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Indigenous Medicinal Knowledge Resources of Himachal Region: A Need for Scientific Processing and Networking Presented By:  Prof. I. V. Malhan, Professor,

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Presentation on theme: "Indigenous Medicinal Knowledge Resources of Himachal Region: A Need for Scientific Processing and Networking Presented By:  Prof. I. V. Malhan, Professor,"— Presentation transcript:

1 Indigenous Medicinal Knowledge Resources of Himachal Region: A Need for Scientific Processing and Networking Presented By:  Prof. I. V. Malhan, Professor, Department of LIS, University of Jammu  Ms. Samita Wadhera, Research Scholar, Department of LIS, University of Jammu.

2 People around the globe have tested herbs and other plant sources for prevention and cure of diseases and well being of human beings. During difficult situations of famine and food scarcity, mankind made every possible effort for survival. Thousands of people died in African region due to famine but some who tried Blue Green algae from a pond as last resort for survival, could survive as this algae provided all the essential nutrients for life. This algae is now scientifically processed and marketed as a food supplement. In the best circumstances, we should all live to be about 120 years. In Tibet there are people living to be about 125 years old. They attribute to their longevity to blood circulation and the daily consumption of herbs. Reports from South Africa tell us that Ostriches that were fed alfalfa produced stronger babies and their feathers had extremely brilliant and beautiful new color

3 India is recognized as one of the world’s top “Twelve Mega diversity” nations. The country has some of the richest, oldest and diverse cultural traditions associated with various aspects and one of the aspects is the use of medicinal plants which is still amply practiced in several parts of India.

4 India has the indigenous plant based medicine system known as Ayurveda that works for complete cure of the body without leaving any side effects. The ancient Indian scriptures have a mention of several plants and their medicinal value. Rig-veda is having description of 99 medicinal plants Yajur-veda is having description of 82 plants Atharva-veda deals with 288 plants almost all having medicinal value and were used for deadly disease

5 Very few countries in the world can boast of the variety and vastness of traditional knowledge that India has. The traditional knowledge is widely scattered, confined to pockets of populations and sometimes rarely known beyond the boundaries of particular communities. Traditional knowledge if properly processed may lead to some breakthroughs in medical and pharmaceutical research activities. Some of the traditional knowledge is existing in oral form and is transferred from one generation to the next generation through verbal communication and there are no documentary records. Closer interaction between herb collectors communities of plant based medical practitioners and scientists will create miracles.

6 Threats to Indigenous Medicinal Knowledge The extinction of many useful plant species due to increasing temperature and rapid deforestation is leading to erosion of indigenous knowledge base of local communities. When there are difficulties in collecting herbs and other plant sources, the related practices to cure diseases face a set back. The non-availability of herbs and other plant based raw materials compel some practitioners to opt for other professions and hence seriously affect the traditional knowledge practices. Migration of younger people to cities for taking up employment; breakage of joint family system profoundly influenced the transfer of indigenous. Knowledge. Lack of knowledge regarding the use of medicinal plants, time of collection, plant parts used, storage and preparation or formulation as the local healers don’t pass their knowledge to other members of the community as it is their only source of income and they also fear that it could be misused.

7 Himachal Pradesh Beautiful hill state in northern India nestled in western Himalayas. Landlocked with the Tibetan plateau to the east, Jammu and Kashmir to the north, and the Punjab to the west. Home for several medicinal plants and indigenous knowledge practices Abode of Rishis and munies, like Vyasa, Bhardwaja, Kalidas and the legendary Pandavas Ayurveda has had its origin in Himachal, with the first ever seminar being held here (Charak Samhita) Jantras, mantras coupled with herbs are still being used to cure peelia, snake/scorpion bites, rabies, bone fractures, gangrenes, body pains, eczema, childbirth etc.

8 Jan-Jan Sanjivani Van Abhiyan The Chief Minister launched this Abhiyan on August 3rd, 2008 and the forest department and people of the state were actively involved in this program. The flora of the state consists of around 3500 species of plants. Of these around 800 species (including a few introduced in the region) are attributed to have the medicinal value. 60 medicinal plant species from the state have been categorized as red-listed (12 species being ‘critically endangered’, 21 species being ‘endangered’ and 27 species being ‘vulnerable’) 15,15,027 medicinal saplings were planted on a single day as every family in the rural and urban areas of the state participated in the campaign

9 Codyceps sinensis is a fungus that is popularly known as winter worm and summer grass because its morphology changes with change in seasons. In case its propagation is encouraged in high altitudes of Himachal, it can enormously improve the socio-economic conditions of cultivators as its exports are worth nuggets of gold. Himachal Pradesh bordering the Tibetan region of China is known for some of the rare herbs.

