Dr. Deepak Acharyas herbal mantra begins to resonate

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Ahmedabad, India based ethnobotanist Dr. Deepak Acharya (All photos courtesy of Dr. Acharya)

Ethnobotanist Deepak Acharya has the fortitude of an indigenous tribesman and inner man of a highly trained scientist. As a impatient popularizer of millennia-old herbal therapeutic system, Dr. Acharya spends a a great deal of of his time scouring through the passion of India’s tribal lands in the three states of Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat and Rajasthan.

Over the past time 18 years his seemingly vagabond sojourns in to the tribal regions of Patalkot in Madhya Pradesh, the Dangs in Gujarat and the Aravallis in Rajasthan get led him to amass 30,000 therapeutical formulations. Deepak is not a vast-eyed and unsuspecting advocate of traditionary medicine but believes in systematic confirmation and validation through detailed scientific analysis of the vast tribal knowledge in require to transform India’s health sector.

Although he runs his recognize herbal health company Abhumka Herbal Private Limited, what one. he cofounded, but is acutely apprised that in order to scale up the country’s traditional knowledge India needs a massive public effort.

“Indian medicinal plant plants counts around 17600 plant species. Out of which, Ayurveda system of medicine uses on every side 900 plant species in its formulations whereas Unani uses 700 species, Siddha 600 description, Amchi 250 species and the fresh medicine (Allopathy) uses around 30 assemblage respectively. Interestingly, the tribal or country folk medicine system uses 8000 description. The knowledge is yet to have existence documented and validated extensively,” he says.

Deepak, whose Facebook boy-servant bursts with colors of herbal plants, has in latter years gain considerable traction as someone who offers remedies in the place of a variety of ailments based put ~ traditional tribal cures. He is a widely versed in books newspaper columnist even though his original calling remains creating a scientific data base of India’s traditional pertaining knowledge.

He answered some of my questions. Excerpts:

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MC: Neem and turmeric be in possession of become emblematic of the popular thinking principle of herbal/ traditional/ alternative form of medicinal/ health formulations. The reality is, of way, much deeper. Can you describe based forward your extensive work how sizable the orally transmitted knowledge base is in India?

DA: According to pertaining healers in Dangs (Gujarat), “there is not a single herb that is useless”. It is indeed upright; there has not been a upright civilization on earth that has not included herbs viewed like medicines in its historical record. Herbs bring forth been an integral part in the disentanglement of the modern civilization.

The traditionary storage of ethnobotanical knowledge in remembrance and practices has a long narration and must go back to the initiation of human existence. One of the in the greatest degree important sources is the Rig Veda (1200-900 BC), that has been useful in the make trial to identify the source of the traditional medicine system, also known as ‘Ayurveda’. Application of of the like kind herbal remedies has also been mentioned in the Atharva Veda (around 3,000 to 2,000 BC). It was in the 19th century when scientists started focusing on the quick components found in herbs that gave a habit to the research on molecular equal elevation.

The indigenous Indian tribal people be favored with accrued considerable knowledge in this domain of potential interest and they same well identify the plants which could have existence utilized at potential source of drug for human, animal and agri-hale condition. The tribal people have their have a title to cultures, customs, cults, religious rites, taboos, totems, legends and myths, folk tales and songs, witchcrafts, medicinal practices etc. They are the depository of accumulated experience and knowledge of home-grown vegetation that has not been in a strict sense utilized for the economic development.

Around 560 home-grown groups can be distinguished by linguistic and cultural differences and ~ means of geographical separation in India. Over 90% of tribual population in India; depend on traditive medical practices for day-to-age health care.

MC: India abounds in tribes that in various stages of transition for the cause that of the onslaught of modern/urban economic development. What in your estimation main be the reserve of herbal formulations from one side of to the other India?

DA: Indian medicinal plant vegetation counts around 17600 plant species. Out of what one., Ayurveda system of medicine uses encircling 900 plant species in its formulations when in fact Unani uses 700 species, Siddha 600 variety, Amchi 250 species and the novel medicine (Allopathy) uses around 30 form respectively. Interestingly, the tribal or rural folk medicine system uses 8000 variety. The knowledge is yet to have existence documented and validated extensively.

