My first visit to the beautiful tropical island of Sri Lanka was in 2006. I never imagined I would be returning so soon or so often! In February 2007 I returned to the capital, Colombo, to embark upon an intensive one month course in Clinical Acupuncture, only to discover that using people as pin cushions, wasn’t quite my forté! Initially, it hadn’t been the acupuncture programme that had attracted me, but the Homeopathy that had been mentioned on the web site (I was already in India doing post graduate Homeopathic studies, so it was just a mere hop across the ocean). However, I soon discovered at that clinic, that it wasn’t the type of Homeopathy that I should wish to practise, nor advocate. It was during that month that I was very fortunate to meet Dr Shanthakumar, who then invited me to spend time with him in his clinics. I jumped at the opportunity to do so and the rest is history.
Sri Lanka only has two seasons – hot and very hot! As a Westerner, one has to get used to sweating 24/7, as the climate, particularly along the coast and in Colombo, can be very hot and steamy. As well as the beautiful people of Sri Lanka, one has to get used to ants, supersonic cockroaches, and mosquitoes, as they are all part of living in the Tropics and you either ‘put up and shut up’ or ‘go home’. Adaptability is all that is required, along with patience, understanding and a sense of humour.
Dr Shanthakumar currently not only has three clinics in Sri Lanka – Wellawatta, Colombo, Katubedda & Hatton, but also travels to India every month, where he sees patients at a Hospital in Salem, Tamil Nadu. He studied Homeopathic medicine in Kombakonam, Tamil Nadu, India some 30 years ago and he continues to study. Even with his busy clinics, he still manages to do an inordinate amount of reading, teaching in Colombo, monthly visits to India, attending Homeopathic seminars from time to time, as well as being actively involved in building a systematic Homeopathic educational programme in Sri Lanka. He is a quiet, humble man, who eats, lives and sleeps Homeopathy. If you wish to argue a point with him, you had better know Homeopathy, the Materia Medica, and of course, the bible of Homeopathic Medicine – The Organon. He is a true Hahnemannian and practises according to the Cardinal Principles of Homeopathy.
There are three languages spoken in Sri Lanka – Sinhala, Tamil and Sri Lankan English. Thankfully for me, Dr Shanthakumar is able to speak all three, but his native tongue is Tamil. With a 35 year civil war (now ended, thankfully) in the country, that has resulted in thousands losing their lives, life certainly hasn’t been easy for him or his family, but that has never stopped him helping the people of Sri Lanka with Homeopathic medicine.
In 2007, I lived in Wellawatta, a Tamil suburb of Colombo, affectionately known as little Jaffna (the Tamil dominated city in the north of Sri Lanka). It was very convenient for both the Acupuncture clinic and Dr Shanthakumar’s clinic, as I could take a nice early morning stroll down to the Indian Ocean before starting time. Dr. Shanthakumar starts his consultations early in the morning, any time from 7am onwards. He consults up until around midday then takes a rest until about 4.30/5.00pm. Colombo gets very hot and humid during those hours and one doesn’t want to be walking about in the strong sunlight without either a hat or an umbrella. It really is only ‘mad dogs and Englishmen’ that go out in the midday sun. Of the occasional white tourist that I have come across on my visits, they would not look out of place in Wellawatta fish market, next to the Lobsters!
Once Dr. Shanthakumar resumes, he could be seeing patients until 11pm or even midnight. I would also travel with him to another clinic along the coast on Saturdays and then, occasionally, up to Hatton in the hill country. He would make that journey every Sunday, leaving his house at around 3.30 am to catch a bus which would take about 4.5 hours to wind its way up the mountain side. Patients were always waiting for him to arrive. He would then spend his day there, not leaving until about 7.30pm, arriving back in Colombo at around midnight. I would have liked to have gone to Hatton more often, but travelling those roads didn’t quite suit me. I would feel quite ill when I arrived and I soon learned to make it a habit to eat very little before leaving or returning to Colombo, after all, I didn’t wish to regurgitate the contents of my stomach half way up and down the mountainside!
Dr Shanthakumar had, and indeed has, a variety of cases to deal with from Alopecia Universalis, Diabetes, Dengue Fever, Epilepsy, Psoriasis, Gangrenous wounds, Breast Cancer, Lung Cancer, MS, Lupus, as well as the more ‘run of the mill’ ills that occur around Monsoon time, to name but a few. He would either translate for me during his case taking or would explain the case afterwards. He will spend as long as it takes for him to be satisfied that he has a full picture of a case, even if some of the patients have to wait a while. All of the above have been treated successfully by his Homeopathic prescribing, even where there have been numerous pharmaceutical drugs used, and in some cases, many different homeopathic medicines, which have caused disease aggravations or put the patient into a proving!
During those months, I also did a great deal of reading as the doctor has quite a library! He always reminds me that in Homeopathy, let WHO, WHAT, WHEN,WHERE, and HOW be your constant questions and always follow the Cardinal Principles.
WHO None other than the great master Dr Samuel Hahnemann
WHAT Ideal cure is rapid, gentle, permanent restoration of health in whole.
WHEN In the shortest possible time.
WHERE In a sick person.
HOW In the most harmless way on easily comprehensible principles or bases.
Having been so engrossed in my life in Sri Lanka and loving every minute of it, even though I had some difficult moments, when my time came to leave, I found it very difficult and heart wrenching. Living and adapting to a different culture over a period of months means that one has to go through re-adaptation to one’s native culture upon return! Fortunately for me, I have been able to return nearly every year since 2007. In 2008, I spent 3 months with Dr Shanthakumar, travelling to India with him for 10 days. One forgets how big India is (I had forgotten about taking a 29 hour train journey across India in 1991) and with huge travelling distances, one travels through the night and catches up with sleep on trains and/or buses so as not to waste valuable time. Together we visited a number of Homoeopathic Medical Schools and Hospitals in Tamil Nadu; Homco, a large, public owned, Homoeopathic Medicines manufacturer in Alappuzah, Kerala and The Dr R P Patel Institute of Homoeopathy in Vadodara, Gujarat, as well as attending a 3 day Homoeopathic Seminar in Salem, Tamil Nadu. It literally was a case of planes, trains and automobiles!
