Healing the poor with herbs
Taking an indigenous knowledge system to a new level, M Chalapathi Rao, an illiterate, but knowledgeable person in the medicinal properties and efficacy of different types of herbs, is making waves in tribal and remote areas by treating the poor at nominal rates.
Parvathipuram: Taking an indigenous knowledge system to a new level, M Chalapathi Rao, an illiterate, but knowledgeable person in the medicinal properties and efficacy of different types of herbs, is making waves in tribal and remote areas by treating the poor at nominal rates. He can neither read nor write; yet, he can identify every shrub and assess its use for treatment purposes.
Chalapathi Rao hails from Vempatapuram village near this place. He is very popular in the Parvathipuram agency area and its surroundings. His track record is such that people believe that he can cure any disease, chronic or seasonal, using just extracts of plants, roots, flowers and shrubs.
He is considered a god by people of Vempatapuram, Sappagottili, Tennukharja, Kothavalasa, Gotivada, G.Sivada, ValasaBalleru, Lankajodi and some remote villages, most of which do not have even bus facility and cell phone signals.
It is against these odds that he manages to earn around Rs.20,000 per month by successfully treating patients at nominal rates. He is aware of more than 200 varieties of plants, roots, leaves and shrubs, from which he can obtain substances with medicinal effects.
People approach him with many types of health issues like asthma, allergy, gynaecological ailments, arthritis and gastric problems. He is very particular about the plants he uses; so, he has been growing some of them in his herbal park.
He grows medicinal plants like bodantam, nallam betta, nalla ummetta, nela usiri, wild red onion, shanka posi, kondapida gandam, konda pindaku, nela vemu, tella chitra mulam, pala dumpa, adavitatta ginja, nalla sari, aswagandam etc., in his garden.
Chalapathi Rao claims that he can treat diseases like jaundice and hydrocele also. His medicine is believed to help enhance milk production among lactating mothers. At the clinic in his house, he has been preparing around 100 concoctions to treat various diseases.
He also maintains a register to track his patients’ progress. He says that he learnt the intricacies of his system of medicine from his forefathers. He is so adept that he can put some drops of an extract of a leaf into the nose of a person and treat his allergy or running nose problem.
He says he can prepare medicines that can increase the virility of men. He also prepares traditional tonics like chyavanprash. He has become popular mainly because his services are available at nominal prices, which the tribals can easily afford.
“I am happy to be in this profession. I can heal many diseases with the medicines made of plants, roots and flowers. We can stabilise the mental condition of a person by using seeds of dhathura. I have been supported by Jattu Trust and grow these plants on their advice.
I charge any sum between Rs.20 and Rs 50 from each patient, depending on the medicine to heal their ailments. I am here just because of these plants. I need to protect them with care.”
By Koppara Gandhi