Direct from Sambhavna’s medicinal herb garden

Many Bhopal survivors have taken pharmaceutical drugs that in some cases are useless and some harmful.

These have been prescribed by various government gas relief centers, street ‘doctors’ with little knowledge or the Bhopal Memorial Hospital Trust.

Sambhavana’s medicinal herb garden has brought relief to thousands of survivors. Here, we practice an indigenous system of medicine based mainly on medicinal herbs called Ayurveda.

Mrs Meena Bai Panthi (46), a resident of Bhopal is a gas victim. She has pain in her spine and persistent headache for last five years. She underwent a long course of treatment from the DIG Gas Hospital but had no relief; she then went to the Hamidia Hospital where a physician advised surgery in her neck. She denied it and come to our clinic. She has been in Sambhavana’s care for about six months now, and takes pleasure in walking in our garden and picking herbs.

Meena picks Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera), nirgundi (Vitex negundo) and arandi (Ricinus communis) as prescribed by the doctor which she boils in water, filters and uses as a potion on her body (pouring warm liquid on the affected part) once or twice a day. As she says, five years of hardship have finally paid off. She said that when she first came here she was crying because of the pain’ after herbal treatments, she’s got 50 percent relief in her shooting pain.

Another patient at Sambhavana had a long list of medical problems. Mohammad Hasin Nasir (43) is also among the lakhs of victims who had a series of ailments like severe obesity, hyperacidity, breathlessness and high blood pressure. He also had raised blood sugar levels and heart problems. He had been a patient atnearly all the government gas hospitals. He has had western medicine all his life and reports it to be a symptomatic type of treatment without bringing sustained relief. He too now strolls the Sambhavana herb garden collecting Arjun (Terminalia arjuna) ki chaal (bark). He boils it in water witha little sugar and drinks it as a tea. He cannot contain his bliss as he now boasts about his stamina to climb three floors which was earlier impossible or about the fact that he now fits into his ten year old clothing. He no longer has indigestive burps or shooting pains.

Mrs Zaheda Ansari (35) who lives in Shahjanabad, Bhopal is yet another gas victim. She had  muscular pains, frequent stomach aches, breathlessness, impaired vision and white discharge. She has been on ayurvedic treatment for three years at Sambhavana. Six months ago, she was diagnosed with kidney stones. She now roams the Sambhavana garden picking nirgundi (Vitex negundo), arandi (Ricinus communis), arjun (Terminalia arjuna) ki chaal (bark) and giloy (Tinospora cordifolia). She brews it into a kadha or decoction made by boiling the ingredients in water. She has relief in her pains for the past month and her kidney stones are also disappearing because of the plant medicines she is taking.

Mrs Noorjahan (44) has a medical record from every hospital in Bhopal. She has been a patient at Lal Singh, Hamidia Hospital and many more. She was suffering from stomach aches, bowel problems, fever and indigestion. She collects plants like giloy (Tinospora Cordifolia) and makoy (Solanum nigrum) which on consumption as a decoction brings relief over the past year since being treated at Sambhavana.

These examples makes it evident that natural herbs do the trick where conventional treatment did not work. The medication and treatment we offer at Samabhavna is integrated. It is an appropriate and personalised combination of yoga, panchkarma, allopathy and ayurveda. These natural therapies are used to bring relief from a host of chronic ailments. The persistent problems we see in gas patients like hyper- or hypo-tension, breathlessness, diabetes mellitus, hyper acidity and heart burn are taken care of. These combinations also aid in neuromuscular disorders, psoriasis, eczema, irregular menstrual cycles and acne.

Sambhavna’s medicinal herb garden has reignited hope of so many gas victims and those affected by the water contamination in their search for relief, and will do for many years to come as knowledge grows and spreads through the communities, many of which now have their own medicinal herb gardens.

By Hardik Saxena, student at the Vellore Institute of Technology

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We believe Dow must finally accept responsibility for Bhopal. Until then, The Bhopal Medical Appeal funds two award-winning clinics in the city. Both offer free, first-class care to victims of the gas disaster or the ongoing water contamination. The survivors have nowhere else left to turn – please help if you can.