Ayurveda in Nepal, Volume One: Ayurvedic Principles, Diagnosis and Treatment by Vaidya Madhu Bajra Bajracharya, Alan Tillotson, and Todd Caldecott. Shelbyville, KY: Wasteland Press; 2010. Hardcover; 340 pages. ISBN 9781600474620. $59.95.
Ayurveda in Nepal, Volume One opens with a short autobiography of Mana Bajra Bajracharya with forewords by the editors—his son Madhu Bajra Bajracharya, Alan Tillotson, PhD, and Todd Caldecott—as well as a special foreword by James Duke, PhD.
The book continues with several chapters on the different aspects of Ayurvedic theory, but from the perspective of a clinician rather than simply another exposition on the Ayurvedic Tridosha or humoral system. There are even a couple of chapters dedicated to the theory of spiritual healing and the principles of Ayurvedic surgery. Following that, there is a section describing how Ayurvedic medicinals—including minerals—are classified and used in extracts and formulas. As the first and, thus far, only Ayurvedic clinical manual available in English, Ayurveda in Nepal’s next 15 chapters are dedicated to the treatment of diseases beginning with fevers, digestive diseases, diseases involving specific organ functions, male and female sexual function, nerves, skin, general metabolism, obstetrics, and childhood diseases of the eye, ear, nose, and throat. Each is presented in remarkable detail with dozens of diseases under each main category.
Directly based on clinical manuals of a great Nepalese Ayurvedic practitioner, Dr. Mana Bajra Bajracharya, Ayurveda in Nepal goes far beyond the usual instructive or encyclopedic books that are currently available in English. (The title “doctor” is used in Nepal is a term of respect given to one who is initiated as a Bajracharya or “doctor-priest.”)
Dr. Tillotson, a practitioner of Asian traditional medicine (see below) and one of the book’s editors, first met Dr. Mana when he contracted an illness while touring the region. Dr. Tillotson was so impressed with Dr. Mana that he returned several times to study with him in what was apparently the busiest Ayurvedic clinic in the region.
According to Dr. Tillotson, “This book is how Dr. Mana thinks.” Remaining true to the spirit and exact translation of Dr Mana’s words, Dr. Tillotson stated, “I could not change it in any way.” This in itself offers a rare insight into the inner sanctum of a great Ayurvedic vaidya—a term for a vedic practitioner, literally meaning “one who knows”—and is used as a title, as in “professor” or “physician.” Dr. Mana even provided the illustrations for the book.
After a unique overview of the tenets, theory, and principles of Ayurveda, over half of the book serves as a clinical manual that any practitioner of Ayurveda would appreciate owning. The one drawback is that while Ayurveda is growing in popularity in the West, it hasn’t quite reached the stage where one has easy access to the wide range of Ayurvedic herbs and preparations described in the book.
But where there is a will, there is a way; the few Ayurvedic clinicians in the West have somehow managed to find their own personal access to Ayurvedic medicines, either through local sources or by importing them directly from India. Such a problem is bound to remedy itself over time, and when it does, this is a book that Ayurvedic practitioners will want to have on hand.
