Aum Pedon, a 65-year-old woman from Punakha is a natural dentist in her own ways. Popularly known as the ‘toothache healer’, she is known to fix the most excruciating pain cause by a toothache, the traditional way.
Many people suffering from toothache, one of the most painful health problems experienced either chronicallyor sporadically, who have heard of Aum Pedon’s magic would make a definite trip to see her and request her to heal their ailment for good.
Aum Pedon begins each of her indigenous medication with pouring a bowl of water and placing a stone in the centre while heating another stone of the same size with flames.
In the meantime, fermented pork is mashed till it transformed into butter-like paste which is then mixed with ripe black seeds of Datura (Datura stramonium), a plant also known as the angel’s trumpet.
The heated stones are then thrown into the mixture of fermented pork and Datura seeds in an earthen pot which sends out plumes of steam. The pot is sealed except for a small hole to let in a bamboo pipe.
The open end of the bamboo pipe is placed right on the bottom of the gums or toothache area and patients would be asked to draw in and blow out smokes. The process is repeated for almost an hour with more heated stones and a refuel of more mixtures.
She has neither learnt the art from any teacher nor inherited it from her family members but claims to have mastered the art on her own. “I, myself, suffered toothache from very young age,” divulged Aum Pedon showing her bad set of teeth now stained with doma. So, she claims like it is the hungry stomach that trained the cook. “The unending toothache that bothered me for half of my life, compelled me to find the solution,” she added.
The Bhutanese caught up with a patient who has recovered from a toothache long time back through Aum Pedon’s treatment. “Unlike the dentists, her medication started right away and I am overwhelmed that toothache doesn’t bother me anymore. It is effective,” he added.
However, her art is on the verge of extinction as she is the lone individual alive who has the adequate talent to treat patients.
Dophu, her neighbor said the art would die with her. “No one has inherited such traditional toothache healing tactics from her as of now,” he said.
The patients also shared that while modern medical care is important, it is also the traditional counterpart which should be conserved. “Had I opted to see dentist, they would have removed one of my teeth,” said Dechen Dema, a patient. She added that while both served the same purpose of healing the toothache, the traditional one do not entail removal of teeth.
Dentists at hospitals prescribe medications to a patient before removing or treating a severe toothache in order to reduce the pain. While dentists have their own medical explanation, but then on a layman perspective, people seem to question why anyone would want to lose one tooth, if at all, the pain subsides.
Few others the paper talked to believe that such unorthodox method deserve equal effort to keep it alive. Traditional healing method of this kind, one respondent said does exist for other caries such as bone dislocation or fractures among others.
“Some people could fix dislocated joints, and even broken bones,” Aum Pedon said. “There are traditional healing methods for every ailment. In the past, without modern or scientific cure, the answer was always healing through traditional knowledge,” she reckoned.