Dr. K.V. Narasimha Raju Ph.D (P.G. Dept. of Panchakarma, N.I.A., Jaipur)
Dr. B. Swapna( Lecturer, Dept. of Shalya tantra, N.I.A., Jaipur)
Prof. Radhey Shyam Sharma (Emeritus Professor, P.G. Dept. of Panchakarma,N.I.A, Jaipur)
W.H.O, with its declarations and health reports is said to be recognizing Ayurveda, the ‘Conventional Wisdom of Life Attuning Nature’, which has a history that dates back to 5000yrs, as an emerging Health Care System with comprehensive and contemporary modules towards life. The epidemic threats, life style disorders and pollution hazards were foreseen and remedial elaborations were given in Ayurvedic texts which are cynosure for the global medical fraternity. Ayurveda is being served academically and clinically and has attained a reputed status in its indigenous India. Major stakes in herbal trade, holistic treatments with panchakarma and dietetics, eco-friendly postulations etc., have made ayurveda an indispensable adaptation to the generation next. The present article highlights the efficacy, health contributions, upliftment, National & International scenario and prospects of Ayurveda.
Key words: Deciphering, Contemporary, Herbal Trade, Health Care, Dietetics, Pandemics.
Medical science is advancing by leaps and bounds, exploring the intricacies and unraveling the mysteries of human life.
Ever since the dawn of his turbulent history, man has evolved several ways of coping with illness. Eventually every country has developed a medical system presenting a unique configuration designed to be compatible with its own future and meeting the needs of its own population. Thus the ‘Traditional medicine’ which is full of experiences, astute observations and fancy formulae reflecting a combination of inspiration, intuition, information, facts and results has incarnated.
A group of experts at a WHO sponsored meeting at Brozzaville in 1976 has defined Traditional medicine as ‘the sum total of all knowledge and practices and elimination of physical, mental or social imbalance and relying exclusively on practical experience and observations handed down from generations to generations, verbally or in writing’.
It has been said that ‘the spirit must lean on science as a guide in the world of reality and that science must turn to the spirit for the meaning of life’, and there exists an indigenous system which deals and co-exists with life, ‘Ayurveda’, construed as ‘Conventional Wisdom of Life Attuning Nature’, with an impressive evolutionary history that spans a period of over 5000yrs. The origins of other medical systems can be traced to Ayurveda, ‘The Mother of all Health Care’.
When the history of medicine is observed, one finds it difficult to locate the time of separation of modern medicine from this Traditional medicine. And it is to note that in a WHO publication, John Canary said ‘the earliest beginnings of modern medicine appear to include detailed description of medical condition including Diabetes, found in Vedic Hymns’.1.
Even, ‘Encyclopedia Americana’ (1985) mentions that ‘Echoes of Indian classical medicine are traceable in the works of Hippocrates and Plato Timaens’.
If Ayurveda is looked in the light of contemporary medical thought, one finds that it is an extremely precise science elucidating several intricate exercises in logic and offering a system which emphasizes promotion and preservation of Health.
Ayurveda explored the secrets of nature, by way of substantiated hypothesis, without experimental analysis. Every fact of observation has been constantly reexamined for a number of centuries. However, some concepts are apparently beyond the realm of rational and experimental analysis in contemporary terms. This is enunciated in the words of Charakacharya that ‘there is very little that can be obtained from direct proof. The province beyond direct experimental evidence is vast’.2
Sanctified, as they are, by time and experience, the Ayurvedic doctrines, concepts and principles have a great deal to contribute to the world of Medicine today. Herein the hitherto elusive concepts of Ayurveda are explored in terms of contemporary scientific thought.
Ayurveda engenders life and fosters the reconciliation among Body, Mind and Soul.3 This system understands human being as the epitome of microcosm and a creature of relatively smaller external environment in whom the organoleptic properties of sentient material are oligodynamic in nature.
Dosha: The 3 primary functional forces viz, Vata(motion), Pitta(energy), Kapha(inertia), produced and regulated endogenously are the irreducible system and sustain the whole body metabolism by controlling the cellular function and altering the milieu interior in a very subtle but intricate manner.
The concept of Humors existed in western medicine since the time of Galen. Empedocles of Agrigentum (Fire, Earth, Air, Water) and Aristotle (Blood, Phlegm, Yellow bile, Black bile) believed in the existence of 4 humors.4 Later in medieval times it is Temperaments (Sanguine, Phlegmatic, Melancholy, Choleric).5.
