During the 1970s on one of my trips to Bangalore in southern India, I made it a point to seek teachers, schools and hospitals that were exponents of Ayurvedic medicine, which at that time was still barely known in the western world (particularly the United States).
One Ayurvedic hospital I visited was a multi-story building with many departments dedicated to specialty treatments. Doctors in the leech therapy ward showed me how a patient with severe psoriasis lesions was nearly completely cured after an application of a single leech in the center of the lesion. They explained how the leech selectively drew out the 'bad blood' causing psoriasis and allowed for fresh new healing blood to circulate.
With its entrance situated on a busy street, the eye treatment ward was open to walk-in traffic and the usual session took only a few minutes to complete. It consisted of walking in through one door, where one used an eye cup to bathe each eye in well-strained triphala tea, followed by the application of a single drop of honey in each eye. Finally, after completing a simple series of eye exercises (rolling the eyes around clockwise, then counterclockwise, then quickly up-down, left-right, and diagonally) the patient walked out the next door.
India has always been concerned with maintaining eyesight, and cataract surgery was performed there as early as the 6th century BCE by the physician Sushruta.
Our vision is among the things that we all take for granted, until something goes wrong. Unfortunately, the deterioration of vision is one of the inevitable consequences of many actions, including aging.
The major source of eyestrain doctors once warned against was reading too much, especially in dim light. But with the advent of cameras, movies, TV, and computers, there is an increasing demand on our eyes and the need to maintain their health.
Check out the statistics on 'Americans Affected by Age-related Eye Disease' on Prevent Blindness America's website. The numbers of Americans affected by blindness and cataracts, among a host of other diseases, is staggering.
Turning 71 years young, I've had occasion to think about my eyes a lot lately. With years of abuse including long hours at the computer and yes, I must admit, TV, what can be done to help heal and preserve eye health?
(Pause as I interrupt the writing of this with an eye exercise, perhaps you might be persuaded to join me? Look away from the computer, roll your eyes a few times in both directions, and then in both diagonal directions. Rub your palms together and place them over both eyes for a minute. Now that is what I consider a refreshing break for the eyes! Anyone who works at a computer for long stretches should make it a point to do this every 30 minutes to help preserve your eyesight. Students in classrooms staring intently at a board, PowerPoint, teacher whatever should also be encouraged to practice such an eye break.)
Triphala eye treatment
The following is used as treatment of all the eye diseases mentioned in the link above as well as the more common eyestrain.
You will need the following:
- Triphala powder or you can use triphala tablets (I'm proud to say that under my direction, Planetary Herbals was the first company to introduce Triphala to the West and has the finest quality triphala available under the name 'Triphala Gold.')
- An eyecup, you can purchase this at a drug store
- Fine linen or cotton cloth for straining
- Potassium sorbate, an extremely safe food grade preservative that will prevent mold, fungus and bacteria from forming in the triphala eyewash solution. This is very cheap and available in most supermarkets or online.
- A small sterile jar with a tightly-fitted cap
Add one teaspoon of triphala powder or 4 Planetary Herbals Triphala Gold tablets to one cup of boiling water. Allow to stand covered overnight.
Strain the triphala water carefully through a fine cloth and be sure to remove all the solid particles.
Dissolve a quarter teaspoon of the potassium sorbate into the strained mixture.
Store your triphala solution in a small, sterile, tightly covered jar in your bathroom.
Partially fill the eyecup with the triphala solution and bathe one eye. Repeat this process on the other eye with new solution. There may be a very slight smarting sensation, but your eyesight and vision should feel immediately relieved and better afterward. In fact, you may not realize until after doing the triphala eyewash how much stress and tension you were carrying in your eyes.
Why use triphala?
Triphala is a formula that I consider the greatest in the world and that everyone should be taking not only for treatment but for maintaining health and wellness. Triphala is routinely prescribed by Ayurvedic physicians as at least part of a treatment for nearly all diseases. It is a common Indian household remedy so famous that one saying is 'No mother? Don't worry so long as you have triphala!'
Triphala consists of three medicinal fruits. Their English names are as follows: Belleric myrobalan, Chebulic myrobalan and Emblic myrobalan (Indian gooseberry). The popular Sanskrit names for the three herbs in triphala are Vibhitaki (or bibhitaki), Haritaki and Amalaki (or amla), respectively.
The advantages of triphala taken both internally and externally are its powerful, antioxidant-rich, nourishing, rejuvenating and detoxifying properties that work on the digestion, stomach, liver, kidneys and intestines and have no contraindications or adverse side effects. Triphala is safe for all ages. It can be taken daily or weekly as one so desires.
Taken long-term, triphala controls and reduces blood lipids, relieves high blood pressure as it improves blood circulation generally, reduces excess weight, regulates bowel movement even for those who suffer from laxative dependency, and gently treats IBS and other intestinal diseases. It helps detoxify the liver, is an effective treatment for acid reflux disease, and improves colon health by creating a chemical environment favorable to the proliferation of beneficial colon bacteria, either complementing or lessening the need for other probiotics. It heals ulcers, has extremely potent antioxidant activity and promotes the production of red blood cells.
As if all of this were not enough to expect of a single herbal formula, triphala is also good for the respiratory system, improving immunity, preventing and treating colds and coughs and helping to remove mucus accumulation from the chest. For the nervous system, triphala improves brain function, strengthens the nervous system, and prevents diabetic neuropathy. It helps counteract fatigue because of its ability to remove lactic acid, which is the main cause of fatigue. Triphala is anti-inflammatory and anti-viral as it stimulates bile secretion and normal peristalsis.
It may seem to many of you that I'm indulging myself in hyperbolic excess but I assure you, thousands of years and thousands of Ayurvedic physicians past and present can't be all wrong. If there ever was such a thing as an herbal panacea, triphala would be at the top of the list.
However, in most cases, and this is a plus, its benefits are not immediately felt (except for improved digestion and bowel function). This means that the effects of triphala are foundational and deeper. This is why all Ayurvedic physicians prescribe triphala as part of a treatment for all diseases and it is why it should be a mainstay of all health disciplines, conventional western, naturopathic, Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), chiropractic and so on. The integration of triphala into all forms of health care is the beginning of the creation of what I teach as Planetary Herbology: the integration of Western, Chinese and Ayurvedic systems of herbal medicine.
Honey for Eye Diseases
The use of honey as a treatment for the eyes extends far back in antiquity. As early as 350 BCE, Aristotle wrote that 'White honey . . . is as good as a salve for sore eyes.' Even as recently as 1945, in India, lotus honey was described as a panacea for the eyes. In places as distant as India and Russia during times when drugs were scarce, honey was used as standard practice with high efficacy for the treatment of all forms of inflammatory diseases of the eyes and styes. Honey for eye diseases is also used in Islamic medicine.
As mentioned above in my recollection of the eye ward at the Ayurvedic clinic, they simply inserted a single drop of honey in each eye. However, the protocol outlined on the site given above seems much more systematic and beneficial. The entire process can take up to six months, but remember that most of the eye diseases described above are considered incurable. So the question is, how much is your eyesight worth?
Finally, another easy to apply natural eye remedy is castor oil. This is particularly good for treating dry eyes and cataracts. Simply apply two drops of pure castor oil in each eye before retiring to bed.