Dr. Hettiarachchi has met with both the Minister of Health and State Minister of Indigenous Medicine. However he claims that all authorities want from him is his recipes and not his expertise
Health Minister told us point blank that if she promoted this idea, she will lose votes, especially the backing of the western medical community
Why are we not researching the potential of alternative medicine? Our ancestors didn’t rely on Paracetamol or Aspirin to stay healthy!” Dr Hettiarachchi charged in this video published early this year
If I am to treat 100 COVID-19 patients, it is important to understand that not all 100 persons have the same physique, health or needs. Medicine has to be administered accordingly
I’ve even participated in radio programmes with former Sri Lanka Medical Council Chairman Dr Colvin Gunaratne, with whom I debated the efficacy of alternative medicine. He agreed that alternative medicines should be researched and promoted if their efficacy is proved. But that’s where it usually stops, with words. Never action is taken
As dozens of Covid-19 remedies continue to circulate on social media, a traditional medicine physician has come forward with allegations that indigenous medicine is now ridiculed thanks to the actions of a few quacks. Dr Abeywardhana Hettiarachchi is a traditional medicine practitioner from Kandaliyadda Paluwa, Ganemulla. In an interview with a YouTube blogger published in January 2020, Dr Hettiarachchi stated that the fear around the novel Coronavirus has been created thanks to the Western Medical approach to tackling the pandemic.
“The study of viruses in the field of Allopathy is extremely poor. But this is not the first virus to threaten humankind. The plague took thousands of lives, similar to other diseases caused by virus and bacteria,” he said, referring to these widespread illnesses as a cycle of disease.
However, he cautioned that COVID-19 can attack multiple organs and functions of the human body, which left untreated, will result in death.
“Our ancestors have researched indigenous forms of medicine to treat such illnesses before the Western medical system emerged,” he said.
On July 1, 2020 Dr Hettiarachchi received a phone call from a person claiming to be from the Ragama Medical Officer of Health (MOH) threatening him to immediately stop dispensing traditional medicine or any form of medicine to Covid-19 patients. Dr Hettiarachchi filed a complaint with the Ragama Police following which the officer had offered to resolve the issue amicably with no Police intervention.
“But there are now people who insult this traditional knowledge and intelligence,” Dr Hettiarachchi said. “There are people who have been entrusted with empowering the traditional medical field. There have been Ministers appointed. But is it only just one form of medicine or cure that should be researched? Why are we not researching the potential of alternative medicine? Our ancestors didn’t rely on Paracetamol or Aspirin to stay healthy!” Dr Hettiarachchi charged in this video published early this year.
Dr Abeywardena studied indigenous medicine at the Gunarathna Mudalinda Maha Pirivena in Hiththetiya, Matara from the mid-1950s until 1960s.
“It was the foremost medical college of the South, where many students have learned under the guidance of three generations of venerable monks, who were well versed in indigenous medicine,” he recalled.
“I’ve even participated in radio programmes with former Sri Lanka Medical Council Chairman Dr Colvin Gunaratne, with whom I debated the efficacy of alternative medicine. He agreed that alternative medicines should be researched and promoted if their efficacy is proved. But that’s where it usually stops, with words. Never action,” he lamented.
However, Dr Hettiarachchi remains undeterred.
Over the past decades, this traditional physician has taken it upon himself to help hundreds of patients who were victims if the killer dengue menace which rears its head in Sri Lanka from time to time.
“They made such a hullaballoo of dengue. They said there is no cure. They said dengue hemorrhagic fever (DHF) is deadly. But it’s all ignorance,” he charged.
“Of course DHF is deadly if it’s not treated. But there are treatments available in traditional medicine which is not used. That doesn’t mean that there is no way to help victims of dengue.”
Dengue is a vector-borne disease which has unfortunately become a common disease in Sri Lanka causing hundreds of deaths each year. Sometimes patients with dengue fever develop dengue hemorrhagic fever (DHF), a severe and sometimes fatal form of the disease.
Around the time the fever begins to subside (usually 3–7 days after symptom onset), the patient may develop warning signs of severe disease. Warning signs include severe abdominal pain, persistent vomiting, a marked change in temperature (from fever to hypothermia), hemorrhagic manifestations, or change in mental health.
Despite these complications, however, Dr Hettiarachchi has gone on to restore the health of many victims of this deadly disease.
