Ayurveda our 3000 year old traditional medicine in a nose dive is reaching for greater depths
There was a commotion in the Perera house that morning. Shelton Perera, the owner of the Wallside Restaurant and Bar was refusing to take his medicine. And his wife Joy was plainly losing her patience with her husband. “Come on Shelley, don’t act like a kid, just take the medicines as prescribed by the doctor. What’s your problem in doing that? You have been taking them for years now.”
“Precisely,” Shelton Perera responded at near yelling pitch; “I have been taking medicines morning noon and night for my diabetes, arthritis and high blood pressure for God knows how long; but they have not gone away.”
“Those illnesses don’t go away for good but medicines keep them under control, Darlo, if you don’t take them, something bad will happen to you,” warned Joy. “And you are not the only sufferer; there are tens of thousands of other people suffering from these common illnesses. They seem to be coping, why can’t you?” she scolded.
Switch to Ayurveda
Although Shelton managed his restaurant cum bar business well he was not good at managing himself; his wife did it for him; but her role as husband-caretaker seemed to have come under a lot of strain.
“I can’t take this stuff anymore; to hell with western medicine; they are not working; I am going to try out some Ayurvedic stuff.
I saw an ad the other day about an arishtaya that guaranteed a cure for diabetes, arthritis, hemorrhoids, rheumatism, gastritis, headaches, belly aches and nervous complaints. I heard they were really good.” Shelton, fed up with western medication had done some homework on alternative treatment for his ailments.
“I thought of acupuncture, but the idea of getting pricked by needles scared me,” he admitted unashamedly.
“Don’t do that. Do you know what goes into those medicines?’ Joy struck a sore point with some Ayurvedic preparations.
Is it the right road?
Sprawled on a tiled floor within hearing distance of the master mistress verbal thrust and parry episode Tommo a pussycat employed by Shelton Perera as a pest a controller at his restaurant and bar enterprise meowed, “I don’t know whether bossa is taking the right road.”
“Why so?” his pal and working partner, Ooty an owl hooted.
“Purshsh. I am not condemning the 3000 year-old Aryurveda a native type of medical treatment that is still very popular.”
“Thuhooot! If it is still going strong after all that time, it must be damn good,” observed the bird. “It is,” purred pussy.” I hear there are thousands of Ayurvedic doctors in this country and that almost three quarters of our governors resort to Ayurvedic treatment. There are government institutions in the Ayurveda field…” “Then why in the world did Mrs Shelton frown on bossa turning to Ayurveda?” hooted the bird.
Arishta and allied products
“Bossa was talking of trying an arishtaya, cure for multi-ills…”
“What in the world is that arissh…something?” the bird wanted to know.
“It is a decoction made from herbs, roots, bark of trees and leaves sick governors are treated with. I hear that some of them have a bit of a kick that could be due to spirits, ganja or opium paste mixed in the stuff. Who is to know? The spiking may be the reason for its popularity. It may also mean that bossa is heading for trouble with Ayurveda and Mrs Shelton,” pussy laughed the way pussies do.
“Thuhooot. What do you mean ‘who’s to know?’ Are our governors in the dark in what they are gulping down as Ayurvedic medicine?”
“Meeoowwyep (yep)! Although government has a registration system for Ayurvedic drugs and Ayurvedic docs, the implementation of laws and regulations in that line of medicine seems pretty lax. But, whenever the subject pops up the usual government answer is ‘we are on to it.’ The result of that sluggishness is a glut of Ayurvedic quacks fleecing the public by treating them with ‘herbal’ medicines, oils and creams for pimples, dark skin, dandruff and hair fall, body pains, obesity, rheumatism, hay fever, asthma, childlessness, piles, rejuvenation of the body, kidney and heart ailments.”
“Good heavens; that’s a lot of curables!” hooted the owl.
"Although the government has a registration system for Ayurvedic drugs and Ayurvedic docs, the implementation of laws and regulations in that line of medicine seems pretty lax. But, whenever the subject pops up the usual government answer is ‘we are on to it"
“Well, I have heard of vedas who have cured illnesses western medicine could not” responded the unflustered pussy. “But there is an issue brewing; apart from drugs prescribed by registered ayurveda docs; nobody is sure of the stuff that goes to make arishtayas and other herbal health products available over the counter in pharmacies, super markets and boutiques selling powdered milk, biscuits and onions.”
“Whoom, whooom; how’s that?”
“All medicines have to indicate on their container labels what ingredients in what quantities make up the medicines in pill, capsule, syrups or powder forms. This regulation is met by some, but not all. Many mention the ingredient in part; ‘products a,b,c,d,e and 50 other herbal extracts make up this preparation’. That’s it. There are no inserts about mode of action, period of treatment, precautions to take, drug interactions allergies, etc. So it’s ‘take the medicine at your own risk’ sort of business” laughed pussy.
“But that’s ridiculous!”
“Sure is,” purred pussy. “And if you ask pharmacy guys, supermarket sales boys and gals or a mudalali about the products, they too are clueless.”
“Hell! They don’t know what they are selling?” screeched the owl.
“Unbelievable, isn’t it? I hear that some educated governors have researched ‘over the counter herbal cures’ and had found that some products had not mentioned that ingredients, some have been sold as herbal tea, others as herbal drinks and others as herbal syrups good for diabetes, lowering cholesterol and losing weight. Only a handful had been considered ‘safe’; others were so mysterious they couldn’t be categorised.”
“Ah, ahhh, so our governors are being taken for a right royal Ayurvedic ride.”
“Looks that way,” purred pussy. “An Ayurvedic culture has crept into tourism in a big way. While our own governors are being hoodwinked by spurious Ayurvedic medicine, governors in travel and tourism have gone in for spas, massages, detoxifying sessions, balance of body, spirit and mind and so on under cover of Ayurveda. They also use terms like Panchakarma, Doshas and abhyanga that are Greek to me as well as to tourists. But suddahs, especially lady suddahs impressed by the promotional jargon are queuing up to experience Aryuveda bliss offered by big hotels, pint sized or high-end ones involved in a variety of Ayurvedic mumbo jumbo.
“Why mumbo-jumbo?” asked the
“Meeooww. If you go through some of our governors’ travel brochures you’ll get an idea. Ahhh, here’s one that Mrs Shelton has left,” said pussy pawing open an old issue of a travel and tourism magazine…“The Carotene Spa’ ad says: ‘The application of our oils on the body promotes circulation and strengthens muscles and joints It is also recommended for nervous diseases. Different oils are used according to the needs of guests’ and so it goes.”
“An ad by the Ayurveda wing of the Lake View Hotel says; ‘Our Ayurveda treatment cures sinusitis, migraine, prevents dandruff, hair loss, promotes hair growth, improves eyesight. Our facial pastes made with secret ingredients will result in smooth, wrinkle free skins after just three sessions. And to show their effectiveness the ads come with pictures of swim-suited gorgeous dames decked in flowers.”
The owl laughed the way owls do. “Thuooot, thuhoot. I wonder what those secret
“Purshsh. That’s the point. Our governors don’t know anything about the Ayurvedic medication they are ‘treated with’. Today, Ayurveda, as a genuine and effective mode of treatment is losing its status because some governors are killing it to make money.”
“But, I say isn’t there a ministry handling Ayurvedic affairs? What are they doing? Busy warming seats while a precious medical science is being unceremoniously buried?” The bird said it all in one go