There is something reassuring about the way Dr. Girija responds to patients. She listens with keen attention, studies the pulse, asks probing questions and comes up with a prescription after deliberation. This sociologist-turned Ayurveda physician has been curing illnesses ranging from common ailments to hormonal disorders and heart-related diseases for nearly 25 years. Her experience has taken the shape of a book, ‘Jeevani - Ayurveda for Women,’ to be released tomorrow at C.P. Arts Centre, Eldams Road, Alwarpet, Chennai, 4-5 p.m.

It is remarkable that in this age of multi-speciality hospitals and advances in medical science, Dr. Girija has silently marched on to carve a niche for herself in the field of healthcare. In this conversation at her clinic, ‘Sanjeevani, Ayurveda and Yoga Centre’ in Kasturba Nagar, Adyar, Chennai, she shares her knowledge of the subject and her concern for mankind.

Does Ayurveda offer solutions for all health problems?

“Certainly.” Some of the cases she narrates in this context are absolutely fascinating. “The sastra, however, divides diseases into three categories – easily curable, difficult but can be cured and not curable,” she continues. “Maintenance is what is required in the last mentioned,” she says candidly.

Dr. Girija is convinced that Ayurveda should be the first line of treatment. There are simple remedies for illnesses that are draining the health of the population. Take anaemia, for instance. With the right medicine and food habit, it can be reversed. Why should so many women and young girls suffer from this common disease?

“Yes, Ayurveda should be brought into the mainstream. Learning of the science should be encouraged, dispensaries opened across the land and medicines made easily accessible to the common man. That way our forests and reserves of precious herbs will be saved from further depletion.

“It is sad that the contrary is happening. Do you know that the Ayurveda syllabus has sections of Allopathy? Why this dilution? An Ayurveda college is required to boast the full-fledged infrastructure of a modern medical college including gadgets and machines. For what? The Venkatramana Ayurveda College (Mylapore, Chennai) has closed down for this reason. I’m an alumnus and I know what a loss it is. An apology of a hospital is functioning.

“It is part of our rich heritage, a treasure trove that is being slowly phased out. What our forefathers observed for hundreds of years as a way of life has become alien. But people are coming back to their roots. At ‘Sanjeevani,’ the number of poor people we receive has increased and that is a good sign.”

It is held that results are slow with Ayurveda…

“That is a sweeping statement. Any problem diagnosed in the initial stage is easy to handle. When the patient comes after exhausting all avenues, the disease is already several months… in some cases several years advanced and the response is slow. But emergencies are never missed. Say, when a person is down with stroke, or is on the verge of a heart failure or is profusely bleeding, quick steps are taken to control damage and ensure recovery.”

What about the metal content in the medicines?

“Metals are involved but a physician knows when and where to draw the line. Have you ever heard of a patient dying of wrong prescription or overdose of Ayurveda medicine?” she laughs.

Ayurveda is avoided because of the pathiyam involved…

“Some explanation is needed here. Basically it is medicine in harmony with Nature. Diet, regimen and season dictate the course of treatment. What you eat is very important, especially when you have a health issue. Taking food that doesn’t agree with the system is akin to consuming poison. The patient has to cooperate in order to get well.”

‘Sanjeevani’ has a small unit in Neelangarai where patients are admitted for treatment. “A big hospital with more beds is my dream,” concludes Dr. Girija. A destination not difficult to reach, given her dedication.

Case study

The child was brought to ‘Sanjeevani’ by distraught parents. Singapore-bound, they got themselves vaccinated and the girl’s platelet count dropped to alarming levels. Transfusion twice did not help.

“Within a week of taking our medicine, colour came back to her cheeks and soon the child was running around. ‘Should we check the platelet count,’ the parents asked. The child had recovered and there was no cause for worry. They went ahead anyway and did the test. The count was back to a healthy normal.”

Accent on Woman

“Educate the woman, the entire family is educated, so also when a woman follows Ayurveda, the entire household benefits. That’s why the book is titled ‘Ayurveda for Women,’” explains Dr. Girija. The book, which is actually relevant for everyone, has the three doshas (vata, pitta and kapha) and the seasons in relation to the human body running as a silver thread underlining their importance in diagnosis and treatment. Pregnancy and obstetrics are treated elaborately in the book that pays tribute to dais, skilled midwives, who treat childbirth as a natural process and facilitate smooth delivery.Healthy diet, Rules of Diet and daily routine throw light on food properties. Nuggets, highlighted in boxes, enhance the value of the content.

Consultant to the Government of Tamil Nadu, Dr. P.L.T. Girija is a member of the Governing Council of Sri Sri College of Ayurvedic science and Research, Bengaluru, and is the author of numerous articles and ‘Ayulai Valarkum Ayurvedam,’ a book in Tamil. In December last, Dr. MGR Medical University, Chennai, conferred the Best Doctor award on Dr. Girija.