Natural Remedies in the “Land of Smiles”: Sri Lanka

Whether or not you are horticulturally inclined, the Ayurvedic Village Garden in Sri Lanka is the place where you can come nurture and nourish the senses. Situated in the one of the more picturesque beach towns in the Southwest part of the country (80 miles south of the capital city of Colombo and 10 miles from the historic city of Galle), the garden is home to both familiar and exotic healing plants and herbs.

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Untarnished by any trace of clamor and commotion of the capital city, Colombo, you will find sanctuary at the Ayurvedic Village Garden. In fact, it will be one of the more serene and placid experiences of your visit to the “Land of Smiles”. The sense of utter tranquility and calmness is palpable as you enter the garden’s grounds. Everything appears unhurried and meditative, yet purposeful, from the verdant ponds to the vast patchwork of shrubs and herbs on the premises.

Upon arrival, the Ayurvedic Village Garden hosts will escort you into the courtyard area, where you will be greeted with a consonance of birdsong interspersed with the buzzing of cicadas. This peaceful green oasis is home to numerous indigenous bird and animal species, and boasts a multitude of native plants.

The herb and spice tour, which is free, begins at the center point of the garden, where the Doctor or student in residence will brief you on the provenance of Ayurvedic medicine.

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Unbeknownst to many, the ancient practice of Ayurveda was developed approximately 3,000 years ago in India and is based on the belief that health and wellness depend on the synergistic balance between mind, body, and spirit. It’s aim being to prevent illness and disease, rather than to fight illness and disease. Hence the prevailing notion in Ayurveda, “What heals, also prevents”. The ancient teaching of Ayurveda is still practiced in India and in various parts of South East Asia exclusively and is considered a venerable medical tradition today.

Along the tour, Doctor Ali routinely tested our botanical acumen, challenging us to maximize use of our olfactory skills. As we ambled along the stone paths, it became increasingly difficult to distinguish one highly fragrant plant from another.

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However, the pervasive aroma of sandalwood was unmissable. It is warm, rich, and musky. Its oil is highly effective against wrinkles, acne and dry skin, and can be used for banishing stubborn cellulite and minimizing stretch marks. Overall, it is considered a timeless remedy for improving the firmness and smoothness of the skin.

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I have always been a firm believer in the healing power of natural ingredients, partially due to growing up in a household devoid of conventional Western medicine. My Guyanese parents, spoon-fed my siblings and me, tablespoons of malodorous cod-liver oil on a daily basis alongside a chewable multivitamin. So, instead of resorting to over- the-counter drugs for pesky ailments as I grew older, I found myself doing due diligence in researching herbal remedies and treatments.

Below are just a few of the derivatives of plants and herbs found within the Ayurvedic Village Garden that I found to be of great benefit during my visit:

• Needra oil (derived from various native plants) can aid sleeplessness and serve as a hangover cure- definitely worth stockpiling in the medicine cabinet
• Herbal Gripe mixture improves the appetite and is an antidote for stomachaches, nausea and vomiting
• Agnimoola Syrup with Bee Honey improves digestion and provides relief for constipation (and internal and external hemorrhoids)
• Red oil with Herbal Balm is great for muscular and joint pains. Also benefits those suffering from arthritis, gout and rheumatism
• Pasguna (taken as a liquid) works to fight colds, fevers, migraines and sinusitis
• Cinnamon oil is highly effective against toothaches, earaches and bad breath
• Lady Tonic curbs menstrual disorders and relieves menstrual pain

At the end of the tour, you will have the opportunity to visit the garden’s “pharmacy”, where you can purchase just the right tonics and creams to galvanize your weary spirit-from herbal sex stimulants to address erectile dysfunction issues to “herbal wine” to ameliorate the appetite and revitalize the nervous system.

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Upon exiting, not only will you have increased your botanical knowledge of Sri Lankan herbs and spices, but you will also leave with a renewed sense of well-being and purpose. I’m sure that the Doctors and students-in-residence can answer any queries you may have about successfully growing your own herbal garden back home. The Ayurvedic Village Garden is an obvious travel destination for folks who are supporters of alternative healing as well as those herb and plant lovers looking for a dynamic, interactive experience.

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