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Ayurvastra, Cosmeto-Textiles, and Skin

Edited Dec 20, 2010: Comments on this blog entry have been closed. This is not a bulletin board for commercial inquiries. Please conduct your research in a more appropriate forum.

Posted this past week was a muse about infusing fabrics with scents, presumedly to make products more attractive to consumers choosing between many different but competing items: Sensual Fabrics: RTW

Infusing fabrics to affect the human state of being is not new. Ayurvedic practitioners have infused organic dyes and medicines into coir mats and fabrics to affect healing and the production of this type of fabric has been revived in India.

From http://in.news.yahoo.com/061020/139/68nne.html:

Kerala promotes use of ‘Ayurvastra’ to cure diseases

By ANI
Friday October 20, 02:47 PM
New Delhi, Oct. 20 (ANI):

The ancient art of healing by wearing the Ayurvedic cloth (organic cloth) or “Ayurvastra” is being revived in Kerala

Promoted by the Directorate of Handlooms, and the Department of Dravyaguna Vijnan, Government Ayurveda College, the “Ayurvastra” is being manufactured primarily for export.

The cloth was recently on display at “AROGYA”, the health mela in Delhi. The firm, Penchant Traders, is promoting the benefits of this cloth.

“Ayurvastra” is 100 per cent pure cotton handloom fabric. It can be used as Ayurvedic treatment for diseases like diabetes, skin infections, hypertension, asthma, arthritis and also for boosting immunity. It costs around Rs 150 to Rs 450 per metre.

According to Chaitanya Arora of Penchant, “the cloth does not loose its effect after constant use because the medical dyes (herbs) go into the yarn itself. The yarn is dipped into the herbs and the fabric is dipped again”.

“For the colouring purpose natural herbs like turmeric (haldi) and saffron (kesar) are used,” Arora added.

To wash the cloth, organic soap such as Ritha should be used, Arora said.

“Ayurvastra” is often referred to as a wonder fabric by those who have benefited from it.

“The idea behind Ayurvastra is that immunity levels are raised. Usage of the cloth is based on the principle of touch. By coming in contact with Ayurvastra, the body loses toxins and its metabolism is enhanced,” Arora explained

That sounds like it couldn’t hurt unless you are allergic to the chemicals in the medicinal plants. The main use would be in sheets, mats and towels as it’s recommended that the body be relaxed in order to benefit from the contact with the fabric. The State Government has been convinced enough by tests to grant the Ayurveda College $250,000 to develope the dyes. But a complaint comes from those who gather the medicinal herbs in the surrounding woods … they are way underpaid, they say. Follow the money….

And there’s another aspect to this fabric infusion kick: Cosmeto-Textiles. Cosmeto-Textiles are infused with “slimming agents, perfumes and cremes”. Today, a report comes from a textile industry portal, that in spite of scepticisim at a recent Paris lingerie show, there are two companies reporting strong sales and bright futures: Onixxa, which offers 30 different products with “slimming agents” including tights and jeans and expects to turnover $27,600,000 by 2009; and Invista, which makes fabrics with aloe vera and perfumes that are after only 3 years, sold to manufacturers around the world.

OK, so even if we are sceptical, we might give one of these products a try to become healthier, slimmer, more comfortable in our own skins.

So hey, how will our skins react?  That could be a total unknown as the breaking news today in the Washington Post reveals.  Martin J. Blaser of New York University School of Medicine is using the latest technological tools to anaylze the swabbed skin of 3 men and 3 women.  From patches of about 1.25″ square on each person’s right and left forearm:

The analysis revealed 182 species, the researchers reported. Of those, 30 had never been seen. They identified an additional 65 species when they sampled four of the volunteers eight to 10 months later, including 14 new species.

Wow!  It turns out that microbial populations of the skin’s surface have been researched only as far as the microbes that could be grown in laboratory dishes.

That makes me fervently hope that the scientific research will be as well funded as the development of the old and new additives to fabrics have been.

A more complete assessment of this research can be found at the BioSingularity Blog

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About Mary Beth

I am fascinated by changing patterns and colored threads. I sew garments and am teaching myself to machine knit. Since selling the building that housed my workrooms, The Stitchery, I'm searching for a place to set up the knitting machines again. There must be room here somewhere!

4 responses

  1. Nice report MB on new horizons in textile technoloogy. Anti-microbial fabrics are in use already in therapeutic situations. I fear that over-reliance on techno solutions could lead to problems seen with anti-microbial alcohol-based hand purifiers. Kills 98–99%, but its the couple that are left unchecked that can get you.

  2. Good point, Georgene! I never use those hand purifiers but I’m not shaking hands often either. I just hope that the scientists who study the biological partnerships we may have with bacteria can help us to not alter beneficial relationships.

  3. That is the problem … maintaining the balance. Those purifiers kill the beneficial bacteria as well as the harmful. There is so much not known, that I would be hesitant to use any such fabric. I don’t even use any of those linen sprays. I figure if it needs perfuming then perhaps I should just clean it! Likewise, Febreeze is a no-no in my house.

  4. I was very skeptical when DH gave me some antimicrobial running clothes, because I’m against all that sanitizing stuff as well. But the clothes turned out to be 100% wool. (And surprisingly comfy for running in, but that’s probably a different topic.) I never knew wool was naturally antimicrobial. It’s not that it kills the germs, just doesn’t let ‘em stick. I do love that these clothes don’t smell… but if the germs aren’t sticking to the clothes, where are they going? (Hopefully down the drain when I shower.)

    I would still be skeptical of these new techno-fabrics, for the same reasons already mentioned.

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