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Special Content

Issue no 31, 29 October - 4 November 2022

Ayurveda Shows the Way of Healthy Life


Suvidha Kumra

Ayurveda can play an important role in helping the masses in leading a diseasefree, healthy and long life, both physical and mental. The potential of Ayurveda in maintaining a healthy life is immense. It can contribute significantly in lowering the burden of noncommunicable diseases in India. Ayurveda not only has treatments but it also teaches such a way of living, which leads to a long and happy life. The three doshas of Vata, Pitta and Kapha are very important in Ayurveda. According to Ayurveda, we can avoid many diseases by maintaining a balance of Vata, Pitta and Kapha in our bodies. When this balance is disturbed, diseases start dominating the body. In Ayurveda, the emphasis is laid on developing immunity. This stream of medicines uses herbal remedies, home remedies, ayurvedic medicines, dietary modifications, massages and meditation to develop immunity and treat various diseases. According to Ayurveda, a healthy metabolic system, good digestion and proper excretion contribute to vitality. It also stresses on the importance of exercise, yoga, meditation and massage. Ayurveda offers permanent solutions to many otherwise incurable and lifestyle diseases like diabetes, joint pain, hyper tension and heart problems. It not only cures, but also protects health. It is a science of life with a holistic approach to health and personalized medicine. According to the World Health Organization, about 70-80% of the world population rely on nonconventional medicines mainly from herbal sources in their healthcare. The main reasons for this are the easy availability of these medicines at a very low cost, expensive treatment by modern system and side effects of Allopathic medicines. There is an urgent need to raise awareness about the strength of Ayurveda treatment. India has a rich resource for plant-based medicines along with an ancient glorious history of practicing Ayurveda Shashtra. Recently, as a result of the steps taken by the Ministry of AYUSH, awareness of Ayurveda has increased among the masses. A large number of people have started looking for the alternatives of modern medicine. In such a situation, Ayurvedic experts will have to prepare themselves through new researches. Ayurvedic treatment is quite effective. But, at the same time, there are still works to be done in the direction of research, pharmacology and pharmacovigilance of many important Ayurvedic medicines. In order to popularize Ayurveda, there is a need to emphasize on improving research methodology with main emphasis on fundamental research. Research methodology is a method of systematic collection, analysis and interpretation of data. This endeavour will certainly encourage young researchers to work on different areas of research for the development and promotion of Ayurveda. In addition, there is a need to present a comprehensive knowledge of the basic ideologies of Ayurveda with a scientific approach. Besides this, like modern medical systems, there is an urgent need to validate Ayurvedic medicines through advanced research. Ayurvedic treatment is more effective in most of the chronic and lifestyle diseases. Nevertheless, in comparison to Allopathic treatment, the popularity of Ayurveda is rather less. The majority of the people prefer modern medicines because they give fast relief from diseases as compared to Ayurvedic treatment. The Ministry of AYUSH has played a pivotal role in introducing and promoting Indian Systems of Medicine globally in the current pandemic scenario. Ayurveda has made a mark by providing prophylactic solutions, viability of many of which has been established through scientific studies. The Ministry has accepted the need for forging partnerships with likeminded and stake-holding institutions for increasing the depth and scope of AYUSH Health Solutions that are available to the public. The importance of Ayurveda in India is not needed to be proved to the people, authorities and scientific community. It is a well recognized traditional system of medicine in our country. But, at the same time, there is a need for fundamental research in Ayurveda so that the tremendous knowledge can be refreshed and upgraded. This type of research will surely advance the knowledge of Ayurveda, which will not only benefit India but the whole world. As research is a process that converts data into information and information into knowledge, this will give wide recognition to Ayurveda. The fundamental research in Ayurveda caters demands of the society and the medical fraternity. The modern scientific research has been initiated in Ayurveda in the field of basic principles. The aim of this basic research is to explore the scientific innovations and opportunities in fundamental concepts of Ayurveda. The fundamental research includes replacement of faith and suppositions with the scientific reasoning complimented with the facts and figures. Such researches generated a lot of interest in researchers towards herbal medicines. Consequently, in the last decade a demand of Ayurveda and other traditional medicines has increased in the medical world. Over the years, the Central Council for Research in Ayurvedic Sciences (CCRAS), an autonomous body of the Ministry of AYUSH, has been working to formulate, coordinate, develop and promote research activities in traditional systems of medicines for various diseases. At present, 30 Research Institutes are functioning under CCRAS. Council has developed anti-diabetic drug AYUSH-82, AYUSH-SG for Rheumatoid Arthritis, AYUSH-PJ7 for Dengue, AYUSH-SL for Filariasis, AYUSH 64 for Malaria, AYUSH-Rasayan - A&B for Geriatric Health and AYUSH M-3 for Migraine. It has also developed AYUSH-QOL-2C for improving Quality of life of breast & cervical cancer patients in collaboration with All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), Delhi and St. Jones Medical College (Bengaluru). In addition to this, CCRAS has validated 82 classical Ayurvedic formulations and 11 new drugs on more than 32 disease conditions, lifestyle diseases such as Diabetes, Bronchial Asthma, Hypertension, Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), Iron