May 7, 2012 | Valerie Lynn McDonough
The country of Malaysia is populated by three main races, the Malay, Chinese and Indian cultures. Among the Malay culture, care of a person’s reproductive health, or the womb and sexual organs, is given priority beginning from puberty. Puberty, which is referred to as “the coming of age,” is the stage of adolescence in which an individual becomes physiologically capable of sexual reproduction. This transformative period in a person’s life is considered significant, especially for women as they are able to carry another life inside her body. Among the Indian culture there is a ceremony that recognizes this transition marking what is called as “puberty rights.” Special clothes are worn, herbal baths are made, flowers bestowed, and prayers are spoken asking for good reproductive or uterine health. It is a special event for a girl.
In Malaysia, there is a core belief that a woman’s life source is her womb. If a woman’s womb is not taken care of and nourished regularly with specific foods and herbs, her overall health will be affected. This includes her fertility and outer beauty for many years, if not for her entire life. There are many beliefs regarding food and drink consumption, throughout a woman’s life, especially during and after menstruation, that are deemed as important. However the items consumed are all natural, not pharmaceutical. When examining the health benefits of the food or the individual ingredients of herbal products, you can understand the effects they would have on the body.
Malay drink for a girl’s first menstruation
For example, from the first day of a Malay girl’s menstruation she is encouraged to drink a mixture of:
A glass of whole milk containing:
– 1 egg yolk
– 1 tablespoon of honey
– 1 teaspoon fenugreek, fried in a pan without oil until fragrant.
All ingredients are blended together and drank every morning for seven days. The milk is a source of protein and the egg yolk is a good source of iron. The honey is pure and unfiltered and contains pollen, which helps build the immunity system. Fenugreek is one of the oldest cultivated medicinal plants in the world and known to help relieve menstrual cramps. It is a potent menstruation promoter and in 19th century America it became a key ingredient in helping relieve menstrual discomforts.
Second and consecutive menstruations
There are varying drinks for the second and consecutive menses. During the second and consecutive periods, 4-5 tablespoons of tamarind paste is dissolved in approximately three glasses of water. Combine this drink with turmeric juice (which is made from boiling a 2-inch piece of turmeric rhizome (or root) one cup of water), and lastly add a natural sweeter, such as honey or a high quality palm or brown sugar, to taste. The ingredients are boiled and drank three times per day throughout the menstrual period. This practice is continued each month, and aids women who suffer from painful periods or dysmenorrheal.
Tamarind and Tumeric, a potent combination
The combination of tamarind and turmeric is a well known traditional remedy for reducing period paid. Tamarind is high in antioxidants and contains many vitamins, essential for optimum health, including iron, thiamin, vitamin A, B and C, folic acid, riboflavin, niacin. Turmeric is a spice that has been used for 6,000 years. When consumed in medicinal amounts the body processes and utilizes according to its internal needs. This is the body’s automatic healing process. The active chemical component of turmeric is curcumin. Curcumin is a strong antioxidant and reduces inflammation by reducing histamine levels. Turmeric prevents internal blood clotting thus initiates a regular menstrual cycle and reduces menstrual cramps.
A woman’s body is considered to be in a weakened state each month after the initial heavy flow. The health benefits of the combination of tamarind and turmeric is that it provides a woman’s body with a natural pain killer, gives the body antioxidants and vitamins and promotes blood flow. It is believed that this particular drink mixture strengths the womb, ensuring reproductive organs remain healthy.
Traditional therapies for women
Traditional therapies for women’s health, which refer to the physical “internal beauty,” are very well established in Southeast Asia. As mentioned previously such treatments begin with puberty, when the reproductive organs begin functioning and lasts until fertility treatments begin right before marriage. There are also natural treatments throughout pregnancy and post-pregnancy care, as well as for general female medical problems such as improving libido. Traditional treatments include a combination of a variety of foods that are consumed as well as services and herbal products. Massages for the body and uterine, or abdominal, area are performed, herbal products such as oils are infused with herbs, spiced body rubs are applied and consumables as in teas, “jamu” capsules or planted based herbal medicines are taken.
The “Tangas,” or Feminine Sauna
There is a treatment called a “tangas,” or what I call a feminine, or yoni sauna. Yoni in Sanskrit means vagina and I find it a softer word that women like. A tangas is a specific treatment for the perineum area that can be in a wet or dry form depending on one’s personal preference. It involves the use of heat and herbal mixtures.
A tangas treatment is given by a woman sitting on a wooden chair, or a portable home-sauna, that has an opening in the middle for the perineum area thus exposing it to wet or dry vapor. A dry tangas is when an herbal mixture is sprinkled over hot stones in a clay pot which produces smoke that absorbed by the exposed perineum skin, or through underwear. A wet tangas is when herbs are placed in a clay pot, or small rice cooker, and boiled with water. This is an effective treatment as the skin of the perineum area is much thinner than the skin on the belly, and therefore allows another method of direct absorption of natural treatments by the body. The pot or cooker is placed under the chair and the vapor is absorbed by the perineum area. Some of the common herbs used in a tangas are fenugreek, ginger root, citronella, galangal or medicinal type of ginger originally from Indonesia.
Tangas, an important post-pregnancy treatment
A tangas treatment can be given at anytime especially if a woman is feeling tired. It is a very popular post-pregnancy treatment in Malaysia as the specific herbs used helps tighten the pelvic floor muscles. This treatment is also used in the case of a uterine prolapsed. The purpose of a tangas treatment is to reduce uterus swelling, eliminate foul order, enhance healing of cuts and wounds and tighten the pelvic floor muscles.
Prevention of disease
The above traditional therapies are based on the early medical science of the principal of prevention of disease, not treating the symptoms of an illness that is already in motion. Such therapies advise people that the best way to resist diseases is through diet and lifestyle. The same principal was stressed by the Greek physician Hippocrates in 400BC (or 2,400 years) whose advice to mankind was, “Let your food be your medicine.” In countries like Malaysia it is believed that external beauty is a direct reflection of internal well-being and health.
What do you do to take care of your internal uterine health?
To learn more about uterine health go to: www.mypostparutmwellness.com
Maternity Care: U.S. v. Malaysia
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