directly, indirectly it definitely can.

  3. P.Singh says:

    …typed the above post rather quickly – apologies for any grammar/spelling mistakes – and hope it doesn't come across too "heated".

  4. P.Singh says:

    …typed the above post rather quickly – apologies for any grammar/spelling mistakes – and hope it doesn’t come across too “heated”.

  5. Mangala Sadhu Sangee says:

    Homoepathic medicine didn't cause harm in that case, foolishness did. There are plenty of horror stories related to allopathic medicine. They don't make allopathic medicine bad.

  6. Mangala Sadhu Sangeet Singh Khalsa says:

    Homoepathic medicine didn’t cause harm in that case, foolishness did. There are plenty of horror stories related to allopathic medicine. They don’t make allopathic medicine bad.

  7. P.Singh says:

    Nevertheless, the considerable delay caused by pursuing homeopathic remedies in lieu of allopathic medicine certainly caused damage to more than just my friend's bank account. Even if it is accepted that homeopathic medicine has no negative impact on health, the time spent using that medicine instead of more established allopathic remedies can definitely have a negative impact on a person's health.

  8. P.Singh says:

    Nevertheless, the considerable delay caused by pursuing homeopathic remedies in lieu of allopathic medicine certainly caused damage to more than just my friend’s bank account. Even if it is accepted that homeopathic medicine has no negative impact on health, the time spent using that medicine instead of more established allopathic remedies can definitely have a negative impact on a person’s health.

  9. jas says:

    Sat Siri Akal, I remember castor oil and almond oil in milk I don't know why we were given these but we hardly ever had any flu or coughs when young, my grandmother was 105yrs old when she passed away had all her own teeth and black hair. In retrospect my father was only 82yrs when he passed away but always used home remedies. I do the same for my children, I do notice the difference.

  10. jas says:

    Sat Siri Akal, I remember castor oil and almond oil in milk I don’t know why we were given these but we hardly ever had any flu or coughs when young, my grandmother was 105yrs old when she passed away had all her own teeth and black hair. In retrospect my father was only 82yrs when he passed away but always used home remedies. I do the same for my children, I do notice the difference.

  11. Mewa Singh says:

    Why don't we start a list of all those home remedies that we are familiar with and some of the effects that we were taught/that we know. If other commenters, feel this is of value (Sikh Medicine), then maybe we can begin the process of stemming the tide described by the authors where the younger generation is losing this information.

  12. Mewa Singh says:

    Why don’t we start a list of all those home remedies that we are familiar with and some of the effects that we were taught/that we know. If other commenters, feel this is of value (Sikh Medicine), then maybe we can begin the process of stemming the tide described by the authors where the younger generation is losing this information.

  13. Mewa Singh says:

    DISCLAIMER: Use at your own discretion.

    I'll start with those that I have read, and asked my parents/grandparents about:

    1) Thiana/Coriander – settles upset stomachs, bloating

    2) Chita Jheera/White Cumin – digestive problems, bloating, insomnia

    3) Saunf/Fennel – settles upset stomachs, stimulates appetites, sore throats

    4) Kala Jheera/Black Cumin – settles upset stomachs, used in India to promote breast-milk production.

    5) Lasan/Garlic – antibiotic, antiseptic, insect bites, improved blood flow

    6) Sarson/Mustard – stiff neck

    7) Kasta/Castor Oil – relieves swollen joints

    8 ) Methi/Basil – digestive problems, depression, insomnia

    9) Dhal Chini/Cinnamon – warming stimulant, digestive problems, insect bites

    10) Gunda/Onion – anti-inflammatory, cold/flu symptoms

    11) Mehndi/Henna – use against skin troubles

    12) Long/Cloves – Antiseptic

    13) Kali Mirch/Black Pepper – dermatitis, aids against sore throats

    14) Nimbu/Lemon – relieves cold and flu symptoms, aids against acne when applied topically, sore throats, gingivitis

    15) Lal Mirch/Cayenne – improved blood circulation

    16) Haldi/Tumeric – treatment for eczema, aids in digestive problems

    17) Elaichi/Cardamom – digestive problems

    18) Adhrak/Ginger – indigestion, relieves colds and flu symptoms, and nausea

  14. Mewa Singh says:

    DISCLAIMER: Use at your own discretion.

    I’ll start with those that I have read, and asked my parents/grandparents about:

    1) Thiana/Coriander – settles upset stomachs, bloating
    2) Chita Jheera/White Cumin – digestive problems, bloating, insomnia
    3) Saunf/Fennel – settles upset stomachs, stimulates appetites, sore throats
    4) Kala Jheera/Black Cumin – settles upset stomachs, used in India to promote breast-milk production.
    5) Lasan/Garlic – antibiotic, antiseptic, insect bites, improved blood flow
    6) Sarson/Mustard – stiff neck
    7) Kasta/Castor Oil – relieves swollen joints
    8 ) Methi/Basil – digestive problems, depression, insomnia
    9) Dhal Chini/Cinnamon – warming stimulant, digestive problems, insect bites
    10) Gunda/Onion – anti-inflammatory, cold/flu symptoms
    11) Mehndi/Henna – use against skin troubles
    12) Long/Cloves – Antiseptic
    13) Kali Mirch/Black Pepper – dermatitis, aids against sore throats
    14) Nimbu/Lemon – relieves cold and flu symptoms, aids against acne when applied topically, sore throats, gingivitis
    15) Lal Mirch/Cayenne – improved blood circulation
    16) Haldi/Tumeric – treatment for eczema, aids in digestive problems
    17) Elaichi/Cardamom – digestive problems
    18) Adhrak/Ginger – indigestion, relieves colds and flu symptoms, and nausea

  15. Kurri says:

    19) Shahad(honey) with adrak(ginger)- relieves sore throats

  16. Kurri says:

    19) Shahad(honey) with adrak(ginger)- relieves sore throats

  17. Rebanada De Tres Lec says:

    I would suggest salt and hot-warm water gargles for a sore throat with a little bit of Kali Mirch.

    I also found it interesting that there were certain instructions following the consumption of these remedies. One example, is making sure after drinking a chai-based mixture with Jaman you are wrapped up in a warm rajhye (i.e. blanket) and go to sleep. :)

  18. Rebanada De Tres Leches says:

    I would suggest salt and hot-warm water gargles for a sore throat with a little bit of Kali Mirch.

    I also found it interesting that there were certain instructions following the consumption of these remedies. One example, is making sure after drinking a chai-based mixture with Jaman you are wrapped up in a warm rajhye (i.e. blanket) and go to sleep. :)

  19. PA says:

    Yup, I agree… the kids today are lazy! With all the technological advances (mainly computer) are making kids weaker physically and mentally. Rules and regulations are fine, but if we live our lives just to follow them we become afraid, afraid of many things and we tend to think we are sick when there is actually nothing wrong with us…thats whats happening to the children today (a generation bound by rules) easily get upset, the list goes on!

  20. PA says:

    Yup, I agree… the kids today are lazy! With all the technological advances (mainly computer) are making kids weaker physically and mentally. Rules and regulations are fine, but if we live our lives just to follow them we become afraid, afraid of many things and we tend to think we are sick when there is actually nothing wrong with us…thats whats happening to the children today (a generation bound by rules) easily get upset, the list goes on!

  21. […] questionable credentials to an emergency room of seemingly hostile nurses and doctors. We’ve mentioned many homeopathic medicines that many people find to be great for preventative and healing purposes. […]

  22. SONIA KANDI says:

    We aim to educate our patients about and other natural solutions to common health problems in order to motivate you to take a more active and responsible role in restoring and maintaining your own health as well as the people around you.