Though the concept of humors as such does not exist, we know that cellular integrity is dependent on certain extracellular factors governing the functioning of intracellular organelles, well supporting Ayurveda.
Dhatu: Seven basic functional units of the body, represented by cell groups, known since the time of Virchow. These form tissues, organs and finally organism.
With the advent of cell culture techniques it is known that Serum, with isolated Growth Factors (PDGF) is highly beneficial for multiplication and propagation of cells invitro. But, an abnormal amount of the same is implicated in diseases like atherosclerosis and cancer, which explains the Ayurvedic concepts of disease occurring due to excess or imbalance of normally occurring endogenous system.
An interdependence of different Dhatus is proved through Clonal Assay system and Cell Separation technology which shows that the Haemopoietic progenitor cells mature to form peripheral blood cells under the influence of Secretory products of peripheral cellular elements. In terms of Ayurvedic hierarchy, Rasa generates Rakta.
Mala: The knowledge of oxygen derived free radicals best proves the production of metabolic end products from the cells. They are essential for normal metabolism but are destructive unless tightly controlled.
Free radicals produced by leucocytes during respiratory burst helps in bactericidal function but if produced in excess may cause tissue damage as in Rheumatoid and Gouty arthritis.
Srotas: Srotas when translated as ‘Channels’ are restricted to blood vessels and lymphatics which carry nutrients to different tissues. If one interprets as ‘Receptor-Channel’ mechanism, the area of molecular biology opens up exciting possibilities to explain how a Srotas can be specific for the modifications by physiological and pathological processes.
Agni: This is the subtle heat in the form of enzymes or hormone molecules existing in its own locus in all tissues and is responsible for their proper functioning and development. It comprehends all the Bio-Physical and Bio-Chemical sequences in a living organism.
It appears proper at this juncture to quote Zimmer, a scholar in Hindu Medicine who said about Ayurveda that ‘There lurks a secret truth from which modern research might take its flight towards a new insight’.6
Health is the primary requisite for the pursuit of the highest goals of life and human being is constantly called upon to adapt and condition his internal environment in tandem with the ever-changing vicissitudes of external environment and maintain steady state equilibrium of Dosha, Agni, Dhatu and Mala – a comprehensive and ever contemporary perception of ‘Health’ in Ayurveda.7
A true articulation of this explanation is given by WHO which defined Health as ‘A state of complete physical, mental and social well being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity’.8
The inability of man to achieve and maintain his internal equilibrium due to varied etiology, dietary indiscretions or emotional stressors etc will initiate the process of disease.
A six staged morphology of pathogenesis i.e., Shatkriyakalas ,9 and a fivefold aetiopathological considerations i.e., Nidana Panchaka are comprehensive tools for clinical approach.
A quote by Charaka which says that ‘Those alone are wise who act after investigation’ is a sine qua non for disease diagnosis.10
‘Life’, the purview of Ayurveda, connotes a combination of Shareera (body), Indriya(perceptors), Satwa(mind) and Atma(soul).11 Soul, an imbroglio to other medical systems is one among the treatment concerns of Ayurveda, which emphasizes the holistic approach of its therapeutics.
The redemptive power of Ayurveda is appreciated as the herbal and mineral drugs used concomitantly with the purificatory procedures exert their effect not only for prophylactic and therapeutic purposes but also for convalescence, concupiscence and rejuvenescence.
Preventive, Conservative and Preservative objectives are achieved by Rasayana and Vajikarana which bestow longevity, reproductivity and homeostasis.
Cure is obtained through Samshodhana(alleviation) and Samshamana(palliative) methods while Dinacharya(daily routine), Ritucharya(seasonal routine) and Sadvrittha(ethical routine) forms the therapeutic adjuvants.
*( See Schematic Diagram 1 & 2 )
Contrary to the present trend of specialization for the treatment of diseases in different parts of body in isolation, Ayurveda believes in the functional unity of the body as a whole and no disease is ever treated in isolation. While modern treatment remains disease – oriented, Ayurveda is always patient – oriented.
Following western colonization, Ayurveda was relegated to the background. But over the past more than half a century this system has reemerged and is now a well documented, full-fledged medical practice with training upto PG & PhD levels. Now Ayurveda has crossed the boundaries of India to reach other parts of the world.
