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May 9

Written by: Jayanthi
Wednesday, May 09, 2007


Reducing Pitta: My Introduction to Other Forms of Wellness Care - PART 1

In October 1999, I had been in Chennai, India about 6 months.  I woke up one morning at a friend’s house, the temperature about 70 degrees, 10-15 degrees less than normal, with a face full of heat boils.  You could barely see my eyes.  The only thing I could do was cry!


When I saw these boils my mind became flooded with what could have caused this and ways I had been preventing this- which seemed futile.  Up to this point, I was bearing the heat and sun (to which others would say ‘romba vaayel’ or that intense heat – in a damming way almost) by using an umbrella or my sari pallu to cover my head and drinking lots of moor (butter milk), lime water and tender coconut water and eating lots of cooling fruits including apple, grapes, bananas and pomegranates.  In all this attempt to beat the heat, my face continually communicated to the world ‘excess pita’ through eruptions of pimples and boils. To these pimples and boils, others further commented to me ‘paavom’ meaning pitiful thing or I pity you.  And since many did not know how to relate to me (since I was the only foreigner), they related to me through trying to offer many solutions to my acne and pitta problem. What were they talking about ‘pitta’ ‘excess pitta’ and cooling fruits? What did this all mean?


After dressing in my sari, and covering my head with the pallu- this time not to prevent sun from hitting it because it was night time, but because I did not want anyone to see my face, I was taken to a doctor running his business out of a small stall.  He asked me about my diet.  I told him I was a vegetarian. He asked me if I always been a vegetarian, I said no. The first 22 years of my life or so I was a meat eater.  I wondered why he needed to know this. No doctor ever asked me this before.  But, like most people I trusted the doctor and my friend’s family who took me there, and just went with the flow in hopes of relief from the pain and discomfort of the boils.


The doctor prescribed some western tablet, a B vitamin, and a few kinds of cremes, a western type and an Indian type with lots of herbs in it.  I was also asked to use turmeric pac on my face nightly and coconut oil on my hair in the day.  He required me to continue eating the fruits and drinking the juices I mentioned above, and avoid spices if possible.  Wow! What an odd prescription! It seemed so different from what I was used to.  Far as I knew he was a western trained doctor, and he was giving to me a prescription that would affect many parts of my day.  Taking a pill or using a creme only affects a small part of the day.  But watching my diet and eating certain foods affects more parts of your day, and affects your mood and personality.  But the thing that perplexed me the most was how to avoid spices in Chennai! Even the moor (buttermilk) has spices in it sometimes!


Though this prescription did not cure my problem, it did alleviate it considerably.  All of the boils associated with this episode went away within two days.  But, I did continue to get pimples and acne the rest of my stay in India and even after I was back in US.


...To be continued on May 16, 2007.


Copyright ©2007 Jennifer Jayanthi Kumar


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