K Nandanan, a bus conductor in Peralasseri in Kannur district, underwent a surgery on his left leg from a prominent hospital in Kochi. But he developed a nagging pain. He ran from pillar to post to find a lasting solution. Surprisingly, the doctors said that the only way forward was to amputate the leg. In desperation, Nandanan approached Vaidyar Hamsa Madikai in Kasaragod, a ninth-generation member of a family which has been in the field of Sufi healing. “Within months of taking herbal medicines I began feeling better and can now walk,” says Nandanan. “This is thanks to Vaidyar Hamsa’s deep knowledge of traditional herbal medicines.”
The 42-year-old healer uses gentle therapeutic methods. Today, Hamsa is the most reliable vaidyar (a traditional medical practitioner) in Kerala. “The power to heal which has been bestowed on me by God multiplies my obligations to society,” says Hamsa, who provides treatment free of cost. Hamsa grows 1,424 varieties of medicinal plants, of which 800—including herbs like Jyothippullu, Kaippanarachi, Odivothukki, Nilapoov and Eeswaramooli—are rare. He only uses traditional herbal medicines to cure all kind of illnesses.
Hamsa also uses the popular Aswagandha, an anti-cancer herb. Talking about its medicinal qualities Vaidyar says, “Aswagandha acts in multiple ways to cure and prevent cancer. Pasiyadakki is another rare plant which was used as an alternative for food by the monks. Jalasthambhini, another indigenous plant, was traditionally used to turn water to a frozen state.”
Hamsa is also famed for his jalooka chiklsa (leech therapy). “When modern doctors turn away from the leech therapy, which is one of the most effective treatment methods for skin diseases, I still use it to promote blood flow in damaged cells,” he says. Incidentally, many people have benefited from his leech therapy.
K Jamal, who has undergone leech therapy, has words of praise for the traditional vaidyar. “I was asked to undergo a surgery for my leg but they did not promise complete recovery,” he says. “Then I heard of Vaidyar Hamsa. His treatment has reduced my pain and I feel better now.”
Hamsa also runs an institution called Oushadha Sasya Padana Bala Sabha at Kannukkara in Vadakara to impart his knowledge to the next generation, free of cost. As many as 400 students are learning the basics on the use of herbs. Hamsa is also lending his expertise to enthusiastic learners at Gurukula Vaidya Nilayam in Madikai.
Hamsa says that if we adopt an eco-friendly lifestyle, it will keep deadly diseases away. Azhiyur panchayat member M Kunhiraman says that Hamsa’s service to society does not end with treatments. He also spearheads several charity works, like food and financial aid to those who are struggling. His forthcoming project, Ammaykkorumma, is an initiative to protect abandoned mothers.
Hamsa, who is a poet and sculptor, has published seven books on herbal treatment. His recently released book, Parambarya Nattu Vaidyam Lalithasaram, helps the common man to locate traditional herbs in and around their neighbourhood.
Hamsa is also a painter with a difference. He creatively uses juice extracted from medicinal plants to sketch his abstract thoughts on canvas. His patients and friends called his paintings Oushadha Chithrangal or medicinal paintings.