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Battisa: Our superfood

Battisa: Our superfood

Sometimes, in our search for the latest ‘science-based’ medicines available in the market, we unintentionally overlook the rich knowledge handed down by our ancestors—embodied in the realm of traditional medicine. Defined by scientists as a culturally and regionally specific body of knowledge, traditional medicine is a source of wisdom developed over time by local and indigenous communities to address their unique health needs.

Enter ‘battisa,’ a superfood rooted in Nepali culture. The name itself is derived from the Nepali word for the number 32. Passed down through generations, battisa is not only sought after by the Nepali diaspora but also by those residing in Nepal.

Battisa, also known as ‘sutkeri ko ausedhi’ or ‘masala’ in Nepali, is important for women’s health. This traditional herbal mixture comprises 32 different spices and herbs, offering a holistic approach to health. Widely used in Nepal, especially during pregnancy and lactation, sutkeri masala has become an indispensable superfood in Nepali households for new mothers, aiding in their post-pregnancy recovery.

Considered a must-have for new mothers, sutkeri masala is not limited to any specific gender or age group. Crafted from a blend of 32 natural ingredients, this masala is an ideal addition to the postpartum diet, contributing to the quality and quantity of breast milk, and providing essential nutrients for newborns. Additionally, it aids in strengthening muscles and bones, boosting energy levels, and improving digestion, all of which are crucial aspects for new mothers.

Despite its name, sutkeri masala extends its benefits to people of all ages and genders. This mixture harnesses the healing properties of locally available medicinal and herbal plants. Used not just as food but also as Ayurvedic medicine, the production of sutkeri ko ausadhi varies across families and regions as it’s largely influenced by local customs.

Spices and herbs, staples in culinary and medicinal practices for centuries, not only enhance the flavor of food but also offer protection against acute and chronic diseases.

Battisa, with its potential medicinal properties and nutritional value, stands out as a traditional remedy in Nepal. Let’s delve into the individual herbs that constitute battisa powder:

  • Amala (Indian gooseberry): Rich in vitamin C, boosts immunity, and possesses antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties.
  • Arjuna: Supports heart health by strengthening and toning the heart muscle.
  • Ashwagandha: Manages stress, and anxiety, and boosts the immune system.
  • Baayubidanga: Relieves headaches and insomnia.
  • Barro: A great source of vitamin D and calcium.
  • Bel (Wood apple): Effective for digestive issues and inflammation.
  • Bhringaraja: Known for its antioxidant properties and immunity-building abilities.
  • Gokhru (Tribulus terrestris): Useful for urinary disorders and improving sexual health.
  • Harro (Chebulic myrobolon): Helps with nervous irritability and indigestion.
  • Dalchini (Cinnamon): Balances insulin, improves gut health, and reduces infections.
  • Kaphal (Bayberry): Helps with headaches, toothache, and eye problems.
  • Kausso (Mucuna pruriens): Aids in improving sleep and reducing body fat.
  • Kachur (East Indian arrowroot): Manages symptoms of cough and cold.
  • Gurjo (Heart-leaved moonseed): Known for its immune-boosting properties.
  • Jeera (Cumin): Stimulates milk production and provides iron, beneficial for new mothers.
  • Jethimadhu (Liquorice root): Used to treat respiratory problems, skin infections, and more.
  • Jwaano (Ajwain or Lovage): Helps with bloating, gas problems, and urinary tract diseases.
  • Kurilo (Asparagus): Rich in folate, aids in pregnancy and breast milk production.
  • Koirala (Mountain ebony): Used for various health issues, including diarrhea, heartburn, and skin diseases.
  • Majitho (Indian madder): Beneficial for menstrual disorders and blood disorders.
  • Marich (Black pepper): Improves blood sugar levels and lowers cholesterol.
  • Nagkesar (Indian rose chestnut): Promotes blood flow and aids in wound healing.
  • Naagarmoothe (Cyperus scariosus): Has anti-hyperglycemic and anti-inflammatory properties.
  • Pasanbhed/Pakhanbhed (Rock foil coleus): Helps manage ulcers and relieves coughing.
  • Pipala (Long pepper): Aids in digestion and milk production in lactating mothers.
  • Punarnava (Spreading hog wood): Used for anemia, eye health, gout, and heart issues.
  • Sataawar/Bankurilo (Wild asparagus): Supports healthy pregnancy outcomes and digestion.
  • Shankhapuspee (Butterfly pea): Rich in antioxidants, reduces fatigue, and slows aging.
  • Simal (Red cotton tree): Used for wound healing and stopping bleeding.
  • Sutho (Dry ginger): Effective against germs, period pains, and bloating.
  • Tejpat (Bay leaves): Acts as a stress buster, natural wound healer, improves digestion, and supports heart health.
  • Thulo Okhati (Astilbe rivularis): Used for pre- and post-pregnancy recovery.

These herbs collectively offer a wide range of health benefits, making battisa powder a valuable traditional remedy in Nepal, especially for women’s health during pregnancy and post-pregnancy phases. Contrary to the assumption that traditional medicine is primarily relied upon by the poor and marginalized due to its accessibility, battisa enjoys popularity among all Nepali.

In light of this, it becomes crucial to foster a better understanding of the diverse knowledge and practices employed by traditional practitioners in Nepal. The preservation, promotion, and mainstreaming of traditional medicines and practices should be prioritized to avoid being perpetually caught in the rat race for market-developed superfoods.

The author is a UK-based R&D chef