As a result of greater interest in the use of medicinal plants, research efforts and the resultant literature have increased manifold during the last 3 decades. In this context, the importance of services for systematic collection, processing, storage and dissemination of information on medicinal plants cannot be overstated.
National Agricultural Library, American Chemical Society (ACS) and Biosciences Information Services (BIOSIS) are the suppliers of software information.
WHO document DPM 80.3, Chopra’s ‘Indigenous Drugs of India’, Kirtikar & Basu’s ‘Indian Medicinal Plants’ & ‘Glossary of Indian Medicinal Plants’, Council for Scientific & Industrial Research (CSIR), Medicinal Plants of India – Vol I &II (ICMR) and ‘Wealth of India’ (20 volumes) are the comprehensive and authentic sources for information on medicinal plants.
International Journal of Ayurvedic Research (IJAR), Global Ayurveda and Indian Journal of Medical Research (IJMR) are a few sources of current research works.
Ayurveda being indigenous to India derives the current research information from Central Council for Research in Ayurveda and Siddha (CCRAS), National Information Centre for Drugs And Pharmaceuticals (NICDAP), CSIR, National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM), Medicinal and Aromatic Plants Information Services (MAPIS) etc.
A number of world bodies like WHO, UNIDO and UNESCO have pinned their faith in traditional medicinal systems like Ayurveda.
Due to interest of people and support of government organizations, a number of private and semi – private organizations have mushroomed all over the world. Society Of Ancient Medicines, Platonic Academy Of Herbal Studies, European Society For Ayurveda-Holland, International Association For Ayurveda And Naturopathy-France, Centre For Science And Culture-Singapore, Lestari Foundation-Indonesia, School Of Ayurveda-Australia, Shivanand Institute Of Health-Bahamas, Wellpark College Of Natural Therapies- Newzealand—-to name a few.
Medicinal plants form a significant and economically important group of products in international trade.
The trade statistics (ITC, UNCTAD/GATT, Geneva) shows that import of medicinal plants increased from $355 million in 1976 to $551 million in 1980. According to UNCTAD / WTO, sales of herbal medicine alone exceeded $12.5 billion in 1994 and $ 30 billion in 2000.
Substantial markets have developed in Infusions & Medicinal Teas in France and Germany. A number of Pharmaceutical manufacturers have set up Health food divisions, such as Beecham in U.K with sales turnover of about £ 200 million. Herbal preparations are even in greater demand in European countries than in U.K, attaining a ‘Green Sweep’ status.
A concerted effort has been made by governments, trade unions, charities, religious bodies and coordinated bodies to deliver planned health care which touches everyone and embraces all goods and services designed to promote health, whether directed to individuals or to population.
But, as the countries grapple with basic issues, new challenges are emerging in the face of depleting resources and today’s health care system poses new risks and uncertainties for access to quality care particularly for those suffering from chronic diseases.
An ideal health care system as defined in Ayurveda is ‘one which cures a disease without causing or precipitating other illnesses’.12.
Ayurveda in India is regulated by Deptt. Of AYUSH, while the Modern medical system by Medical Council of India (MCI). In 1946 Bhore Committee recognized the socialization of medicine through Primary Health Care (PHC) long before it was conceived by WHO and expressed in Alma Ata Declaration in 1970s. World Health Report – 2008 (Now More Than Ever) is completely dedicated to Primary Health Care.
Indian government implemented ‘National Rural Health Mission’ (NRHM) in 2005 to dispense integrated Health Care System, which remarkably uplifted Ayurveda. The mission concentrates on a few key health indicators like Infant Mortality Rate, Maternal Mortality Ratio, Vaccination Coverage and Percentage of Institutional Delivery to be accomplished by 2012.13
Thus, world is beckoning Ayurveda, the oldest and ever contemporary Health care system for its conducive and futuristic methodologies.
*( See Schematic Diagram 3 )
‘Some people live to eat, while others eat to live’, but the tragic fact is most people of this generation are actually eating to die or at least exist in a sort of living death. ‘Chinese Restaurant Syndrome’, ‘Junk Food Syndrome’ And ‘Gastro Intestinal Syndrome’ have proved this.
A host of recommendations in Ayurveda laid emphasis on Pathyam– a moderation in food intake and a balanced therapeutic diet which enhances the physiological state of the individual and the drug action.
