Cloth materials made of natural fibres and herbal dyes, which are found useful in healing a wide range of ailments from skin infections to rheumatism, are becoming increasingly popular in the south Indian state of Kerala.
Called Ayurvastra, these herbal fabrics help remove toxins from the body and enhances the metabolic process when the wearer comes to contact with the cloth material, it is claimed.
The cloth that has been permeated with special herbs and oils is supposed to promote the healing several ailments including diabetes, skin infections, psoriasis, hypertension, asthma, arthritis and rheumatism.
A recent clinical trial conducted under the initiation of the Ministry of Health at the Government Ayurveda College in Thiruvananthapuram endorsed the belief that Ayurvastra can be effective in curing certain diseases.
The study was conducted in patients suffering from rheumatism, allergies, diabetes, psoriasis and other skin ailments. All the patients were constantly exposed to herbs for six months through Ayurvastra clothing, bed linens, and mattresses in specially prepared rooms.
Analysis of the data after six months showed remarkable improvement and speedy recovery in almost all ailments especially in cases of arthritis and skin diseases, said Dr Vishwanathan, the former dean of the Drug Research Department at Ayurveda College, who led the research in 2005-2006 after the Central government allocated Rs 1 crore for scientific evaluation.
Ayurvastra can do wonders if used along with medication, said Dr Viswanathan. He, however, said that more research are needed to be done to determine the effectiveness of Ayurvastra, which can do wonders if used along with medication.
The herbal garments would help restore the balance in the body and strengthen the immune system. The most effective time to wear Ayurvastra is while sleeping or meditating.
The cloth is bleached with cow’s urine, which has high medicinal value and the dyeing gum too is herbal and it does not pollute like synthetic dye.
The yarn or fabric is dyed in a mixture of dyes, containing 40 to 60 medicinal herbs, depending on the ailment. The herbs used in the dye for arthritis are curry leaves and apocynceae, while it is turmeric, neem and sandalwood for skin diseases. explained Satheesh of the Handloom Weavers Development Society, Balaramapuram near Thiruvananthapuram.
The herbal cloth manufacturer find it difficult to get a patent for the fabric because they use many medicines and methods, not a single technology, in the making of these clothes.
With health concerns spreading, Ayurvastra is carving a niche in the world of textiles. For all its contemporary looks, tradition is blended with modernity and a variety of material such as skirts, blouses, shirts, pants, socks, home-linen and yoga mats are available, reports said.
There is a great demand among foreigners for wellness fabric, which includes yoga mats, shawls and stoles, priced at 750 to 950. The herbs will not run even after the cloth is washed but using mild soap is preferable.
Handloom Weavers Development Society has outlets in Mumbai, Delhi and Kolkata. The society also exports products to the US, Italy, Germany, UK, Singapore, Taiwan, Malaysia, Jordan and Saudi Arabia.