Sahana Charan

BANGALORE: The yellowish powder sends a sharp, pungent feeling down your throat. You are asked to help it down with kattan chaya (black tea) or with honey.

There are various types of herbs, shoots and roots kept in small bags all over the place and the vaidyar (traditional medicine practitioner) mixes small amounts of these ingredients in a pouch for people who come for treatment of various ailments.

Well, that is ottamooli for you, meaning “single medicine therapy”, in Malayalam.

In this, one medicine is prescribed which may contain one or two ingredients. Tribal medicine practitioners from Attapady in the scenic Silent Valley region of Kerala were in the city on Monday and Tuesday to hold a medical camp for those who believed in folk medicine.

“This is a tribal form of practice of medicine, It is based on traditional wisdom mixed with Ayurveda.

“But this is the purest form of medicine as there are no chemicals. Nowadays, Ayurvedic medicines also have some amount of chemicals in them,” says T.G. Balan, co-ordinator of the Attapadi Adivasi Medical Practioners Association.

He adds that the ingredients that are needed for the medicine are not grown but collected from the trees and plants that grow wild in the forest by the vaidyars themselves.

“We do not claim to cure all illnesses including mental illness and cancers that are in the advanced stages.

“Patients have to adhere to certain food restrictions for the treatment to be effective. But the best thing about this medicine is that it does not have any side effects,” says Mylan Mooppan, one of the vaidyars.

When asked how this form of medicine can survive the onslaught of modern medicine, Mr. Balan says, “People who have tried all forms of medicine usually come to us as a last resort. But in Kerala, there is lot of respect for this form of treatment and camps there are very successful.”