Here’s a cow story you haven’t heard yet.While the country has just started to move on from a very lengthy and futile debate on cows and how they fare vis a vis people of various communities, a hospital in Gujarat has done something pretty incredible. It has gone ahead and discovered invaluable use of the cow’s urine, milk and other substances in the treatment of cancer!That’s right – cowpathy (a newly-coined term) and ‘panchgavya’, the medicine that is prepared using five substances obtained from cows – is being practised and administered respectively, at the Sheth RM Dhariwal Cancer Hospital at Valsad. The novel practice has seen a steady increase in the number of patients over the years – and why ever not? Treatments here are priced at as low as Re 1 a day!Where it all BeganStarted under the aegis of Prabhav Hem Kamdhenu GiriVihar Trust, the unique hospital runs entirely on donations of Jain business families. In fact, a Jain monk – Acharya Sri Vijay Hemprabha Surishwar Ji – guided the trust to first establish a gaushala, a panjrapole (animal shelter that houses 1500 rescued animals) and a modern hospital in Palitana (one of the biggest pilgrimages of Jainism).Later, when the milk from the cows in the gaushala started serving close to 1000 temples around Palitana itself, the trust brought in Ayurveda experts to study and research the medicinal value of the substances obtained from a cow – namely its milk, urine, dung, curd and ghee. That is how the panchgavya, which is a combination of all five things, came into existence.The trust built the hospital in Valsad and dedicated itself to treating cancer using panchgavya on patients. The medicine is applied as a paste on patients. How Does the ‘Cow Medicine’ Work?How does this work though? The hospital explains:Cancer cells don’t multiply because panchgavya is an eco-friendly substance. It helps flush out the cancerous toxins through motions.Senior staff member, Sheth RM Dhariwal Cancer HospitalThere are many who have survived cancer through cowpathy. Vidya Patel, a 50-year-old woman from Uttar Pradesh, came with stage 1 mouth cancer, caused by her gutkha habit.I tried this line of treatment because, unlike chemotherapy, this has no side effects. Fortunately, the entire routine at the hospital not only helped me survive cancer but strengthened me mentally as a person. Now I am better prepared to battle any disease.Vidya Patel, cancer survivorThe 600 cows from the gaushala, providing the said medicines aren’t Jersey cows or of the Shankara type; they are sturdy desis, who are fed a healthy diet along with ayurvedic herbs like ashwagandha. “These are no ordinary cows, they are helping treat millions. That is why feeding them good food is imperative,” announces Vighn Prabh Vijay ji Maharaj, a Jain monk who visits the hospital frequently to share spiritual discourses with patients.How is the Cancer Actually Treated?The therapy is simple;Any patient, who checks in, is kept for 11 days, during which no meat is given and no tobacco, gutkha or addictions are allowed.The panchgavya is given in regulated doses by the doctors.Daily walks, healthy vegetarian breakfast, lunch and dinner along with spiritual discourse or meditation are part of the patient’s routine.Manitesh Sharma vouches for the treatment. When he developed sores all over his body, nobody in his home town in Uttar Pradesh had a cure to the malady. He was finally taken to Madras, where he was given chemotherapy. Soon, the 25-year-old recovered and returned home. But later, he caught a cold that refused to heal. After another round of tests, it was declared that he had cancer. Struck by the misfortune, the family was ready to try anything to save him – when they came across this hospital.I had come with very little expectations. But the treatment worked. I have recovered from cancer but to prevent a relapse, I now live an addiction-free life.Manitesh Sharma, cancer survivorAll For Re 1The hospital is extremely pocket-friendly – especially for those who are not so privileged. For medicine, food and accommodation, a patient is charged Re 1 a day. The person who accompanies the patient has to pay Re1 for each meal though.The place gets 2,400 to 3,600 patients a year and spends close to Rs 5 crore annually. Everything is done through donations.Cancer is a disease that alters a person psychologically as well as physically. Our line of treatment not only reduces the pain but also frees the mind of stress regarding the disease. Half the job is done by the peaceful routine and surroundings itself.Senior staff member, Sheth RM Dhariwal Cancer HospitalPerhaps the most important detail?People of all communities are welcome at the health centre, adds the staff member.(Runa Mukherjee Parikh has written on women, culture, social issues, education and animals, with The Times of India, India Today and IBN Live. When not hounding for stories, she can be found petting dogs, watching sitcoms or travelling. A big believer in ‘animals come before humans’, she is currently struggling to make sense of her Bengali-Gujarati lifestyle in Ahmedabad.) We'll get through this! Meanwhile, here's all you need to know about the Coronavirus outbreak to keep yourself safe, informed, and updated. The Quint is now available on Telegram & WhatsApp too, Click here to join.