A vivid portrayal in Ayurveda explains that the wholesome nutrition consumed in the form of Eatables, Drinks, Electuries and Masticables will imbue entire body where in the metabolic process proceeds without respite and growth, strength, complexion, happiness and life are attained.14
Ayurvedic system has been practiced for a number of centuries which has an inbuilt safety device whereby ineffective or toxic remedies are dropped from use over time, while those which are curative are used increasingly.
‘Nothing exists in the realm of thought or experience that cannot be used as a medicine. An appropriate substance only needs to be used appropriately to be effective’- well said by Charakaacharya.17
He even cautions that ‘a drug that is not understood perfectly is equal to poison, while that understood is comparable to ambrosia’. 18
Every Medical system is bound to bear the brunt of disadvantages and limitations. Ayurveda vindicates the prevailing false notion regarding the metallic preparations by saying that ‘ even a potent poison is converted into an excellent medicine by the right method of preparation and usage, while a good medicine may act as strong poison if improperly administered’.19 This gives the notice for a proper manufacture.
And, Father J. Gnelian, a Philippine Priest says about Ayurveda that ‘our medicine has no side effects, only side benefits’20– an establishment out of experience.
The adventitious disease is treated surgically, the physical disease medically, the mental disease psychologically and natural disease spiritually – this is Ayurveda in a nut shell.
Panchakarma is an imperative and indispensible treatment speciality and a realm where the holistic principles are unleashed in their full strength. Five different therapies encompassed are Vamana (emesis), Virechana (purgation), Vasti (enema), Nasya (nasal medication) and Rakta Mokshana (blood letting).
In its Traditional Medicine Strategy, WHO in 2001 conducted a meeting exclusively on Panchakarma which is first of its kind, where they discussed the explorable areas.21
Life is a constant and continuous union and amalgamation of body, Senses, Mind and Soul. Basic principles of Ayurveda are eternal truths as they are based on sound scientific facts. It is a system rooted in nature’s wealth and man’s relation to the universe. In short it is a lifestyle programme that includes learning what to eat and how to live.
Globalization and Industrialization rendered a mechanical life to the modern man and eventually the vulnerability of body organs is emerging as life style disorder.
Ayurveda framed the phenomenal moieties – Swasthavrittha (Daily & Seasonal healthy routine), Achara Rasayana (Code of impressive conduct) and Sadvrittha (Practice of impressive conduct) to improvise quality of life style.
Rasayana, the Rejuvenation and a Prohost therapy which imparts Immunomodulation is substantiated by Psycho-Neuro-Immunology (PNI) studies, proving detrimental to life style disorders.
Yoga and Callisthenics plays sheet anchor role in maintaining the integrity of cells for a disease free body & mind.22
Pandemics, the threats of generation next, are posing challenge to the universal medical systems while the beleaguered nations beset with anxiety and seek to douse the prevailing panic.
There is an understandable inclination to proactively treat the pandemics like Chikungunya and Swine flu and in this regard the health services are mounting a containment response involving Case Isolation and Contact Tracing. Despite medical care there is compounding loss of lives.
A well established citation in Ayurveda, Janapadodhwamsa (Epidemic / Pandemic) spelt out a series of strategic steps involving Panchakarma and Rasayana therapies as the main line treatment.23
With these, Ayurveda extended its healing hand, well appreciated by the medical fraternity. Ayurvedic medicines have been beneficial to the patient and the Nation in case of Chikungunya.
Swine flu has been intractable so far and earned itself the notorious distinction of being the fastest-moving pandemic in history, due to the permutation combinations of two surface antigens making the virus invincible.
Prof. B.M. Hegde in this regard appraised that ‘Ayurveda is now known to modern hi-tech science to be better than most chemicals. There are wonderful and very effective methods of immune boosting in Ayurveda and one must take advantage of these in the stressful times’.24
Douglas C. Wallace, a noted Geneticist in US, after performing ultramodern tests using MITO CHIP made of mtDNAs said that ‘Herbal drugs are the right choice for therapeutics’, thus proving the scientific mettle of Ayurveda.25
*( See Schematic Diagram 4 )
Ayurveda is a traditional & axiomatic science and by far the most veracious, empirical and perpetual Health Care System existing on earth which seeks exploration of its potential principles and integration with the technical breakthroughs.
Need based strategy is the need of the hour for a Health Care System which should operate not only taking modern advancements but also traditional fundamentals into consideration.
Galenberg A.J. ‘Tyrosine for the treatment of depression’. American Journal of Psychiatry.