Sujith knew he was heading for trouble. When he was diagnosed with hyper-acidity and the probability of a stomach ulcer, the young marketing executive was not surprised.
“With my kind of hectic schedules and job stress, it would be a wonder if my body did not object. The doctors put me on antacid and advised further tests. But it only increased the mental tension, aggravating the disease”.
It was at this time that someone suggested nature cure. Sujith’s first reaction was to reject the proposal as impractical. “I couldn’t go around with mud packs on my body and starve for days on end. Its all right for someone sitting at home but not for a busy executive like me working more than 14 hours a day”.
Nevertheless, Sujith agreed to accompany his family friend to a free nature cure cam. “The lecture at the camp dispelled my nations about nature cure. After a week of a diet routine consisting mainly of vegetables and fruits, I stared feeling better, I gave up smoking and the occasional drink. In a month, the stomach disorders disappeared. And so did a skin allergy that had recently surfaced.”
Sujith back to his old ways again but he is particular about returning to nature at regular intervals. “Observing a strict regimen round the year is impossible for a person like me. But the occational schedule suits me fine and it is working fine. All it takes a willingness to live in harmony with nature.”
Sujith is one of the beneficiaries of this unique system of alternative health care which is attracting hundreds of peoples all over the city. Increased awareness about the limitations of modern medicine and self-medication and changing perceotions about health are some of the reasons.
Says Mr.N.Nanukuttan Nair, secretary of Prakrithi Jeevana Samithi based in the Gandhi Bhavan at Tycaud here, “ There are several hundred families in the city practicing natural living faithfully. We are getting regular feedback from a good section of them.”
The Samithy organizes fortnightly Sundy lectures on natural living. A good chunk of the audience consists of women. After the lectures, there is a session in which free consultation and advice are given to the patients.
“Natural living is a holistic approach to a healthy life and it involves both preventive and curative aspects. The presence of an increasing number of women is a good sign , because once the woman of the house is convinced, half the battle is won. Diet is the most important thing in natural living, so the home kitchen is our clinic and house wife the doctor”. Says Mr.Nanukuttan Nair. The samithy also organizes sessions on yoga and meditation.
Beena Jayaprakash, an employee at the National Informatics Centre here, had a hyper-thyroid problem and after months of treatment and surgery, had turned to naturopathy as a last resort. Within a year, she could stop all the drugs that she had been taking for years.
"My doctor, who had advised me against having a second baby, later asked me to go ahead. I fol-lovved the diet strictly and never had any problems-there were no tetanus shots, ultrasound scans or vitamin supplements. It was a normal delivery and the baby was not given any vaccinations. He is an active three-year-old, much healthier than his older sibling," she says.
Sreekumari, an employee at the Medical College, had been undergoing treatment for fibroids and intertillty, when she decided to try out naturopathy. "The results were amazing. Once I became pregnant, I was all the more determined to stick to the routine and all through, did not have any problems".
"My child had not been given any vaccinations but he is a healthy six-year-old and has never had any kind of illnesses," she says.
The naturopathy movement has been gaining momentum in the city, with many women turning their backs on modern medicine and embracing naturopathy to have problem-free pregnancies and healthy babies. Gynaecologists aver that the 'Prakriti' deliveries are easy and the mothers and babies are health}-, slim and active.
Ms. Saraswathy Bai, of the Prakrithi Jeevana Samithi, says there have been over 45 cases, wherein mothers delivered healthy babies by sticking strictly to the naturopathic life-style and giving up the routine of iron and calcium supplements, ultrasound scans and tetanus shots that are normally insisted in during pregnancy.
"Thy food is thy medicine", said Hippocrates, Greek physician and the Father of Modern Medicine. Nature-cure practitioners advocate that the right food and healthy eating habits can help one keep most ases at bay.
"It was in 1986 that we first started encouraging people to follow a naturopathic diet to have healthy babies. Those who were convinced about the goodness ot this life-style have had no regrets at all," says Ms. Saraswathi Bai.
The prospective mothers are allowed to undergo routine test and check-ups with their doctor, to ease their apprehensions. But are advised against scans or medicines
They are put on a vegetarian diet, excluding milk and dairy products, as naturopaths believe animal proteins are not suited to human body. Cereal food is given twice a day, combined with a portion of raw and cooked vegetables, sprouted pulses and leafy vegetables while dinner consists entirely of fruits. Tea, coffee, fried/baked food and all artificial foods are a strict no-no.
After delivery, mothers are put on a diet of tender coconut and raw vegetables till their sutures heal. Many kind of herbs are given to fortify their immunity and to increase lactation. As for the babies, they may not be plump and chubby, but are healthy and very active. Says a prominent gynaecologist in the city, who has attended to many 'Prakrithi' deliveries, 'They insist that they do not require scans, any medicines or painkillers. Even for putting sutures, they oppose local anaesthesia-their faith in the system is so absolute. But it is a fact that their deliveries are much easier and the mothers are certainly slimmer and healthier."
"Some naturopathy cases I've attended to have surprised me. A heart patient had a normal delivery at the age of 33, another, who had iost two of her kinds, sailed through the third pregna icy and many have had normal deliveries after having had cae-sarian surgery before. I've even seen a fibroid disappear after the patient adopted naturopathy," she says.
The gynaecologist, however, adds that the naturopathic system is not fool-proof and it has its share of problems and risks. "The followers of the system are certainly more confident than their doctor," she says.