Proper way to take medicinal bath (vethu kuli)

As per our postnatal care system for new mothers in Kerala, having medicinal hot baths is one of the crucial items. If done properly, it helps in relieving you from all pains in your body, and protects you from back pain for a very long time.

The main ingredient of this routine is the medicinal water to be used for bathing.

Once you have the medicinal water (‘Vethu vellam’ in Malayalam) ready, you are good to start.

Things needed

      • Medicinal water (‘Vethu vellam’ in Malayalam)
      • Eencha/ green gram powder / gram flour (You will get this from local traditional medical stores ‘Angadi marunnu kada’ in Malayalam)
      • Dhanwantharam Kuzhampu (You will get this from ayurvedic medical stores)
      • A yoga mat / rubber sheet

Preparation for bath

      • You should not discard the leaves in the prepared water, but use it to apply heat to the painful areas in your body. The leaves would be sedimented towards the bottom of the pot. Include some from them in the water you are taking for bathing.
      • Keep the water to wash hair handy.
      • We use auyrvedic ‘kuzhampu’ (medicinal oil) to massage mother’s body before bath. Buy a bottle of ‘Dhanwantharam Kuzhampu’ from an Ayurvedic medical store for this purpose.
      • We don’t use soap to wash off the kuzhampu, instead we use Eencha (Acacia caesia wild) as a scrub, which effectively removes the kuzhampu. Keep the required amount of Eencha with you.
      • Heat about 30ml of the kuzhampu in a steel vessel. Do not overheat it; the temperature should not go above 50°C.
      • It is ideal to have someone help you with this whole process. Only then can we do a proper massage along with local area heat application.

Bathing in medicinal water

    • Apply a hair oil and massage it onto your scalp. You must always apply a hair oil before using kuzhampu. (Click here for instructions on how to prepare hair oil).
    • Spread a generous amount of kuzhampu all over your body. Never use this on your hair, even though you may use this on your face (Instructions to prepare a face oil is available here)
    • If you had cesarean delivery, please take care that kuzhampu doesn’t come into contact with your wound. You may cover the wound by tying a small strip of cloth around it.
    • Wait for at least 15 minutes before proceeding to the next step. If you can wait for 30 minutes, that would be ideal.
    • Massage your body, giving special emphasis to areas with pain. 
    • If you have someone to help you, you can lie down on a yoga mat / rubber sheet on the floor. If not, please keep standing and proceed to the next step.
    • Using both hands,scoop up handful of leaves, along with some water from the hot medicinal water. Apply this all over your body as if you are massaging your body. Retain this for a minute at painful areas. This is good for relieving pain. Please note that there should be both water and leaves in your hands when you do this. Otherwise leaves will get cold soon, which is not good for the body. If you use only water and no leaves, then you won’t be able to apply heat locally. Use a quarter of the available water and all of leaves for this.
    • Scrub off the remaining kuzhampu using Eencha and rest of the hot water poured on your body using a mug. You need not use soap for removing kuzhampu. Eencha may feel a bit rough on your body. If you are uncomfortable using this, please use green gram powder (‘payaru podi’ in malayalam) or gram flour (‘kadalamavu’ in malayalam).
    • Do not use Eencha on your nipples. Wash off the kuzhampu from such delicate areas using soap. If you had covered your cesarean delivery wound with a cloth as indicated before, please remove it and wash the area thoroughly with soap and water. For rest of the body, Eencha / green gram powder / gram flour should work fine.
    • Wash off your face with the normal temperature water prepared for hair washing. Again, use only soap / green gram powder / gram flour on your face.
    • Wash off your hair with normal water. You may use ‘chemparathi thaali’ (natural hair wash) to wash off excessive oil.
    • Your bath is now over. Apply ‘rasnadi powder’ on your head and lie down on a wooden coat (with its bed removed) for at least ten minutes before going about the daily tasks. 

Notes for your consideration:

    • For women who had normal delivery, you can start this routine as soon as you reach home from hospital. But if you had a c-section, please wait for fifteen days before following the method described here.
    • You must take bath between 7AM and 11AM every day. Before and after this time might trigger sinusitis and common cold / fever.
    • The water should be allowed to cool on its own after boiling it. You should not add common cold water to adjust the temperature; it greatly weakens our mixture. So it is best to boil the water a day before you are planning to use it, and just heat it to the desired temperature before bath.
    • The water should not be too cold, the temperature should be above what you would normally use. The more hot the water is, the better. It is supposed to provide relief from back pain and other injuries in your body. But please note that you should not scald yourself. The water temperature should be within your endurance limit.
    • Since ‘Kuzhambu’ has a distinctive odour, it would be good if you keep aside two pairs of clothes and towels especially for the period when you are having this bath. It will take some time to get the smell off them.

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