Himalayan system of medicine a course of study soon

Sowa Rigpa system of medicine practiced in the high altitude Himalayas


Sonal Matharu | February 13, 2010

The Ayush department of the health ministry may soon be more diverse with the traditional medicine system of the sub-himalayan region added under its purview.

The Sowa Rigpa or the Amachi system of medicine practiced in the high altitude Himalayas, which was recognised by the central government, may soon be a separate field of study.

Health Secretary (Ayush) S. Jalaja said, “The government has recognised the Sowa Rigpa system of medicine from the sub-himalayan region. Once approved by the law ministry, education can develop in this field.”

Amachi system of medicine is a blend of ayurveda and Chinese systems of medicine and it flourished in the Himalayan region. It is practiced in Sikkim, Arunachal Pradesh, West Bengal, Himachal Pradesh and in the Ladakh region. It is very effective in meeting the health care needs in that region in the lack of allopathic treatments.

“The high altitude Himalayan region is cut off during winters and in such harsh weather, the ailments are treated by this system of medicine. It has been practiced for generations and it is good that it has now got recognition. It was gradually dying,” said Gargi Banerji, director, Prayas, a Gurgaon based NGO which has been active in supporting the Amachis.

She added that the traditional systems of medicine deal with the chronic ailments and were neglected and marginalized when allopathy came. These indigenous systems of medicine have less reaction to medicines. Sowa Rigpa system of medicine is akin to any other traditional medicine system.

“Lack of recognition by the government has had a negative effect on these systems in the past but by recognising them these systems are revived. We hope it moves rapidly from here. But we understand that the procedure for recognising a system of medicine is necessary. A course cannot be rolled out without assessing its quality and processes,” said Banerji.

The Sowa Riga would come under the Ayush department of the health ministry. Ayush is a blend of five traditional systems of medicine namely, ayurveda, yoga and naturopathy, unani, siddha and homeopathy. It deals with the education, research and preserving these systems of medicine.

Unless certified, the Amachis cannot become legal practitioners.

“We have sent the amendments forward and are trying our best. It is up to the law ministry to clear it now,” Jalaja said.



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