PRANA

The word alternative when used with Medicine is often taken as something inferior, only to be undertaken if one is game for experimentation etc. Most of this stems from an incomplete understanding of these systems of Medicine and a lack of practitioners who truly practice across these domains. Dr Shirdi Prasad Tekur, a paediatrician and integrative health practitioner has been doing so for decades. In his inimitable style, he helps us look at alternative systems with a fresh eye.   Let’s get down to the basics – the “funda/s” in current parlance. The alternatives differ from modern medicine in many ways and in a relook, it is wiser to pursue that which could be crucial for health care and therefore for the system currently in practice. The concept of PRANA is one such enigmatic viewpoint that pervades all systems and given the importance due in applications of the system. PRANA is an easy enough concept to understand for Indians, being an integral part of their understanding of life. It is called the VITAL FORCE or DYNAMIS by Homoeopaths, QI or TCHI by the Chinese, PNEUMA by the Greeks (ANIMA in Latin), TABIAT or TIBB by the Unani/Persian (Colloquially – MIZAAZ) and so on. The essence of all these is that it is a force – a priori – to life itself, and not what is generally believed to be a product that emerges out of life (the signs of life, that is, like breath, movement, reaction to stimuli, repair and reproduction, etc). This energy is part of Universal energy that creates life as we see it. Thus, the modern system’s definition of BIO-ENERGY as a measurable product of biological activity is considered a secondary manifestation, variously labeled as Tejas, Ojas and so on to...

EVOLUTION

The retrospect-o-scope is one of the finest instruments of knowledge. We understand that each developing civilization evolved its own perspective on Health and Disease. The cross-currents across these human settlements being few and far between, healing expressed itself as localized approaches isolated in their repertories that addressed local problems tackled with local resources. The simplest were “remedies” drawn from the knowledge of the shepherd and the largely unrecognized “home” bank, the chief possessor, implementer and propagator of such treasure being the woman, usually the mother. The grandmother is the wiser version of this trove, with the needed checks, balances, validation and such stuff. It is even so till date.“Therapies” derived from them were prolonged and involved, requiring more experience and understanding of the human organism and responses to disease and interventions employed. The ingredients for such interventions were mainly plant and animal (also mineral, where the other two were scarce, or this resource in abundance) with different modes of processing and differing effects being taken into account. The same stuff was given raw, crushed, dried, roasted, boiled, fried, pickled and so on – good research indeed. The philosophers and religious enter the picture now and adopt (is it co-opt?) these “peoples’ practices” into their world view. The intellectual domination begins, with a framework laid down to explain the how, why, which of what’s observed and the grounds for further development – the cons and pros (so to say) of the evolutionary path taken. The rituals, taboos, dos and don’ts get incorporated and have their say in the matter. The simple, subjective understanding of “hot” and “cold” is characteristic of explanations involving home, herbal and tribal remedies. What happens when you (manage to) consume six eggs in one meal – that’s hot (specific dynamic action...

New kid on the block

What do you do when your tummy’s upset, or fever looks imminent, or cough and cold have just started? I know you are a doctor. Who isn’t nowadays! Have you not been assaulted with the 60 page printout your patient has agonized over before coming to you? OK, back to the point – what do you do… Ignore it and hope things will change No feasting – only fasting till…. Try Granny’s remedy – soft foods, no spices, plenty of water, rest…. Pop whatever pill is on hand – like one of those ‘cins’ for fever … Blame it on the fruit salad you had last night and consult the others who indulged in it ….for vicarious pleasure and remedies of course Consume Aunty’s  Kashayam (decoction)/ORS, since you hate/love the taste… Experiment with the complementary digestive enzyme sampled with the weekly magazine Go on a google search and take it to be gospel truth… So on and so forth. It is known that professional help is sought only after four or more such options are exhausted. Professional help includes all systems of Medicine in practice, including what is also referred to as ‘English medicine’ (by the common man or “aam aadmi”) and depends on availability, accessibility, affordability, acceptance and appropriateness. That’s a breathless list of A’s, with the Modern system scoring lower on some counts compared to ‘alternatives’. The earlier incomplete list before getting professional help is a pointer to the peripheral nature of matters relating to Health/Disease/Medicine in normal human life. As the Buddha exhorted, all human suffering is the result of ignorance. No cause for worry, considering the rush to rectify this ignorance by countless kind souls advertizing and peddling remedies for ailments created for that purpose – a virtual haven for...

ALTER-NATIVE SYSTEMS of HEALTH CARE...

ALTERNATIVE: – Across America, thru’ Oxford, and Web to Websters  (I mean the Dic-s) define as a single choice other than something  (nowadays the meaning extends even to several).  Alternative Medicine on the other hand is defined by OED as something other than ‘traditional’ medicine. Gosh!  That’s interesting.  So far,  systems like Ayurveda, Siddha, Unani and so on ( including around 360 at an Alternative Medicine Conference) were being referred to as “Traditional” – Indigenous, Tribal, Native and so on, as opposed to the “Modern” or “Cosmopolitan” system.  Sort of confusing isn’t it – as to which is traditional and which is the alternative?  Is it not an oxymoron to label currently practiced medicine as a modern tradition? Just a moment – looks like they got it right.  At least in India, that is Bharat, more than 70% opt for non-allopathic systems as first choice, especially in rural and semi-urban areas (where more than 75% of India i.e. Bharat lives) for reasons of availability, accessibility, affordability and appropriateness.  That clears the air a bit on which is the ‘alternative’. This Indian goes to the modern hospital as a last resort and is even prepared for death as a possibility.  Is it modern medicine’s reputation, the common man’s fears, the inadequacies of the current systems of health-care delivery, or the incongruence of its personnel?  Maybe all of the above, considering a common enough practitioner’s experience, where the 80 year old proudly proclaims THE reason for his health being – “never been to any doctor nor taken any ‘English medicine’ in my life”. Wise choice and good alternative, considering the recent BMJ’s concerns about the over-medicated human – you need to be healthy to claim such things. Alternative also, pre-supposes an ideal and anything else as...