Will doing a few rounds of an Indian gooseberry tree cause expectant mothers to have a son? Well, the Chhattisgarh State Medicinal Plant Board says it will.
The Board also says a gulbavakal plant on the premises can protect the house from thieves.
These are among the claims made by the Board, which is trying to popularise the state’s herbs.
On being asked whether such claims are justified, the Board’s Chief Executive Officer S.C. Agrawal said, “Such beliefs have been continuing from time immemorial and the department has not added anything new.” He added the aim was to enhance the importance of medicinal plants.
Nearly 44 per cent of Chhattisgarh’s area is under forest cover. In trying to make something of this, the government declared the state a ‘herbal state’ in 2001.
The Board’s initiative has been denounced for promoting superstitious thinking.
Dr Dinesh Mishra, recipient of a national award for science and technology communication, said the unique medicinal values of plants are meant for allopathic and ayurvedic use. “Instead of misleading people with superfluous ideas and superstitions, the Board should have publicised the inherent curative qualities of these medicinal plants,” he said.
“Because of such irrational messages, superstitious practices take precedence over scientific thinking or medical treatment among rural masses,” said Mishra.
Ayurvedic practitioner Dr Alka Chouhan had a piece of advice: enlighten people about the beneficial vitamins, minerals and nutrients found in the plants.