Traditional herbal knowledge can be the major fountain of new pharmaceuticals. In the 20th century, however, advances in molecular biology and pharmacology led to a precipitate decline in the importance of ethnobotany in unsalable article discovery programs but the pendulum is slowly swinging back. It is potential to accomplish in a few minutes that which once took months to analyze in the lab ~ the agency of making TMP (Traditional Medicinal Practices) a originator of information. Indeed, it is one age old, tried, tested and trusted exercise . As a result, in the newly come times, products purely based on autochthonous knowledge are in demand in the emporium. Now an extensive validation and appraise addition to the herbal knowledge is very much needed so that we bring other thing indigenous knowledge based products in place of traffic.

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MC: You have amassed some 30,000 formulations yourself. Can you specify the peculiarities of the range of these formulations and which they do to improve human health?

DA: We have documented these formulations from three sequestered tribal pockets in India– Patalkot (Madhya Pradesh), the Dangs (Gujarat) and the Aravallis (Rajasthan). The formulations are documented without ceasing the basis of firsthand information, out of temper verification with the patients those who pay a ~ to herbal healers and these validated ~ means of our volunteers working in the realm. We have digitized it and we are planning more distant to create a huge repository of digitized orally transmitted knowledge, which otherwise was available single on oral domain, floated from generations to generations.

We own a wide range of documented formulations ~ the sake of curing cough to treating cancer, granting scientific validation and value addition is however to be done for thousands of formulation exactly to the lack of infrastructure and our confess expertise in many fields. Frankly oratory, we cannot do all this, as we are a very small enterprise. We are always open for any sort of collaboration that helps us in unused drug development program. The documented formulations cater solutions for around 150 disorders that largely include: cough & cold, arthritis, diabetes, kidney precious ~, hemorrhoids, blood pressure, obesity, brain disorders, anemia, low spirits, life style disorders, cancer, gynecological problems, animation issues, and many others. We hold formulations for veterinary and agri-soundness care also.

MC: There are ~ persons foundations working in the area of topical health traditions. Do you believe India has a important national program to preserve its enormously well-supplied local health traditions?

DA :As of a little while ago, there is no concrete action taken ~ means of the agencies so far. Though there is an AYUSH ministry, several Universities and other confidential and non-government organizations working collectively to lift aloft the local health tradition system no more than the current approach is insufficient to defend, document, validate and value addition to it. There has to exist a systematic protocol in the town but sadly, it lacks.

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MC: You be the subject of extensively traveled and chronicle India’s tribal areas over the years. Which are the greatest in number important challenges that tribes people look when it comes to not candid preserving their generational knowledge but ensuring that it vexations over into the mainstream?

DA: Tribal herbal healers, deficient a printed lingo, rely in c~tinuance oral traditions to transmit their olden times and gathered knowledge from single generation to the next. Unfortunately, in Gujarat and other separated tribal pockets in India, young family of these tribal groups is entirely interested in knowing the secrets of medicinal plants. They are now influenced ~ the agency of the modern world and think that they have power to earn more money by doing labor labor for others.

Indeed, it is exact that herbal healers are not paid enough during the term of the creative and curative services they answer for the society. They are deprived of confession and credit. The new generation does not apprehend the potential of knowledge of their somewhat old. Healers too are also not much interested in sharing their knowledge with the new generation. They want to pass over this knowledge to safe hands in such a manner that it is safeguarded and used ~ the sake of the welfare of the society.

It is, in real existence, a need of the hour to establish a Traditional Medicine Centers in the tribal dominated areas as to monitor and excite the collection of herbs from the healers through the research agencies/ companies or other institutions. In some attempt to safeguard traditional medicine perception, it is necessary that inventories of plants with therapeutic value are carried out, and the enlightenment related to their use is documented in systematic studies. These studies can have other values during the term of society besides conserving traditional knowledge, like as, to identify plants with emporium potential that can help generate incomes because of local communities.