Dr. Hettiarachchi presenting a book on traditional medicine to the Minister of Health, Pavithra Wanniarachchi.
“They said it can’t be cured. But none of my patients died,” he said.
Dr Hettiarachchi has also consulted government medical committees appointed to look into possible research into alternative medicine in Sri Lanka. However, these discussions tend to end in the same rut, again and again, the physician said.
“Several years ago, I managed to find a cure for Hepatitis B as well. This effort was very successful and the trials were a success. Despite our collective efforts and the recovery of several patients, I was informed that my remedies and “my approach to this illness were unclear.” This was during the time of an election in 2015. There was a programme called Suwa Dharma, and the Ayurveda Commissioner called me for a meeting.
“It resulted in the same way I anticipated it to. They asked for the recipe and the ingredients I used for the medicine. I didn’t want to share this as I knew they would not use it for the betterment of the people,” he said.
Dr Hettiarachchi has been requested by several government officials to patent his unique cures for these traditional medicines so that his remedies can be incorporated in the national framework to help heal the needy.
This physician, however, is completely against this idea.
“The international Patent Law (Intellectual Property Law) is a fraud, devised to exploit human intelligence. I don’t wish to contribute to this scam,” he asserted.
Dr Hettiarachchi believes that he is yet to come across a genuine government effort which attempts to help the people of Sri Lanka, suffering from various diseases which are deemed to be incurable.
Elections, votes and a possible cure for COVID-19
Dr Hettiarachchi claims that he first popularized the idea of consuming the herbal concoction of coriander and ginger, as an immunity booster against COVID-19. His videos explaining how this Sri Lankan household remedy can rid the ill effects of any virus affecting the respiratory system were published on YouTube in January, before the arrival of Sri Lanka’s index Coronavirus patient.
“I returned to Italy, where I work, just before the lockdown in March,” Wasantha Hettiarachchi, the physician’s son said, speaking to Daily Mirror
“I brought my father’s medicines with me as Italy was in really bad shape at the time. Many people died, so many others were sick due to this virus. But I kept encouraging my family and friends in Italy to follow my father’s advice to consume coriander and ginger to boost their immunity. This video gained traction here and then a great number of people started contacting us, seeking help!” “I believe it was my father who said that he can help cure the terminally ill COVID-19 patients within three days, as he has done with many other patients with other illnesses before,” he added. The father and son also shared with the Daily Mirror, details of their discussions with Health Minister Pavithra Wanniarachchi as well as State Minister of Indigenous Medicine Sisira Jayakody.
“We met with the Health Minister Pavithra Wanniarachchi before the general election this year. She was receptive of our idea to promote local medicine, especially as a precaution against Covid-19. But the Health Minister told us point-blank, that if she promoted this idea, she will lose votes, especially the backing of the Western Medical community,” Wasantha said.
“State Minister Sisira Jayakody visited me to inquire about my medical practice. By this time I had sent medicines through my son and several NGOs to various persons in Italy and Europe. He had heard about this and pledged to support our efforts,” Dr Hettiarachchi said.
“But several weeks afterwards we see on television a fiasco in Kegalle and the government officials supporting this other local physician.” The father and son duo reiterated that they have no wish to diminish the efforts of local medicine practitioner Dhammika Bandara or his medicines. However, they expressed regret that indigenous medicine has been reduced to a media stunt.
“I don’t believe you can dispense medicines to thousands just like that. It’s not heroin or ganja to be peddled like that. The ingredients for local medicine are limited and should be given on a priority basis to those in need. “I believe all everyone else needs is coriander and ginger which can ward off many illnesses, including the Coronavirus!” Dr Hettiarachchi said.
“If I am to treat 100 COVID-19 patients, it is important to understand that not all 100 persons have the same physique, health or needs. Medicine has to be administered accordingly,” Dr Hettiarachchi reiterated.
“I have sent medicine to one patient in Italy, who suffered from Coronavirus for four months despite various efforts of doctors. Within a matter of days of consuming the Sri Lankan medicine, this patient recovered and I have all records to prove it. There are so many others like that too,” he added.
“My humble request is to give me a chance to help these people. COVID-19 has become nothing but a tool to help international pharmaceutical Mafia. Some people are in Intensive Care Units and patients whom experts have let down.
“For a moment, cast your doubts aside and trust these terminal patients with me. Trust in indigenous medicine. Everyone has a right to life and COVID-19 that should be allowed to take away precious life. Let me help!” he said.