CHENNAI: The concept of shamana chikitsa of Ayurveda is reported to be equivalent to modern palliative care. However, shamana chikitsa should be considered as one step ahead of palliative care because shamana can be used either as principal treatment in case of common complaints or can be used as supplementary in case of chronic complaints.
“Mikinum kuraiyinum noiseyyu noolor Valimuthala venniya moondru” is one of the Kurals in Tamil language written by Thiruvalluvar 2,000 years ago, meaning, ‘either more or less in the body, Tri Doshas (Vata, Pitta and Kapha) bring diseases’. Similarly, shamana therapies also focus on tri doshas. Shamana chikitsa is employed in two useful cases.
In case of common complaints or symptoms (fever, common cold, cough, diarrhoea, etc): Here the doshas are not deep rooted. In this case, shamana is advised just to bring the doshas to achieve equilibrium, hence used as principal treatment and not as supplementary.
In case of chronic diseases (asthma, diabetes, etc): Here the doshas are deep rooted or purification treatment is not possible. If it is, the duration of treatment would be long. Here, shamana therapies are recommended to keep the doshas in control to facilitate the purification treatment and also to provide better health to the patients. Here, shamana is used as supplementary treatment and parallel to modern palliative care.
Various herbal remedies, food habits and physical exercises have been listed under seven types of shamana therapies. Amongst these, dashamoola, a very popular herbal formula of Ayurveda has been considered as the best shamana remedy. It is a combination formula of ten herbals. Dashamoola is used as a nerve tonic and as a strong stimulant. It is recommended in case of cardiac problems, general debility, respiratory problems, pneumonia, anaemia, etc. Among the ten herbals used in dashamoola, Paatala is a prime tree!
Stereospermum colais (Dillwyn) Mabb. is used as Paatala. Paatala is highly traded especially for their root, in the trade name of Paarul mool. This tree is considered as a sacred tree in Hindu religion. In Tamil Nadu, it is planted as sthala vriksha in many temples especially for Shiva, Vishnu and Subramanya. There is also a faith that the 11th Tirthankara Vasupujya attained enlightenment under this tree.
The Sthala Purana of the Padaliswarar temple, in Tamil Nadu says that padhiri (Tamil, Kannada, Malayalam and Telugu name for Paatala) tree is the sthala vriksha of that temple and Goddess Parvati performed pujas under this tree to free herself from sins.
In Indian astrological calendar, it is seen as Lord Ravi and represents the zodiac sign Simha. Paatala can rejuvenate both the psyche and physique. In English, S. colais is known as Yellow Snake tree because of its yellow flowers and twisted pods. S. colais is reported to occur throughout India. However, it is common in peninsular India, usually found in dry and moist deciduous forests, even in the rocky areas and among boulders.