Call to use traditional medicine for Covid-19 | Sunday Observer

Call to use traditional medicine for Covid-19

7 February, 2021

The organisation, Deshiya Waidya Krama Surekime Sanvidanaya, has members throughout the country, mostly of indigenous physicians as well as students belonging to Deshiya Chikitsa (Sinhala Wedakama) as well as overall Ayurveda and is committed to protecting traditional medical systems in Sri Lanka, including Siddha and Unani.

The organisation’s membership includes professionals supporting indigenous medical traditions of Sri Lanka and also those who create and distribute traditional medicine, those who cultivate medical plants, promote non-chemical agriculture and support the conservation of indigenous seed varieties (deshiya beeja).

The head of the Deshiya Waidya Krama Surekime Sanvidanaya D. B. Rathnayaka who hails from a family of traditional medical practitioners and is based in Kandy, said that the organisation was formed five years ago.

“This was a time when traditional medicine was under threat and people were induced to adopting the wrong view that Arishta or other traditional medicinal products were harmful to health,” he said.

He said that the most serious destruction of Sri Lankan indigenous medical systems began during this time through detrimental policy decisions.

Indigenous medical legacy

“It is in this backdrop that we organised ourselves to protect the pillar of the health of our nation; our medical heritage which was nurtured historically with monarch/State patronage and connected with the spiritual heritage of the country. The bhikkhus and the Temple have historically been connected to our indigenous medical legacy. In any village, if someone wants a medicinal plant and cannot find it, he will come to the temple where invariably, there will be medicinal plants. We have to safeguard this culture we had.”

“Today, we feel that there are positive mechanisms put in place by the Government, such as a separate ministry to the promotion of indigenous medicine of the country. Hence, we wish to support the Government to put into practice the use of the country’s traditional medicine for Covid-19.”

He said that he is aware of the coronavirus exposed patients and those who have contracted the disease and have been treated bytraditional medical experts who are members of his organisation.

“I know many traditional physicians have developed curative and preventive medicines for the Coronavirus.

Among them, in my organisation there are three physicians who have extremely successfully intreating thousands of persons pertaining to Covid-19 at a preventive and curative level, especially the Tri Forces who were at the frontline at quarantine centres.”

He said that Physician D. Hettiarachchi of Ganemulla had prevented from death Sri Lankan migrant workers in countries, such as Italy, exposed to the Covid-19 pandemic at its worst stage early last year.

For these persons, the only recourse to health was to get these medicines sent by diverse means to those countries. This was done through the support of some patriotic organisations.”

“These physicians have records of those they have treated. There are many people who obtain the medications without revealing their names or official positions.”

He highlights the most recent example of a notable Covid-19 cure.

A case study

“A nurse working for a government Western medical hospital in the Kandy district diagnosed with Covid-19 and with many complications, contacted me to obtain the medications, as this is allowed as per one’s independent right and personal choice, even though one may be treated in a Western medical facility.

This is how many patients obtained these medications. When she appealed to me for help, I obtained the medications of physician Sampath Kalutharage. Within a day of taking the medication her symptoms faded. Two days later, all other symptoms had disappeared.

“The traditional medical system of the country is one that was formidable and was seen as a major threat to foreign invaders. To weaken it was their strategy to destroy us as a nation. You can destroy a nation when you destroy the health of that nation; this can be done through multifarious ways.

It can be done through education aimed at cultural conquest and through other methods, such as the introduction of chemical agriculture. We can be trained to think that all that was rich and wholesome within our traditional knowledge, lifestyle practices and values, is stupid, backward and unscientific.”

“Traditional physician Hettiarachchi had reported that he had received death threats for publicising that Covid-19 can be cured through traditional medicine.”

True independence

“It is lamentable that we have allowed this to happen in the post-Colonial years. We have to ensure that we Lankans do not continue to become those who support the destruction of our traditional knowledge begun by the colonisers. We need to ensure we are truly independent.”

Physician D. B. Rathnayaka appeals for traditional medicine not to be judged from the point of view from the still infant Western science.

“We have to stop handing over our ancient traditional medical knowledge to be examined by a foreign medical system. Western medicine has no cure for even dengue while traditional medicine has saved thousands of Dengue patients.”

“Yet it is Western superiority that is in force when we place our traditional heritage to be judged by Western science based knowledge that is still figuring itself out but being portrayed as if it is the most accurate truth.”

Physician Rathnayaka calls for the urgent attention of those in responsible positions to examine the decisions pertaining to Covid-19.

“We have to avoid the tragedy of setting our policies within the Western cultural superiority which has monopolised our minds in every aspect. Health means the economy and security of our nation as our ancient rulers recognised.

Safeguarding our health using our ancient traditional medical science means safeguarding our economy. Above all, it means safeguarding our sovereignty and national identity.”

“In this pandemic backdrop, despite not receiving formal recognition, the truth is that our traditional herbs are being boiled in every hut and mansion of the country.”

“We have many traditional physicians analysing treatments for the coronavirus from the earliest respiratory stages and to eradicate all other complications that could manifest thereafter.

They had handed over their medication samples to the authorities. Not only Covid-19 but also other Non Communicable Diseases (NCDs) which are the driver of most coronavirus related deaths, get cured from these treatments. Western nations and their medical traditions do not have such curative options.”

He highlighted the different worldviews of the Western and Sri Lankan traditional methods of healing.

Western yardstick

“The Western philosophy of medicine is not what these traditional physicians are using. But Sri Lankans are measuring the treatment for the virus with the Western yardstick.”

“The Covid-19 pandemic is most serious in the Western world. Western countries using technology for battling the virus is merely chasing after vaccines. We are one of the few nations which own a traditional medicinal system which still has non-mechanised, unique, authentic, nature-centric connection.

We have failed to protect this uniqueness, nurture and foster it while mainstreaming and promoting it in the world. What is the use of a traditional medical heritage, such as ours which boasts of the Mihintale-based oldest hospital in the world, if we do not allow its flourishing during a pandemic which has bought the world to its knees?”

“Traditional medicines are not synthetic products. It is created encompassing nature in its truest forms. No one dies from overdoses of these like they do from overdoses of Western medications.”

“Our traditional physicians have stood tall in this pandemic. It is well aware that many Sri Lankans who have obtained these medications have had undisputed preventive and curative results.

Many military run quarantine centres were using the medications of these physicians. As a result, the spread of the pandemic within the military was prevented.

“The efficacy of these medications has been proven. Yet, the use of these has not been mainstreamed because health as we understand today is from a Colonial inherited lens. It has no holistic vision and is separated from the traditional medical expertise, values, ethics and beliefs which for thousands of years meant ‘health’ to us.”

“Finally, without us even realising it, our traditional cures made for Covid-19 by our physicians and disregarded in the country, may be stolen and patents obtained by foreign nations. Why is this not considered by those who demand the wattorus from traditional physicians?”

“We stand united to support the cause of helping the rise of the traditional medical heritage systems of the country. If we do so with patriotism, commitment, confidence and vision, it would have untold benefits for the country.”