Mariam Sarah Varghese, who will soon celebrate her first birthday, looks like any other happy, active baby of her age. But six months ago, Mariam was quite a different child.
From the 31st day of her birth, she started showing symptoms of West Syndrome, a rare infant epileptic disorder.
The illness, which gradually aggravated, resulted in severe bouts of fits that repeated five to eight times a day by the time she was two months old.
Today, after six months of treatment under M.I. Mathews, a practitioner of herbal medicine, who is popularly known as “Vaidyar,” her condition has returned to normality.
The Indian Herbal Therapy and Research Foundation, founded by Mr. Mathews, has turned into a place of solace for many children with spastic and motor neuron diseases, including cerebral palsy.
On the occasion of the first anniversary of the foundation, Mr. Mathews was felicitated by Chief Minister Oommen Chandy here on Monday.
“Although my consultation in Thiruvananthapuram started only a year ago, I have been providing herbal remedies for children affected by cerebral palsy, autism, and allied diseases for the past 20 years at Mannarkkad [in Palakkad], my native place,” Mr. Mathews said.
His treatment basically involves the application of medicines made from herbs collected from the Attappady forests of the Silent Valley. The herbs are made into medicines under the personal supervision of Mr. Mathews, who learnt this traditional system of medicine from his mother-in-law, Rangamma, a tribal healer.
The herbal remedy, coupled with a strict diet regimen, has provided relief for many children, Mr. Mathews said.
“We cannot afford to waste the medicine. So I am very particular about my patients following the diet and medicine regimen strictly. That, along with the mercy of God, can only cure these diseases,” he said.
He said that most children with cerebral palsy and allied motor neuron diseases could be brought to normal life if treated at the early stage, before reaching three years of age.
Mr. Mathews provides consultation at an experimental medical camp on herbal remedies started at Mitraniketan Centre at the city.
In recognition of his work, the Thiruvananthapuram district panchayat is planning financial assistance to children from below-the-poverty-line families who seek treatment from Mr. Mathews. This was announced by district panchayat president Remani P. Nair at the felicitation.
“I have also been approached by the Department of Ayush of the Government of India, for associating in their research on herbal treatment. I am planning to construct a hospital at Mannarkkad where I would also like to give training in herbal remedies to neurologists, gynaecologists, and physiotherapists. Only through them can we bring the benefits of herbal remedies to the lakhs of suffering children,” Mr. Mathews said.