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Health Care Councils

Even though a lot of work is being done in the field of alternative medicine, few of us are aware of it. With the setting up of apex bodies for all the various streams of Indian medicine, the government has made an attempted to consolidate the ancient knowledge of healing.

One of the major problems of alternative medicine is its incapacity to communicate globally. The problem occurs at many levels. At one level traditional practitioners are not fluent in any language but their own so they are not able to translate their knowledge into languages that can be understood globally. At another level, their practice is highly individualised. The same medicine may be prepared with differing percentages of its components. Which is the right measure is a question that could eventually lead to an ego issue. At yet another level, they do not have statistics of field-testing and so are not able to give proof in the modern scientific parlance.

In an attempt to bring all this under control and set up some specified standards that will be operative for all practitioners of alternative medicine, the government has instituted Councils with units across the length and breadth of the country.

The Government of India established in 1969, a Central Council for Research in Indian Medicine and Homeopathy (CCRIMH) to develop scientific research in different branches of Indian systems of medicine viz Unani Medicine, Ayurveda, Siddha, Yoga, Naturopathy and Homeopathy. The research activities in these systems continued under the aegis of the CCRIMH until 1978, when it was split up into four separate research councils, one each for Unani Medicine, Ayurveda and Siddha, Yoga and Naturopathy and

Homeopathy, so as to further develop these systems in consonance with the basic philosophies of the respective systems.

Their broad areas of work are a clinical research programme, standardisation of single and compound drugs, literary research, survey and cultivation of medicinal plants and family welfare research.

The topics sound boring by name, but imagine the excitement of finding drugs made from natural ingredients which have been tested in a laboratory and which have the history of being able to help medically! Under the section of clinical research, each drug is tested and its efficacy measured. One drug that seems to have a miraculous effect is called Pippalyadi Yoga. It is a contraceptive, the reference to which is in a 13th century manuscript by Bhava Prakash. After studying the effects of the drug for more than ten decades now, the Council has found that if it is taken twice a day through the month, pregnancy is avoided. Its success rate is 100%. Further it has had no side effects!

Another achievement of both Ayurveda and Unani medicine has been in treating leucoderma. The research activities of the Council of Ayurveda and Siddha medicine, for the past three decades, since its inception, have resulted in the evolution of drugs / formulations like Ayush-64 for malaria, Ayush-56 for epilepsy, Ayush - 82 for diabetes mellitus, 777 oil for psoriasis and about 18 patents on processes developed in the Council's laboratories, which are poised for commercial exploitation.

In addition to this, other drugs like Guggulu for Medoroga, Mandookaparni for mental retardation, Katuki for liver disorders and treatment procedures like Ksarasutra in piles, fistula-in ano, fissure, Amasaya Shodhan in peptic disorders & Pancakarma techniques in para / hemiplegia, have been successfully demonstrated.

Unani medicine has achieved great success in treating bronchial asthma, rheumatoid arthritis, hepatitis and malaria. The centre has also prepared a kit that is not yet marketed but will soon be in the market. This kit is a cute box with many little bottles in it. Each bottle has medicines that you would have difficulty in recognising as other than allopathic! All of them are for common ailments like cold cough, stomach upsets and so on.

In addition to the fact that these medicines cure without side effects or weakening the patient too much, they are also very inexpensive. This is one aspect that prompts the councils to undertake welfare activities in villages. Under this programme of theirs, they reach out to areas where medical help in the form of hospitals have not yet reached or are difficult to access. They then set up their mobile dispensaries in these areas and try and cover as many families as possible.

It is not only one-way- their interaction with the villagers and tribal people. The councils also collect local lores and local medical beliefs, analyze them and bring about a certain standardisation in their preparation. They also collect information about plants, their identification and ensuring their regular supply.

The Ayurveda and Siddha unit alone has covered 400 forest areas and more than one lakh twenty thousand plant specimens representing a large number of different families, genera & species have been collected. About 3000 drug samples of plant, mineral and animal origins have been collected. Information on 3,800 folklore have also been collected and a monograph covering about 2,900 folklore has been compiled.

A lot of information about these councils can be had from their well developed web site: for the council on ayurveda and siddha medicine for information about unani medicine, for information on the council for yoga and naturopathy for information on homeopathy in India.