Cow’s Urine

Cow’s Urine

Who knew it was possible to buy this in the supermarket? I have seen (and bought) cow dung cakes in India, but never saw this particular product on the supermarket shelves until a recent visit to Malaysia. It must be said that I was there for the Thaipusam festival, and it is possible this product was available only for the duration, but still.

Research reveals that there are all sorts of fascinating uses for cow’s urine, particularly in medicine, where it is renamed ‘gomutra’ – check the ingredients labels on your Ayurvedic medicine bottles now(!) – and said to be useful in the treatment of leprosy, colic, bloating, epilepsy, diabetes and even cancer.

Mind you, when I offered to send my bottle to a friend in the UK, she said she would rather live with her diabetes than try this…

The most widespread use of cow’s urine is for religious purposes, as a spiritual cleanser when sprinkled in holy places. Scientists in India have also apparently determined that it is a bio enhancer, which means it can boost the activity of antibiotic and antifungal agents. It is even possible, in certain places, to buy it as a health drink, where it is mixed with herbs and flavoured with citrus fruits, or else incorporated into soaps and shampoos. This last use is actually perfectly feasible, as urine was always the main cleansing ingredient employed in ancient Roman laundries.

The most likely use for my bottle, however, seems to be as a fertiliser and bio pesticide for the pot plants clinging to survival on my balcony. If it kills them stone dead, I will let you know!


DIY Herbal Hair Oil

It’s always fun to try some homemade beauty treatment, from yoghurt and honey face packs to beer and egg yolk hair conditioners, so I had to snap up this DIY herbal hair oil remedy on a recent trip to India.

In the southern state of Kerala, fabulous herbs and spices are a constant temptation in the local stores. You can buy fresh peppercorns and nutmegs by the sackful, countless types of fragrant green tea, plus fascinating health and beauty products.

Kerala claims to be the home of Ayurvedic treatments, and many of the spas suggest an appointment with the doctor before a course of massage and or medication is prescribed. We didn’t have time for that, but after experiencing the type of all-purpose massage which left us dripping in aromatic oil from head to foot, abandoning everything for a swift return to the hotel for a shower, the idea of an at-home treatment at a later date was quite appealing. No looking (and smelling) completely bizarre as you try to hail a taxi to go clean yourself up. No rescheduling or cancelling of plans because you can’t possibly carry on with your day right then.

This charmingly basic DIY hair treatment looked like a lot of fun – simply a plastic bottle filled with a twiggy collection of herbs. The idea is to cover the contents with coconut oil, preferably the local variety, leave it all for 3 days until the colour of the oil changes as it absorbs the goodness from the herbs, then apply to your hair. As with most of the hair oils available from the big brand names, you can either apply this as a pre-shampoo treatment, or as a leave-in conditioner afterwards.

I was quite surprised to see that the coconut hair oil I’d bought in India came out of the bottle looking dark turquoise in colour. It also needed a little help with hot water to melt the bottle contents sufficiently to pour them out onto the herbs.

Over the course of the 3 days, the oil then turned a startling dark red colour, which I was half afraid might actually dye my hair. It managed to smell strongly both of herbs and medication, and in retrospect I should probably have considered filtering the oil from the twiggy bits before trying to use it.

The verdict? This was quite entertaining, and worked reasonably well, leaving my hair soft and shiny without turning it red or smelly. But to be honest, it is far easier and a great deal less messy to use normal hair oil, which is what I shall continue to do.

 


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