Ayurveda a disappearing science


No one would disagree with the fact that the treatment system of ayurveda has become quite popular in recent years. The ayurvedic treatment has been successful to alleviate various types of ailments with no side effects. Despite the fact that ayurvedic treatment can cure many chronic diseases, regrettably the effort being made to promote ayurvedic therapy in the country remains largely unsatisfactory and insufficient. Since no adequate initiative has ever been made to promote ayurvedic treatment in the country, as a result a record of around 624 species of medicinal and aromatic plants including precious manuscripts and traditional ayurvedic practices are on the verge of fast disappearing. Over the past several years, due to lack of proper initiation, the country has already lost its patent right to over 150 species of medicinal plants. Geographical set up and climatic conditions of the country have helped a great deal to grow a large number of ayurvedic plants, which have been used by Vaidhyas (traditional healers) for generations. The Himalayan bend is the source of estimated 10,000 species of medicinal plants; most of them are rare and found nowhere in the world. There are many life saving medicines available on different parts of the Himalayas, which are being used to save lives of hundreds of thousands of people across the world. However, due to lack of relevant technology, expertise, and government efforts many valuable herbs lay unused which are yet to be identified. However, we have to pay royalties for the use of many herbs, which are actually found in many parts of the Himalayan and hilly regions. There are many herbs, which are regularly used by our traditional healers since ages, but sad to say that now their patent rights have been registered by foreigners. This is how we are gradually losing the patent rights of many of our precious medicinal plants. In other words this is a direct economic loss for the country.

Meanwhile, due to lack of adequate technology and methods, it has not been possible to process many precious herbs in the country. As a result, every year we export more than 100 tons of herbs to India at a very low price and in return, we buy tons of processed medicines at a very high price. Like this way the country is not only losing precious stock of herbs, our money is also siphoning off foreign countries. This is also true that many herbs, which are available in many local areas, if managed properly, can create job opportunities among the rural populace. If our government takes an initiation to organise local people and give them technical knowledge, it could play a decisive role in poverty alleviation from rural Nepal. This is also possible for many Nepali farmers to grow herbs as a potent source of income along with agriculture and livestock farming. However, due to absence of effective law and management in the use of life saving herbs, many unscrupulous people are involved in illegal trade of many extremely vulnerable herbs. As a consequence of this now most of such herbs are on the brink of complete extinction. It is therefore very necessary on the part of the government authorities to take this issue with required sense of urgency and seriousness. Hence, adequate steps should be taken to preserve and promote scientific use of many herbs and medicinal plants. Moreover, infrastructure expansion is utmost necessary so that all herbs which are lay unused can be processed into life saving drugs. For this, all local communities, where herbs are found in plenty, must be made aware about the importance of herbs, so that local communities learn the safe handling of these resources that can go a considerable way to reduce rural poverty.

Since day-by-day allopathic treatment has been going beyond the reach of ordinary people, this will be rational to promote traditional treatment system in the country. Meanwhile, we must accept the fact that our knowledge of growing, storing, processing and manufacturing the herbs into allopathic medicines is largely insufficient. If this is the case then it is the part of government’s duty to take this matter seriously and put all possible efforts together to transform this ancient knowledge into wealth.

Not only preservation and growth of herbs necessary, but ancient copies of manuscripts concerning ayurvedic philosophy must be preserved and studied properly. The government must take relevant steps and promote ayurvedic treatment system in the country without further delay.