As a backward integration, tribual people should be encouraged to cultivate of medicinal plants. For instance, a circle comes up with an indigenous lore based product; they would require unfinished herbal material in large quantity. For this, tribular groups or Mandali can be formed and encouraged despite the cultivation of such needed vital. This will provide them with every open market of herbs and in like manner this ex situ conservation of medical plant will support forest and medicative herb conservational activities.

Intellectual Property Rights (IPRs) of the grassroots acquirements holders should be respected and rewarded. It is indeed requisite to provide them a sense of defence.

We must consider seriously the concern of medicinal plants in the developing countries. In manifold cases, these countries simply cannot bear to spend millions of dollars forward imported medicines, which they could yield or extract from their tropical woods plants. Indigenous medicines are relatively inexpensive; they are locally beneficial and are usually readily accepted through the people. The ideal situation would have ~ing the establishment of local pharmaceutical firms that would originate jobs, reduce unemployment, reduce import expenditures, breed foreign exchange, encourage documentation of traditive ethno medicinal lore, and be based in successi~ the conservation and sustainable use of the of the tropics forests.

MC: One of the greatest part heard complaints/observations about traditional drug is that the lack of testing and empirical facts. Do you think that is a valid point and if so what can be done to give it the breed of scientific underpinnings that can help it emerge as a truly unlimited alternative way?

DA: To authenticate, validate and form scientific sense, there has to exist a scientific background to disseminate the judgment about herbs and their role. It is perfectly wrongly claimed that herbs have ~t any side effects or counter action. Many herbs are toxic in creator; there has been a confined dosage of intake of the herbs, free from any knowledge of scientific study i.e. toxicity, these herbs should not have existence included in any formulations.

MC: You are known to tender many remedies for everyday health problems based forward your work. Is there a tendency of action for you to institutionalize it and get it into a consolidated enterprise?

DA: There is a greater urgency to set up enterprises like Abhumka Herbal (cofounded ~ dint of. me) that is deeply engrossed in scouting and documentation of time old tried-tested- trusted knowledge. We are translating this erudition into finished products using tools of present science. Also, to involve more and greater quantity people in this mission, we bring forth created a common platform called “Swadeshi Gyan Abhiyan” (Campaign as far as concerns Indigenous Knowledge). This campaign not barely ensures a regular income to the volunteers known considered in the state of “Swadesh Sainiks” but also creates a plash of indigenous healthcare innovation and cognition.

MC: How do you think tribal people view the way India has changed across the decades, especially in the latest quarter century of economic reform and the second nature it has impacted them?

DA: If you town ~ about urban-connected tribal region, there has been a big change seen in tribal life, obviously due to the control of urban life. A major shock can be seen among the young generations. They pretend to be more aware and advanced today. They accomplish mobile handsets, they have sports bikes, branded garb and they play DVDs and DJ’s in their marriages. Somewhere in the heart of this so-called modernization, they be delivered of lost touch with their own verge of life-old traditions, rituals and also they are not partial in learning traditional herbal knowledge.

MC: Do you cogitate an important reason why despite slight public health infrastructure if a wide population of underprivileged Indians have managed to manner their health issues is because of the traditional knowledge base?

DA: Yes, cent per cent agree.

MC: Do you similar to an advocate of traditional medicine fall upon serious skepticism and even cynicism from indifferent people as well as the therapeutical establishment? How do you get round that to make it available further widely?

There has been a onerous deal of suspicion, secrecy and hostilities existing between traditional healers and novel doctors. To achieve these objectives and those of freedom from disease for all by the year 2016 and subsequently, open heart dialogue between the sum of ~ units disciplines of medicines is a mould. For neither allopathic nor traditional remedy alone can adequately meet the hale condition needs of our nation. We privation to strengthen training and research attached traditional medicine, and start with the greatest part readily feasible herbal remedies. We should boost our general economies by joining forces in tending to prevent, community, and productive health care because of our people.

MC: How long has it taken instead of you to create 30,000 formulations?

DA: Almost 18 years

MC: What percentage of your formulations be able to be scaled up commercially?

DA: Just imagine, we be obliged a pool of 30000 practices and in the same manner far, we could develop only 18 formulations commercially. There is a cyclopean opportunity to scale up the remaining formulations.

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