Dr. Maryanne Lobo is a holistic health expert. From the age of 7, she started helping her parents in their permaculture farm. Coming from a family of traditional doctors, Dr. Maryanne did her degree in Ayurveda at the Ayurveda College, Goa. She has achieved great success in the treatment of PCOS and diabetes reversal, lifestyle disorders , weight management , stone, fertility and sports injuries like the footballers’ knees through her line of medicine.She has been practicing Ayurveda for the last 19 years. She specializes in fertility treatment, Forensic diagnosis, chronic ailments and Panchakarma. Forensic pulse diagnosis is her forte and she has patients that fly in to Goa, specially to avail of her services to diagnose critical hidden triggers to the problems they have been facing.
Maryanne organizes events to educate and promote the use of wild and exotic edibles. The events include village walks, educational walks like plateau, permaculture, and edible i.e. fruit and berry eating walks like the ‘chavath’ (festival of Ganesh) in the rain. Then there are medicinal walks where one learns to identify medicinal plants and their uses. She recently started the ‘Cook What You Forage With’ walk.” She has been invited as a speaker on various occasions to expound on diet and nutrition. She has been featured on various online platforms and panel discussions on the use of medicinal plants, biodiversity, preservation, conservation and sustainability. She has also been invited to identify and map trees, besides being a proud owner of a heirloom seed bank and a community wellness initiative called “WOMEN YOU ARE WORTH IT.” With her vast experience in permaculture, Dr Maryanne grows part of the food she eats. Her vision is to bring forth a healthy generation.
Introduced to the World of Plants
Says Dr. Maryanne, “I was introduced to nature and plants from the early age of 4. My grandfather wanted to be a doctor, but due to financial reasons had to take up the family business of farming. Our family practices the principle of permaculture and organic farming since the time it was not even a buzzword. My grand-dad took up learning about medicinal plants through books and from the elders of the previous generation. He learnt about traditional healing practices and even consulted as a‘barefoot doctor’. “My grand-aunt was a trained nurse at the Parsi Hospital in Mumbai. She also learnt and practiced traditional medicine. People from in and around the village used to come to her to collect a preparation that she would prepare to heal fractures and torn ligaments”, she says. Dr. Maryanne now prepares this over 200 year old remedy. The ointment consists of a variety of herbs hand picked from the forest, then aged in alcohol for a period of two years.
As a young child, Maryanne loved to be around her grand-aunt in whose care she was left with as both her parents were teachers. “She is the one who taught me the way with plants. She thought of a really ingenious way to deal with my mischievous and hyperactive nature.” Her grand-aunt had to invent ways to keep her occupied, so she taught her about plants, their shapes, sizes, textures etc. and also prepared various other medicines.
The lack of food and vegetables, during the first wave of Covid 19 pandemic was a turning point in Maryanne’s life. She realised how little she knew about plants and their healing properties.
One night, when Maryanne was 6 years old, the electric iron was left on. Maryanne burnt her hand from elbow to wrist. To relieve her from her discomfort caused due to the burn, her grand-aunt went out into the dark night to fetch a banana leaf. She calmly and soothingly wrapped the leaf over Maryanne’s burnt hand.
Though the stinging ceased instantly, the discomfort took a bit longer. By the morning, the pain had disappeared completely. “When my grand-aunt untied the leaf, voila! There was no trace of the burn. This incident left a deep impression on me and I developed a deeper interest in plants from then on”, she says.
Maryanne says that her father was greatly influenced by Masanobu Fukuoka, a Japanese farmer who celebrated the natural farming method and re vegetation of desert lands. Her father taught her all he learnt by reading Masanobu’s book and following the practices of the ‘Ramon Magsaysay’ award winner, Vandana Shiva.
Vandana, who was popularly known as ‘Gandhi of Grain’, was a firebrand woman who preached what she believed in – the importance of food sovereignty, seed saving and heirloom seeds. “She argued in favour of many traditional practices and has left a great influence on my life”, says Dr. Maryanne.
Fond Childhood Memories
Maryanne’s father used to make her and her sister stand around every plant he planted in the farmstead and used to give them a brief about their importance. “Besides getting us to plant with him, he used to also teach us that ‘if you cut one tree, plant 6 in place of it’, so that the damage to the ecosystem may be less.
Rare plants in Goa
- Nandruk (FICUS variety )
- Fern edible species
- Indigenous ground orchids
Carrying forward this knowledge to Gen-Next
Dr. Maryanne suggests: “Listen to the older generation and grandparents for the verbal hand-me-down knowledge bank they possess. Learn about the different medicinal uses of plants around you from them. Pass on this knowledge in documented form to the younger generation so that nothing gets lost in translation. And also by changing the narratives in nature education.”
Identifying a poisonous plant
“Nature is a carer and a protector first. It also gives out signs if anything is dangerous or to be avoided. It’s like saying “Watch Out!,” “Alert!” Plants that have attractively colourful flowers are usually said to be poisonous. That’s the giveaway for a poisonous plant e.g. the Glory Lily and the Oleander flower.
Recommended 3 plants for everyday use
- Lemongrass or Ajwain plant (odtelao)
Maryanne’s nature walks or plant walks are carried out mainly to educate people on the medicinal uses of plants around us. The walks are called ‘Pharmacy in your Backyard’ and are about local, seasonal and sustainable vegetation.
“We did our first walk in December 2020. The walks are educational and an interactive and fun way to learn to identify edible plants in the wild and how they can be incorporated into our food systems.”
Says Maryanne, “I do not do this full time as yet as I am a practicing doctor. I have no Godfather in this field, so have had to rough it out and work hard to see the message of the inclusivity of plants being incorporated as part of our life and lifestyle.”
“My legacy is that ‘Each one together builds a community,’ and ‘Alone we cannot do much, but together we can see a change in society and our communities.’ We can teach people to go back to nature and learn our basic lessons from nature.”
Dr Maryanne Lobo, B.A.M.S (Ayurvedacharya)
Office No.1, Second Floor,
Vaman Smruti Apartments,
Mapusa, Bardez, Goa – 403521
Email: [email protected]
To know more about Dr. Maryanne and her PlantWalks, follow her on Instagram at: