Knowledge of medicines in tribal backyard

Knowledge of medicines in tribal backyard

Doctor regretted building hospital in tribal haadi, making people forget native medicines

Doctors today do not keep people healthy, but their aim is to find patients, whereas tribals’ approach is always to keep people healthy, said Swami Vivekandanda Youth Movement founder Dr R Balasubramaniam.

He was delivering a talk on ‘Ethnomedicine and community wisdom,’ organised by the Botanical Society of the Department of Studies in Botany, Manasagangothri, here on Tuesday and said unfortunately community wisdom has no place in learning.

Narrating his own experience of working with the tribals in HD Kote region for almost three decades as a doctor, he said there was a lot to learn from Girijans and the women there had native wisdom which when they talked about medicines and used it in practical applications in their daily lives.

“There are things we learn from them normally not taught in universities. There is an excellent body of knowledge among the tribals which the students in the universities can learn from. However, what we are taught is our laboratory finding is knowledge,” he said.

Giving the example of a tribal boy Manju who at the age of seven could identify more than seventy plants and name them in his own dialect, he said that it was sad that everyone was looking to the west to learn when there was the finest knowledge and wisdom available in our own backyard.

Regretting that by building a hospital in the tribal haadis, he had made the tribals forget their own native medicines, Balasubramniam said that when Kabini dam was built, it led to a loss of many medicinal plants which the tribals used for treating their people.


One example he gave was a plant which if consumed by the women would see that she did not become pregnant for five years and when he checked her history of child births, it was found that by consuming this plant, she was able to deliver a child every five years and she had delivered three children. Asked about the plant, however, the woman refused to identify it as that community had a belief that if it is identified then it would lose its efficacy.

“We have destroyed health by using modern medicine and one must be aware that seventy per cent of medicines are adulterated. Hence it is important to document these storeshouse of knowledge which the traditional medicines give us for posterity and for our own use,” he said.

DOS Botany chairman K A Raveesha said that there are many steps which the University of Mysore has taken to improve the course content in the department.

Earlier associate professor M S Sudarshana welcomed. Dr Balasubramaniam released ‘Leaf’ a newsletter of Botanical Society. Secretary Rajkumar H Garampalli was present.

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