Jun 13, 2017

Notes from Semmai vanam's workshop

Recently, I attended a one-day workshop on “vaazhviyal maruthuvam” (Traditional Living as medicine) conducted by Thiru.Senthamizhan who runs this organization named "Semmai vanam". I had earlier read his book “Inippu” where he talks about diabetes and how it is a disease invented by the pharma industry. I highly recommend this book for anyone interested in knowing why diabetes has become a brand these days.

The workshop was in Tamil and so I wanted to jot down my notes in English, so more people can benefit from it.

Senthamizhan started off with two important issues that indicate how far we have deviated from our roots.

1. Lack of self-freedom => When we feel sick, there is no freedom to take rest and recover. We are dependent on our sick leaves and tied down by our work responsibilities.
2. Lack of compassion towards our family members => He gave an example of applying oil / massaging the joints, that used to be the norm a couple of decades back. We hardly take the time out to do it for ourselves, let alone our family members. 

He also emphasized the fact that we should understand our body as a whole and not as individual organs. If a particular part of our body is aching, it doesn’t mean that there is an issue in that specific part. 

Pain, headache, cold etc are symptoms but the real issue is somewhere else in the body. We need to identify the root cause. Allopathic medicine always focuses on treating symptoms. High sugar levels is a symptom, it is not a disease. We need to identify why the sugar levels are high and why our pancreas is not functioning well. We need to stop giving names to these symptoms. High/low thyroid levels is again a symptom. 

Stopping prescription medicines is your RIGHT. 

Eat only when hungry.
Drink water only when thirsty.
Rest well during night (after 7PM)
Have hair bath in normal water everyday. No hot water bath. Lukewarm water bath only during cold weather.

Food creates energy through digestion. Every body’s digestion process is different. Eating right type of food at the right time is also important.

Rules for food:
- Locally grown cereals (rice and millets - for people living in Bangalore). Reduce wheat as much as possible, since it is not suitable for this region.
- Give first preference to country vegetables - cluster beans, brinjal, arbi, banana stem, banana flower, yam etc (naattu kaigari) and second preference to vegetables like potato, cabbage, beans, carrot etc.

Don’t separate foods based on individual nutrients.

High fat foods such as pork, beef etc are only suited for cold regions.

Requirement of nutrients is directly proportional to the amount of physical work you do in a day.
Rice - best suited for people who do less physical work.
Millets - more nutrients, therefore best suited for people who do more physical work. Though millets awareness is high, don't over-do it.

Going for a walk is only a practice, not really physical work. This human body is meant for physical work. Doing household chores (sweeping, mopping, washing dishes, washing clothes etc) are essential to stay fit. 

Peanuts, till seeds, cashews, raisins - high energy foods for children.
Cashews are suited for Indians, we don’t need almonds and walnuts on a regular basis.

“Commitment” to personal relationships is more important than getting “committed” to EMIs. 
The explanation he gave to differentiate between unarchi (emotion) and unarvu (feeling) was outstanding. 
Hunger is a feeling whereas preference for certain tastes is an emotion.
Peace is a feeling whereas happiness, anger and sadness are emotions.

If we focus more to satisfy our basic feelings and give less importance to emotions, then our lives will be more meaningful.

Immunity decreases due to excess medication.
When someone catches a cold, the body is getting rid of excess mucus, which shouldn’t be stopped.

Excess body heat + excess mucus => Ideal condition for cells to multiply. For those with less immunity, chances of such cells turning cancerous are high.

Reducing body heat (pitta) and getting rid of excess mucus (kapha) - should be taken care of.

Excess mucus - if not addressed, it shows up as kidney related issues and then skin disorders. 
Anxiety, tiredness etc - are related to improper digestion. Symptom - increased sugar levels.
2 meals a day - recommended, that too only when you feel hungry.

Tamarind - increases pitta. Use less quantity.
Dals - increases vaadha. Use less quantity. 

If pitta is high, it shows up as hairfall, uterus related issues, eye related issues etc.

Avoid refined oils. They cause digestion related problems. Cold-pressed oils (groundnut oil, coconut oil and sesame oil) in limited quantity - recommended. Avoid deep-fried items in the night.

Green leafy vegetables (keerai) are difficult to digest. So mash them using a hand-masher (maththil kadainthu saapidavum). 

Always consume ghee in melted form. Add it to rice but don’t cook with it.

Drumstick and drumstick greens are very healthy and nutritious. Can be taken as a soup in the evenings. Use only fresh greens, dried ones aren't that good.

Recommended breakfast in the mornings - kanji (porridge) with thuvaiyal (made with either coriander, pirandai, gongura, curry leaves, ponnaanganni)
For dinner, easy-to-digest foods like idli, idiyappam, puttu

Slowly stop using fridge. Vegetables lose their nutrients when refrigerated. Instead, you can store them in mud pots (one mud pan filled with water, another mud pot immersed in this pan where you can keep vegetables). Will last for 10 days.

When someone is having fever at home,
- give only warm water
- if they are hungry, then give rice kanji for a couple of days.
- if they ask for something else, then give rasam rice

Rest and not eating anything is the best cure for fever.

If high fever - then keep a wet cotton cloth on the forehead
During fever, don’t give mosambi juice, bread or tender coconut water.

Hibiscus tea - very effective for uterus related issues.
Uluthankali (porridge made with black urad dal) - recommended for women and girls

At the end of the workshop, he also covered many home medications for cold, cough etc. The details are available in the book “Adukkalai marundhagam”.

I also brought home a bunch of his books, which I’ve been reading the last few days. His writings make a lot of sense to me, especially in these days when we have come so far from our roots. 
To know more about Semmai vanam, follow their FB page.

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