Guni medicine.
Subject: Medicine, Herbal (International aspects)
Volunteer workers in medical care (Social aspects)
Medicine, Botanic (International aspects)
Trade and professional associations (Services)
Trade and professional associations (International aspects)
Author: Castle, Janine
Pub Date: 06/22/2010
Publication: Name: Australian Journal of Medical Herbalism Publisher: National Herbalists Association of Australia Audience: Academic Format: Magazine/Journal Subject: Health Copyright: COPYRIGHT 2010 National Herbalists Association of Australia ISSN: 1033-8330
Issue: Date: Summer, 2010 Source Volume: 22 Source Issue: 2
Topic: Event Code: 360 Services information; 290 Public affairs
Product: Product Code: 8620000 Professional Membership Assns NAICS Code: 81392 Professional Organizations SIC Code: 8621 Professional organizations
Geographic: Geographic Scope: India; Australia Geographic Code: 9INDI India; 8AUST Australia
Accession Number: 232178422
Full Text: Four Hands on Health Australia (HOHA) volunteer practitioners recently visited northern India to embark on their pilot project with grass roots non government organisation Jagran Jan Vikas Samiti. The team spent ten days liaising, learning and treating patients from the rural districts of Udaipur. After meeting with local traditional herbalists, the importance of reviving indigenous medicines became the visit's focal point.

Perth practitioners Maniisha Bluntschli and Kim Page met Geelong therapists Janine Castle and Melinda Kraus in southern Rajasthan for an intensive preliminary visit in April this year. HOHA committee members had been eagerly planning a hands on trip to Udaipur to formalise future plans for over twelve months. With passionate practitioners and a large amount of donated medicines, the committee had been keen to find an existing organisation to affiliate with and start making plans.

Previous attempts to forge a relationship with a like minded organisation in October and December 2009 were unsuccessful due to bureaucratic requirements. Having investigated several alternative options, practitioner Janine Castle stumbled on the organsation Jagran in Beldla, Udaipur.

'As soon as I walked in the door I felt I was in the right place', Janine says. 'The founder of Jagran, Ganesh Purohit, was sitting in the foyer almost as if he was waiting for us'. After a quick exchange of HOHA and Jagran objectives, it was clear a future relationship could be beneficial for both parties.

Jagran is a not for profit charitable enterprise servicing up to 300 villages in the surrounding region. Its interests include promoting indigenous medicine, human rights, agriculture, land management and political activism. They also cultivate medicinal plants for village community gardens in one of their locations.

Jagran's particular interest lies in resurrecting traditional herbal medicine knowledge and training their local 'Gunis' to treat their own community using regional medicinal plants. Their research suggests the importance of villagers not depending on allopathic doctors for their medical needs.

The areas are remote and urban doctors are reluctant to visit these areas due to time and distance. Supporting indigenous healers is a sustainable alternative to a developing health crisis in the surrounding environmentally degraded areas.

The staff at Jagran kindly welcomed the Hands On Health team and exchanged introductions before sending them out to a village health camp. Health camps are held in villages throughout the year to raise awareness of issues such as traditional medicine, STDs, hygiene, poverty, violence, pollution and global warming. The team was well received and attracted more attention than expected. Jagran were keen to promote the popularity of traditional medicine modalities in the West to their captive audience during the visit.


The following days were hands on, visiting and working from two small villages. The HOH staff were given a modest space to set up and treat incoming patients. A variety of donated natural medicines were used to treat all manner of ailments from arthritis to infertility. Locals were fascinated by the new modalities and were grateful for the assistance. The therapies attracted great crowds on one occasion, making treatment challenging and taxing at times.


The next meeting with Jagran staff revealed some interesting feedback. They stressed the importance of primarily supporting local herbalists and staying close to the Guni model. It was suggested that local Gunis could be trained in new modalities including Western and Chinese herbal medicine. This would empower local healers and continue the trend toward sustainable healthcare. Other modalities such as homeopathy, nutrition and basic acupuncture could also be incorporated into Guni medicine. This was where Jagran felt HOH could be most helpful to the community.



After many shared meals and idea exchanges, it was concluded that the staff at Jagran were excited about growing relationship with HOH. They saw the new input as refreshing and could see the potential in future plans for developing training programs for Gunis. The next visit to Jagran will be in July 2010 to begin a Guni training program. Interested practitioners are welcome to contact HOHA.

Visiting Jagran

Jagran offers Western practitioners more than just a working vacation. They welcome overseas practitioners with skills to share. While indigenous herbal medicine remains their core objective, sustainable complementary medicine plays a vital role in the future of Guni medicine. Practitioners of herbal medicine, naturopathy, homeopathy, nutrition, TCM, chiropractic, Bowen therapy etc can become involved.

Jagran have over fifty committed staff with expertise in herbal medicine, botany, Ayurveda, agriculture, rural development, healthcare, welfare and microfinance. Jagran offer visitors a weekly schedule of classes including yoga, language, cooking culture and herbal medicine.

Daily field trips to rural locations and farming communities offer Westerners experience in herbal medicine cultivation, animal husbandry, farming, community development and cultural exchange. A daily fee of around $10 per day includes accommodation, food, classes and field trips.


HOHA maintains an ongoing working relationship with Jagran. For more information contact www.

Janine Castle Naturopath

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