A retired civil servant and in his eighties, N.Imti Ao might be termed as a herbalist for his therapeutic concoctions, in powdered form that originate from a diverse array of plants which aid in maintaining a disorder free stomach and even assisting in controlling sugar and urinary problems. In fact, he is a celebrated figure among his clientele, who swear by his herbal concoctions. There is a catch however; it must be taken consistently over a sufficient period of time.
Born on 2nd August, 1937 at his native village Lirmen under Mokokchung district, N. Imti Ao did his matriculation from Bengali High School, Imphal (under G.U), B.A from Fazl Ali College (F.A.C) Mokokchung, Nagaland and moreover did his L.L.B from Shillong Law College (under NEHU). He is among the first batch alumni of Fazl Ali College. After completing his studies, he was initially appointed as office Assistant at D.C’s office Mokokchung in 1960 and then there after got posted to different departments and later in the year 1974 he appeared Nagaland Civil Service Exam that was conducted by NPSC. After serving in different official capacities under Nagaland government, he retired in the rank of joint secretary in 28th Feb, 1998.
Ever since his tender age, N. Imti Ao had the fascination towards home-based medicines under the influence of his parents. Thus all through leisure hours, he habitually got accustomed to read medicinal books that made him get interested in producing herbal medicines. Consequently in the year 1999, he decided to venture out in producing herbal medicine. Today the herbal medicinal products that he produces are for diabetes, urine Infections and removal of kidney stone, blood Pressure, food poisoning, gas formation, constipation and many more.
When queried about the ingredients and procurement N. Imti Ao said that the component that go into making the medicinal concoctions are well-known shrubs, herbs, leaves and fruits, some of which are found in the market. Periwinkle, Neem, Chubulic Myrobylan (Heleka in Assamese, Harad in Hindi), Jerotha, Mithi, Black Plum (Jamun), two kinds of gooseberry , sweet basil (Gulal Tulsi), Bael fruit and leaves, Bishop’s seed (Ajowan in Hindi) and Spondias Mangifera/ Spondias Pinnata- These are plants with known healing properties. Different sets of plants go into making the concoctions for stomach disorders, sugar, and urinary problems. Regarding the procurement, few are sourced from the wild while some of the plants are grown in a make-shift garden on the terrace of his home at Duncan Basti, Dimapur, Nagaland. The one listed that highly sought after by his clientele is for stomach disorders. “This medicine is both preventive and curative depending on the gravity of the complaint”, says N. Imti Ao. It helps in diarrhea, constipation, indigestion and even aids liver function. He further added that “if one can have at least a pinch of it a day, it will be helpful (for the system) as the saying goes ‘prevention is better than cure’.”
Normally N. Imti Ao does not promote his enterprise in the commercial market; therefore interested customers who are familiar of his product visit his house and purchase or order in bulk. According to him, many are living an Ayurvedic lifestyle combine with yoga a natural way of self-keeping well. Ayurveda (a medicinal system) is more than 3000 years old in India. Naga traditional/ Ethno-medicine are a part of this system. In modern world, it is sometimes referred to as alternative/holistic medicine. The western world is also turning back to the natural ways and remedy and as such it is often referred to as “GREEN HEALTH”. Therefore he recommends that the younger generation should study medicinal herbs and practice it and if any wishes to pursue for study of medicinal herbs and practice it, he or she need to know about the Indian system of S.M- AYUSH – the 5 branches of medicines and these are:- A- Ayurveda, Y- Yoga, U- Unami, S- Sidha and H- Homeopathy.
According to him, herbal medicines are less harmful than western medicines (allopathy) in respect of toxicity/non-addictive and side effect. Ayurvedic medicines are affordable particularly for rural folks. For him, it has been nearly 35 years since he had last taken a pharmaceutical drug for intestinal problem because he religiously practice it and as a result, he hardly gets any stomach complications. However he cautioned,
While most herbs have little or no harmful side effects. Some herbs may cause slightly undesirable reactions in some persons. Therefore try only one herb at a time, beginning in small doses and watch for side effects.
When asked about his mantra of happiness and healthy lifestyle, he replied that with a motto in life “Happy Is the Man Who Can Make a Living by His Hobby,” the mantra of happiness and healthy lifestyle are daily prayer by reading Holy Bible, maintaining a healthy lifestyle by consuming rich and healthy food, no alcohol or tobacco. He further said that playing violin gives him immense joy and happiness.
A word of wisdom to the youths of Northeast from N, Imti Ao is with a quote “Always bear in mind that your own resolution to success is more important than any other” Abraham Lincoln. “After my retirement from active Government service for the last 38 years, I started maintaining my new life by making herbal medicines as my contribution to the society and as my hobby which made me happy and more interested in learning about new herbal medicinal plants. This hobby of mine keeps me busy instead of sitting idle and doing nothing. Therefore I appeal to the youths of Northeast to always follow their dreams and passion and to achieve what they desire in life because ‘Time waits for no man’. The reason why I have been practicing this cultivation is to preserve the traditional knowledge that our forefathers had been preserving since time immemorial. That very knowledge, I felt should not be disappeared even in the future generations.”
Photo Courtesy: Manoj Sagolsem