Armmad: honoring Armenian roots, reviving ancient practices

Palig Mouradian is reconnecting with her roots while unearthing medieval Armenian herbal remedies with armmad.

“Through wars and massacres we lost our land, and we tie our history and our identity with our land. I thought it was beautiful to think that armmad is a modern way to tie us back to our land,” said Mouradian, the founder of the new organic remedy-focused startup. 

Armmad, which means “root” in Armenian, is a growing collection of six topical salves to treat skin irritations, muscle cramps, and joint pain as well as three mood healing balms with aromatherapy to ease anxiety (R and R Balm), relieve sorrow (Down and Out Balm) and lighten tension (Bone to Pick Balm). She also wants to create natural products to help with eczema, psoriasis, hair loss, and inattention. Her products are cruelty-free, and all ingredients are natural and non-toxic. 

Mouradian said her goal is to target benign and uncomfortable conditions through ancient medicinal treatments that do not foster the common side effects that come with modern medicine. “My ultimate goal is to treat symptoms that go untreated. A lot of people just go along with life dealing with conditions that are swept under the rug, but I want to help them find a way to address it in a way that’s not harmful to people,” she explained.

Mouradian, who has an educational background in neuroscience and mechanical engineering, says she was inspired by the documented works of medieval Armenian doctors. She says her research of healing remedies is a blend of contemporary studies of Armenia’s herbal market with the 15th-century studies of the ancient Armenian physician Amirdovlat of Amasia.

A Watertown native and a proud member of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation (ARF), Mouradian’s ancestral roots stem from Kharpert, Anteb, Sassoun, and Malatya. She learned that Armenians in Kharpert once used frankincense trees as a spiritual totem for healing and its resin for its therapeutic properties. After drawing upon her research of the region, she created her own daily facial salve recipe (Baby Face) with frankincense essential oil.

“Certain herbs fall into certain classes in terms of when they bloom. Certain herbs also correspond with different elements of the earth, or they correspond with different planets so I tried to group them similarly,” Mouradian said as she explained her thoughtful approach to her recipes. She even imports daffodil oil from India.

Mouradian’s recipes are a fusion of more than 15 herbs including mugwort, yarrow, goldenrod, and comfrey leaf. The herbs are native to both the northeast region of the United States and Armenia, where she hopes to source her ingredients shortly. Despite Armenia’s lack of natural resources, Mouradian hopes that its bountiful native herbs and plants can fill the void and strengthen her homeland.

Mouradian spends weeks perfecting her handmade products. Her process is similar to the ancient practices of the Armenians of Marash. After extracting the herb’s properties with alcohol, she infuses it with grapeseed oil. She then sets the herbs on stone for a few weeks and uses the sun as her heat source to honor her ancestors. Finally, she mixes the infused oil with beeswax and essential oils and allows them to cool and harden in metal tins.

On Sunday, close friends and family, who have been eagerly waiting for Mouradian’s vision to come to life, logged in to Zoom for a virtual ribbon-cutting ceremony to celebrate the launch of her e-commerce website. “Everything that you did to incorporate our Armenian culture along with all of your personal touches and knowledge… it’s inspiring, and we’re all so proud of you,” said Mouradian’s childhood friend Tanya Antonian.

Mouradian is always thirsting for knowledge, and her website, which includes blog posts, research, and book recommendations, is a reflection of that yearning to reconnect with her homeland. “I want other people to learn what I’ve been learning, and I want other people to honor the practices in ways that go beyond putting something on your skin,” said Mouradian.

“I just really want to integrate [armmad] with Armenia more and be able to build relationships with companies that can export herbs or people who use dried goods. Maybe down the line, the armmed could create jobs in Armenia. That would be my dream,” she shared, adding that it’s time for Diasporans to concentrate their personal and professional efforts on rebuilding a stronger Armenia.

Kristina Ayanian armenianweekly.com

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