Despite this temporary lack of availability of the hundreds of Ayurvedic herbs and preparations described throughout the text, there remain hundreds of accessible and useful preparations that could be tried, such as the following:
Narayana oil (a mixture of oils of mint [Mentha spp., Lamiaceae], eucalyptus [Eucalyptus globulus, Myrtaceae] and clove [Syzygium aromaticum, Myrtaceae) mixed with mineral salt for gum disease (p. 284);
A list of “blood purifiers” (p. 253);
Pomegranate (Punica granatum, Punicaceae) rind for blood deficiency (p. 254);
Guduchi (Tinosporia cordifolia, Menispermaceae) is recommended for inflamed pittaja urine, which would include what we understand to be various types of kidney and bladder urinary tract inflammations (p. 202), plus descriptions of different urine qualities for diagnostic purposes;
Remedies for hypertension (p. 190), including yogarajaguggul (a traditional formula, containing guggul [Commiphora mukul, Burseraceae]) for “excess blood volume hypertension” and the use of laxatives if hypertension accompanies constipation
3 basic remedies for “digestive fire” (agni) (p. 155);
Triphala guggulu, a combination of the famous triphala formula: Indian gooseberry or amla/amalik (Emblica officinalis, Euphorbiaceae), long pepper or pippali (Piper longum, Piperaceae), bibitaki (Terminalia bellerica, Combretaceae) and haritaki (T. chebula) with guggul for anemia;
Tulsi (Ocimum sanctum, Lamiaceae) for asthma (p. 269);
Neem (Azadirachta indica, Meliaceae), tulsi, and turmeric (Curcuma longa, Zingiberaceae) for purifying mother’s milk (this one is really good);
Neem, haritaki, and Malabar nut or vasaca (Justicia adhatoda, Acanthaceae) for basic pitta problems (p. 67);
Anise (Pimpinella anisum, Apiaceae) and omum (Ammi majus, Apiaceae) seed for kapha conditions (from the Indian grocery stores);
Acorus (Acorus calamus, Acoraceae), amalaki, gokshura (Tribulus terrestris, Zygophyllaceae), and shatavari (Asparagus officinalis, Liliaceae) for basic vata treatment instead of just ashwagandha (Withania somnifera, Solanaceae) (p. 56);
… and more.
I am frustrated by the many Ayurvedic texts that have been published both in India and the West either with an inadequate index or totally lacking one altogether.
The reader will be happy to know that Ayurveda in Nepal’s extensive index makes it easy to look up a condition or disease and find something immediately useful for the reader, family, friends, or patients. The book lists several thousand remedies providing convenient access to hundreds of therapeutic ideas.
Throughout the book, there is frequent mention of a number of Ayurvedic herbs and preparations now popular in the West. Of great value is the affirmative revelation to many that there are uses for some of the more popular Ayurvedic herbs and preparations beyond those that have been most commercially exploited, such as guggul for elevated cholesterol, curcumin (from turmeric [Curcuma longa, Zingiberaceae]root) for inflammation and use in certain cancers, or holy basil (tulsi) for lowering cortisol and relieving stress. Ayurveda in Nepal provides a rare glimpse of the traditional knowledge of these and other popular herbs and remedies together with the authority of Dr. Mana, one of the most highly respected modern Ayurvedic doctors to use them in these certain ways.
Ayurveda in Nepal is the first of an intended encyclopedic series, but one need not wait for future volumes. This first volume focuses especially on eye, ear, nose, and throat ailments while including a somewhat broader range of pathologies such as childhood, skin, and metabolic diseases.
Dr. Tillotson holds a PhD in Integrative Health Sciences (IUPS), and is a licensed acupuncturist in Delaware. He has extensive experience with many Asian health sciences and I’m proud that he was an early graduate of my East West School of Planetary Herbology. Dr. Tillotson is the author of The One Earth Herbal Source Book, which reflects the eclectic approach of Planetary Herbology, integrating Western, Chinese, and Ayurvedic principles, herbs, and preparations. He has been in practice 21 years and is married to Naixin Hu, a scholar and Traditional Chinese Medicine practitioner with whom he shares a clinical practice in Delaware.
Ayurveda in Nepal’s co-editor, Todd Caldecott (Dip. Cl.H.), is a clinical herbalist and Ayurvedic practitioner with a clinic in Vancouver, B.C. He is the author of the highly respected Ayurveda: The Divine Science of Life (Mosby, 2006).
The book also benefits from the editorial guidance of Dr. Mana’s son, Vaidya Madhu Bajra Bajracharya.
This volume is obviously a labor of love on the part of all involved. The combination of these distinguished editors for the legacy of this great Nepalese doctor makes for a creditable, in-depth book. I recommend this truly unique book to all serious practitioners and students of Ayurvedic medicine. More information is available at www.ayurvedainnepal.com.
—Michael TierraAHG clinical herbalistwww.planetherbs.comBen Lomond, CA