For the love of plants

Last Updated 18 December 2017, 15:45 IST

Are you forgetful? Then drink tulsi and brahmi juice. If your back aches, rub the inner skin of half a lemon over it till you transfer the pain to the fruit. When your eye smarts, eat a raw onion every day. These aren't voodooed chants but just simple home remedies for common ailments, propagated by Treasure and Utilise the Life Sustaining Ingredients of Nature (TULSI), a non-profit organisation started by research scientist Prathibha Vinay.  

Prathibha is the first non-physician member of the Indian College of Allergy and Immunology, a research scientist with a doctorate in Palynology and specialisation in Aerobiology.

Plant-based remedies

Currently, in order to promote the benefits of plants, Prathibha travels across the State, conducting workshops and awareness programmes. Through workshops on awareness of primary  healthcare and simple home remedies for common ailments, she spreads awareness and gives practical demonstrations of home remedies, along with sensitising school children. She gives children medicinal plants and saplings, in order to encourage them to grow and get a sense of clean environmental care and natural resources.

TULSI has planted medicinal plants at Dhanwantri Park at J P Nagar, Bengaluru, with the co-operation of the city's municipal corporation. The organisation has also planted medicinal herbs in old and unused parks in different parts of Bengaluru. Poet and psychologist, Anita Belagodu, a resident of J P Nagar, is fascinated by the therapeutic healing powers of the herbs in the park, which she says, "...lead to measurable changes in physical and mental health." She is also a former president of Soroptimist International Bangalore (SIB), a service club of professional women that Prathibha is a member of. Prathibha spreads TULSI's message through this platform.  

TULSI's workshops have flared interest in plant medicines. "Many Kannada channels have broadcast its programmes. Satellite programmes for villages have communicated its messages to people in the rural areas," Prathibha adds. She recalls some interesting quotes from the villages. Thimappa from a village had told her that TULSI's workshops have been an eye-opener and made him realise that he could turn to nature for common ailments such as cough, cold and stomach ache.

Courses and workshops

The organisation also conducts workshops in companies. That apart, The University Grants Commission of India (UGC) has approved a syllabus for a certificate  course in Biodiversity and Role of Medicinal  Plants in Primary Healthcare, as a career-oriented programme. It was recommended by Prathibha and is today offered in a few colleges in the city.  

Her plants battle the most common ailments of the day - dengue, SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome), anti-immune deficiency, malaria, respiratory problems, etc. These modern illnesses spread by contamination and pollution can be fought with traditional herbs.  

 When asked which plant is the hero on her list - "Our own tulsi plant! It can be used to battle 108 diseases," she exclaims. Followers in the list include dodapatre, mint, turmeric, dry amla powder and methi seeds. They are the foot soldiers in battling the most common disorders like
diabetes and blood pressure.

As a member of the SIB, she has written a book, First Aid by Nature. The profits generated were used to fund the Meru Garden project in Kenya. The book is a compilation of knowledge collected through centuries, with some nuggets of wisdom: a German diary from 1726 records that Siddha doctors knew about 4,448 diseases as well as their corresponding treatments. More than 2,00,000 herbs have been recorded in many German diaries.

"The interest in plants thus seems to be eternal, crossing borders and eras, even if the messages across place and time are being given by our own local 'plant lady',''chimes in businesswoman and SIB member Jhuma Guha.  

Expert opinion

However, even medicinal plants should be taken only in small doses and should be used only for borderline ailments, such as diabetes. Prathibha agrees with Dr Nalini Subbaiah, paediatrician and SIB member, who cautions that it isn't completely safe to replace allopathic medicines, but only taper them off slowly and under expert recommendation.  

If you are looking for medicinal plant points in the city, you can search for the following centres: Dhanavantri nursery at Bangalore University Campus, Foundation for Revitalisation of Local Health Traditions (FRLHT), Lalbagh Nursery and many private nurseries.

You can also collaborate with Prathibha as a member if you join SIB, a service club for women, children and the underprivileged.

For more information, log on to www.sibangalore.com or contact 9243002034.

(Published 18 December 2017, 07:02 IST)

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