Gunaram Khanikar, Assam’s noted traditional herbal medicine expert whose medicine is said to have cured over three lakh patients of different ailments ranging from diabetes to cancer, passed away early Thursday morning following a massive heart attack. A bachelor, Khanikar was 69.
A student of botany who had picked up traditional folk medicine from his parents in his ancestral village Tetelitol in Golaghat, not far away from Kaziranga National Park, Khanikar had not only made innovations in traditional medicine by experimenting with various medicinal herbs available in Assam, but had also written several books in both Assamese and English on various uses of medicinal plants and herbs.
Also founder of the Regional Research & Training Centre on Indian Traditional Treatment (RRTCITT) located in Golaghat, about 300 kms from here, Khanikar received his first national recognition when he won one of the first National Grassroots Innovation Award instituted by the National Innovation Foundation, an autonomous body under the department of science and technology, in 2001.
While his research centre in Golaghat has several hundred species of medicinal plants, trees and herbs, Khanikar had also helped others in setting up such gardens across the state in the past 20 years. Several educational institutions in Assam have also developed medicinal plants and herbs gardens with his expertise.
His birthday – March 22 – has been observed as Medicinal Plants Day in Assam for the past 10 years. The list of herbal medicine that he has been preparing on the basis of traditional knowledge and folk wisdom gathered over 50 years, include those for diabetes, cardiac problems, malaria, jaundice, piles, eczema, asthma, bronchitis, ulcers, and oral cancer.
Condoling his death, Assam chief minister Tarun Gogoi said Khanikar had not only revived and carried forward the rich Assamese tradition of folk medicine, but had also helped thousands of people across the country get cured of various ailments and live longer.