Deficiency Anaemia, Osteoarthritis, Rheumatoid arthritis, Haemorrhoids, Computer Vision Syndrome, Obesity etc. As a result of the research done by the council, a scope has emerged for treatment of diseases like Arthritis, Diabetes, Reproductive Health, Malaria and Skin Disorders. The Council's results on patient care activities, commercialization of technologies, Support to AYUSH system in standardization of Ayurveda medicines, Launch of PhD Fellowship Scheme and AYUSH Research Portal, publication of documents relevant to clinical care, Research studies for the safety profile of commonly used Ayurveda drugs and development of Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) for clinical research have been extremely encouraging. The Government of India has decided to celebrate Dhanwantari Jayanti every year as National Ayurveda Day. Dhanwantari is said to be the originator of Ayurveda. According to the legends, he received the knowledge of Ayurveda incarnated by Brahma ji from the Lord Indra and made way for the end of many types of diseases spread in the universe. Legends say that the Ayurveda is eternal truth and timeless and Brahma himself had sent it through the gods in the dead world for the welfare of the living beings. In eight departments of Ayurveda, the treatment of various incurable diseases has been given through thousands of Sanskrit verses in Kaya Chikitsa, Pediatric Medicine, Home Medicine, Surgery, Shalakya Chikitsa, Vish Chikitsa, Geriatric Medicine, Vajikaran Medicine. Today it is very important to do research on it, so that there can be a permanent solution to the increasing diseases. Under the National AYUSH Mission, the Government of India has continuously tried to do research in Ayurveda system, but we have to think and work beyond this. Ministry of AYUSH is also implementing a Central Sector Scheme namely AYURGYAN for Research & Innovation in AYUSH. Under the scheme, financial support has been provided for 311 research projects in AYUSH including 34 research projects on COVID-19. A recent case study published in the research journal AyuHome of the North Eastern Institute of Ayurveda and Homeopathy, Shillong, has uncovered new evidence in support of the efficacy of Ayurveda in resolving Anidra (Insomnia)-related issues. Medical science has linked insufficient sleep to many health problems ranging from obesity to reduced immunity. Ayurveda also considers sleep to be very important for health. In fact, it is described as one of the Trayopastambh or the three supporting pillars of life. Ayurveda also considers sleep as one of the essential dimensions for happiness and a good life. Sleep leads to a calm mental state. According to the WHO, health is a state of complete physical, mental or social well-being, not merely the absence of disease, and sleep is its essential prerequisite. In the current times of precarious lifestyles, stress and other unpredictable environmental factors, sleep quality has become poor for a large number of people. According to estimates by the National Sleep Foundation of America, 1/3 of people worldwide suffer from sleep disorders. The study report noted that the Ayurveda treatment resulted in significant improvement in the patient's sleep. The study included thorough screening, evaluating and grading before and after treatment for all symptoms selected for evaluation. These symptoms included yawning, drowsiness, fatigue, sleep quality etc. and improvements were seen in all parameters. The author of the case study Shri Gopesh Mangal is Associate Professor and Head, PG Department of Panchakarma, National Institute of Ayurveda, Jaipur. The drug manufacturing industries and other supporting industries play an important role in the development of Ayurvedic medicines. The whole supporting system, i.e., raw material collectors, dealers, processing and manufacturing industries, Ayurveda practitioners and consumers must be encouraged. In Ayurveda, around 1100 medicinal plants are used as medicine. Today, as the demand for herbal products is increasing day by day, enough availability of raw materials with reasonable prices is a big challenge for the industries. Hence, some decisive steps must be taken by the government as well as industries itself to fulfil the supply and meet market demand. There is a need to ensure correct raw materials for the medicine and for this purpose, it is important to carefully monitor entire cycle of raw material collection such as harvesting, processing, transportation, and storage before their use. Today, the cost of health care is constantly rising, and affecting people's ability to afford health coverage. Traditional medicines are easily available on affordable prices for economically weaker countries like India. The allopathic drugs should be the last rather than first mean of treatment, beginning with the natural healing method like Ayurveda. One of the Ayurvedic treatment modalities such as Panchkarma can remove disease before its manifestation. The development of guidelines for methodology in Ayurveda requires a vast professional work by both academics and practitioners, who must have the necessary knowledge and motivation for this task. Although the research process takes time, it is the only way to overcome the difficulties in promoting Ayurveda across the world. Ayurveda can be improved by working in a coordinated and systematic manner without any bias. Therefore, there is an urgent need to design advanced research methodology for its treatment along with validation of Ayurvedic fundamentals. There is a huge difference in the approach of allopathic and ayurvedic medicines. Ayurveda has evolved into a holistic system with an understanding of physiology that enables one to maintain health and focus on health whereas Allopathy medicines can have many side effects. Similarly, Allopathy has a huge contribution in the field of emergency medicine, diagnostic technology and surgery where Ayurveda cannot compete with it. Thus, both systems should complement each other in the medical field. Ayurveda needs more research in the areas of drug research as well as fundamental principles and diagnostic tools.

(The author is Deputy Director, PIB, New Delhi. She can be reached at suvidhakumra@ gmail.com) Views expressed are personal.