Health: Like people in many rural places, villagers of Domphu in Samdrupjongkhar have someone in their mind whenever they fall sick. It’s not hospital. It’s dungtsho Khotsa.

Villagers claim that the traditional healer in the locality cured many people with local herbs.

Khotsa said he learned local healing from his maternal uncle. The popular local healer was introduced to the practice by a chance encounter when he was a young boy.

He suffered from severe headache and stomach pain for almost five years when he was 10. After modern medicine failed to cure his prolonged ailment, even after visiting hospital several times, his parents consulted his maternal uncle who was a traditional healer in the community.

Khotsa vividly recalls his uncle giving his parents various local herbs, after consuming which, like a “miracle,” his health improved.

“That was the moment when I decided I will learn about the herbs and traditional practice from my uncle,” he said, adding that ailments never bothered him since then.

As he learned about different local medicinal herbs from his uncle, Khotsa said, his interest for medicine kept growing.

“We didn’t have good medical facilities then and I really wanted to help people through this practice. I wanted to carry forward what my uncle had done for the villagers.”

Today Khotsa treats patients with high blood pressure, stomach pain, minor skin and stomach ulcers, headache and minor body ache or liver ailment for decades.

Despite his success, Khotsa insist patients to visit hospital instead of depending only on the local herbs, if the illness is serious.

Still many villagers said his treatment has never failed.

“I get only those medicinal herbs that my uncle taught me for different diseases and I never experiment with other herbs,” Khotsa said.

“I don’t believe in cutting skins, sucking blood or using blades like other healers.”

He uses herb as powder that is either consumed or applied.

Hours away from home, Khotsa collects medicinal herbs like, locally known as sharpa, Aru, Bora, and churu among others that are harvested every ninth month of the Bhutanese calendar.

“After all the ingredients are ready, I mix the them and treat patients on good days or zakar.”  He doesn’t treat other times. But some people come in an emergency and insists me to give them the herbs.”

Khotsa receives about five patients everyday. His treatment is free. In the end, many offer him money in gratitude up Nu 1,000.

“Whatever I am doing is because I want to help people with whatever little knowledge I’ve,” he said.

Yangchen C Rinzin |  Samdrupjongkhar