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Friday, March 29, 2013

Faulty disbursement of funds pose threat to cultivation of widely used medicinal plants in TN


Cultivation of widely used medicinal plants has slowed down in Tamil Nadu  as the government subsidies earmarked for the medicinal plant cultivation were not properly disbursed among all the herb growers in the rural areas, it is learnt.

Due to lack of financial assistance and technical support, the farmers are unable to cultivate many of the medicinal and aromatic plants which are the source for essential raw materials for commonly used Ayurveda and Siddha medicines. This situation forces the market to increase the prices of the available crude drugs day by day.

According to sources close to the plant cultivators, the fund coming to the state horticultural department from the national medicine plant board (NMPB) is disbursed among a few number of farmers, and majority of the cultivators who grow the most needed herbs for Ayurveda and Siddha medicines are being deprived of the benefits. The fund is diverted only for one or two varieties of crops which are not widely used for medicines, they alleged.

A technical expert and Siddha doctor in Chennai, who regularly trains the growers and provides them valuable information about plant cultivation, said the government subsidies are benefiting only the exporters of herbal extracts and medicinal plants. All the funds supposed to be disbursed among herb cultivators is going to one or two societies or associations of plant cultivators. He said a total of 180 raw drugs are required for manufacturing the commonly used Ayurveda and Siddha medicines. But the farmers of these widely used plants are unable to avail the benefit of the government scheme.

This diversion of funds to selected plant growers forces the farmers of other crops to hike the prices of their produce. He said while disbursing the money, the authorities should consider the most important and widely used plants that are required for the manufacture of Ayurveda and Siddha medicines. The money should not be distributed among a few number of farmers, but should be given to all those engage in the plant cultivation and have linkage to Ayurveda and Siddha industry. He alleged that currently the fund is diverted to some extract exporting units only.

In Tirupur alone about 9000 acres of land belonging to over 2000 farmers is used for medicinal plant cultivation. The seeds of ‘Glorisa Superba' produced from the area are exported to countries like Italy where the alkaloid extracted from it is used for the preparation of herbal drugs to fight diseases like cancer, said a plant grower from Tirupur. The cultivation of medicinal plants in Tamil Nadu is the key to meeting the raw material needs of the ayush industry in the state and it offers opportunities for exports of extracts and raw herbs, he said.

When contacted Dr T Thirunarayanan, secretary of the Centre for Traditional Medicines and Research (CTMR), said, the needs of the ISM industry need to be assessed and funds should be provided to farmers to cultivate the plants in different agro climatic regions. He said some widely used medicinal plants like Andrographis paniculata, Mucuna pruriens, Saraca asoca (Roxb.) Withania somnifera, Piper longum, Oldenlandia umbellata, Desmodium gangeticam,Centella asiatica. Piper nigrum. Pseudarthira viscid, Trichosanthes cucumerina L Gmelia arborea, Vettiveria zizonoides and Steriospermum colais are now rarely available in the market.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Tibetan Medicine- Siddha Practitioners Interaction



