Friday, January 27, 2017

National Trust Lecture (in Sinhala) – “Herbal Medicinal Plants”

by Dr MH Nimal Karunasiri @ HNB Towers 6.30pm on Thursday, 27th January 2017

In essence, what I got out of this lecture was the process of Sri Lankan (as opposed to Indian Ayurvedic Practice) native medicine, has a basis of 30,000+ concoctions, known as “BEHETH WATTORU” to treat a myriad of illnesses.

It the way they are prepared, using sourced items, that maybe dried, fresh, cut, sliced, pressed, heated, outer shell removed, all of which have a specific reason, in how they are then mixed to obtain the required consistency to be effective in curing the particular illness for which this was prepared!

So he said PLEASE don’t ask him the scientific reason for why it actually works the way it is supposed to. He will only commit to saying that it works with certainty. He cannot scientifically in the sense of 21st century Western Science, extract the active elements of that concoction, and state why their chemical makeup is effective in the treatment of that particular ailment.

Another MOST important point to come out of this is that the same medicine, will NOT work in the same way for each person. That is because we humans have our own chemical makeup and so what is good for your body, may not be good for mine. The skill of the native physician is to identify the body type and even the mental type of the patient to determine what is the likeliest mix of medicines that would work for that particular patient after questioning his lifestyle, and eating habits, and work and recreation and dietary habits, to come to their best estimate of what concoction will work in that particular case, and the patient’s ability to follow

This when contrasted with Western Medicine which will treat each ailment with a prescribed type of drug, and if it does not work prescribe another set, without specific reference to the patient’s own proclivities! So when one drug does not work another may be tried but none of them may work, as they have identified the symptoms and disease incorrectly, as relating to close proximity!

He quoted an example that a nasal drip may have nothing to do with sinuses, or virus, and reasons they are NOT cured, is because it maybe related to some deficiency of something in the stomach or liver! This is not anywhere near the nose that is dripping, but Western medicine will try and find a localized solution, and not go half way down the body to (in fact) find the specific reason, in this case treat a diseased liver. This is a real problem I am having, but without an effective cure, or even identifying the cause, I am more likely to believe his supposition.

When he said the World Bank had a project to spend US$40M in documenting and identifying, and recording and preserving planting material of these medicinal herbal plants, we did not have sufficient people interested in that goal, not conservation, creating a HERB BANK and knowledge gathering minded. Instead, all that happened was that the planting material was collected by interested parties and exported out of Sri Lanka for others to modify and propagate and most likely profit from their actions, to the detriment of Sri Lanka.

We in Sri Lanka are to blame for our total lack of vision, and concern of the real value of our own, and some endemic types of Herbal and Medicinal Plants, on which much has been written by experts, but little has been done to create public awareness on their uses, value, need for preservation and propagation, and most importantly in creating small business ideas, where these plants can be grown in home gardens using the pure planting material of the best varieties which can be sold to hopefully an increasingly interested public, who wish to grow their own herbal plants as food additives, for good health among others. We can continue to provide the source material for the 30,000 concoctions, to make these portions, and to permit the survival and expansion of our native traditions to benefit all.

It was interesting when the lecturer said that even though he entered Medical College, much to the disappointment of his parents, he decided to follow this Native Medicine field, as he felt it required a level of knowledge currently not given to or entered into by people who are at the top of the class.

This coincides with my strong belief that the best should learn agriculture, and only the SECOND BEST go into Medical College, as the knowledge required to be successful in Agriculture, far exceeds that of the knowledge needed in Medicine, as we are dealing with numerous plant species, their various varieties and cultivars, their growing habits, fruiting systems and harvesting and preserving the output to be in a state fit for the purchaser, be they consumers, or intermediaries, like Ayurvedic Physicians and the like.

In a similar vein the knowledge required of the specific types of plants, how they grow, where they grow, how they can be propagated, ALONG with the way they are mixed to form these portions, and finally how these portions are applied, usually externally to the patients in the form of PATTUS and the like and ingested in the form of KASAYAS whether heated to a certain temperature and the way they are applied to the body, along with the frequency, are all the Ayurvdic/ Native Physicians knowledge, where as in Western Medicine these ancillary areas are not as important, and best left to nurses, and technicians to carry out! 

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Different people may need different kasayas. However, if a practitioner treats 100 dengue patients and 80 are cured (using different kasayas for different people), then we know that his method's success rate is 80%. We can compare this to a hospital's success rate using western methods. Please consider organizing a study like this (properly designed with similar patients and so on) to show convincingly that our methods are superior.