Ayurvastra 'Health cloth'
Herbally dyed 'Ayurvastra Cloth' is an ancient technique of dyeing textiles in medicinal herbs as a means of practising ayurvedic medicine. Ayurveda originated in Kerala some 5000 years ago and has been used to treat various illnesses. Ayur is Sanskrit and roughly translates to “health,” while veda means “wisdom” or "knowledge" and vastra means “cloth” or “clothing.” Ayurvastra thus literally means “health cloth.”
Archeus herbally dyed bedlinen is made from GOTS certified organic cotton and then dyed with concoctions of beneficial herbs used in ayurvedic medicine in the treatment of conditions. No chemicals or bleach is used to prepare the fabric. It is dipped a number of times in the vats of medicinal herbs and then finished with castor oil. The final fabric is beautifully soft. Water used in the process is used for irrigation and the solid plant matter is used as compost.
Clinical trials to test ayurvedically dyed cloth was commissioned by the Ministry of Health at the Government Ayurveda College in Kerala, India. The trials showed positive results, especially in the cases of arthritis and skin ailments.
The organic cotton is woven on traditional handlooms and then dyed in concoctions of medicinal herbs known as kayashas. The fabric is then left to cure, rinsed and then finished with a mix of aloe, water and castor oil.
As Archeus founder Georgina was developing the Archeus textile range she became increasingly alarmed by what she discovered about mainstream fabric dyeing and finishing. The mainstream global textile sector uses over 8000 chemicals in fabric production. Many are toxic and persist in the environment These include heavy-metal-rich dyes and fixing agents, bleaches, solvents and detergents. Textile waste discharged into in waterways accounts for over 20% of global water pollution and create a myriad of health issues for workers and communities. Many fabrics such as those that are ‘fire retardant’ or ‘crease free’ are finished with toxic chemicals including formaldehyde.
Before establishing Archeus, Georgina worked for the United Nations Environment Programme on global environmental issues including assessing the cost of environmental damage from the textile and agricultural sector. This experience brought home the fact that consumers cannot make informed choice without information and shaped the way she developed Archeus. She feels that by producing natural and organic fibre products dyed with medicinal herbs she is helping give consumers a choice about what they put next to their skin as well as on it.
“Ultimately I think that people want to know they are making buying choices that are good for both human and environmental health. Given the choice between heavy-metals and herbs, I know what I would rather have on my skin! Many of the plants used in the Archeus textile range are also used in making our natural and organic skincare products and I just love that,” says Georgina.
A clinical trial initiated by the Ministry of Health at the Government Ayurveda College in Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala, suggest that Medicinal Cloth does indeed work. For the study, patients suffering from rheumatism, allergies, hypertension, diabetes, psoriasis and other skin ailments were constantly exposed to ayurvedic herbs for 30 days through Medicinal Cloth clothing, bed linens, and mattresses. Walls, floors, and ceilings in the subjects’ room were further lined with Medicinal Cloth coir mats. According to Dr. Vishwanathan, the former Dean of the Drug Research Department at Ayurveda College, the response was “remarkably good,” especially in the cases of arthritis and skin ailments where the patients showed a "marked improvement."