Objective :
 Sow rig pa – The Tibetan Medical System has been officially recogonised by the Govt. of India by including it in the IMCC Act 1970 with due approval of the Indian Parliament in 2010. Since this sy.stem has a lot of commonalities with the Indian Systems of Traditional Medicine      -Ayurveda and Siddha it was decided to understand the commanalities in the area of Basic principles, Drugs & Pharmaceutics, Diagnostic methods and Treatment methods among these systems and also sensitize physicians of the unique speciality procedures of each system.
Organizers
The director of Mee- Tsee-Khang ( Tibetan Medical Astrological Institute) of His Holiness Dalai Lama deputed 16 Tibetan Medical practitioners from TMAI- Dharamsala and its branch clinics (53) functioning across the country to Centre for Traditional Medicine & Research for this interactive meet.
The Local Siddha Partner- CTMR invited 12 Siddha experts (From National Institute of Siddha, Siddha Medical College, Anna Hospital of Indian Medicine,  CCIM E.C member, Siddha Primary health care physician, Varma Physician, Researchers, Private Practitioners and NGO) to interact with the visiting Tibetan practitioners.
Venue and Date
The proceedings took place in the CPR Foundation, Enviornmental Research Centre, Chennai on 8th and 9th March, 2013. The delegates also visited Sri Ragavendra Siddha Varma Hospital  the evening of 8th and National Institute of Siddha on 9th morning.
First day proceedings
           The proceedings started with traditional invocation in tamil followed by invocation in Tibetian language”Medicine Buddha” . Dr. Nandhitha Krishnan of CPR Foundation welcomed the gathering and explained how the tibetan medicine was able to help cancer patients in chennai and Bangalore This was followed by the inaugural address by Dr. Prof. K. Manickavasakam Director,National Institute of Siddha who appreciated the initiative of dialogoue between two traditional systems of medicines which could further strengthen the systems. The Chief Conservator of Forest and  Director of Sericulture Govt. of Tamilnadu Mr. V. Prabakaran in his keynote address stressed the need of conservation and propagation of medicinal plants, both tropical and high alltitute plants and explained how his department is working towards increasing local production of silk to stop import of chinese silk which could also be done in medicinal plant sector.
The first presentation was by Dr. Thirunarayanan, Secretary, CTMR on the  Basic principles and History of Siddha Medicine where he briefly introduced the system to the Tibetian doctors and also spoke on the scope of collaboration between the two systems. The Basis and History of Tibetian system of medicine was presented by Dr. Sonam Dolkar Oshoe of Documentation & Publication Department Men-Tsee-Khang. The Commonanities where explained by both speakers on the Five Physico cosmic elements. Three humours ( Vata- rlung, Pita- tripa and Kapha- Bad-kan) and the historical exchange between Indian and Tibetan traditional  physicians as early as 7th Centuary A.D was appreciated by the delegates. The influence of Buddhist thoughts on siddha medicine was clearly spelt out.
 Dr. R.Sudha of Govt. Siddha Medical college Chennai elaborated on understanding disease and diagnostic methods of Siddha while Dr. Migmar Lhamo, Resident Doctor Bylakupee Branch Clinic spoke for Tibetian medicine which was also followed by a question session. The understaning on the Pulse diagnosis and Urine analysis though common for both systems, which does not require any high end laboratory, certain finer details like examining the radial pulse of both hands related to different internal organs of tibetan medicine reminded one of the Chinese pulse diagnosis.
The post lunch session commenced with Vaidya S.Usman Ali’s presentation on Inorganic Pharmaceutics of Siddha. The emphasis on inorganic pharmaceutics in siddha due to non-availability of herbs all round the year, long shelf life of the inorganic drugs, its nano particle size, formulation expertise, requirment of minute dose for short term use and efficacy in addressing nutritional needs (Trace elements) and management of even life threatening conditions.He also explained the intricacies of the detoxifying process of inorganics and mentioned their use only in appropriate condition.The thirty two dosage forms of internal medicine was also touched upon.
 Tibetian medicine pharmaceutics was presented in tibetian by Jamyang Tashi, Head of Pharmaceutical Department of Men-Tsee-Khang and was translated by Dr. Sonam Dolkar Oshoe for the audience. He explained the ten dosage morms – Decoction, concentrate, powder, pills, medicinal paste, medicinal butter,medicinal ash, medicinal wines, gem medicines and herbal compounds. In all 176 drugs are prepared under GMP conditions in his department at TMAI, Dharamsala and distributed to all 53 branch clinics in the country and abroad. He also mentioned that medicines are not being prepared for the purpose of commerce and there is no deviation from the textual reference both in terms of ingredients or process. But however Modern equipments for particle size reduction, cleaning, blending, pill making are used as well as utilities for clean manufacture. Quality parameters for raw material and processing are follwed as per the text Rgyud-bzhi ( Four tantras)
The Topic on Plant medicine resource was also presented by Vaidya S.Usman Ali for Siddha and by Dr. Tsetan Mingyur, Materia Medica Department, Men-Tsee-Khang, Dharamsala for Tibetian medicine. The drug raw materials are classified as gem, stone, soil, tree, musciliginous, shrubs, herbs and animal products. Most plants are common like Chebulic myrobalan, belleric myrobalan, Indian gooseberry, Pushkaramool, kutki etc, There are some exclusive high alltitute plants that are unique to Tibetan medicine. The issue of  non availabity of certain species like musk were also discussed. The issue of ban on mercurial drugs from 2013 Jan and its implication on both systems and ayurveda as well was discussed.
 The entire interactive programme was co-ordinated by Dr. T. Thirunarayanan.
The participants then went on a field visit to Sri Ragavendra Siddha Varma Hospital were a private siddha hospital specializing in varma and other external therapies are being carried out in North Chennai, the tibetan practitioners said it motivated them to take up the accessory therapies of their system with more seriousness in their branch clincs  and the day closed with dinner hosted by CTMR.
Second day proceedings
The morning session started with a visit to NIS and Dr.A.Rajendrakumar presented a overview of the functioning of NIS, its clinical services, academic branches, research, capacity building activities. The visiting practitioners were surprised with huge turn out of patients in the NIS hospital (around 2300 p[er day). They expressed the apprehension that individual patients have to wait for their turn both to see physicians as well as to collect their medicines. The proposal for expansion of hospital services was explained to them by the Director, NIS. They were also taken around the campus to study its flora, particularly medicinal plants used in siddha system.
The post lunch session started with presentation on Role Of Diet by Dr. R. Padmapriya of Centre for Traditional Medicine & Research and by Dr. Sonam Dolkar Oshoe for Siddha and Tibetian medicine respectively. The similarities between the two system of medicines reflected beautifully in these presentations. In fact the incompatabile foods mentioned in both systems were too similar.Dr Bhooma of Ambattur briefed with clarity on Cleansing Therapy while Dr. T. Thirunarayanan introduced External Therapies of Siddha Medicine and Dr. Siddique Ali demonstrated it for frozen shoulder which hogged the attention of all participants. Specialtiy treatment for Tibetian medicine was presented.
Dr. B.Muthukumar Executive committee member of Central Council For Indian Medicine rendered his reflection of the interactive meet. He mentioned gSowa-rigpa and Siddha medicine should also be compared in the areas of reproductive and child care and this was a good platform to debate and many similarities were discussed and there is a good scope for collaborative efforts. Dr. Dorjee Rapten Neshar CMO of the Bangalore unit of Mee- Tsee- Khang made the concluding remarks and expressed his desire for continued interaction between the two systems.
Dr.T.Thirunarayanan, Secretary, CTMR said as both systems have many commanalities that collaborations in areas of drug research, treatment is possible and expressed his desire that Siddha system should emulate the TM in expanding it services to all over the country and subsequently to humankind all over the world. He appreciated that with 300 registered practitioners 53 branch clinics of Mee- Tsee- Khang is functioning all over, then it is time for Siddha too to spread.
Language barrier (Texts of Siddha and training being only in Tamil) is the impediment and it should be overcome. The Dept of AYUSH should come out with Special schemes for Siddha to open centres atleast in all major cities of India with Sizable Tamil population.

Dr.V.Tamilalagan and Dr.R.Sangeetha documented the whole proceedings. Vd.R.B.Ramamurthy, traditional siddha physician also provided his insight.