Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Withania Somnifera



Dear Readers,
Radhekrishna once again!

Continuing form where we left, let us learn more about the secrets in Ayurveda in this article.

“A weed is a plant whose value has not been discovered.” This sentence means that in Ayurveda, everything is considered to be useful as medicine. It sounds astounding but it is true. The statement that, ‘Truth is stranger than fiction is apt for Ayurveda or more broadly, to Hinduism!

Let us peek into an example from the glorious past of India which supports this view:

Once a well known student in Takshashila (in present Pakistan) university was Jivaka who as the royal physician of King Bimbisara of Magadha (in present Bihar) acquired great fame. A story from the life of Jivaka merits quoting. After the completion of studies, Jivaka’s master asked him to search for any substance within the radius of several miles, which could not be of medical use. Jivaka returned empty handed and passed the examination proving a central belief in Ayurveda that “nothing exists in the universe which cannot be used as medicine”.

Moving ahead, as we promised in the previous article, let us learn about a herb found in India and its usefulness. The name of that herb is ‘Ashwagandha’.

The botanical name for Ashwagandha is ‘Withania Somnifera’.

The description of this herb is explained by the below shloka:

Balya rasayani tikta kasayosnatisukrala

Meaning: The Ashwagandha is an astringent, bitter and hot (in potency) medicine which removes defects in Vata and Kapha (humours), white leprosy, swelling and general debility. It energises and enhances sperm.

If you watch advertisements on TV by any chance, then you must have heard tea making companies’ advertise, launching their latest type of tea. The ad would mention that unlike other types of tea, this one is different as it contains herbs; one of them being Ashwagandha. After reading the above shloka mentioning the diseases cured by this herb, its very clear why, isn’t it?

We shall continue with the information on this herb in the next posting.

Till then do lots of chanting.


Sarvam Guruvarpanam

Sunday, April 06, 2008

Ayurveda, THE SAVIOR



Radhekrishna to one & all,

In the two most recent articles we have been talking about Ayurveda, its importance and about its growing popularity. Let us continue the same and look into the reasons why it is better than other medicinal branches.

The Ayurveda pharmacology is based mostly on herbs. In Ayurveda thinking, the converse is also true. Ayurveda considers every single herb a potential medicine. In the days of yore these herbs grew naturally in the forest areas and were gathered by Ayurveda students and practitioners. Since our independence in 1947, in the last 60 yrs, the forest cover of the country has come down to 22% of total land area. The districts of the Tamil Nadu and Karnataka border presided over by the forest brigand Veerappan being the only honorable exception where the forest cover in fact has grown. Today Ayurveda should be released from the handicap of inadequate availability if herbs in nature.

In olden days, an Ayurvedic practitioner prepared drugs individually for each of his patients. Since independence, the population of the country has grown from 345 million to 1 billion. Today, the doctors do not have the time and patience to formulate the drugs individually. There is, therefore, a need for mass production of Ayurvedic drugs.

In the last 50 yrs, the western science has developed and fine tuned the technology for converting medical knowledge into prescription drugs. This methodology including clinical trials is intended to ensure a high degree of safety for the user–patient in addition to product efficacy.

Could the knowledge of Charaka, Sushruta and the other Ayurvedic seers be tapped and delivered to the populace using the production methodology currently available? In practice, today we do have a company which aims to deliver the same. Its business model is based on the above description and that company being Himalaya Drug Company of India.

After the initial revolution in medicine, the birth rate did slowly gradually increase and the death rate did go down. So also the life span of the people also increased. However, this was possible due to artificial medicines prepared using chemicals (which are based on disease curative approach), which cannot be a substitute for herbs as medicines which are available naturally (and are based on disease preventive approach). The artificial medicines have several side effects and provide only temporary relief. Hence it is seen that though people live longer nowadays, the quality of life has significantly deteriorated. The old people live only in the literal sense of it i.e. they continue to breathe and their heart continues to beat. But in majority of the cases, people after a certain age become bed ridden and hence a burden to the people whose duty is to take care of them. Neither do they enjoy their life, nor do the care takers enjoy their own life due to the requirement of constantly monitoring them.

And this situation is becoming worse day by day. Its not just old people but nowadays even youngsters have problems of low blood pressure, weak teeth, diabetes, asthma to name a few. Recently when a person visited his dentist for a check up, the dentist out of his own free will mentioned that with due passage of time, the resistance power of human beings to face diseases is decreasing. He said that soon, human beings would stop getting the so called 'wisdom tooth' or the third molar which are 4 in numbers. He said the total number of teeth would shrink from 32 to 28. Further in another case, a person's blood pressure suddenly became low due to the tension of writing an exam and the fear of failing and falling in the eyes of one's parents. Also, student suicides have become so common nowadays as you all are very well aware!

Very true, considering the urban lifestyle which is flooded with issues like pollution, working over time, mental and physical stress, targets at work, seasonal pressures at work, ignorance towards health, hankering for more and more degrees to get better jobs and be successful, hunger for money, hunger for fame and the list is just endless. People today seem to have forgotten the true purpose of human life! What a pity!

Let us see something interesting in our next issue on an Indian herb and its use.

Do more and more chanting of the Radhekrishna namam and realise the true bliss.

… to be continued,

Sarvam Guruvarpanam


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