Thread of Hope

Never mind applying creams and lotions—if you could relieve a skin ailment simply by the kind of clothes you wear, or the bed linen you use, wouldn't you? The Handloom Weavers Development Society in Kerala, India, hopes so. The nonprofit organization—based in Thumbod, a tiny village of swaying palms an hour outside the state capital of Trivandrum—has infused yarn with organic herbs and plant extracts, and claims that regular contact with cloth made from this material will relieve itches, rashes and other skin disorders.

With a sharp eye for the contemporary obsession with Eastern homeopathy, the weavers have...

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