A Chinese physician and a university microbiologist has suggested that a commonly grown herb known as neem (Azadirachta indica) can help in the recovery from chicken pox.
While the Malays call it daun semambu, the Chinese and Indians refer to it as ying lian (in Mandarin) and veepelai, respectively.
Chinese physician Lee Hack Peik said the herb could be brewed together with chrysanthemum to make herbal tea, which worked well for acne, chicken pox and measles.
"It tastes bitter but it contains properties that can help to purify the blood, remove toxins and cleanse the liver," the Star Online quoted Hack Peik as saying.
"It also helps to reduce body heat and reduce the severity of rashes and relieve itching," Hack Peik added.
Dr Soshi Sashidaran, a microbiologist and lecturer in Universiti Sains Malaysia`s Institute for Research in Molecular Medicine, said neem leaves could be used as bedding to aid in the recovery from chicken pox.
He said the leaves had anti-viral properties, which worked to relieve intense itching and scarring usually associated with chicken pox.
"You can also eat young neem leaves; it tastes extremely bitter but it`s good for health," he said.
He said that neem contained phytochemicals (the plant`s natural ingredients) such as alkaloids and flavonoids, which were of potential benefit to human health, from which modern antibiotics had been based upon.
Dr Soshi added that in Hindu tradition, water for bathing was mixed with neem leaves and tamarind powder, kept overnight and exposed to early morning sunlight before being used to help in chicken pox recovery.
"Hindus believe in praying to the sun god early in the morning," he said, adding that scientific research had proven that sunlight during that period was good for health.