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Paliyar Tribals In Tamil Nadu Use These Traditional Medicines To Cure Headaches

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 Tamil by Nisha Felicita

Tribal communities across the world have been using medicines from the forests to heal their ailments and wounds for time immemorial. Ethnomedicine, the study of traditional medicine has been a part of the tribals lives in Tamil Nadu and has been passed down from generation to generation. Here are some of the traditional medicines used for curing headaches in the Paliyar tribal villages.


During the summer, there are increased chances of forest wildfires. When these fires spread, the medicinal plants and shrubs in the forests also catch fire and are turned into ash. The Paliyar tribals would use this ash, or even the ash that is created while cooking using firewood at home to cure headaches. Whenever someone gets a headache or experiences heavy headedness, they would take this ash and mix it with water and apply it on their head before sleeping. Ash is known to have many medicinal values.

Hopbush leaf

Another common cure for headaches is the Hopbush plant (Dodonaea viscosa), called Virali Chedi in Tamil.

The leaves are plucked when the plant is still small and young, and are stuck to the part of the head which is aching. My ancestors fused to use this method even for leg or hand ache, and these leaves were placed on the part that is paining and were tied in place. This used to reduce the pain significantly.

This plant is known for its medicinal properties. It is used in treatment for fever, sore throat, colds, to relieve itching, to treat sprains, bruises, burns and wounds. It is also known to cure indigestion, ulcers, diarrhoea and constipation.

We need to encourage more natural remedies and herbs and reduce our dependence on chemicals and this is a lesson we can all learn from the Paliyar tribals.

This article is created as a part of the Adivasi Awaaz project, with the support of Misereor and Prayog Samaj Sevi Sanstha.

This article was first published in Youth Ki Awaaz

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