Dr E P Sarathchandra Kumar, an Ayurvedic doctor, has a rich legacy of traditional medicine for over four generations. Based in Vechoochira in Pathanamthitta district near Erumeli, a place endemic to Ayurvedic herbs and exotic flora, Dr Sarath treats various lifestyle diseases.
With a deep knowledge in both Ayurvedic texts academically followed in the state and scriptures of traditional medicine, Dr Sarath has been treating several malignant diseases which the modern medicine had left as incurable.
According to Dr Sarath, Kerala is now considered as the cradle of Ayurveda. The treatment methods, medicines and medicinal compounds used by Ayurvedic practitioners in the olden days have now passed into oblivion. So the benefits of such treatment don't reach the needy now.
But the doctor still uses some of those treatment methods and finds results.
He explains five such treatment methods:
Treatment for hiccups
For several diseases, hiccup is the sign of the final stage of an illness. A patient who has severe hiccups cannot be given medicine though the mouth. It is tough to stop such hiccups once it starts. This treatment is administered as a final trial of medication.
In this treatment, the patient is made to lie down on his or her back. Then a particular medicine is formed into a paste and then it's smeared inside the palms of the doctor. The doctor, seated in a position behind the patient's head, presses his medicine-smeared palms over either ears of the patient. What is likely to follow is a dip in the frequency of hiccups. The patient may then slip into a sound sleep. The slumber may last up to eight to ten hours. If the patient wakes up to see that the hiccups have vanished, it means he or she will be cured of the disease. On the other hand if the hiccups persist, it means the chances of the patient surviving are less.
Treatment for eclampsia of pregnancy
In the old days pregnant women used to be taken care of by the elderly women in the family. During those days sometimes pregnant women used to develop a disease known as Eclampsia of pregnancy in which the patient suffers high blood pressure and seizures. For this a 'Vaidyan' or the practitioner of traditional medicine, used a piece of animal flesh, mixed it with certain medicines and then administered it on the patient's head. The patient, in her changed mental state may not allow it easily. So a group of physically strong persons were need to hold the woman still and the medicine was applied on the patient's head. After the treatment, the patient would become calm and normal.
Blow hot on belly
This treatment is mostly applied on children. It's a method in which a medicinal paste is first smeared on the belly of a patient for stomach ailment. Then a hollow stalk of a leaf, like those of a papaya, yam or colocasia is heated mildly over flames. Then one of the leaf stalk is held over the belly and then air is blown through the stalk on the medicine-smeared belly. It is understood that hot air blown through the funnel gets mixed with the medicinal paste and makes an impact on the body. This treatment was found to be effective against many ailments, especially in cases like severe stomach pain.
Treatment for insomnia
Yet another treatment is the one for sleeplessness. In ancient texts of traditional medicine sleep has a prominent place for the proper body functioning. So for treating sleeplessness a particular medicine is made into to a paste and then it's is mixed with butter. The paste is then smeared under the feet of the patient. The patient should be ready to sleep and also there should be a conducive atmosphere for the patient to fall sleep. This treatment has found better results in several patients. Unlike other remedies like sleeping pills, which cause side effects, this treatment leaves no adverse effects.
Heating medicine in leaf or stone
Usually, Ayurvedic medicines are prepared in earthen or metalwares. However, there are certain medicines shouldn't be prepared in such vessels. Here, a medicinal compound is prepared using two methods known as 'Pathrapaakam' and 'Silapakam'. In Pathrapaakam, leaves are weaved into a platter, it is then placed above fire in such a way that it's not burnt out. Palm fronds are usually burnt to create flames underneath it. Now, the medicated oil or medicinal mix is heated on this leaf platter. Any spoke-like twig is used to stir the oil or the mix. Medicines prepared in this manner will be of small quantities and are mostly applied on eyes, ears or on the head. Next is silapaakam in which a suitable stone is sculpted into a vessel and then the medicinal oil is poured into it. One way to process the medicinal preparation is to expose it to sunshine and the other way is to heat the stone vessel over fire. Sometimes a small heated piece of stone is put in the oil in the stone vessel.
Dr Sarath says that those methods were commonly used by 'vaidyans' or traditional Ayurvedic doctors of yore. Even now there are a few Ayurvedic practitioners in Kerala, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and some other parts of India who follow such methods. It's important that such treatment methods are revived for the wellbeing of people, he adds.