Times of India
Wednesday, March 25, 2015
by Sunitha Rao
Every fourth Saturday of the month, the otherwise quiet Advanced Centre for Ayurveda inside the sprawling Nimhans (the National Institute of Mental Health and Neuroscience) campus comes alive. A psychiatrist and an ayurveda doctor screen 60-80 patients suffering from muscular dystrophy and other psychiatric illnesses. The ayurveda centre has been helping those suffering from schizophrenia to tackle their violent, aggressive behaviour and sleeplessness. Nimhans has been collaborating with the Indian ancient medicine since 1959. In 1970, the centre was upgraded by the Central Council for Research in Ayurvedic Sciences (CCRAS) with the establishment of the Advanced Centre for Ayurveda in Mental Health and Neuro Sciences on 1.5 acres inside Nimhans.
Dr D Sudhakar, assistant director of the centre, said: "The focus is more on collaborative studies. They are suggested select therapies of Panchakarma that does detoxification. Medicated oil massage, termed Shirodhara in ayurveda, is also helpful. Today, almost every house has a psychiatric patient and a diabetic. Anxiety, stress, depression have become so common." He further said, "There is no 100% result for medication in neurological disorders. So we suggest them kriyas in ayurveda that can help them. For instance, those suffering from muscular dystrophy are suggested some Panchakarma therapies that reduce stiffness in the arms and calf muscles. What we give is supportive therapy." Dr P Satish Chandra, director of Nimhans, said, "Psychiatric patients and those suffering from neuro-generative disorders are told about possible treatment in ayurveda. We go ahead only if the patient is willing to take up ayurvedic therapies along with allopathic treatment." However, the 30-bed hospital, which sees 40 patients at the OPD everyday, lacks certain facilities.
A remark in the patient's feedback records summed up the scene at the centre. "For a Panchakarma treatment it requires seven days of stay in the hospital. But the facilities have to improve. When ayurveda treatment is on, we expect a typical ayurvedic diet chart, but here, the food given to all Nimhans patient is the same from the same kitchen. Ayurvedic centre should have its own kitchen," a patient wrote in the feedback records.
Low IQ? Get treated here
The Advanced Centre for Ayurveda in Mental Health and Neuro Sciences, which is conducting in Manasa Mandata (slight mental retardation) among children, picks over 50 students from various schools every year for treatment. "We visit schools and find out the IQ of children in the age group of 8-13 years. We make them play games, interact with them and assess their IQ. The IQ for children of this age group should be ideally 90-100. But we have seen children whose IQ was below 52, and the parents, teachers were not much aware of it," said Shruthi Keerthi, a clinical psychologist at the centre. "In some cases, mild mental retardation can be noticed in the form of frequent bed wetting, lack of concentration and poor communication skills. We first reach out to the schools and explain the teachers about our project. We also interact with children. But it's the parents who have to bring the children to our centre after interacting with the teachers," she added.
Ayurvedic medicines like Saraswath Gritha (medicated ghee) and Brahmee Gritha made up of herbs are used to treat mild mental retardation. "There is a lot of stigma associated with these problems. We have had cases wherein after a couple of months of treatment with us, the children have improved their IQ from 52 to 61," Shruthi Keerthi added.
Reading palm leaves keeps him busy At a time when people of his age enjoy their post-retirement life, Lakshmi Narayana H S, 64-year-old ayurveda practitioner, is busy reading palm-leaf manuscripts about ayurveda to bring them to the mainstream. "Not all that is written and researched about ayurveda by our ancestors is available now. My effort is to make those manuscripts get into the mainstream... The inscriptions I have carry ayurvedic solutions for cancer, geriatric problems, heart ailments, diabetes."
It means that these diseases prevailed then also and the medicines they have suggested can be relevant now, said Lakshmi Narayana from Anekal, who retired as a clerk at the Advanced centre for Ayurveda, Nimhans. He has palm-leaf books of various sizes ranging from 25 leaves to 300 leaves. "I go in search of palm-leaf scripts. Sometimes people have contacted me and given the palm leaves they have for studies," he added. As a young boy, he grew up seeing his uncle provide ayurveda treatment to people which nurtured his curiosity for the Indian traditional medicine." He has transcribed the inscriptions in Marathi, Tamil, Kannada, Halegannada and Telugu. He uses magnifying glasses to read the inscriptions and makes note of them in Kannada. "Some of the palm leaves that date back to the Krishnadevaraya empire of Vijayanagara, have details of medicines for different kinds of fever," Lakshmi Narayana added.
"I appreciate his efforts. But we do not know whether the manuscripts he has transcribed are present in the ayurvedic textbooks already," said Dr D Sudhakar, additional director of Centre for Ayurveda in Mental Health and Neuro Sciences.