I recall spending a whole day at the Sarada Krishna Homoeopathic Medical College and Hospital, Kulasekharam, Kanyakumari District, Tamil Nadu. The whole trip was very special to me, but that particular day made me feel as though I’d died and gone to a Homeopathic heaven! Even now, I wish that I could go and study at that school for 5.5 years to gain a BHMS – Bachelor of Homeopathic Medicine and Surgery. It would be at least beneficial to get the aspects of their training which one cannot possibly get in the UK, unless one wishes to go down the allopathic route! India has the best systematic Homeopathic education in the world and it is so wonderful to be in a country and environment where Homeopathic Medicine is given the respect that it rightly deserves and to be with so many like minded people. It is a world away from what happens in the UK!
I have very recently returned again from Sri Lanka, having spent 3 months with Dr Shanthakumar. During that time, I looked after his main clinic in Wellawatta, Colombo, whist he was in India. He has a very busy practice dealing with a very variable work-load, from serious acutes to chronic and deep pathology. People come from all over the island to consult with him, now that they are able to travel safely and more freely. He also treats patients from different parts of the world from time to time. I love spending time in his clinic and I have learned a great deal from him.
There are numerous cases that I could share from my time with Dr Shanthakumar. I shall mention 2 cases.
In 2007, I met Harisha at the Acupuncture clinic and asked him if he would like to have some Homeopathic treatment, and for a while he came under my care. Up until that time, he had been receiving Acupuncture and Physiotherapy (the Acupuncture was stopped during his Homeopathic treatment but the Physiotherapy was continued). I have always tried to visit him every time I have returned to Sri Lanka. Harisha had the misfortune of being involved in a very serious road traffic accident about 10 years ago which resulted in him being in a coma for 3 months. As well as brain injuries, one side of his body took more of the accident impact than the other and most of his time has been spent in a wheelchair. After studying his case, Dr Shanthakumar and I decided on a course of Homeopathic treatment. Initially, he received a short course of Arnica, and later, Natrum Sulphuricum. Following those two remedies his speech improved quite dramatically and as he had been very good at Mathematics before his accident, I enjoyed testing my knowledge with him of what I could remember of my A level maths!
After I left Colombo in 2007, Harisha wasn’t able to continue with the homeopathic treatment, for a variety of reasons, but had continued to improve. He is now able to stand up from his wheelchair by himself, wear socks and footwear and even manage a few steps. However, during my recent visit, I was shocked to see the size of his left leg. From his knee to his toes it looked like an elephant’s leg (he had conveniently forgotten to mention his problem over the phone to me, that 11 months ago he had suffered a puncture wound to this leg.) He had been visiting the hospital and had been given numerous courses of antibiotics. The leg was puffed-up and very hard. He’d mentioned that he was about to embark upon further drug treatment, which alarmed me, so I managed to persuade his mother to allow him to visit me in Colombo to see Dr Shanthakumar. Harisha lives 5 hours by bus from Colombo and travelling by bus in Sri Lanka can be an experience in itself! Indeed, it ranks as one of the ‘must do’ experiences of serious travellers.
Dr Shanthakumar took his case and he was prescribed three remedies – Bovista 30c (1 dose) given on his visit; Ledum Palustre 30c (1 dose) to be taken the following day and finally, Arsenicum Album 0/1, his constitution to follow on. Since my return to Scotland, I have spoken to Harisha and his leg has now returned to its normal size and he said that he was feeling much better within himself. His mother perhaps finds that he is now getting less angry towards her!
Serious Acute – Dengue Haemorrhagic Fever Stage II
During my time at the clinic on 8 February 2010, the father of a young boy (4 years) came to the clinic. His son had been hospitalised in Colombo with Dengue Haemorrhagic Fever, Stage II. The child was in a complete collapsed state, with low blood pressure. He could not eat, talk nor walk. His platelet count had fallen to below 20,000 and he was sweating on the forehead. A blood transfusion had been considered but the hospital doctors were not sure what to do. The gentleman came to Dr Shanthakumar for help because he and his family had had Homeopathic treatment from him in the past. The doctor considered the case and gave the boy’s father one dose of Veratrum Album 200c, in a powder, to be placed in water with advice on administration. The father was also told that he must stop the medicine immediately once the child urinated.
The following day, the child’s platelet count had gone up to 26,000 and by the fifth day it was up to 250,000. The child was discharged by the hospital on 15 February 2010. On 2 March 2010, the child was brought to the clinic and he was given one dose of his constitutional remedy – Calcarea Carbonica 200c.
I have never stopped being amazed by Homeopathic medicine and the dedication, knowledge and skill of homeopaths like Dr Shanthakumar.
I really love my time in Sri Lanka. Having lived there whilst the war was still going on, I know that life hasn’t been easy for the people and many things have happened which are very distasteful, beyond most people’s comprehension. However, the Sri Lankan people show a remarkable resilience that only those who have lived in and through war situations can even begin to understand. They haven’t been afforded the luxury of moaning and wailing about their lot, they have just had to get on with their lives as best that the circumstances at the time would allow. I have made wonderful friends in Sri Lanka, and despite the problems, that only humankind appears to create, it is a very beautiful and interesting country.
Carla Carmichael can be contacted through her website at www.cchomeopathy.com or by telephone: Home 0044 1786 478338; Mobile 0044 7751 659772