22nd June, 2016 an interview with Dr.Vijayalakshmi, B.S.M.S., M.S., Siddha specialist and Psychotherapist. Dr. Vijayalaksmi has been practicing Siddha medicine since 1989 in Puducherry, most of her patients are from semi-urban and remote villages of Pondicherry as well as Tamil Nadu. She is popular and successful in treating the patients with Arthirits, Bronchial Asthma, Infertility, Fibroids and PCOD complaints. She has also published many health related articles in health magazines.
It’s the part of Tamil culture and our very own form of traditional healing treatment. There is a belief, that it was taught by Lord Shiva to Parvathy, Parvathy to Nandhi and from Nandhi to Sithar Agasthiya and Sithar Agasthiya to his followers and so on. The information since then is being shared and passed down from generation to generation via various notes and hints: written palm leaf, stone sculptures etc., It is the only form of treatment where herbs/plants, extracts from animals like “Thathu Jeeva Vagupu” (extract derived from garden lizard) is used for curing Paralysis; metals/heavy metal like mercury is used as a substitute for steroids and poisons, gold, silver, pearl etc., is used for curing various diseases and disorders. Siddha is considered to be one of the safest form of treatments, which has the potential to cure all sorts of diseases/disorders even for cases which are considered as incurable, without any side effects. This is what makes “SIDDHA” unique in the field of medicine.
You spoke of your concern due to changes in our lifestyle since the 80s specially the last decade, can you elaborate the same?
Around 80’s because of the absence of purely polished carbohydrate rich fine rice, people only consumed nutritious yellow colored fat rice. Every home had their own cattle (dung was used as compost) and garden in their backyard, because of which there was availability of seasonal vegetables/fruits, so there was no requirement to buy vegetable/fruits from the market, they rarely visited market for purchasing clothes, jewels etc., but not for buying vegetables/fruits. Moreover they had a well balanced nutritious diet menu. All these habits made that generation free from poisonous fertilizers/pesticides and hybrid crop varieties; they all lead a healthy, stress free life and they hardly suffered from any diseases, most importantly they had a pollution free environment.
In case of dress materials they predominantly used handloom, cotton and silk, which is more convenient for our climate and good for our health. The major mode of transport were cycle, horse or ox chariots: all these are eco-friendly as well as a source of livelihood for communities. During this time humans co-existed in nature in a friendly and well balanced manner. Above all the social integration and joint family system, which have the potential for: sharing the work/emotions, love, affection, security, respect, protection, moral values etc., especially for the children had a very good space.
In the past decade, because of the trend of nuclear family- intimacy, love and care between a couple is lost and in societal point of view, there has been loss of social integrity, increase in rate of crime, fast and fried food culture, more number of restaurants, hotels, more use and dependency on electronic gadgets: especially cell phones, TV, computers etc.- all these has created a very modernized society with no cultural, traditional and moral values, and on the way we have ignored and lost values for which we were once recognized globally.
What are the major health effects that you have been witnessing since 1990 till date that are of concern?
In the mid 90’s, 2/10 or 1/10 of my patients had delayed gestation and the possibility for pregnancy was 100%, but now 7 out of 10 patients are totally infertile (0% possibility), either they go for AID/AIH (artificial insemination), test tube baby or surrogacy. It is shocking to see such a drastic increase of infertility in such a short duration of time. This is the condition of the current generation and people must be aware of it. Apart from infertility, there is also increase in patients with Uterus Fibroid, Ovary, PCOD, Irregular cycles, Cancer and HIV complaints. In case of youth and children, obesity, eye problems, loss of concentration and grasping power, ulcer, skin diseases like psoriasis, depression, feeling of insecurity, Post traumatic stress due to educational pressure or sexual harassment and Psychological behavior disorders has been registered. All this is due to westernization and modernized way of lifestyle.
What are the remedies for these problems?
I can't guarantee, but following these steps is worth trying
1. Going back to Joint family system
2. Every home must have its own cattle and garden
3. Use cycle or a common mode of vehicle for transportation (reduces pollution and fossil fuel usage)
4. Decrease in use of electronic gadgets especially cell phone.
5. Children should participate in outdoor games instead of indoor games -so that both their physical and mental health remains active.
6. Slowly try to follow our traditional and cultural values.
You have mentioned about the increasing shift towards modern-urban life style, according to you what will be the consequences of this shift?
Within next two generation or so, the existence of human race is questionable. As we go on depending and using more and more toxic chemicals for pests, vectors and disease control, instead of controlling the targeted organisms, we make them more stronger, gradually boosting up their immunity power and increasing their population cum survival persistent.
Technologies can also prove to be dangerous, for instance, due to cell phone towers, the rate of birds especially sparrow (a predator) population are reducing rapidly, by means of which we are actually eradicating a key component from a food chain, thus affecting the whole ecosystem, which ultimately lead to increase of various insect population that are resistant to toxic chemicals. Who knows the consequences of this….? The nature has to decide- “Survival of the fittest”.
What do you think about SLI and its role in society and rural communities?
The programmes of SLI are designed to realize the importance of nature: how important it is to lead a sustainable life using the locally available resources. Apart from this, it also teaches us the value of our culture and tradition.
This interview was done and documented by Padmavathy.A, In-house Researcher at SLI.