‘The Essence Of Bespoke Ayurveda’

Dr Prasanna KULKARNI responds to ThinkWellness360 questionnaire. 

Why and how did you think of becoming a doctor? 

I have had, since my formative years, a profound passion, also proclivity, for traditional knowledge, juxtaposed by a strong desire to making a positive impact on people’s lives. I fully believed that Ayurveda would provide me with the best opportunity, or bid fair to the effusive idea of combining my ardent interest in biology and also helping others through diagnoses and treatment of illnesses. I found the vast complexities of the human body and the challenges presented by disease intellectually stimulating and rewarding too. What’s more, the unprompted respect and prestige associated with being a doctor also inspired me to attending and expanding on my inner call — that innate yearning to be a classical Ayurveda physician.

What made you think of, study and specialise in the system of medicine you now practice? 

I chose to specialise in the field of preventive medicine in Ayurveda — Swasthavritta — for several reasons. First and foremost, its ancient, also pristine, all-clued-up practice of the art and science of healthy living and disease prevention. I also always believed in the principle, ‘prevention is better than cure.’ In today’s fast-paced and stressful world, also lifestyle, we tend to often neglect our well-being and engage in unhealthy habits, viz., poor dietary choices, lack of exercise and chronic stress. No prizes for guessing —  our skewed choices may cumulatively trigger various health issues, including systemic disorders like diabetes, heart disease and cancer. I was also drawn to the Ayurveda doctrine of preventive medicine to empowering individuals with the knowledge and tools they’d need to leading much better, also healthier and balanced lives. The field of Swasthavritta is particularly fascinating to me, primarily because it encompasses various aspects of well-being, including appropriate daily routines, diet and nutrition, exercise, mental health and stress management.

What has been your personal and professional experience as a doctor?  

I’ve had during my 20 years of my clinical practice a deeply enriching and fulfilling journey. My personal and professional experiences have reinforced my passion for Ayurveda and my commitment to the well-being of my patients. I have found immense joy in treating people, whether they are patients seeking medical care, or individuals proactively seeking to improving their health. Every interaction with a patient has been an opportunity for me to make a positive difference, also impact, in their lives. One of the most rewarding aspects of my profession has been the ability to addressing not only the physical symptoms, but also the underlying causes of health issues. I have encountered several patients who were experiencing recurrent health problems and upon further investigation I’ve discovered that the ‘root cause’ of their issues are predominantly certain misconceptions, or unhealthy habits they may have developed over time. In such cases, I have taken the time to engage with my patients at a deeper level, while actively listening to their concerns and providing them with comprehensive details vis-à-vis their health conditions. I believe in empowering my patients with time-tested, reliable knowledge. I’ve also found that distilling appropriate, or relatable, examples from everyday life helps them to understanding the implications of their actions and decisions better.

My journey as a doctor has also presented challenges with moments of uncertainty — what with my cardinal responsibility of making critical decisions for my patients’ health. Such challenges have also served as opportunities for my professional growth and strengthened my commitment to continuing medical education [CME] and learning, as also professional progress. The ‘icing on the cake’ is I’ve been blessed with the privilege of collaborating with allied healthcare professionals, participating in medical research, and contributing to community health initiatives and healthcare technology too. The experiences accrued have broadened my whole perspective, from the ground up, and enriched my understanding of the broader healthcare landscape — for a higher purpose.

What unique and special skills you think you have that has made the big difference for your patients? 

In my years of medical practice, I have ‘polished’ several unique and special skills that have consistently made the big difference in the care of my patients. I firmly believe that attentive and empathetic listening is the foundation of effective patient care. It allows me to understanding my patients as individuals, while considering their unique circumstances, lifestyle, and health goals — because each patient is as distinctive as their fingerprint, or signature. This helps in developing personalised, or bespoke, treatment plans that align with their persona, also especial individual needs, or preferences, aside from their ‘subjective’ sensitivities, sensibilities, as also idiosyncrasies. Prevention is obviously a key aspect of my approach to patient care. I work closely with my patients to identify potential risk factors and lifestyle habits, as also flaws, that may contribute to health issues. Assessing such individual health risks helps me to develop tailored, bespoke, or customised, preventive strategies to addressing their specific needs.

What is your best definition of optimal wellness and why? 

Optimal wellness may be defined as a state of holistic well-being, where an individual experiences physical, mental, emotional and social harmony, or balance. This goes far beyond the clichéd ‘absence of illness.’ It also encompasses the active pursuit of a well-adjusted and fulfilling life. Optimal wellness is achieved when a person is actively engaged in promoting their health from the inside out, while making conscious choices that nurture the nature of their body, mind and spirit.

Your ‘best’ case? 

My ‘best’ case scenario is when patients, particularly diabetics, adhere fully to a personalised diet and lifestyle modification plan that I ‘tailor’ for them. When they ‘don’ a proactive role in managing their health, the apparent spin-off is improved blood sugar control and overall well-being. When I’m privy, or witness, to their dedication and positive transformation, I find the outcome immensely fulfilling. This clearly reinforces the importance of personalised care in achieving optimal treatment goals.

Your ‘not-so-good’ case? 

Well, I’ve found, in my ‘not-so-good’ case scenario, certain patients with chronic conditions, like diabetes, sometimes struggling to adhering to, or with, my recommended diet and lifestyle modifications. Their lack of adherence may lead, at times, to suboptimal health outcomes, including uncontrolled blood sugar levels along with a higher risk of complications too.

What appeals to you the most? 

When patients actively participate in their healthcare plan, take medications regularly, also diligently, and follow lifestyle recommendations ‘by the book,’ while attending to fixed follow-up appointments, the sequel is palpable — improved patient compliance and treatment outcomes, augmented overall health, and a strong doctor-patient relationship.

What annoys you the most? 

When patients feign to speak the ‘truth,’ as regards their compliance to treatment, or ‘justify’ their faulty practices.

Your favourite book? 

Charaka Samhita

Your favourite joke? 

‘An old lady who died in her teens.’

Your favourite song? 

Ee bhoomi bannada buguri [2014]/Mahaakshatriya/S P Balasubramanyam/Hamsalekha.

Your favourite movie?

Kuch Kuch Hota Hai [1998], starring Shah Rukh Khan/Rani Mukerji/Kajol/Salman Khan/Farida Jalal et al.

Your favourite TV, Netflix show?

Breathe [2018] on Prime Video.

Your other interests, or hobbies? 

Playing Carrom Board with my father, daughter and wife. Chatting, while eating chat, with my daughter.

Your goal in life? 

Taking Ayurveda to its highest level in terms of technology. This, I reckon, is a sine qua non to revolutionising traditional healthcare practices. That my work, also vision, aims to integrating cutting-edge digital advances and technological innovations into Ayurveda treatments is, I believe, a prerequisite to enhancing precision, data-driven analysis, and personalised care, while expanding their reach and efficacy to a large population, including people in rural areas who may not have adequate access to modern healthcare; also, treatment.

Dr PRASANNA KULKARNI, BAMS, MD [Ayurveda], PGD in Data Science, Diploma in Health Insurance, etc., a distinguished scholar and avant-garde technocrat, is Professor & HoD, Department of Swasthavritta [Preventive Medicine], Sri Kalabyraveshwara Swamy Ayurvedic Medical College, Hospital and Research Centre, Consulting Physician at Atharva AyurTech Healthcare Centre and I-AIM Healthcare Centre, Bengaluru. He lives in Bengaluru, India.


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