Iqbal Ahmad

The old tales of natural herbs!

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Kashmir, besides other things, is also known for its rich flora. Its environment and atmosphere has always been favorable for a variety of natural herbs and flowers. These herbs have been found useful by the local herbalists and are usually used for treating various diseases. The local herbalists and Hakeems were very much confident about the efficacy of the locally available herbs and conducted extensive researches in the science of local medicines. Shri Butta, Kaspura Bhat, Muma Hakeem, Rasool Hakeem,Siraju-din, Lasa Bhat among others are some herbalists and hakeems who were widely appreciated during their times for their knowledge and understanding of the science of herbs.

We have had an indigenous system of medicine in the past and there are several recorded revolutionary breakthroughs in the allopathic system of medicine that relegated the traditional system of medicine to the memories of the people of this land. While the traditional medicine did not have side effects and were non-addictive, the modern system of medicine has many a side effect and is also known to be highly addictive. We have seen that despite heavy dosage of medicine, people don’t get cured fully and that the medicine are then a part life i.e a patient has to use medicine for life long. Apart from this, people also get addicted to medicine and the addiction, something, has severe repercussions.

The addictive nature of the modern day medicines coupled with their inefficacy in curing diseases motivates people to rely on the traditional system of medicine. The local herb culture had no side effects. For example Kolveth ( a flower plant )was mixed with local Kashmiri tea and would be helpful in curing headache. Similarly Brari Gass (a type of herb) was known to cure many stomach related disorders. It helped in treatment of many stomach disorders. Similarly, Goa Zaban was used for cardio-vascular diseases. Tethwan had much the same effect.

Lawrence, who has classified a number of herb plants writes. “the Hakeems of Kashmir, the native physicians, attribute some property to every plant and when I made enquires as to various herbs which I have seen in the valley and hillsides, I am always told that they are hot and good for cold humours, damp and beneficial to dry humours. The panjabies employed in my deportment usually inclined to despise all Kashmiri methods, show great respect for the Hakeems and have told me of wonderful cures affected by the herbs of the valley”.

Lawrence then gives a long list of medicinal herbs. He makes mention of about 95 such herb plants which he says were used by local Hakeems and even by senior and experienced elders in their families. A number of herbs which included Thwin Kot, Nar- Mada were exported to places like Delhi, Mumbai, Lahore and Amritsar where from these were sent abroad.

Though some people may not see eye to eye with me, there would be certain people, who will agree with me on the fact that there is a vast scope and space left for local medicines to be re- introduced for curing minor disorders. But for that our old Hakeems and experienced elders will have to come forward. The application of the traditional system of medicine will help us ward off many an ailment provided experienced herbalists come forward with the right herbs.

Natural medicines, if used under guidance of an experienced herbalist, has the tendency to cure many a severe ailments! The traditional system of medicine has a very good track record and can prove beneficial if those who know the system come forward and share the knowledge with others. This way the local Vaid and Hakeem culture, which has almost disappeared, will also get revived. Thus the land of flora will again witness the magic and healing power of herbs.


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