Tuesday, June 6, 2017



TEITHVENA OR WORMWOOD ( Artemisia absinthium)

“Ye kyaazi chhu hokhaan ? Ye hai balaai chhu khevaan .Amiss ma chhe aam . Diss tethveina phekhaa.”
“ Why is he so thin and weak even when he keeps eating so much? Maybe he has worms . Give him some wormwood ”

Word Teithvena ( wormwood ) was also used sarcastically in the Kashmiri language.

“Vuchhaan chhukh na me kotaah khaer korus . Amiss zun log teithvena ”

“ See how many favours I have passed on to him. But all this worked like bitter wormwood for him”

"ya ha chhu theithvena hue tyoth.Maarun chhusaai, ba na sa khyema na ya"

"This is as bitter as wormwood. Do you want to kill me? I can't eat it."

In 1959, stalwart modern Kashmiri Poet Dina Nath Nadim wrote a poem that had the title “ Naabad taTeithvena “ or “ sweet candy and bitter wormwood. " Shakespeare also used bitterness of wormwood symbolically in his play '' Romeo and Juliet.

Kashmiris were familiar with this herb plant. It was a favourite and trusted medicine used for de-worming for many centuries in the Kashmir valley. I was told by many elders that in olden days, the wormwood plant leaves and green fruits were tied to the stomach of children at night and that was sufficient to ensure de-worming.

Teithvena grows in many villages in Kashmir as a Grass /wild plant. It rarely grows taller than 6 feet. In the summer season, pale yellow flowers appear which are followed by small oil-producing glands huddled together. A small fruit also appears on this plant that produces seeds. I have seen this plant growing alongside the slopes of Shankaracharya hill in Srinagar city. 
Hakeems made extensive use of the leaves and seeds of this plant essentially for de-worming. Vaids and Homeopaths also used it as a medicine. The measured quantity of wormwood or Tethvein was prescribed orally due to its bitter taste and toxicity . some Hakeems would prescribe leaves of this herb to be boiled in water and drunk for colon cleansing.

It was Raja Upinder Krishen Kaul ( grandfather of Justice Sanjay Krishen Kaul ) who set up an industrial unit at Baramulla ( J&K )to extract “Santonin” from Wormwood trees. This santonin was used in medicines essentially as a parasite expeller from intestines. He used local Teithavena or wormseed plants as raw material. Raja Upinder Krishen Kaul also set up first match factory at Baramulla.

Wormwood oil was used in some medicines for its anti-fungal, anti-inflammatory and antispasmodic properties. It was also used as a cardiac stimulant and digestive tonic. It was also used in the beer industry ( substitute for hops ) and for making bitters. Wormwood seeds powder was also been found useful for the treatment of Malaria. The leaves, seeds, flowers and fruits of this plant were all used as medicine. With the arrival of synthetic salts, the use of wormwood for medicinal purposes has almost come to halt in developing countries.

( Avtar Mota )
Based on a work at http:\\autarmota.blogspot.com\.

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