Monday, 17 October 2011

Malay Health

I am intrigued by Malay Health and how the Malay people maintain their health. Their routine is different from what I have been taught in school & universities, and what I have known this far from books and textbooks. This post is about Malay Health from my own observation. I will highlight just a few things to let you re-think whether Malay Health is actually worth a re-study. It is a pity that the general mass today is pushing Malay Health aside as unnecessary and irrelevant as they fail to understand the basis of Malay Health & Practices. Though their practices are alluded to in modern online blogs and TV programs, there is nothing like taking a close look and searching for the right reasons as to why they were preferred practices within the Malay community for so long, even before Western Medicine reached the shores of Tanah Melayu. Let's see what has been on my mind ...

The Malay people bath daily. The elderly do not use any soap for the skin, body and face. They bathe with cold water in the morning before Subuh prayer. They bathe with luke warm water in the evening. They avoid baths at night. The do not bathe at night - the reason being it will be easy to catch a cold if one bathes at night. The leats bath is in the evening, before the Maghrib prayer.

House cleaning
The Malay people put out their bedding materials out in the sun every morning. They beat theor pillows and put them on the window sills to get the morning sun. The bedding materials are left to dry in the sun till noon when they are taken in - very hot! They are puffed and given new covers. This gets rid of bed bugs, ticks and lice, if any. The Malay people hardly suffer from skin diseases; they have very good and clean skin.

Skin inflictions
Malaysia is hot humid weather. There are cases of ringworm on the face and other body parts. The Malay people avoid washing the face when one is sweating profusely as after a game or working in the fields. This is to avoid ringworm infestation. However, male schoolchildren do get ringworm infestation on the cheeks and necks. With the imposition of closed shoes with shoe laces, schoolchildren (and adults) suffer from athlete's foot, which is quite difficult to cure in some stubborn cases. Schoolchildren even walk to school (and go home) in wet shoes in the monsoon season. Foot infections are a big problem especially if wearing closed shoes. Sandals were not allowed in Malayan schools; they are not allowed in Malaysian schools. Unlike in Australia, footwear has not received proper attention in Malaysian schools. In Australia, schoolchildren wear closed shoes in winter and wear sandals in summer.

The Malay people have very good eyesight. Most Malay schoolchildren do not wear any glasses or contact lenses throughout school and university. Many do not need glasses throughout their working lives. Many continue to enjoy good eyesight in old age. They have good eye practices to maintain eye health. Ask them.

Oral health
The Malay people have very good dentition and maintain oral health very well. In the olden days, they used powdered charcoal (from pounded burnt areca nut) mixed with ash and salt, to brush their teeth white and clean. They gargle with a solution made from strained pounded cloves with added salt. Some chew cardamom pods with uncooked rice grains (and spit the spent matter). Some prefer to chew betel leaves and areca nut. In the olden days, the rich men and women coat their teeth with gold leaf, thus they have golden teeth to show off. They remove collected pus from their tonsils by clearing their throats early in the morning when they bathe. Though the throat-clearing sound is awful, it is effective and works well for many and the likeliness of tonsilitis is nil. Men clear their throats more than women. Thus, they do not suffer from bad breath. However, acetone can be smelled in their breath when they fast. Patients with oral cancers do have bad breath.

Hand washing
The Malay people eat with their right hand. They wash the hands (or the fingers) with running water at the tap, by dipping their fingers in a bowl of water, or the washing the fingers from a small metal or plastic kettle. Raw water is used for washing fingers/hands before eating. Foe home eating, the Malay people do not use any utensils - no spoon or fork.

The Malay people prefer home cooking for its freshness and cleanliness. The Malay people take hygienic food and avoid carcass. They eat halal food as opposed to koshered food preferred by the Jews. Halal food is prepared by reading Bismillah (in the name of Allah); koshered food maybe similar but Bismillah is never read for its preparation. They eat mainly rice with gravy and a good source of proteins. The health-conscious ones take a hefty amount of greens. However, that habit of eating greens has died down a bit in today's young Malay people as they migrate away from traditional Malay food to fast food. There are various foods prepared for various ailments. Soups containing fish (tuna variety), asam keping, lemon grass and galangher are for reducing the symptoms of asthma. Vegetables prepared with coconut milk, sweet potatoes and dark green leafy vegetables are for overcoming anaemia - 2 greens of special mention are daun cekak manis and daun keloh.