Pushpalata Saikia: The Folk Healer
A folk healer is an unlicensed person who practices the art of healing using traditional practices, herbal remedies and even the power of suggestion. Definition of Folk Healer, according to medical dictionary “Traditional medicine as practiced by nonprofessional healers or embodied in local custom or lore, generally involving the use of natural and especially herbal remedies.”
Pushpalata Saikia hails from Charaibahi, in the Jorhat district of Assam. She has been practicing a folk method of treatment for bone fracture and backache successfully for years. She treats nearly 50 to 100 patients daily and charges a nominal fees. She has not made any improvement over the practice after learning the practice from her husband late Sidanand Saikia and her brother in law Dulal Saikia. Her family have been practicing it for 6 – 7 generations now. She has treated more than one lakh patients and cured 95 percent of the patients suffering from bone fracture. In 2005, she received 3rd National Grassroots Innovation Awards from National Innovation Foundation – India.
The contents of the herbs, which are used for the treatment and its preparation is not known to anyone except a few members of the family. The mixture of leaves/stem of Harjura lota (Cissus Quadrangularis linn), leaves/stem of Pochotiya (Vitex nigunda), leaves/stem of Kehraj (Vebesina Prostrata) and leaves/stem of Kolialota (Merremia umbellate) and oil seeds are ground and boiled to get a composition in the form of solid paste. The paste so obtained is applied on the affected area of the body or wound and allowed to remain there for a period of at least 24 hours. The medicine should be applied on the affected area and covered with a calcium plaster sticker, above which a cloth is to be tied. In case of a fracture the herbal composition has to be applied every three days for a period of one to four weeks depending on the nature and severity of the fracture. Instead of placing the broken bone in its original place, the application is said to elongate the bone and then join the broken area.
This treatment is useful for the removal of pain, backache, healing of minor bone fracture, painful conditions of frozen shoulder, stiff neck, musculoskeletal disorder and post operational pain.
Wellness is an inherent part of the Assamese culture and society. Several factors such as low costs, scale and range of treatments differentiate it from other medical tourism destinations. Wellness tourism providers are responding to this demand for authentic experiences in different ways, for example by developing locally inspired environments and treatments, adopting traditional healing practices, using local ingredients. Assam is a perfect destination to promote wellness and herbal tourism by propping up its wealthy stock of medicinal herbs. The market for such tourism could be immense considering that the state has around 850 species of medicinal plants.
Today is International Women’s Day 2018, I salute the strength, compassion and the power of a woman who makes this world a better place. It is my pleasure to meet and write a few lines about one of such women Pushpalata Saikia, in my website.