NADAN UZHICHIL (Massage) IN FOLK MEDICINE
Folk medicine is the common mans concept of health, illness and healing. It is the traditional practice of curing diseases using herbs and other natural substances. Most of the herbs used in Folk Medicine are early accessible from our home and its surroundings.
Folk Medicine or Folk Treatment is also known in the names ‘lay medicine’, ‘home remedies’ and ‘grandmother’s medicine’. In Kerala Folk Medicine is a part of the rich Folklore it possess. It is a set of medical practices and customs that has been shared from generations to generations orally.
Uzhichil or body massage in folk medicine (Nadan Uzhichil) is a complete massage system that rejuvenates the nervous and muscular system, stimulating blood circulation, and removing the steatosis and fat from the body, thereby purifying it. It also cures internal injuries and wounds due to accidents and falls. Moreover it helps to increase the resistance power of the human body.
Usually uzhichil is done in the Malayalam month Karkkidakam (From mid July to mid August). It is time of heavy rain and the temperature of the earth would be cold; likewise the human body. According to Ayurveda, the human body is considered highly responsive to medical treatments in the month of Karkkidakam.
Uzhichil is done by applying oil on the body of the patient and massaging it. Oil used in nadan uzhichil are Dhanvantharam kuzhambu, Dhanvantharam Thailam, Karpooradi Thailam, Sahacharadi Thailam or any oil that suits the body of the patient.
There are various types of uzhichil in folk medicine – Kai Uzhichil (massage using hands only), Chavitti Uzhichil (massage using legs only), Kidathi Uzhichil (massaging the body of the patient in laying position), Iruthi Uzhichil (massage in sitting position) and Niruthi Uzhichil (massage in standing position).
Nadan Uzhichil is done for a period of 7 days, 14 days or 21 days continuously. It depends on the physical condition and disease of the patient. After uzhichil, a rest period called ‘Nallirikka’ is recommended, taking healthy food and medicines. This period should be the same number of days of uzhichil. If uzhichil is done for 7 days, the rest period should also be 7 days.
Uzhichil is followed by applying Ilakkizhi. Ilakkizhi is a heated cloth bag containing herbal leaves. It is punched all over the body, especially on affected parts. The herbal leaves used for preparing Ilakkizhi are
1. Erukku (Madar) – A plant used as a medicine for fever, rheumatic disorders, asthma, stomach disorders, skin diseases, chest infections and snake poison.
2. Karimkurinji (Strobilanthus) – Also known as Sahachar, is a medicine for rheumatic disorders, skin diseases, impotency and diabetics. The leaves and roots of this plant is used in the preparation of Sahacharati Kuzhambu, Sahacharati Thailam and Sahacharati Arishtam.
3. Atalotakam (Malabar Nut) – A medicine for fever, asthma, chest infections, skin diseases and lungs deseases. Visicine – a medicine made from Atalotakam helps to increase the platelet count.
4. Muringa (Drum stick) – It controls blood pressure, stomach and skin diseases and gastric ulcers. It is an anti – oxidant and nourishes the immune system.
5. Karinthechi or Karinochi (Five leaved chaste tree) – A medicine for fever, tooth ache, asthma, headache, ulcer, wounds, swellings and rheumatic arthritis.
6. Vatham Kolli (Black vasa, Black Malabar Nut) – Colloquially known as ‘odichukuthi’. Vatham Kolli, as a name signifies, helps to reduce rheumatism. It is also used as a medicine for fever, cough, headache, bronchitis, migraine and asthma.
These herbs are easily available in our surroundings. The leaves of these herbs are taken in desired quantity and chop-up to pieces. Then it is boiled in oil – Dhanvantharam Thailam, Sahacharati Thailam, Pinda Thailam, Karpooradi Thailam – or the oil used in uzhichil. After that a small quantity of powder salt is added to this mix and tied up in a cloth in form of a bolus. This warm cloth bag (Ilakkizhi) is punched on the body.
Uzhichil and Ilakkizhi treatment is also considered as a preventive treatment.