Monday, 30th October 2017

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  • Published 13.09.04

Melia azadarach, withania somnfera, tinos pora cordifolia? Tulsi, pipul, camphor, neem, pebble dust? A return to nature, for body and mind...

At a time when more and more urban souls are feeling the need to de-stress and detox, and with alternative modes of therapy gaining currency every day, a novel herbal garden, being nurtured on the city?s south-eastern fringes, promises to ?help preserve and promote nature?s gifts?.

The garden, conceptualised for holistic healing, is an initiative of People for Animals (PFA) at its animal hospital-shelter Ashari, off the Bypass at Mukundapur.

Started with 35 different species of medicinal plants gifted to the NGO by the urban & recreational forestry division of the forest department, it will be inaugurated by state forest minister Jogesh Burman on Friday.

Through the development of the herbal garden, PFA aims to educate tribals and other backward classes who come to Ashari and help them improve their health and income by cultivating and marketing the medicinal plants in their own villages, even backyards in case of the landless.

?Following the orientation programme (in batches of around 20 at a time), they will realise that these plants are alternative cash crops and a source of income through alternative medicine. They can then spread the word in their respective villages to set a chain of action in motion. We will also help them in procuring the plants and marketing the produce,? promises PFA managing trustee Debasis Chakrabarti. The support group has already contacted a marketing group for this purpose.

The other objectives behind developing the garden is to see which plants are consumed voluntarily by which animal, and under what circumstances, and to popularise the use of natural remedies for all animals and birds.

?We have observed how the cats and monkeys at Karuna Kunj (the Compassionate Crusaders Trust?s animal shelter at Bakrahat) chew medicinal plants grown in their enclosures. By planting a bigger variety, we hope to observe which cat chooses which plant, under what circumstances and with what results. Such research has the potential to yield rich benefits for our wildlife and captive animals,? says PFA honorary secretary Purnima Toolsidass.

Even for humans, the medical fraternity is gradually recognising the dangers of over-medication, faulty medication and mutations of diseases due to the gradual breakdown of the immune system. ?The propensity to pop a pill at the drop of a hat and rampant over-the-counter medication combine to hold out a potent threat. Today, the quest for instant relief is relentless and it has its perilous pitfalls,? opines general physician Abhijit Dasgupta.

Practitioners of alternative methods of medication concur that more people all over the world die of the side-effects of medicine than of the diseases they have. ?If the concept of home remedies can be revived through short-term workshops, these medicinal plants can act as tools of supportive therapy as well as practical prophylactic measures,? observes C.M. Pradyumna, ayurvedacharya and alternative medicine expert at the Sanjeeva Wellness Centre of Vedic Village.

With the forest ministry rolling out a programme to create captive nurseries at all village panchayats and the chief minister pledging a greener and less polluted Calcutta, the medicinal plants look set to bear fruits sooner than later.