© 2014

Healing Traditions of the Northwestern Himalayas


  • Provides an exclusive account of the notion of disease and of indigenous ways of treating different diseases

  • Focuses on concepts of indigenous curative techniques, curative foods, metaphysical healing, herbal remedial measures

  • Discusses indigenous healthcare practices among Himalayan communities

  • Discusses the social status of folk healers and their role in healing


Part of the SpringerBriefs in Environmental Science book series (BRIEFSENVIRONMENTAL)

Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-xxii
  2. Pankaj Gupta, Vijay Kumar Sharma, Sushma Sharma
    Pages 1-19
  3. Pankaj Gupta, Vijay Kumar Sharma, Sushma Sharma
    Pages 21-35
  4. Pankaj Gupta, Vijay Kumar Sharma, Sushma Sharma
    Pages 37-59
  5. Pankaj Gupta, Vijay Kumar Sharma, Sushma Sharma
    Pages 61-81
  6. Pankaj Gupta, Vijay Kumar Sharma, Sushma Sharma
    Pages 83-120
  7. Pankaj Gupta, Vijay Kumar Sharma, Sushma Sharma
    Pages 121-135
  8. Back Matter
    Pages 137-149

About this book


This book discusses the perception of disease, healing concepts and the evolution of traditional systems of healing in the Himalayas of Himachal Pradesh, India. The chapters cover a diverse range issues: people and knowledge systems, healing in ancient scriptures, concept of sacredness and faith healing, food as medicament, presumptions about disease, ethno-botanical aspects of medicinal plants, collection and processing of herbs, traditional therapeutic procedures, indigenous Materia medica, etc. The book also discusses the diverse therapeutic procedures followed by Himalayan healers and their significance in the socio-cultural life of Himalayan societies.   

The World Health Organization defines traditional medicine as wisdom, skills, and practices based on theories, beliefs, and experiences indigenous to different cultures, used in the prevention, diagnosis, improvement or treatment of physical and mental illness and maintenance of health. In some Asian and African countries, 80% of the population depends on traditional medicine for primary health care. However, the knowledge of these conventional healing techniques and traditions associated with conveying this knowledge are slowly disappearing. The authors highlight the importance of safeguarding this indigenous knowledge in the cultural milieu of the Himachal Himalayas.

This book will be an important resource for researchers in medical anthropology, biology, ethno-biology, ecology, community health, health behavior, psychotherapy, and Himalayan studies..


Alternative healing practices Alternative healthcare in India Alternative medicine in India Ethno-pharmacology Faith healing in India Folk medicine in India Healthcare practices in Himalayas Indigenous Materia medica Magico-religious healing Mystic healers in India Traditional birth attendants in India Traditional healing techniques Traditional healthcare systems

Authors and affiliations

  1. 1.Institute of Integrated Himalayan Studies, Himachal Pradesh UniversityShimlaIndia
  2. 2.Institute of Integrated Himalayan Studies, Himachal Pradesh UniversityShimlaIndia
  3. 3.Department of BiosciencesHimachal Pradesh UniversityShimlaIndia

About the authors

Pankaj Gupta is a senior research office at the Institute of Integrated Himalayan Studies (IIHS), University Grants Commission (UGC) Centre of Excellence, Himachal Pradesh University, Shimla, India. He is a doctorate in biosciences from Himachal Pradesh University and the managing editor of Himalayan Studies Journal & IIHS News Bulletin. He is also a member of the editorial team of Himshikhar, the Himachal Pradesh University newsletter, brought out quarterly by Himachal Pradesh University, Shimla. He is member of the Mountain Forum Himalayas, a nongovernment organization active in Himachal Pradesh and Uttrakhand states in India, and has been an expert for project evaluations funded by the Council for Advancement of People’s Action and Rural Technology (CAPART), India. He has acted as a consultant for the Himachal Pradesh Power Corporation Limited for social impact assessment studies and baseline studies since 2008. His areas of interest are village studies, natural resource management, health oriented problems of women and children particularly nutritional, anthropometric and dietary studies, traditional health care systems and magico-religious methods of healing, ethno-Cultural, ethno-ecological and audiovisual documentation of culture and nature.

Vijay Kumar Sharma is a project officer at the Institute of Integrated Himalayan Studies, University Grants Commission (UGC) Centre of Excellence, Himachal Pradesh University, Shimla. He has published papers in reputed journals, besides editing and authoring two books each. He has been involved in various research projects of the institute funded by the UGC and other funding agencies. His areas of specialization are rural sociology, folk medicine and indigenous knowledge.

Sushma Sharma is a professor in the Department of Biosciences, Himachal Pradesh University, Shimla. She was previously the Director of the Women’s Study Centre of Himachal Pradesh University. She has completed a number of projects funded by the UGC and other funding agencies. Dr. Sharma has worked on nutritional and physiological studies of Himalayan people. Her research papers have been published in journals of national and international repute. Her area of specialization is muscle physiology.

Bibliographic information

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“Gupta et al. is a book of science, primarily focused on the knowledge about, and the therapeutic effects of, plants and plant products in Himachal Himalaya, India. … Their book continues a recent trend of well-researched academic papers and books on medicinal plants in Indian Himalaya and both sociologists and bioscientists will find it worthwhile. Sociologists will learn about the social aspects of healing practice and knowledge and bioscientists about the medical aspects.” (Enrico Beltramini, Asian Highlands Perspectives, Vol. 40, 2016)