Going by what the Handloom Weavers Development Society in Kerala claim, one need not seek cure for diverse skin disorders by applying creams, lotions or dusting powders. The Society is upbeat about helping the needy to say goodbye to that itchy skin. The help comes from Thumbod, a tiny village not too far from Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala’s capital.
The weavers have developed their own simplified technology of infusing the yarn with extracts of selected plants — call them herbs. Now, they claim that wearing clothes made with their treated yarn spells the end of that bothersome itch, rashes on the skin and other skin problems.
Naming their fabric presented them with no problem. They have christened it Ayurvastra. The term recognises the element of India’s time-tested ancient healthcare protocol Ayurveda and Vastra is simply the cloth.
It is learnt that the raw yarn is first washed and then given a coat of natural gum before soaking it in specially prepared dye made of plant extracts believed to possess curative properties.
Turmeric is a must in the dye. Indigo and pomegranate also figure prominently. All these materials, scientists have found, are rich sources of anti-oxidants, known to have the effect of inhibiting formation of the bad cholesterol.
One of the weavers sports a loose-fitting garment made of the Society’s product to prove its efficacy in preventing or getting rid of skin problems as it were. However, the Society’s spokesperson explained to the media that although trials carried out so far have shown promise of success, more research needed to be done under controlled condition.
Studies over a period of one month by Government Ayurveda College in Kerala are reported to have shown that patients suffering from eczema, psoriasis (red scaly patches on dry skin following scratching) and even rheumatism (although not a skin problem) improved markedly. That report is said to have earned the society a large grant, about one crore rupees, from the Kerala Government, which the Society plans to spend on research aimed at developing more dyes.
In turn, success for the Society in its business of producing Ayurvastra is expected to trigger the tribals in the region to take to raising the special plants that may bring home some welcome money. Those who know how business grows with a spin-off hard to visualise at the start, say that Ayurvastra is soon bound to lead to Ayur Coir, the coir industry having already come to stay.
The weavers of Thumbod village are optimistic about their bright future in the world market.—BRS