Himalayan Ethnobotanical Cosmetic Pearls

 In Naturopathic News

In the Himalayan region of Kashmir, Pakistan, tribal women have been using medicinal plants for cosmetic purposes for generations upon generations. An article which came across my desk this week has compiled information from 310 women in 16 different villages regarding which plants are commonly used, and for which purposes.1 A total of 39 different plants are utilized, and many of them are fairly ubiquitous the world over, such as garlic and onion. Others are more specific to the Himalayan region. Within the article is a great chart from which I will reproduce a handful of these traditional Himalayan beauty techniques.


  • Allium sativum – Garlic cloves are crushed and powder is applied over the pimples. It is then washed off with cold water and dried thoroughly.
  • Curcuma picta – Curcuma root powder is used daily with water to reduce pimples.
  • Dioscoria deloidea – Dried root slices are blended to form a fine powder. This powder is used daily with water.
  • Mentha longifolia – Extract of mint leaves is applied on the affected areas of skin. It proves as an excellent skin cleanser and curing blackheads. Also, is mixed with oat and applied on pimples and washed with cold water after twenty minutes.

Facial Treatments:

  • Exfoliate dead skinAllium cepa (onion) – Flour, onion juice and milk are mixed to form a thick paste. This paste is applied on face and neck for 15 – 20 minutes until it dries.
  • Facial massageAllium cepa (onion) – Fresh onion juice is mixed with fresh yogurt. It is then massaged on entire face in gentle circular movement for 15 minutes every day.
  • Circles under the eyesCucumis sativus (cucumber)
    • 1: Cucumber slices are placed on eyes for 5 to 10 minutes.
    • 2: Cotton is dipped in cucumber juice. This cotton is applied on eyelids for 10 to 20 minutes for fairness.
  • Wrinkles
    • Citrus limon (lemon) – Lemon extract is applied on face wrinkles twice or thrice a day.
    • Curcuma picta (turmeric) – Turmeric powder with milk is mixed up very gently to make a paste and applied daily at face wrinkles.
    • Pyrus malas (apple) – Apple is mixed with unsalted butter, honey and egg yolk. This mask provides intense moisturizing and antiaging effects when applied for twenty minutes on the face.
  • Face scars Rosa indica (rose) Rose water is mixed with clay (multani matti) to make a paste. It is applied on face for 15 minutes for one week daily.
  • Face spots
    • Vitis vinifera (grape leaves) – Leaves are crushed; their juice is extracted and taken orally. This treatment kills the nematodes in the abdomen and ultimately removes the white spots from skin.
    • Prunus persica (peach leaves) – Leaves are crushed and applied on the white circles of face.
    • Pyrus pashia (pear leaves) –
      • 1: Leaves are crushed and applied on facial skin.
      • 2: Ground radish seeds and yogurt mixture are applied on the face. This treatment also removes unwanted spots from face.
    • Pyrus malas (apple) Apple is crushed with turmeric and equal proportion of rose water and lemon juice to form a paste. This paste is applied daily on face for 2 weeks for curing unwanted spots.


  1. Shaheen H, Nazir J, Firdous SS, Khalid AU. Cosmetic ethnobotany practiced by tribal women of Kashmir Himalayas. Avicenna J Phytomed. 2014;4(4):239-50.

Node Smith, associate editor for NDNR, is a fifth year naturopathic medical student at NUNM, where he has been instrumental in maintaining a firm connection to the philosophy and heritage of naturopathic medicine amongst the next generation of docs. He helped found the first multi-generational experiential retreat, which brings elders, alumni, and students together for a weekend campout where naturopathic medicine and medical philosophy are experienced in nature. Three years ago he helped found the non-profit, Association for Naturopathic ReVitalization (ANR), for which he serves as the board chairman. ANR has a mission to inspire health practitioners to embody the naturopathic principles through experiential education. Node also has a firm belief that the next era of naturopathic medicine will see a resurgence of in-patient facilities which use fasting, earthing, hydrotherapy and homeopathy to bring people back from chronic diseases of modern living; he is involved in numerous conversations and projects to bring about this vision.

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