medicine - How
Kumar - Designing
the-south-asian.com January 2001
A week before the dawn of the new millennium, Noor Jahan passed away in Karachi. The news left one numb with shock - it was not a loss for Pakistan alone - it was a South Asian loss. Uninhibited and vivacious, Noor Jahan lived life on her terms. Her songs , rather her voice will live forever - in our hearts.
Illness and suffering are ubiquitous they know no colour, caste or creed. The ultimate end for all is the same. What matters is how we live, the quality of our life and the type of upgrades available to improve the quality of our mind, body and spirit. This holistic reverence for humanity has been preserved over thousands of years in the medical systems of traditional societies India, China and Tibet among the few that survive. Tibetan medicine is in fact a synthesis of Indian, Chinese and Buddhist schools of medical thought. In recent years the West has shown a keen interest in traditional medicine especially in the treatment of chronic and life-threatening ailments. Deepak Chopras best sellers on mind-spirit and body guaranteed Ayurveda a very visible acceptance. Kapha,pitta,and vata - invaded American sensibilities at all levels from tea bags to facial creams.
In early January of 2001 , an American television channel telecast a programme on Tibetan medicine following the progress of two patients, suffering from stage four breast cancer. Stage four cancer is when western medicine says "Sorry, there is nothing more I can do for you" and the patient is left to come to grips with whatever remains of the future. The subjects of the documentary were two such women who had been offered an opportunity to be treated by Dr. Dhonden, a practitioner of Tibetan medicine from Dharamsala, India. They were part of a clinical trial study set up by one of Americas leading cancer researchers Dr. Debu Tripathi at the University of California in San Francisco, to treat stage four breast cancer. Dr. Dhonden had one year to prove the efficacy of his herbs on the stage four patients. He was already working under limitations. Firstly, he was trying to treat patients who were already in an advanced stage of an ailment, and secondly, the FDA [Food and Drugs Administration] had approved only a few [ 4 to 7] of the 1200 herbs he normally uses for treatment. However, at the end of the year-long study, both women were stable and feeling better free of any side effects and grateful that they had survived a year and were hopeful for the future.
This was a documentary on two survivors there are endless examples of success stories with indigenous medicine. Tibetan medicine offers an excellent remedy for claudication a condition when the veins of the leg become clogged and do not supply enough blood to the muscles, resulting in severe pain and cramps in the leg. Western solutions to this condition have been either surgery to replace the veins or amputation. The Tibetan herbal remedy has been remarkably effective in helping people with this condition. One Swiss patient , facing imminent amputation, decided to give Padma 28 a chance there was nothing to lose and he does not regret his decision today he is a healthy human being walking and climbing the Alps.
These medicine systems deserve a fairer chance people often seek help from them as a last resort when all else has failed yet the magnanimity of the practitioners allows them to accept such patients for treatment, like true healers, at the risk of discrediting themselves and their particular school of medicine , if they are unsuccessful in their mission.
The ideal situation would be one that combines the advanced technology of the west with the healing art of the traditional societies of the east. The west, especially its pharmaceutical industry, which probably perceives herbal remedies as a threat to its huge profit making potential, needs to be more open minded about traditional medicine. Similarly, the east needs to pick up technologically superior medical and diagnostic skills. The combined intellectual resources of different cultures and societies could decidedly offer a qualitative gain in the overall well being of a global family.
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