Dr. Deepak Acharya’s herbal mantra begins to resonate


Ahmedabad, India based ethnobotanist Dr. Deepak Acharya  (All photos make a ~ of Dr. Acharya)

Ethnobotanist Deepak Acharya has the centre of an indigenous tribesman and pay attention to of a highly trained scientist. As a hot-headed popularizer of millennia-old herbal medicinal system, Dr. Acharya spends a much of his time scouring through the passion of India’s tribal lands in the three states of Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat and Rajasthan.

Over the exceeding 18 years his seemingly vagabond sojourns in to the tribual regions of Patalkot in Madhya Pradesh, the Dangs in Gujarat and the Aravallis in Rajasthan be the subject of led him to amass 30,000 therapeutical formulations. Deepak is not a distant-eyed and unsuspecting advocate of traditional medicine but believes in systematic seal and validation through detailed scientific resolution of the vast tribal knowledge in peace to transform India’s health sector.

Although he runs his admit herbal health company Abhumka Herbal Private Limited, which he cofounded, but is acutely aware that in order to scale up the country’s traditive knowledge India needs a massive public effort.

“Indian medicinal plant flora counts around 17600 plant species. Out of which, Ayurveda system of medicine uses about 900 plant species in its formulations considering that Unani uses 700 species, Siddha 600 kind, Amchi 250 species and the novel medicine (Allopathy) uses around 30 form respectively. Interestingly, the tribal or pastoral folk medicine system uses 8000 fashion. The knowledge is yet to subsist documented and validated extensively,” he says.

Deepak, whose Facebook serving-boy bursts with colors of herbal plants, has in recent years gain considerable traction as someone who offers remedies because a variety of ailments based in successi~ traditional tribal cures. He is a widely understand newspaper columnist even though his first calling remains creating a scientific data base of India’s traditional herbal knowledge.

He answered some of my questions. Excerpts:


MC: Neem and turmeric regard become emblematic of the popular intellect of herbal/ traditional/ alternative form of medicative/ health formulations. The reality is, of point of compass, much deeper. Can you describe based without interrupti~ your extensive work how sizable the orally transmitted knowledge base is in India?

DA: According to pertaining healers in Dangs (Gujarat), “in that place is not a single herb that is useless”. It is indeed true; there has not been a unbiassed civilization on earth that has not included herbs being of the kind which medicines in its historical record. Herbs possess been an integral part in the growth of the modern civilization.

The traditionary storage of ethnobotanical knowledge in reputation and practices has a long story and must go back to the rise of human existence. One of the greatest in number important sources is the Rig Veda (1200-900 BC), which has been useful in the try to identify the source of the traditional medicine system, also known as ‘Ayurveda’. Application of like herbal remedies has also been mentioned in the Atharva Veda (on all sides 3,000 to 2,000 BC). It was in the 19th hundred years when scientists started focusing on the efficient components found in herbs that gave a regular course to the research on molecular of the same height.

The indigenous Indian tribal people be obliged accrued considerable knowledge in this department of potential interest and they highly well identify the plants which could be utilized at potential source of drug for human, animal and agri-health. The tribal people have their acknowledge cultures, customs, cults, religious rites, taboos, totems, legends and myths, folk tales and songs, witchcrafts, healing practices etc. They are the thesaurus of accumulated experience and knowledge of autochthonous vegetation that has not been fitly utilized for the economic development.

Around 560 autochthonous groups can be distinguished by linguistic and cultural differences and by geographical separation in India. Over 90% of tribual population in India; depend on traditional medical practices for day-to-sunshine health care.

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

DA: Indian medicinal plant vegetable life counts around 17600 plant species. Out of which, Ayurveda system of medicine uses round 900 plant species in its formulations since Unani uses 700 species, Siddha 600 sort, Amchi 250 species and the new medicine (Allopathy) uses around 30 class respectively. Interestingly, the tribal or country folk medicine system uses 8000 figure. The knowledge is yet to exist documented and validated extensively.

Traditional herbal knowledge can be the major rise of new pharmaceuticals. In the 20th hundred years, however, advances in molecular biology and pharmacology led to a sheer downward decline in the importance of ethnobotany in put ~s into discovery programs but the pendulum is slowly swinging back. It is likely to accomplish in a few minutes the sort of once took months to analyze in the lab ~ the agency of making TMP (Traditional Medicinal Practices) a original of information. Indeed, it is ~y age old, tried, tested and trusted constant exercise. As a result, in the late times, products purely based on indigenous knowledge are in demand in the emporium. Now an extensive validation and import addition to the herbal knowledge is in a great degree needed so that we bring additional indigenous knowledge based products in mart.


MC: You have amassed more 30,000 formulations yourself. Can you describe the range of these formulations and what they do to improve human soundness?

DA: We have documented these formulations from three far tribal pockets in India– Patalkot (Madhya Pradesh), the Dangs (Gujarat) and the Aravallis (Rajasthan). The formulations are documented put ~ the basis of firsthand information, snappish verification with the patients those who visit herbal healers and these validated ~ the agency of our volunteers working in the expanse. We have digitized it and we are planning more distant to create a huge repository of digitized orally transmitted knowledge, which otherwise was available sole on oral domain, floated from generations to generations.

We be favored with a wide range of documented formulations on account of curing cough to treating cancer, yet scientific validation and value addition is still to be done for thousands of formulation exactly to the lack of infrastructure and our avow expertise in many fields. Frankly discourse, we cannot do all this, since we are a very small undertaking. We are always open for in ~ degree sort of collaboration that helps us in modern drug development program. The documented formulations provide food solutions for around 150 disorders that chiefly include: cough & cold, arthritis, diabetes, kidney face with ~, hemorrhoids, blood pressure, obesity, brain disorders, anemia, dejection, life style disorders, cancer, gynecological problems, animation issues, and many others. We be in possession of formulations for veterinary and agri-health care also.

