Ayurveda: Medicine Of The Future

This is the edited version of the essay that won the Third Prize in ThinkWellness360 Essay Writing Competition 2022 for Ayurveda Medical College Students. 

Words: Bharti KOTWAL

Ayurveda is, perhaps, the completest system of medicine — all by itself. It aims at living a healthy way of life. Ayurveda is an age-old science keyed to a holistic understanding of health. It caters to the whole body-mind dynamics — with a spiritual connect. Rings a bell, right — the WHO definition of health as “a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being, and not merely the absence of disease and infirmity.”

Ayurveda emphasises on a precise, pristine format of appropriate living habits — food, sleep, somatic practices, seasonal regimens etc., — than just medicines.

Ayurveda reveres and integrates the rhythms of nature. This aspect of Ayurveda provides the framework and helps us to understand why the environment has a direct and long-lasting impact on our health.

Acharya Charaka’s Sutra Sthana expatiates the most fitting mode to keep the body healthy and free of disease. His Nidana Sthana articulates the origin of disease, whose aetiology [cause] relates to defiance of standard Ayurveda practices. It also focuses on ways and means of eliminating the ‘root cause’ of disease, while giving utmost importance to the individual’s unique body constitution.

Ayurveda: Future Outlook

Ayurveda, in my view, is the future of global healthcare, as it helps treat the ‘root cause’ of disease, and not merely the symptoms. Besides, it focuses on a host of rejuvenation therapies that promotes the body-mind, as also our spiritual context.

The human gut, as we all know, has a unique horde of bacteria, just like our constitution, which is as different and unique for each of us as our fingerprint. This may lead us to the big question: how come everyone is given the same kind of treatment, for instance, in conventional medicine?

Ayurveda has a well-defined answer for it — prakriti is the basis of treating the individual, as one whole, not just parts. This relates to what is called personalised, or bespoke, medicine.

Ayurveda strongly believes that almost every illness starts in the gut, owing to poor digestion and metabolism. This creates ama and excess dosha. The outcome is obvious — it blocks the channels and affects our body functions, while the dhatus remain unnourished. Ayurveda practices strive to discern the ‘root cause,’ which is primarily wrong diet, lifestyle etc. It aims to restore our natural state of harmony by a working on and treating the fundamental cause of illness, or disease.

Heart disease, diabetes, and cancer are headline-grabbers today; they are the major causes of death across the world, a threat to our lives too. The only way to prevent oneself from disease, as Ayurveda espouses, is not getting trapped in its web, but correcting one’s agni. In other words, metabolism.

Ayurveda is our greatest hope — for not being allured by prescription drugs.

Our compromised, or flawed, lifestyle is the trigger, also the risk for diabetes, hypertension, thyroid disorders etc., — the reason being the accumulation of toxins in the body that are wont to, otherwise, get eliminated naturally by our regulatory systems, what with suitable levels of cortisol in the body. Ayurveda has a holistic prescription to rid our body of toxins — panchakarma. Acharya Charaka has written a complete sthana on panchakarmaSiddhi Sthana — the ultimate treatise on the subject

According to a study, the use of Chyawanprasha increased during the COVID-19 pandemic, because it ‘gifts’ us immunity — as Mother Nature ordained. It is just as useful for a host of diseases, including asthma. Here’s my riposte: why take medicines, when one can prevent disease with good immunity?

The world is paying a huge price for high-end, state-of-the-art, fancied procedures, not because patients can pay, but because our healthcare today demands them to pay. Ayurveda would be a good, inexpensive option — for maintenance of health and prevention of disease.

I would now like to think of a simple example to underline the point — that Ayurveda is poised to be the medicine of the future. Picture this: sitopladi churna is now prescribed to TB patients, along with first line antibacterial drugs, viz., rifampicin, isoniazid, etc., with better treatment outcomes by conventional [allopathic] physicians too. The presence of vanslochan in sitopladi is suggested to be a ‘game changer’ in the treatment of productive cough.

Let’s now look at the scientific basis for validation of Ayurveda tenets. Ayurveda, for example, recommends the use copper pot for the purification of water, because copper has antibacterial effects — be it bacteria that cause diarrhoea, vibrio cholerae, shigella flexneri etc.

Most people, owing to lack of time, stress, and other factors, report of improper bowel movements. Result: the incidence of constipation has expanded exponentially. This, when ignored, leads to anorectal problems, including piles [haemorrhoids], fistula, fissure etc. Ayurveda has, doubtless, the most suitable treatment plan for such ‘gut-triggered’ disorders. The use of Kshara Sutra is, for instance, the first choice of patients to escape from the possibility, or complications, of surgery.

Agni Karma is, likewise, evidenced to be therapeutically useful in chronic pain.

Interestingly, there are certain examples, where Ayurveda and conventional medicine, when used side-by-side, gives good results — more so, when the aim is to provide tangible relief to the patient, especially in rheumatoid arthritis, a chronic, immune-mediated disease. Methotrexate does not always provide for satisfactory results, whereas Ayurveda may provide effective results in conjunction with conventional medicine.

The panchakarma procedures have been shown to be most beneficial in pakshaghata [hemiplegia].

Ayurveda has blessed us with rasayana and vajikaran. The person who undergoes the therapy feels rejuvenated, young, healthy, vigorous and comfortable. Their lifespan is also suggested to increase, because the dhatus gets nourished. Diabetic patients, who suffer from erectile dysfunction, often report good progress after Ayurveda treatment.

There are other disorders that are not quite responsive to conventional treatment, viz., vitiligo, atopic dermatitis [eczema], psoriasis, alopecia areata, and so on. They respond with good therapeutic outcomes — with Ayurveda.

Conclusion

Ayurveda is geared to play a significant role in helping people build real, optimal health and well-being by preventing and removing the ‘root cause’ of disease. It can revolutionise modern healthcare and make it more sustainable.

With the demand for Ayurveda expanding rapidly, across the globe, the industry has to upscale and boost AYUSH exports. This is the need of the hour.

The only thing Ayurveda may, perhaps, lack is high-tech research — especially with regard to the pharmacological activity of certain drugs, albeit they have been found to be as effective as they were when our ancient Acharyas compiled their treatises.

The Acharyas have also documented everything for every kind of infirmity.

It is high time we have the confidence to take Ayurveda where it ought to be and make it successful. The failure, if any, is not, of course, with Ayurveda, but certain ‘proponents,’ who aren’t capable enough to understanding its depth. Ayurveda is so deep that not everyone can understand it. It is best understood by individuals with vision, enthusiasm, and dedication — in other words, by vaidyas who are passionate and also ‘fixated’ to grasp and imbibe its essentials, or the real nectar of knowledge from its source.

BHARTI KOTWAL is a Final BAMS student @ Government Ayurvedic Medical College, Jammu, J&K, India [Subject Photograph: Courtesy, Kerala Tourism]

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