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The Banyan tree has always been one of the most revered trees in India. However, have you wondered why Indian women fast and gather around a Banyan tree every year during June and pray for their husbands? Other than the Hindu mythology story about Savitri meeting Yama, which depicts a woman who wins her husband s life back after he died under a Banyan tree, did you know that there is also another reason behind this age old tradition? Hindu women worshipped the Banyan tree for their husbands to live a long life because, back in the day, sexually transmitted infections were fairly common among men who would spend a lot of time away from home. In Ayurveda, the bark of the Banyan tree is used for treating female genital tract infections caused by sexually transmitted diseases, says Dr H S Palep, Visiting Scientist at Haffkine s Institute for Training, Research & Testing, Mumbai and Chairman, Dr.Palep s Medical Research Foundation and also a practising gynaecologist trained in Ayurveda.
Other than the religious significance of this age old practice, the reason behind women worshipping and even protecting Banyan trees in Hindusim that most people are unaware about is, that the bark of the tree can actually be effective in treating urinary tract infections like trichomonias, vaginitis and also pelvic inflammatory infections. Trichomonias is a common sexually transmitted infection and causes symptoms like vaginal itching, pain during intercourse and urination and abdominal pain. Banyan tree bark is administered to patients in the form of capsules or even loose extracts. Other than this, bark decoctions can also be used as a vaginal douche, but that isn t as effective as taking it in the capsule form, says Dr Palep.
In fact, a form of Ayurvedic treatment known as Panchalvakal, uses barks of five trees from the Ficus family including fig tree, peepal, albizia lebbeck, plaksha and banyan tree for treating these disorders, and other than that, it can also be used to treat osteomilitis, an infection in the bones. Other than that, it is also used for healing wounds in the form of an ointment. Panchalvalkal is also used for treating a wide range of skin disorders and other ailments.
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