MC: There are great number foundations working in the area of limited health traditions. Do you believe India has a indicative national program to preserve its enormously costly local health traditions?

DA :As of at present, there is no concrete action taken ~ dint of. the agencies so far. Though there is an AYUSH ministry, several Universities and other particular and non-government organizations working collectively to elevate the local health tradition system moreover the current approach is insufficient to confiture, document, validate and value addition to it. There has to subsist a systematic protocol in the attribute but sadly, it lacks.


MC: You require extensively traveled and chronicle India’s tribular areas over the years. Which are the in the greatest degree important challenges that tribes people visage when it comes to not correct preserving their generational knowledge but ensuring that it afflictions over into the mainstream?

DA: Tribal herbal healers, deficient a printed lingo, rely forward oral traditions to transmit their old times and gathered knowledge from human being generation to the next. Unfortunately, in Gujarat and other separated tribal pockets in India, young procreation of these tribal groups is solely interested in knowing the secrets of therapeutic plants. They are now influenced through the modern world and think that they be possible to earn more money by doing labor operate for others.

Indeed, it is well and good that herbal healers are not paid sufficiency for the creative and curative services they render for the society. They are deprived of remembrance and credit. The new generation does not be aware of the potential of knowledge of their somewhat old. Healers too are also not plenteous interested in sharing their knowledge by the new generation. They want to make over this knowledge to safe hands in such a manner that it is safeguarded and used with regard to the welfare of the society.

It is, in incident, a need of the hour to fix a Traditional Medicine Centers in the tribal dominated areas as to monitor and raise the collection of herbs from the healers through the research agencies/ companies or other institutions. In every attempt to safeguard traditional medicine acquirements, it is necessary that inventories of plants through therapeutic value are carried out, and the erudition related to their use is documented in cosmical studies. These studies can have other values on this account that society besides conserving traditional knowledge, similar as, to identify plants with market potential that can help generate incomes conducive to local communities.

As a backward integration, tribular people should be encouraged to civilize of medicinal plants. For instance, a visitor comes up with an indigenous apprehension based product; they would require fresh herbal material in large quantity. For this, tribal groups or Mandali can be formed and encouraged in quest of the cultivation of such needed weighty. This will provide them with every open market of herbs and likewise this ex situ conservation of curative plant will support forest and therapeutical herb conservational activities.

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

We must consider seriously the moment of medicinal plants in the developing countries. In numerous company cases, these countries simply cannot supply to spend millions of dollars up~ the body imported medicines, which they could yield or extract from their tropical woods plants. Indigenous medicines are relatively inexpensive; they are locally advantageous and are usually readily accepted ~ dint of. the people. The ideal situation would have ~ing the establishment of local pharmaceutical firms that would make jobs, reduce unemployment, reduce import expenditures, beget foreign exchange, encourage documentation of orally transmitted ethno medicinal lore, and be based up~ the conservation and sustainable use of the tropical forests.

MC: One of the greatest number heard complaints/observations about traditional remedial agent is that the lack of testing and empirical data. Do you think that is a sound point and if so what be possible to be done to give it the complaisant of scientific underpinnings that can withstand it emerge as a truly all alternative way?

DA: To authenticate, validate and make ready scientific sense, there has to exist a scientific background to disseminate the erudition about herbs and their role. It is considerably wrongly claimed that herbs have no side effects or counter action. Many herbs are toxic in regular course of things; there has been a confined dosage of intake of the herbs, outside of any knowledge of scientific study i.e. toxicity, these herbs should not have existence included in any formulations.

MC: You are known to propose many remedies for everyday health problems based steady your work. Is there a advance for you to institutionalize it and construct it into a consolidated enterprise?

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

MC: How do you judge tribal people view the way India has changed past the decades, especially in the be unexhausted quarter century of economic reform and the path it has impacted them?

DA: If you dialogue about urban-connected tribal region, in that place has been a big change seen in tribual life, obviously due to the predominance of urban life. A major press close together can be seen among the young generations. They seem to be more aware and advanced today. They bring about mobile handsets, they have sports bikes, branded habits and they play DVDs and DJ’s in their marriages. Somewhere in the heart of this so-called modernization, they possess lost touch with their own years of discretion-old traditions, rituals and also they are not partial in learning traditional herbal knowledge.

MC: Do you look upon an important reason why despite out of pocket public health infrastructure if a wide population of underprivileged Indians have managed to accost their health issues is because of the orally transmitted knowledge base?

DA: Yes, cent per cent agree.

MC: Do you while an advocate of traditional medicine skirmish serious skepticism and even cynicism from indifferent people as well as the therapeutic establishment? How do you get round that to make it available other widely?

There has been a immense deal of suspicion, secrecy and warfare existing between traditional healers and new doctors. To achieve these objectives and those of health for all by the year 2016 and afterward, open heart dialogue between the pair disciplines of medicines is a be bound to. For neither allopathic nor traditional medicine alone can adequately meet the soundness needs of our nation. We require to strengthen training and research on traditional medicine, and start with the ~ly readily feasible herbal remedies. We should boost our public economies by joining forces in prophylactic, community, and productive health care on account of our people.

MC: How slow has it taken for you to cause 30,000 formulations?

DA: Almost 18 years

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

DA: Just imagine, we wish a pool of 30000 practices and with equal rea~n far, we could develop only 18 formulations commercially. There is a very great opportunity to scale up the remaining formulations.

It’s in like manner possible to obtain flattened stomach what one. ‘s still a dream of a hazard of men.

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