The human population in the Patalkot valley is purely tribal. Due to constant association with forest environment, the tribals have accrued considerable knowledge of plants and their utility for medicinal purposes. The uses of many of the medicinal plants employed by tribals are, however, not known outside their restricted community (Acharya and Shrivastava, 2008, 2011). Several plant species inhabiting the region are recognized for their medicinal potential. The age-old herbal healers employ several formulations for resolving a range of human health disorders (Acharya, 2012).
The fast paced urban life has resulted series of disorders, and sciatica is one among many of those. People with job of prolonged sitting and sedentary lifestyle are more prone to develop sciatica than those who are active and living with a set biological clock. Sciatica is a pain in the buttock and leg, caused by pressure on nerves in the lower back. The pain is mainly felt on one side of the body, which is usually aggravated by a prolonged exposure to cold weather. Herbal healers known as Bhumka employ certain herbs for curing sciatica. Let me discuss formulations pertaining to 5 wonder herbs considered by the indigenous tribesmen for taking care of sciatica.
Abrus precatorius Linn. (Jaquirity, Crab's Eye)
Jaquirity is a member of family Fabaceae and locally known as Ratti. It is a perennial twine with pale purple or pink flowers
According to herbal healers of Patalkot, seed oil should be prepared and applied over the painful body parts. For this, take 50g seeds, crush it properly and simmer it in 200ml edible oil for 15 minutes. Filter it and apply over the painful body parts. It is said that the seeds of this plant are analgesic in nature. In some parts of the valley, healers collect Jaquirity leaves (50g) and Garlic (Allium sativum) cloves (10 nos.). Both the herbs should be crushed in a mortar and pestle and it is then applied over painful body part for 3 times a day. This is traditionally continued for a month.
Allium sativum Linn. (Garlic)
Garlic is member of family Liliaceae. Garlic locally known as Lahsun is a known spice. It is a small herb with half tunicated bulb with grasslike flat linear leaves.
Dired Garlic buds are said to be very effective remedy for treating sciatica. About 40 gm Garlic buds should be crushed and added in 500 ml milk and boiled till it remains half. Divide it in two parts; take one in the morning and other in the evening. Healers also advice patient to take 4 raw Garlic buds everyday early in the morning. It is commonly acknowledged by tribal peoples to relieve pain.
Nyctanthes arbor-tristis Linn. (Tree of Sorrow/ Night Jasmine)
This member of Oleaceae is a very popular shrub or small tree in tribal areas. It is locally known as Harshringar.
As per the indigenous healers, the bark of the plant in combination with certain other plants/ parts is useful in curing sciatica. They prepare extract of the bark and apply over the painful parts. For this, they take 200g bark and to it, 10g Ginger rhizome powder, 5 g fresh Garlic cloves, Camphor (15g) and 3 liter water is added. The whole mixture is boiled till it remains 1/4th. It is filtered and applied externally and massaged into the body to get rid of pain.
Piper longum Linn. (Long Pepper)
Long Pepper is a member of Piperaceae family; locally known as Lendi Peepar. It is a slender under shrub, creeping or rooting below, grown in southern part of India.
Tribesmen prepare seed decoction. Seeds (15g) are boiled in water (100ml) for 5 minutes and filtered. About 10ml decoction should be taken and to it, add pinch of Camphor and Ginger rhizome powder. It is mixed thoroughly and applied externally to the painful body parts.
Curcuma longa Linn. (Turmeric)
This member of Zingiberaceae family is locally known as Haldi. It is a herb about 2-3 feet high with fleshy rhizomes of yellow-orange colour inside.
Equal amount of Turmeric (rhizome), Long Pepper (fruits) and Garlic (buds) should be ground properly and to it, add water so that it looks like a paste. This paste should be topically two to three times a day for a month. It helps in minimizing the pain.
As mentioned above, these are the therapeutic herbs that could be of great help in combating problems related to sciatica. But there are also other best suited options for the same if you really want to avoid this disorder. First of all, pay attention to your biological clock, have food in time and follow a regular exercise regime to maintain the body fitness. Start avoiding long-term sitting tasks. Do not forget to take frequent gap, walk a little and come back to desk. Sitting idle for hours at one place can lead you to a big trouble. If already a sciatica patient, consider exercises and stretches that could be done on a daily basis to help ease the pain. If those exercises and stretches do the trick, continue it on regular basis and in the meantime, you may consider Indian tribal's herbal options. Stay healthy.
- Acharya, D. 2012. Adivasiyon ki Aushadhiy Virasat, Aavishkar Publishers Distributors, Jaipur. ISBN: 978-81-7132-706-5.
- Acharya, D. Shrivastava, A. 2008. Indigenous Herbal Medicines (Tribal Formulations and Traditional Herbal Practices). Aavishkar Publishers Distributors, Jaipur. ISBN: 978-81-7910-252-7.
- Acharya, D. Shrivastava, A. 2011. Ethnomedicinal Plants of Gujarat State. Forest Department, Gujarat State, Gandhinagar. ISBN: 8190311484. pp 1 – 414.