ISAC – Traditional Medicine Program

This week our group attended Dr Pisal’s clinic twice on Tuesday and Friday. During this time he lectured us on the basics of Ayurveda – the Doshas, Malas and Dhatus – and their specific components. We also observed Dr Pisal treating a patient for a migraine using two leeches. He explained to us how he questioned the patient and then developed a treatment plan using dietary therapy (no junk foods or fast foods) as well as lifestyle advice and leech therapy.

As well as this we visited the Herbal Hills display farm. This farm was 15 acres and had several displays of organically grown Ayurvedic herbs, Gir cows, Ghee processing facilities as well as fruit and vegetable gardens. It was very interesting to see how the farmers used all parts of the Gir cattle – including the urine and faeces – to facilitate their organic farming process.

We also travelled to the National institute of Naturopathy where we were introduced to how naturopathy is used in India. Four practitioners lectured us on different topics. These included fasting, yoga and Chinese Medicine. We were also shown how Naturopathy includes water baths, colonic irrigation, massage and acupuncture and how the specific equipments are used in a clinical setting.

One afternoon we visited Rahemiya Unanic Clinic where we were introduced to the Greco-Roman style of Unani medicine and how it uses the ‘four humors’ and ‘four temperaments’ to diagnose patients. Unfortunately we were unable to observe any treatments here.

On two afternoons this week we visited Ms Sampan Patil’s yoga, meditation and pranayam centre. This was extremely interesting as we were taught some yoga and pranayam in the Iyengar method which I had not previously studied. She spoke to us during the second visit of cultivating a ‘yoga mind’ and the best ways to do this.

The second week was filled with several varied activities. We attended Dr Rajput’s Ayurveda clinic and explored several panchakarma techniques including Bhasti, Pottahli and Shirodhara, We observed two case histories being taken on other students and then observed and practiced the techniques.

We also attended Dr Raje’s Ayurvedic clinic , which was extremely interesting. We observed him consulting with patients and prescribing herbs for varied dysfunctions such as hypertension, hyperthyroidism, diabetes and stomach problems. Dr Raje spoke to us about pulse-taking procedures and how to examine the tongue properly. We also spoke about the herbal decoction and medicines that he was preparing on his balcony by covering herbs in a decoction and then drying them.

We also spent an hour with a homeopathic doctor late one night and she gave us a very solid introduction to the principles of homeopathy. However, it did take her a little while to warm up to our introduction and the next group were able to see a powerpoint presentation which would have been very useful.

The group attended the Herbal Hills processing plant as well. It was fascinating to see how they made medicated ghee and all the pill and herb processing machinery.

On Wednesday we travelled to Mumbai and observed the Barefoot Acupuncturists at the Dharavi and Bhandra clinics. This was a highlight of the trip for me as we were able to observe how acupuncture is used at a grassroots level and for a large amount of people.

What appealed most about this clinic was how open the practitioners were with how they used acupuncture to treat. They talked us through their diagnostic method and how they treated a wide number of patients and conditions easily. We were also able to observe a large number of cases.

This is quite different to the other placements that we completed. At Dr Piscal’s placement we observed one patient over our two days with him and with Dr Rajput we only observed three simple procedures being performed. At Dr Raje’s clinic we observed 3.5 consultations despite spending most of a day at the clinic and not getting home until 10pm.

I think that the main learning accomplishment of the week was attending the Barefoot Acupuncture clinic. I have a deep interest in social health and would like to one day open a clinic that is very similar to the one that we visited in Bhandra.

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