Tuesday, 28 April 2015

Nepalese medicine

was the topic of a two part documentary the Senior Cat and I saw last year. 
We watch almost no television and we miss the wonderful Global Village programme that was used to air this documentary. Trying to remember the details is frustrating. 
The documentary looked at "amchi"- also the name of the shamans who use it - a form of traditional herbal medicine.  It is used in the western area of Nepal and is not, as many people like to believe, superstitious nonsense. It is firmly rooted (if I may use that term) in tradition that has been found to be or is believed to be effective.
Of course there are spiritual practices which go with it but the plants which are used do have pharmacological effects. (Yes, they do us cannabis sativa but they do not abuse it in the way that some in the west do.)
The spiritual practices which go with the use of these plants are also interesting. They require a belief in the efficacy of the use of the plants. If you do not believe then the healing properties of the plants will not be as effective. It is a common idea in traditional medicine of course.
T - the doctor I have been talking about -  has had to learn something about traditional medicine. When he goes there he works with the village amchi. It is part of the reason for his success. He has been willing to listen and learn from a man who knows the villagers well.  T also needs his help in a place which has only the most basic of operating equipment.
The village amchi looks after almost a thousand people in the village and the surrounding area. He also has to collect the plants and make the medicines. He now has an apprentice but it will be some years before that young man is considered fit to work alone.
Here we call and make an appointment to go and see our GP. We grumble about having to go there and wait. We grumble when the doctor is late. We grumble at the price of filling the prescription. We grumble when we are not almost instantly better. 
There the amchi will often go to the home of the person after a message has been taken to him. People will wait unless there has been an accident and urgent assistance is required. They do not, so I am told, grumble. The medicine is given to them and they pay what they can later  - and sometimes not at all. They know that recovery takes time - and thinking positively.
Our approach to our health is quite different. T says he is a better doctor for having to learn to work in other ways. 
Perhaps the rest of us can learn something from it as well.   

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