This is article is by Dr M S Krishnamurthy MD (Ayu)PhD.
Ayurveda has explained food timings, nature of food to be consumed, position to be taken while consuming the food etc can also be found with its benefits, merits and demerits.
Ayurveda recommends use of mud, metallic vessels for cooking and leaf plates for meals. This has many scientific reasoning and health benefits.
Read related – Qualities Of Water Stored In Different Vessels
Once such unique concept is explained here below and it is related to the Patra bhojana – leaf plate meals. (Patra=leaf,
bhojana=intake of food).
References are cited to explain the benefits of different kind of metallic plates used for cooking, serving, preserving, eating etc.
The food particles in the micro levels react with the good phyto-chemicals of the plant leaves. This in turn yields in negating the adverse effects of the food in micro level. The inter-reaction between the food and the plate is more pronounced in hot or acidic food substances.
In case of metallic vessels – if you ever have taken bath from water boiled in a bit iron / copper / bronze vessel, you might have noticed the difference between that experience versus the common tap water bath experience. It is more soothing and energizing.
As per Ayurveda, metals like gold, silver, iron etc do have their own health effects. Gold especially is told to have immunity enhancing benefits. Hence, it is administered to children in the form of
Swarna Bindu Prashana – a generalized immunity boosting schedule and
Swarna Vacha – to improve immunity, memory and speech.
Why Kings were using silver and gold plates –
Charaka says – Na Sajjate Hemapange Visham Padmadale Ambuvat | Charaka Samhita Sutrasthana 23rd Chapter, 240th Verse.
Meaning, if a person is habituated to Hema – gold (by intake of Gold Bhasma or by using golden vessels for cooking, eating etc), the person’s body becomes resistant to poisons. This is like a lotus leaf being resistant to water drops!
In olden periods, Kings used to have meals on golden and silver plates for immunity benefiting effects. Even the foods were cooked in golden and silver vessels. They were doing so to thwart the threat of food poisoning.
Gold is prime. Silver has similar qualities to gold but is lesser.
Non stick pans have been identified as cause for thyroid disorders (1) and (2). A study by the University of Exeter and the Peninsula Medical School has clearly demonstrated links between thyroid disease with exposure to perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) or per-fluorinated compounds (PFCs). These are present in non stick pans.
So, non stick pans can cause harmful effects, then definitely traditional metallic vessels and leaf plates should have positive effects on health.
A brief account of the same is given below-
Reference: Bhojana Kutoohala text book by Raghunath Suri
Golden vessels/plates – Balances all three Doshas, good for eyes, complexion enhancer and rejuvenating.
Silver vessels/plates – Good for eyes, Tridosha balancing, memory enhancing.
Bronze vessels/plates –
Intellect promoting, appetizer,
promotes qualities of blood and Pitta (rakta-pitta prasadaka),
Increases Pitta and Vata Dosha.
Balances Kapha Dosha.
dry-hot and wormicide.
Iron and glass vessels/plates – Anti inflammatory, tonic, good in anemia, jaundice etc.
Earthen and stone vessels/plates – Auspicious, healthy and wholesome
Wooden vessels/plates – Appetizer, increases Kapha. Balances Vata and Pitta.
Sphatika (Quartz) vessels/plates – Cold, prosperous, coolant to the body, balances Pitta Dosha.
In addition to this various leaves are also advised to make into plates and such leaves too contribute healthy benefits. In general wider leaves are used as plates. In specific cases even the smaller leaves are used by clipping them in between (each other).
Usually leaf plates are explained to be appetizers, carminatives, anti poisonous, prosperous etc. Probably it is the reason why in several temples, Dharmashalas and temples, this is used as serving plates.
Leaves as meal plates – Benefits:
Eco friendly, easy to dispose. After eating, cut into small pieces and put it under plant. It turns into manure. (read: Easy natural compost for herbal garden)
Easy to clean. Takes only a handful of water quantity to clean one big leaf.
Very big plates – especially banana and Palash leaves. Easily accommodates a wide variety of delicacies.
Water proof. Holds Sambhar, rasam etc liquid foods very easily.
Adds a nice earthy aroma to the dishes served.
Leaf meals, benefits
Banana leaf meal benefits –
Hridya (cardiac tonic, pleasureful),
Vishaghna (anti poisonous),
Balances Pitta and Vata Dosha
Shramahara (relieves exhaustion and fatigue),
not good for anemia!
Read related – Plantain, Banana Uses, Research, Remedies, Side Effects
Banana leaf contains many polyphenols such as epigallocatechin gallate (EPCG), polyphenol oxidase, which act as anti oxidants. This helps in improving immunity of the body to fight many lifestyle disorders. (research)
Palasha (Butea monosperma) leaf –
Balances Vata and Kapha Dosha
Ruchya (appetizer), Brimhana (nutritive). Useful in Gulma (gaseous tumors), Udara (abdominal disorders), Peenasa (rhinitis ) etc.
Hastikarni (Lea macrophylla) leaf –
Kshareeya (alkaline), Katu (pungent),
Jantughna (wormicide), Kaphahara,
Jwarhara (anti pyretic), Sheeta jwarahara (acts against cold associated fever)
Arka patra (Calotropis gigantea) leaf – Ruksha (dry),
Krimighna (wormicide), Pittakara, Kaphavatahara, Netrya (good for eye), Laghu (light), Deepana (carminative), Pachana (digestive).
Useful in Gulma (gaseous tumor), Shoola (abdominal pain),
Shwasa (breathlessness) etc.
Read related: Calotropis gigantea – Arka Uses
Eranda patra (Castor ) leaf –
Balances Vata Dosha,
Ksheeri vriksha patra (Latex yielding tree leaf) –
Raktapittashamaka – useful in bleeding disorders
Recommended in Trishna (thirst), Pandu (anemia),
Shotha (oedema), Shwasa (breathlessness),
Somaroga (leucorrhoea) etc.
Ketaki (Pandanus odorata. ) leaf –
Granthinashaka (good to dissolve the cysts),
Manohara (pleasure enhancing), Ruchya (appetizer), Chakshushya (good for eyes), Laghu (light)
Read related: Kewda Flower, Fruit (Screw Pine) Uses
Nalini-Kumuda-Raktotpala-Utpala patra (leaves of varieties of lotus) –
Good for the individuals who are tired due to work (shramahara);
Energizer (balya) and pacifier of Pitta dosha.
When we are using dangerous, harmful and costlier plastics, is it not the right time to take shift towards such disposable, biodegradable and cost effective leaf plates in our usual practice. Also we can strengthen one sector of people by creating job opportunity.
This will add value to the less used leaves. Forest department, tourism and agriculture departments if take initiation in this regard best performance can be shown in near future.
Contact Dr MS Krishnamurthy MD (Ayu), PhD