Mahatma Gandhi’s health files, published for the first time, reveal that the ‘Father of the Nation’ ailed from high blood pressure, weighed 46.7 kg at a height of 5 feet 5 inches (recorded in 1939). He suffered from malaria thrice (in 1925, 1936 and 1944), and was operated upon for piles and appendicitis in 1919 and 1924. He also suffered from pleurisy (inflammation of tissues that line lungs and chest cavity) while he was in London.
These facts related to his health have been published for the first time in a special edition of the Indian Journal of Medical Research (IJMR) on ‘Gandhi and Health @ 150’ by the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR).
“This special edition of the IJMR details Gandhi’s medical legacy, his health profile and his experiments on health, based on published articles and available health records,” said Director General, ICMR, Dr. Balram Bhargava.
He added that the edition also highlights the ICMR’s contributions to areas that are relevant to Gandhian principles, such as the importance of hygiene and sanitation, which is relevant to diseases like cholera, malaria, tuberculosis and leprosy; living a disciplined life; and the role of physical fitness with meditation, which is relevant to lifestyle diseases, mental health and the youth; and a balanced diet, which is relevant to nutrition.
“This edition also illustrates how the ICMR has focussed its research on areas that Gandhi was passionate about — environment, lifestyle diseases, and social behavior,” added Dr. Bhargava.
The 166-page collector’s item notes: “Gandhi ji used to walk around 18 km every day. During campaigning from 1913 to 1948 he walked around 79,000 km, which is the equivalent to walking around the Earth twice.”
According to special edition, Gandhi practised nature cure and naturopathy as healing solutions, and experimented heavily on his own body using “earth and water” treatments. “Gandhi was a firm believer in the principle that a healthy mind keeps the body healthy and he stressed on the importance of a balanced diet, natural cure and physical fitness. He preached against the intake of tea and coffee along with drugs, tobacco and alcohol,” noted the special edition.
Dr. Bhargava said that though some solutions Mahatma Gandhi had back then may surprise today’s generation, his philosophy towards life and healthy living continues to remain relevant.