That’s What We’re Talking About

Screen Shot 2014-11-13 at 2.39.36 AMAmong the surprising things we have learned from India’s Prime Minister in recent months is that he is appointing a new Minister within this enormous, complex democracy, one that intrigues (Reuters story associated with the headline after the jump):

Screen Shot 2014-11-12 at 9.14.59 PMIndia gets minister for yoga and traditional medicine


Interesting that when we click through to the Department’s website we find that it has a long history predating the Prime Minister (the position, the appointment and the Department are all news to us, but we are not clear on why Reuters and other news agencies suggest that the Prime Minister has created  this new government agency):

Welcome to AYUSH

Department of Indian Systems of Medicine and Homoeopathy (ISM&H) was created in March,1995 and re-named as Department of Ayurveda, Yoga & Naturopathy, Unani, Siddha and Homoeopathy (AYUSH) in November, 2003 with a view to providing focused attention to development of Education & Research in Ayurveda, Yoga & Naturopathy, Unani, Siddha and Homoeopathy systems. The Department continued to lay emphasis on upgradation of AYUSH educational standards, quality control and standardization of drugs, improving the availability of medicinal plant material, research and development and awareness generation about the efficacy of the systems domestically and internationally. Continue reading

Notes from the Garden: The Gift of Cardamom


Today’s task in the garden was to harvest the ever-abundant cardamom in Cardamom County.

This is a task that cannot be completed by machines, so even in commercial fields, it must be handpicked. That is because figuring out which ones are ripe requires tuned fingers.

It was a bit of a learning curve for me at first because I thought I was supposed to be looking for which ones were the darkest, but then I learned otherwise.

I was looking for the ones that fell off easily into my hand from tugging slightly. When ripe, the small seed pods on the inside are dark colored.


We may be most familiar with this sweet spice in masala chai tea, but it has many uses.

To do a little research, I asked the Ayurvedic doctor here if he could enlighten me on some of the traditional medicine uses of cardamom. He said that it is good for throat and lung troubles, skin problems such as acne, and digestive issues.

The type of cardamom we have here is the Malabar variety and it is native to Kerala. The green leaves are pretty tall- probably about 5 feet on average. The pods are on short vines that cluster at the bottom of the tall leaves.

When we were harvesting them, it started  Continue reading

Indian Licorice – Abrus precatorius

Photo credits : Shymon

Photo credits: Shymon

Indian Licorice (Abrus precatorius) is a native of India and the tropical and sub-tropical areas of the Western Ghats. Despite its name, Indian Licorice is not closely related to the licorice (Glycyrrhiza glabra) that lends its flavor to candies, beverages, and other foods. The seeds are bright red and black in color and highly poisonous. Continue reading

Al Fresco Ayurveda


Brass Uruli

At Cardamom County we make every effort to ensure the uniqueness of our guests’ experience. One way is to invite them to watch our Ayura staff along with Dr. Pameela, our in-house Ayurvedic doctor, prepare the traditional herbal oils used in Ayurvedic massage. They first harvested the special herbs in our gardens. The herbs are then soaked in water overnight to extract a concentrate that by morning turns into a rich concoction called kashaya. This mixture is then brought to a boil in a large brass vessel called an uruli. Continue reading

Marma Chikitsa – Ayurveda Treatment

Photo credit : Ranjith

Photo credits: Ranjith

Ayurveda is science of life. Although Ayurveda is practised all over India, Kerala is perhaps the only state where this science of medicine still follows age-old traditional laws. Marma Points are positions on the body where flesh, veins, tendons, bones and joints meet. Oil therapy is an important Marma Chikitsa, where warm Medicated oils are used in specific Marma points. Continue reading

Ayurveda in Kerala: getting back in shape

Ayurveda, India’s traditional medicine is a major presence in healthcare in Kerala. My colleague Lissi has ten years of experience practicing ayurvedic massage. She started her training at an ayurvedic hospital before enrolling at an ayurvedic institute. There, she pursued her apprenticeship while practicing at the hospital. Continue reading

Simple health tips to travel in Kerala from our Ayurvedic doctor

The first aid kit I packed to come here in Kerala is the size of a small shoebox. Except for mosquito repellent and cold cream I have yet to use it, and although I should be relieved, I am annoyed. It’s the heaviest part of my luggage and I’ll probably carry it all back home ! A lot of this medication treats tummy-aches and Kerala has a strong system of traditional medicine, Ayurveda, that handles those issues well and without the long tail of potential side effects.

“You were right to take precautions, when traveling you never know where you’re going to land and what you’re going to find.  Kerala is rich in water sources and is not at risk for Malaria. But you may want to travel to other parts of India which are less fortunate in those regards.” Dr Sulficker reminded me. Dr Pameela Sulficker is the Ayurvedic doctor here at Cardamom County, she introduces travelers to ayurveda at the Ayura Wellness Center. Continue reading

Betel Leaf – Pan Leaf (Piper betle)

Betel is the leaf of a climbing vine that belongs to the Piperaceae family. A member of the same family as black pepper, they both require a support tree to grow. The plant has many traditional medicinal uses; in Kerala people use the betel leaf to treat headaches, arthritis and joint pain, in China and Thailand the root of the plant is used for toothache. Continue reading