10 Himachal is not only a place for less known miracle herbs but also known for some of the miracle healers practicing indigenous knowledge. Jeet Ram of Kandhakhat died when he was 104 years old. “On an average, he examined more than 100 patients every day and stories abound on how he cured thousands of people of cancer, diabetes, hypertension, gynecological disorders, arthritis, gout, gangrene, mental disorders, skin disorders, barrenness, heart ailments, etc…. A team of five American doctors visited this miracle healer to find out as to how he cured patients of these deadly diseases without the intervention of modern medicines and surgical techniques” (Chib, 2002).

11 Janta Clinic in Gharoh, District Kangra Clinic has been run by Dr. Lachhman Singh Thakur who has: an indigenous method of diagnosis of disease with the help of a unique mirror. diagnoses the body of the patient with the help of this specialized mirror informs the patient about the problem and then prescription is given. patients from distance places from all over Northern India visit the clinic because of his unique way of diagnosis of disease. It takes around 20-30 minutes to diagnose a patient. After diagnosis of the problem, initiates treatments of the diseases mainly through the prescription of herbal medicines In a personal interview he refused on comment on the unique characteristics of the mirror and simply replied that it is his personal experience and he only can diagnose the problem areas of the body with the help of this mirror. Some of the patients present in the clinic were also asked about the effectiveness and accuracy of this diagnosis technique. The patients replied that they are fully satisfied regarding the diagnosis of their medical problem.

12 Interviews were also conducted with some people associated with collection of medicinal plants and preparation of plant based medicines in the higher altitudes of the Himachal Pradesh. People living in higher altitudes like Lahul-Spiti and adjoining areas conveyed that the climate is so fine here that they rarely fall ill and generally don’t need any type of medicine. Due to medicinal plants in the area and clean air, the breeze that blows carries good health molecules rather than germs. The medicinal value of most of the herbs is known to local people.

13 As a joint venture of Himachal Pradesh Voluntary Health Association and La Maison des Himalayas; a non-profit association registered in France, a physio/occupational therapy unit functions in Kulu for physically challenged children. A visit to the centre revealed that treatment is administered with the help of equipment, thermotherapy and local massage therapy. A visit to MacLeod Ganj area of Dharamshala revealed that several yoga and massage centres are functioning in the area for health, rejuvenation and fitness. A number of foreigners visit this area for health and solace. Some of the shops sell Tibetan herbs and there are physicians who operate the Tibetan system of medicine. Himachal Pradesh is also gifted with hot springs, hot caves and mud that help to cure different types of skin problems, body pains, joint and bone problems. There are also naturopathy hospitals and thermotherapy clinics.

14 In most of the rural communities a vaid is working for the well being of the people of the local area. Vaids are either specialist to deal with specific diseases or undertake general treatment for all diseases. Vaids have their own unique methods of treatment. The Vaids don’t disclose the indigenous knowledge methods they employ for treatment of diseases. Oral interviews were conducted with Vaid Ji of Bhaklydar, Nimat Ram Vaid of Shaiah Grass, Fouji Vaid of Bajura, Taj Mohd Khan Vaid of Maler Kotla, Raj D. Das Vaid of Hadimba Road. Local Vaids

15 How to preserve the Indigenous Knowledge Scientists may look beyond their laboratories and establish linkages with indigenous knowledge practitioners to utilize indigenous knowledge for modern research. Linkages between pharmaceutical companies and traditional knowledge practitioners can also help the pharmaceutical industries to test and develop new formulations. Communities practicing potential indigenous knowledge based systems require to be incentivized for disclosing their ideas in the larger public interest and be made aware of the system of filing patents to protect their knowledge, ideas and practices. Most of the practitioners of indigenous knowledge don’t know how to create a commercial value out of their ideas. Industries and scientific organizations; NGOs may help such communities to create economic value out of their ideas. India has enormous potential for export of plant based raw materials for developing health care products and government should encourage this sector. There are several efforts like TKDL, foundation for revitalization of local health traditions etc. going on to create databases of indigenous knowledge but what is lacking is synergy and coordination in such efforts and one organization may not be knowing what the other is doing. A systematic and coordinated effort is desired at the national level to explore such resources and develop suitable databases of documents and consultants in the interest of the people of India. Public libraries independently or in the collaboration with other organizations can play a major role in collection and organization of information pertaining to their areas of operation and create a database of available information.

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