Just being amidst the trees and shrubs at the Arya Vaidya Pharmacy on Trichy Road makes Parshathy. J. Nath feel healthier and at peace

Crows, cuckoos and sparrows…It sounds like a symphony, as one enters the sprawling campus of Arya Vaidya Pharmacy, Ramanathapuram. The leaves rustle in the evening breeze. The laden branches of the golden shower tree carpet one’s path with bright yellow petals. The fragrance of white nerium oleander wafts in the air. Some patients come out of their cottages for a stroll as the air reverberates with the sound of bells from the Dhanwantri temple.

Jamun, bamboo, peepal, neem, sandalwood tree, coconut tree… There are at least 104 varieties of trees and plants here, says P. Ram Manohar, the director of Arya Vaidya Pharmacy Research Foundation, which is in charge of recording the trees in the campus. As we walk around the area measuring up to four acres, we halt next to a peepal tree, covering us in its giant canopy. “We use its bark and leaves in decoctions to treat skin diseases. Can you see those creepers entwining its branches? They are good for curing arthritis and blood related disorders,” says Ram.

Every single tree here has some medicinal property, he says. “The bark of Indian elm is good for piles. And, the root of bael tree, also called wood apple tree, is one of the main ingredients of Dashamooolarishtam, a decoction used to cure digestion problems.”

As we walk around the temple, we come near a small pond. Pretty water lilies float in it. Even these prove effective in treating urinary tract problems, says Ram. They also have herbs such as leadwort and Madagascar periwinkle that are even used to treat cancer.

The pharmacy conducts workshops for Ayurveda graduates. And, the best part is they do not have to take them to a remote area to study these herbs, says Ram. “They are available here, in plenty. The first thing we ask them to do is to take a walk around and identify the trees with medical properties.”

The pharmacy was founded 70 years ago. It used to be a parched paddy field. However, it got a make over with the persistent efforts of P.R. Krishnakumar, the managing director of the pharmacy, and an ardent tree lover. “I do not allow anyone to touch my trees. I have a nursery in Palakkad from where I get all the new saplings and herbs. Also, when I go abroad, I make sure that I cart back a few exotic varieties of plants,” he says.

People come here for the ambience, says Krishnakumar. “Many of our patients have said that the mere sight of the trees and sound of the birds heal them. A girl from Bombay even requested me if she could live here even after her treatment got over! She said she could never find so many trees in her city.”

Trees are a must, especially, in places that treat the ailing, he says. “Ayurvedic treatment is holistic. We believe the whole ambience has bearing on your health. And trees contribute to the healing process as they purify the very air we breathe.”