Note: This article is for informational purposes only. This is not an attempt to suggest any kind of cure and medication. This information in this article is based on the experience and traditional medicinal knowledge of Adivasis. Please consult your doctor before consuming these medicines.
Translated from Kokborok by Manisha Debbarma
Tripura’s tribals, like many indigenous communities across the world, have been using medicinal plants to heal and cure diseases and wounds for generations now. Many parts of a plant or tree like the leaves, twigs, flowers and seeds are used for such medicines. One variety of seeds whose benefits Tripura’s tribal communities swear by are basil or sabja seeds.
Sabja or basil seeds are known to be rich in protein, essential fats, carbs, and fibre. They are also said to lower blood sugar levels, aid weight loss and are a rich source of minerals which are essential for the body. They are also a good source of Omega-3 and are known to cure cough and cold, among other benefits.
The basil trees are born in the season of November and are native to India, and other tropical regions stretching from Africa to Southeast Asia. According to the farmers in my village, the growth of basil seeds takes about 1½ -2 months. After the seeds have grown, they become dry after a month and the seeds are collected in the month of February. We only collect the seeds when the tree has become dry.
After collecting the basil seeds, the cover/peel of the seeds is removed and the seeds are soaked in a cup with water. 2 spoonfuls of sugar is added to this water and after 15-20 minutes, it is mixed again and then consumed.
In my community, whenever a person feels weak, they are given basil seeds soaked in water mixed with sugar, which is known to boost energy. These seeds can also be added to other food, like milkshakes, soups, salads, desserts and consumed. We believe that the good health and strength of the people in our tribal community comes from the fact that we consume natural medicines and don’t solely rely on the medicines which contain heavy chemicals.
In today’s world of pharmaceutical medicines, many people don’t believe in these kinds of medicinal plants. However, my community has kept this practice going and this knowledge alive and have kept themselves healthy for generations. I hope more people get to learn about the medicinal power of plants and trees since it is a natural solution to many ailments.
This article is created as a part of the Adivasi Awaaz project, with the support of Misereor and Prayog Samaj Sevi Sanstha.