Herbs all around the world are a major part of local medicine and cuisine. Over small regions, a diverse range of flora makes them specific to vernacular culture, influencing lifestyle, health and food. As it holds true for any other place, it does so for Kashmir as well. Hidden amongst the mountains, this is where each season brings about its own blessings. Though undervalued, the green carpeting foliage of Kashmir is all the treasure one needs.
Our ancestors have held a deep knowledge of local greens, which over time, has guided them to survive harsh seasons and treat a wide range of acute diseases. Stinging Nettle, locally known as Soi, is a herbaceous plant rich in vitamins, minerals and covering a balanced protein composition. Growing everywhere as an unwanted weed, it is credited with a highly unpleasant irritant effect which is unfortunately a useful tool in the hands of parents to make children behave properly! All around Kashmir, few people are able to appreciate the many benefits of Soi which is partly sustained only because of passed down traditions. Local pansari and hakeem shops too are dwindling because of a large disinterest in traditional medicine. Pharmacological properties of Soi include analgesic (pain relieving), antihypertensive and anti proliferative effects. Stimulation of the defense system and prevention of heart diseases are favoured medicinal effects of nettle as well. Though available throughout the year, it is preferred to collect the leaves, with due precaution, during early spring or till late autumn. They can be either dried up for the coming winters or used up immediately in the form of infusions and herbal teas, decoction and juices.
Hayaan Naim – 12th