Note: This article is for informational purposes only. This is not an attempt to suggest any kind of cure and medication. The 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
Tribal communities across the country and the world have been using medicines from the forests and their own gardens to cure their ailments and health conditions for time immemorial. The tribals in Tripura, too, with access to rich and dense forests also have extensive knowledge of herbal and plant-based traditional medicine.
One of the conditions that tribals in Tripura have been curing with traditional medicine is Pityriasis Alba. This is a type of skin condition in which white patches develop on the face. Sometimes these patches can also develop on the neck and chest. It usually affects young adolescents and sometimes goes away on its own. In Kokborok, this is called “paape” and tribals have developed a herbal cure to remove it faster.
Here are the plants and herbs used to help with Pityriasis Alba:
Buttonweed is easily found in the fields, gardens and forests of Tripura. It is an important ingredient in the cure for Pityriasis Alba or “paape”. While making the medicine, only the leaves of buttonweed are used.
The leaves of pigeon pea are the second ingredient required in making of the cure and tribals cultivate it near their homes. It is a winter crop and the fresh pigeon pea is cooked and consumed in the form of curry, chutney and other items. The leaves of this plant are known for their medicinal properties.
Bitter vine is a creeper that grows in the wild, around boundary walls and entwines itself around trees. It has a very bitter taste which explains its name. The leaves of bitter vines are needed while making the cure for the ailment.
Leaves of all three plants — buttonweed, pigeon pea and bitter vine are collected and washed thoroughly in a bowl. They are then ground into a paste and transferred into a container. The paste should be soft and smooth.
The next part of the cure involves scratching the white patches with a small stick. Now, apply the paste on the areas where the white patch or pityriasis alba has affected. The balm should be applied during the day after the person has taken a bath. It should be left on till the next day when a fresh paste is applied again after a bath. This way, for three days, the person should continually be using the medicinal paste. The condition will slowly start healing.
The knowledge tribals possess about natural remedies and herbal plants should be preserved and protected. Do you know of any herbal cures for this condition? Have you tried them?
This article is created as a part of the Adivasi Awaaz project, with the support of Misereor and Prayog Samaj Sevi Sanstha.