The Herbal Healer
RANJIT ROY CHAUDHURY, INDIA Few can match his repertoire of herbs and spices
For 40 long years, the first Rhodes scholar from India and former director of PGIMER, Chandigarh, has been helping the Government of India study, identify and test the health claims of hundreds of herbs that were used for centuries by traditional healers in India. “Millions in the Third World will always use herbal medicine because they believe in them,” says the clinical pharmacologist. That vast storehouse of traditional wisdom and systems of medicine, however, has been largely underestimated with the march of modern medicine, he explains.
But for Dr Roy Chaudhury, there’s reason for joy. “There’s a discontent in the world today about what modern medicine can offer in certain long-term, chronic conditions, be it diabetes, coronary heart disease, asthma or hepatitis,” he says. Allopathic doctors can’t cure these diseases, as people live longer and lifestyle changes make people vulnerable at younger ages. “The doctors are finally asking, then what?” Add to it a silent revolution that has taken place in the middle class, that had always accepted allopathic medicine as the ultimate. For the first time, they are also disappointed with it. “The third thing is that the West has adopted these,” he says. “India has this tradition of losing its own tradition. So when doctors from Harvard or Stanford start talking about these, we also wake up.”