A careless accident at 12, gave me the gift of Ayurveda healing.
When I was 12, I accidentally sprayed some of my mother’s perfume straight into my eyes! It hurt like my eyeballs were on fire.
In a few hours, my eye ache got so bad so deep into my sockets that I mustered up the courage to confess to my mother that I had broken into her make-up things and spritzed her favorite perfume, straight into my right eye.
My mother had a quick remedy. She made me rush to my neighbor, Tracy auntie, who had recently given birth to her second baby, and ask for a teaspoon of breast milk.
(If you are wondering why my Indian neighbor had a Christian name, please know some of my people have been Christians from the time of Christ)
I come from a lineage of vaidyas, or traditional healers, on both my mother’s and father’s maternal lines. My grandmother was the last healer in this tradition.
A life guided by Ayurveda was what my family back home in India followed on a daily basis as far back as we could remember. The women folk passed their wisdom of Ayurveda’s special diet, rituals, and therapies on to the children.
Ayurveda considers mother’s milk a potent medicine for eye and nasal health. A few drops of fresh mother’s milk will cure the eye of dryness, itchiness, pain, and redness. I did not know this then but trusted my mother because I hardly ever needed to go to a doctor, she had a remedy for almost everything.
I did go to Tracy aunty’s house but was too shy to ask for a lady’s milk to relieve the burn. I quietly suffered for days.
Even today when I go for an eye check-up with the ophthalmologist, I get surprised hmms, the cells that color my right eye are somehow not where they are supposed to be.
I got to fully experience my mother’s milk and its soothing effects later when I came home with conjunctivitis. Tracy auntie came over and squirted some for me into a sterile spoon. It felt warm and soothing every time. A few hours later my mother would pour saindhava salt drops, which burned my eyes like crazy.
Between salt drops and mother’s milk, my eyes were fine in record time.
Mother’s milk is an excellent medicine for conjunctivitis. Daily morning and evening drops will relieve the eye of irritation and watering.
As an eternal student of Ayurveda learning from the Sanskrit source texts, I am reading the benefits of human milk known to traditional healers since ancient times. Here is a Sanskrit verse from Ashtanga Sanghraha, chapter 6 detailing properties of medicines, verse 56.
(Ashtanga Sanghraha is the medical treatise written and compiled by Vaghbhata senior who lived in present-day Pakistan in the Indus Valley sometimes between 200–600 BCE)
Manusham vata pitta asrakabhighaatha kshirogajith
Tarpana aschyotanair nasye
Word to word translation:
Manusham (human) vata (dryness) pitta (inflammation, discoloration) asrakabhighaatha (bleeding and injury), kshirogajith (milk cures disease) Tarpana aschyotanair nasye (tarpana, aschyotana and nasya, Ayurveda therapies)
Human milk cures diseases of the eyes caused by Vata dryness, Pitta inflammation, bleeding disorders, and injury; it can be used as a tarpana, with an eyecup, as aschyotana, a steady stream or Nasya, a few drops instilled nasally to heal.
For more on what Vata and Pitta mean read my blog here
When your eyes are giving you trouble, save a trip to the pharmacy, look out for a lactating neighbor instead ;-)
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