Indian Peafowl used in Indian traditional medicine

posted in: Miscellaneous | 2
Indian Peafowl - YC Wee
Male Indian Peafowl – YC Wee

The Indian Peafowl (Pavo cristatus) is admired for the beauty of the male (above). The bird is sacred to the Hindus and mentioned in Indian mythology and Sanskrit texts. This is because the god Kartikeya (Murugan, Skanda and Subramaniyamwho) is the son of Lord Shiva and Parvati and brother of Ganesh, the elephant-headed god, uses the peafowl as a vehicle (below) – see also HERE.

Murugan by RajaRaviVarma Credit Wikimedia Commons.jpg
Kartikeya with his wives by Raja Ravi Varma – Wikimedia Commons

The peafowl is supposed to have the ability to hypnotise snakes as well as make their eggs rotten, thus it is the main destroyer of snakes. With such power, is it a wonder then that the flesh of the peafowl is believed to have the property of curing snake bites? Indeed oil from the fat of the peafowl is used to cure rheumatism, gout and arthritis. This ointment is recorded in the Singhalese pharmacopoeia as a cure for sprains and dislocation of the joints.

The ash from the burnt feathers is a remedy for vomiting. The smoke from burning feathers is claimed to remove the poisonous effect from the house and purifies the environment.

Peafowl feathers showing the many "eyes." - YC Wee
Peafowl feathers showing the many “eyes.” – YC Wee

The peacock’s crest is ground to a powder and taken for health. The “eye” in the feathers is used as an antidote for rat-bite (above). These feathers are used to treat various eye problems.

S. Devasahayam commented on our earlier post “Minyak burong butbut or Crow Pheasant oil” that “In India peacock oil is considered as a cure for arthritis and the birds which are considered endangered are poached for this purpose. A consignment of peacock oil which was meant for export to Malaysia was seized in Chennai a few years ago. … Thankfully the use of birds in preparation of indigenous medicine is relatively less in India…”

YC Wee & S. Devasahayam
Singapore – India
12th December 2016

Lal, Krishna, 2006. Peacock in Indian art, thought and literature. Delhi, Abhinav Publications LINK.

2. McGowan, P. J. K., 1994. Family Phasianidae (Pheasants and Partridges). In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A. & Sargatal, J. eds. Handbook of the birds of the world. Vol. 2. New world vultures to guineafowl. Lynx Editions, Barcelona. Pp. 434-552.

2 Responses

  1. S. Devasahayam

    Thanks to strict wild life conservation laws in India, peafowls have now become common across the country and are often found foraging around villages and towns. In bustling cities like Delhi they even nest in porches and terraces of buildings. In fact in some states like Goa, there was a proposal to term them as ‘vermin’ along with monkeys and wild boars due to the damage they cause to farm crops.

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