Renaissance In Ayurveda
Ayurveda, the ancient medical system, is considered as one of the best ways to treat diseases and to lead a healthy lifestyle. Moreover, it gained attention, as the government of India has pitched for use of Ayurvedic formulations to boost immunity in its efforts to fight COVID-19 pandemic.Further, the government has announced innovative clinical drug trials to evaluate the safe and effective use of selected and standardised Ayurvedic medicines in the prophylaxis and treatment of COVID-19.Given the increasing significance of Ayurveda in treating modern diseases, it is now poised to truly and actively participate in the health and medical care system. Thus, there is a need to fast track its progress and transformation into a modern vibrant health and medical system.However in undergoing such transformation there are several challenges and issues yet to be resolved.
In Ayurveda it is believed living man is a conglomeration of three humors (Vata, Pitta & Kapha), seven basic tissues (Rasa, Rakta, Mansa, Meda, Asthi, Majja & Shukra) and the waste products of the body i.e. mala, mutra and sweda.The growth and decay of this body matrix and its constituents revolve psychological mechanisms of these elements and its balance is the main reason for the state of one’s health.The treatment approach in the Ayurveda system is holistic and individualized having preventive, curative, mitigative, recuperative and rehabilitative aspects.The principal objectives of Ayurveda are maintenance and promotion of health,
Post-Independent India: It was suggested that Ayurveda be integrated with modern medicine. It was argued that a united system would be more perfect than the Ayurveda as an individual science.Though there were islands of excellence in the old Ayurveda institutions in Kolkata, Benares, Haridwar, Indore, Pune, Mumbai,In the post-1960s, there was a spurt in the growth of well-planned medical colleges and universities, especially in Gujarat and Kerala.However, Ayurveda got impetus by the establishment of AYUSH (Ayurveda, Unani, Siddha and Homeopathy) Ministry in 2014. It has set up an efficient network of communications with all stakeholders and enabled education and research, conservation and preservation of Ayurveda.
The inadequacies of Ayurveda in treating acute infections and other emergencies including surgery, and lack of meaningful research in therapeutics continue to limit the universal acceptance of Ayurveda. Ayurveda therapeutics are complex and there are too many dos and don’ts.Ayurvedic medicines are slow to act and heal. It is difficult if not impossible to predict response or prognosis.
The medical practices in Ayurveda are not uniform. It is because the medicinal plants used in it vary with geography and climate and local agriculture practices. Unlike Ayurveda, in modern medicine, the diseases are classified and treated as per prior set uniform criteria.
Ayurvedic pharmacopeia industry claimed that its manufacturing practices were consistent with the classic Ayurveda texts. For better market appeal of ayurvedic medicines, the pharmaceutical companies publicised many medicinal claims about their ayurvedic products without sufficient scientific basis.This led to further obsession for drugs in the community and ailments requiring lifestyle correction were instead treated with poly-pharmacy.
In 2004, a leading American journal reported heavy metal (arsenic, mercury, lead) content in some of the Ayurveda drugs sold in the US, way beyond the allowed safety limits. This led to worldwide condemnation and the government made testing of heavy metals in herbal drugs compulsory and the industry was asked to follow WHO standards.It damaged the image of Ayurveda. It remained unexplained that hundreds of Ayurveda herbal formulations contained metals and minerals that had therapeutic properties.
During the last five decades or so, research in Ayurveda was mainly confined to hundreds of drug trials using the normal procedures that are used in other medical systems. Often it was found that standardisation of formulation and quality of methods and data in the study was substandard.
Though deeply rooted in antiquity and Hindu civilisation, Ayurveda has carried forward some of the finest traditions in healing and cure the world has ever seen. Moreover, it has undergone some transformation to suit modern India, but more is required.Thus, there is a need for state patronage, so that Ayurveda can claim its rightful place along with modern medicine as a mainstream medicinal system.