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Monday, July 27, 2009


The intriguing jak fruit is extremely nutritious and medicinal. Jak (Artocarpus reterophyllus) comes in two varieties in Sri Lanka. They are soft or 'vala' and hard or 'waraka'. The latter is more popular than the soft. The bark of the jak tree is used mainly for medicinal purposes including sprains and fractures.
Tender jak which is known as 'polos', can be made into a delicious curry and, in the diet of ancient Lankan royalty this was a dish that was rarely absent. Nursing mothers are given 'polos' and boiled jak to increase milk. 'Polos' curry also helps those recovering from diarrhoea, because 'vala' or the soft ripe jak is a laxative which can be eaten as it is. It helps clear the bowels and assists in digestion. It also helps relieve bronchitis when kept in bees honey and given to the patient each morning. 'Waraka' or the hard jak variety is beneficial to diabetic patients.

The leaves are dried, powdered and made into a coffee-like drink to be given to diabetics. According to an ancient recipe the ripe jak leaves are pounded and fried in gingili (sesame) oil and given to the diabetic patient each day. It is hard to imagine that such a simple recipe can be a cure for diabetes but the fact that it has been mentioned often in ancient books is proof of its efficacy.


The delicious mango (Mangitera indica) too has its share of medicinal properties. All parts of the tree can be used medicinally. Tender leaves dried and powdered are given for diarrhoea and diabetes. The smoke from the burning leaves can be inhaled for the relief of throat disorders and hiccups. The ash is an effective remedy for burns. And to remove warts on eyelids, the midrib of the mango leaves is burnt and the ash applied on the wart.
The juice of the mango tree bark has a remarkable effect on the mucus membrane. It can be given as a medicine to stop the discharge of mucus from the uterus, bowels and intestines. Bleeding piles and dysentery can be cured by the juice in addition to the white of an egg and a pinch of opium. The green skin of the raw fruit is dried and powdered and two teaspoons of this powder in half a cup of cow's milk with a teaspoonful of bees honey is another tonic for dysentery and piles. Meanwhile, the white juice that oozes near the stem when unripe mangoes are plucked, can be mixed with lime and applied as a remedy for skin infections or diseases.


Another important fruit-medicine is the 'nelli'. This is a small, green sour fruit with a very high quantity of vitamin C.z There is hardly any disease for which the 'nelli' is not used either singly or in combination with other herbs.
The 'nelli' is given to strengthen the retina and improves weak and defective vision. If dried 'nelli' is soaked overnight and the juice extracted and drunk each morning, it makes a good laxative. Leaves boiled and applied on skin eruptions is said to be beneficial. The ground leaves are said to cure eczema. Two tablespoons of 'nelli' mixed with a tablespoon of bees honey, taken regularly each morning helps reduce bleeding piles, while raw 'nelli', sour as it may be, improves complexion. Half a cup of 'nelli' juice twice a week helps keep bowel movements in order.

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