Monthly Archives: January 2012

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My personal experience with KIRTADS healer

Traditional healer stand in an open market in ...
Image via Wikipedia
So on to my personal experience with a KIRTADS healer. I went inside one of the shacks (there were many, specialised in various segments perhaps) and met a dark, well built healer with a smooth-shaven face. (Not the features you expect for a traditional healer.) I told him that one of my friends has a thick skin condition like psoriasis. He immediately recognised psoriasis (may be it is a common complaint) and advised me that psoriasis requires exfoliation of thick skin from outside and purification of blood from inside and recommended concoctions for both. I realised that at a conceptual level, their approach is not very different from ours. Purification of blood is a very popular concept among traditional healers. It is a very appealing concept and has very high placebo value. Even if you go to a modern pharmacy in India and ask for “blood purification mix”, I am sure you will get something or the other OTC!!
Next I asked him whether he has any medicine for being fair. I sensed a qualm before he offered me “slim oil” for the same. May be he equated fair to beauty and by a complicated reasoning process – beauty to being slim. He did not offer me any further explanation. I feel “fairness creams” is a modern fad and never existed before. That brings me to certain ludicrous claims of Indian “fairness creams”. More on this in the next post.
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KIRTADS – The Kerala Institute for Research, Training and Development of Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes, is conducting a പൈത്രികൊല്സവം (culture festival, the translation may not be accurate) in Mala, Kerala from Jan 22nd 2012 to Jan 30th 2012. Since I am in Kerala now on vacation, I visited this festival a couple of days back. They had several stalls for traditional medicine. I will blog about my experience later. Today I will translate relevant parts of their brochure. Disclaimer: The translation may not be accurate. Read at your risk!!

Ethnomedicine (വംശീയവൈദ്യം): Every tribe has their own knowledge and treatment methods to deal with various diseases. Diseases that exist for several generations are treated with herbs and materials of animal origin. These practical knowledge evolved over several centuries and became a form of medicine called ethnomedicine. However this form of medicine is on the decline because of inefficient transfer of information through generations. Kirtands is trying to preserve this knowledge by encouraging ethnomedicine practitioners. Their core expertise is in psoriasis, piles, infertility, cancer, diseases of the nervous system, vitiligo, asthma, hair fall, abdominal diseases, cough, various arthritis and joint pains, eye diseases and tonsillitis. 

Medical Sauna: 

This is effective for skin diseases, respiratory diseases and arthritis and includes more than 60 herbal medicines. This treatment method is available in several centers in Kerala.

Research Initiatives in Ethanomedicine:

The main emphasis of our research division is on perpetuating the knowledge we have accumulated. We have initiated a 3 year course in ethanomedicine. Many of our practitioners who completed this course has become very popular in various districts of Kerala. We also conduct treatment camps in various places. We have even collaborated with Regional research center, Trivandrum on trials for diabetic medications. Our initiatives have helped in preserving our traditional treatment methods and to make it popular among the masses. 

In my next post I will describe my personal experience!

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Is there more to yoga than exercise?

Yoga at Wanderlust
Image by aquababe via Flickr
Today I read an article titled “jeevithayogam” about yoga in Malayala Manorama – Health. Though the title of this blog post may seem negative, I personally have no doubts about the many positive effects of yoga. In fact I have copied the title from an article published recently. We even provide yoga classes in our AestheticHoliday. I believe that Yoga is one of the most  intelligently contrived placebo treatment in the world. I must again stress that I am a strong supporter of the placebo effect and I don’t consider it an aberration that needs to be accounted for
However the focus of this article mentioned above is not about yoga itself. The author claims that the west has started to accept yoga by quoting few attractive names and studies. In fact it is little difficult to read these names in malayalam script. If cute names and studies can garner credibility, we may still be far behind acupuncture, and traditional chinese medicine. Here is what I found on pubmed.
1. Search for yoga  (779 results)
2. Search for acupuncture.  (8921 results)
3. Chinese Medicine (3069 results)
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Crazy Idea – II (Mobile Communication Network)

Category : Crazy Idea

English: Mobile phone evolution Русский: Эволю...
Image via Wikipedia

Here is another crazy idea!

In countries like India, even a relatively small event can have a large number of participants. During these events a large number of people will be clustered in a limited space for a certain amount of time. Any mobile communication between participants of these events will be carried by the service provider’s tower in the vicinity and will be charged according to the applicable rates. If small portable private mobile towers are available for organisers to buy or rent for such events, participants of such events can communicate with each other using the device, free of cost. In other words, a device that can aid communication of normal mobile phones in an intercom mode (without using service providers infrastructure) within a limited geographic area may be useful to cut cost for large event organisers and even big offices.

Creative Commons Licence
Mobile Communication by Bell Raj Eapen is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License.

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Diluting the Diagnosis

Psoriasis of the back.
Image via Wikipedia
Today I want to add another episode to the SCAM (Specialist in Complimentary and Alternative Medicine) series. This is a true story that happened about 2 years back. One of my patients with (not so severe) psoriasis had lower back ache. He was aware of the possibility of psoriatic spondylitis. I told him that lower back ache from psoriasis is relatively uncommon and the back-pain might not be related. He went to a homeopathic “physician” practising nearby and was promptly recommended x-ray of the spine. The homeopath diagnosed psoriatic spondylitis or its homeopathic equivalent and started treatment. I must admit that I lack his skills to promptly diagnose psoriatic spondylitis from x-ray. But why do these scams use the diagnostic tools of modern medicine. Hope they don’t dilute it to make it more potent.
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The COMplete growth PLAN

English: USDA MyPlate nutritional guide icon
Image via Wikipedia
Just as we welcome Dr Prasad’s Laddoos, our TV advertisements also give us several “medically (in)correct” information. Today I saw one ad while watching a malayalam movie. A group of mothers go to a nutrition research centre to find the truth about a children’s dietary supplement. The doctor explains to them that he has been conducting research on kids consuming the COMplete PLAN and show kids in bright yellow T shirts. The others not taking the drink are in dull grey outfit and look visibly depressed. I was impressed by the doctor’s claim that consuming the drink makes the kids grow twice as fast. But my excitement was short lived. Another drink promised to boost the stamina three times! They had none other than Dhoni and Sachin to vouch for them. I am sure tomorrow’s world will be full of giants with huge stamina! 
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