Pathimukham Water: The Ayurvedic Concoction From Kerala
Image Credit: YouTube @Madhu Samayal

Indians drink water in a matter-of-fact way. The most distinction one can draw between different types of water can be between tap water, mineral water and sparkling water. But down South, especially in Kerala, people refer to normal water as pacha vellam, meaning, raw, untreated water. And for good reasons too, since historically, Keralites have been drinking water from underground wells. To treat the water and make it free from any impurities, Malayalis have relied on Ayurveda for centuries and with the advent of each season, the water changes hue with the addition of different herbs, as prescribed in our ancient texts. Whether it be in their homes, or out in hotels and restaurants, everybody has a pitcher of hot infused water that is customary to serve along with meals or to drink as is. In summers, it is mostly Pathimukham, which is dried wood shavings of SappanWood tree or East Indian red wood tree. The heartwood or the core of the bark of the tree is white but after sun-drying, it turns red, after which it is turned into thin strips. When boiled in water, the wooden shaving diffuses the red colour into the water making it more nutritional and filled with various properties that it becomes better than normal water. If you're still scratching your head on whether or not to adopt this habit, here's a 5 nutritional benefits from having Pathimukham. 

Anti-microbial properties: Water boiled with sappanwood shavings have anti-microbial properties in them due to the presence of methanol in the wood itself. It inhibits methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus bacteria, which causes infections and food poisoning.  

  1. Rich in anti-oxidants: The anti-oxidative properties of sappanwood infused water helps counter free radicals in our body. The hot drink is soothing and can be had as a tea throughout the day to keep oneself hydrated and energized. 
  2. Keeps the heart healthy: Brazilein is the red pigment in sappanwood which gives the wood and the water it gets infused in, a distinct magenta colour. It is also beneficial for overall heart health and proper functioning of the cardiovascular system. 
  3. Helps combat seizures: Seizures are sudden bursts of uncontrolled electrical activity between brain cells that cause temporary abnormalities in muscle activity or movements. Research has concluded that extracts of pathimugam or has shown anticonvulsant activities benefitting those who suffer from convulsions due to epilepsy and other similar disorders. 
  4. Potent blood purifier: Pathimukham infused water is effective in purifying blood and is used in treating certain conditions of the blood, including Dysmenorrhea and Amenorrhea. Its medicinal properties have been shown to purify the blood which, in turn, cures skin problems like acne as well. 
  5. Good for the gut: Considered as an astringent, the sappanwood decoction can be used against dysentery, diarrhea and treating stomach ailments. It is also diuretic which means it flushes the toxins out of our body preventing buildup in kidney, liver and stomach walls and joints.