There is only one disease-accumulation of toxic waste in the body. And there is only one cure-helping the body to remove the toxins. This is the radical approach of naturopathy which banks on fasting, diet control, hydrotherapy and other non-drug treatments
National Institute of Naturopathy, PuneReady to play its roleA stone’s throw from the railway station, tucked in a quiet, leafy avenue stands the gracious colonial building housing the National Institute of Naturopathy (NIN), established by the Government of India under the Department of Indian Systems of Medicine & Homoeopathy.
The building has had a long association with naturopathy, for it has been the hub of nature cure treatment since the time Dr Dinshaw K. Mehta started an outpatient treatment clinic there. It is here that Mahatma Gandhi nursed his enthusiasm for naturopathy.
Between 1934-47 Gandhi visited the clinic, now called Bapu Bhavan, seven times. The place is currently being beautified to serve as a meeting place for over 1,000 people. The room Gandhi lived in at Bapu Bhavan has been carefully preserved and bears signs of his trademark simplicity, such as the spinning wheel.
Despite its position as an apex body for the promotion of naturopathy, NIN got to life only after its present director, Dr B.T. Chidananda Murthy (former CMO at Jindal's institute in Bangalore) joined. He administered such measures as increasing the working hours in a day. He says: ‘‘Naturopathy treatments are best done during the early hours of the day and at evening.’’
Even yoga classes have been increased to four times a day, attracting some 200 students daily, up from four or five earlier. The treatment zone has been renovated and the number of treatments increased to about 30.
Dr Murthy says: ‘‘Within one year our daily inflow of patients has become 500; earlier it was not even five!’’ This includes 120 patients for nature cure, and 100 beneficiaries of the free acupressure clinic, also initiated by him.
Needing more nurses and attendants but faced with the governmental embargo on fresh recruitment, Dr Murthy initiated unique training programmes that gave him access to more hands at a nominal stipend while giving the students thorough practical training.
The Treatment Attendant Training Course (TATC) runs for a year and caters to 21 students who receive Rs 1,500 as monthly stipend. On completion of the course, they are absorbed by health resorts and health clubs.
NIN offers the same stipend to some 80 additional nurses all over the country who are trained by private nature cure clinics. He solved the shortage of doctors similarly, offering six-month internships to four students of naturopathy medical colleges at a monthly stipend of Rs 3,000 each.
The lawns outside the premises host a small health food stall and juice stall dispensing wheatgrass juice, carrot and beetroot juice and other nature cure staples. Inside the office quarters, there is a library. The treatment zone is a separate adjunct, a little cramped but neat and clean.
Among the 32 treatments available are underwater massage, jet massage, spinal spray, underwater frictions, vibro massage, sunbath with coloured rays and mud applications. A brand new sauna cabin has just been installed.
I meet Deepa Attal, a housewife, who is having the cramps in her legs treated by a dry leg pack. The treatment has yielded some relief, she reveals. An arthritis patient is having a brisk massage in another room and claims that over the last two years she had experienced considerable relief in her condition. ‘‘The pain and the stiffness is much less,’’ she says.
Patients pay a reasonable sum of Rs 200 per week to cover all prescribed treatments. A discount of 50 per cent is available for the poorer sections of society. There is a health food shop stocking brown rice, organic jaggery, honey, herbal tea powder, natural til oil, amla, supari, as well as instruments such as rubber neti, jal neti pot, enema sets, acupressure and magnetic therapy items, and books on naturopathy and nutrition.
NIN’s main task is to promote and popularise the therapy. It publishes a monthly magazine called Nisargopchar Varta. They conduct 100 free camps all over India on subjects such as women’s and children’s development and programmes for students, teachers and programmes for remote and rural areas, particularly in the North East.
Emphasis is laid on training and creating a corps of skilled naturopathy workers such as nurses and paramedical staff. NIN offers 10-day free refresher courses for practising naturopaths. A two-year diploma course in naturopathy is on the anvil to develop para-medical assistants.
The institute has also introduced annual awards for the best books on yoga and naturopathy in both Hindi and English. Dr Murthy has plans for NIN to host a five-year medical college. He would also like to start a 200-bed hospital and is scouting for land.
Other plans include reproducing rare textbooks devoted to naturopathy, creating a website and producing videocassettes on diseases like hypertension, diabetes, arthritis, obesity and asthma.
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