Misconceptions about Ayurveda

  • By Dr Ranjeet Sharma
  • April 19, 2024
  • 900 views
  • This piece lists some misconceptions about Ayurveda, has links to articles on Ayurved, outlines steps taken by the government, makes a case for integration for different systems of medicine and shares excerpts from writings of Dr R.D. Lele and Pratima Raichur.   

 

Due to the ongoing matter in the Supreme Court w.r.t. Patanjali, aspersions are being cast by some on Ayurveda. In fact misconceptions are being spread esp. in social media. It is not possible to remove all misconceptions but this short piece gives a rejoinder to a commonly heard misconception that has been spread in the last few years.

 

At the outset, Indians must realize that Ayurveda is a preventive and curative therapy. It comes from a different dimension and understanding of life. It goes deep into your system and takes an integrated view of your entire body, including the mind. When followed with Yoga its effect is gradual and is geared towards making you a healthy person from within having long-term benefits.

 

This piece lists some misconceptions given by senior Ayurvedic Doctors, links to must read articles on Ayurved, outlines some steps taken by the government and lastly makes a case for integration for different systems of medicine.  

 

Misconception - “There is no research (or quality research) in Ayurveda.” 

 

Let me introduce you to the world of research happening in Ayurveda. As on 28 December 2023 '41743 Research Publications' related with AYUSH is available on Ayush Research Portal. Of these 30,032 pertain to Ayurved, 1,426 to Yoga and Naturopathy.

 

I would also like to introduce you to certain developments that took place in the field of Ayurveda in 2023 to produce more Evidence Based Researches:

 

1. The first Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) Conference generated trade interest of ₹590 crores, highlighting Ayush's growing significance in international markets. (This is because of the availability of high quality researches in Ayurveda.)

 

2. First ever 'Global Summit on Traditional Medicine' (17-18 August 2023) was organised by the World Health Organisation, and co-hosted by the Ministry of Ayush, in Gandhinagar, Gujarat. The main outcomes of this summit was released by the World Health Organisation in the form of Gujarat declaration. 

 

The “Gujarat Declaration” emphasised that the importance of Traditional Medicine is recognised for the attainment of universal health coverage and WHO’s commitment to work toward it through evidence generation and policy support to member states.

 

Common Misconceptions about Ayurved

eSamskriti requested a few senior Ayurvedic doctors and Professors to give three common misconceptions about Ayurved.

1. Mumbai based ex-Professor of Ayurveda - Ayurveda is pseudoscience, Heavy metallic medicines are toxic, Old and outdated.

 

2. Kolhapur based Doctor - It takes a long time for Ayurvedic medicine to work, There is no research in Ayurveda, Ayurvedic medicines have no side effects!

 

3. Benaras based Doctor - Any Ayurveda drug can be bought over the counter and can be consumed without consulting a physician (based on the suggestions received from friends and family members). Ayurveda has cure for every single health problem.

 

4. A Pune based Professor says three misconceptions are, no quick results, too much food restrictions and no side effects even for large dose consumed or for long term use.

 

5.   In his book Ayurveda – The True Way to Restore your Health and Happiness, Dr G G Gangadharan wrote about misconceptions namely, Ayurveda is Unscientific, Static, Rigid and has Inferior Diagnostics, Ayurved is the Science of Brahmins and is All about Herbs and Vegetariansism, Treatments are Inconvenient, Does not have quick-fixes, Is Limited to India and Has no Cure for New Diseases.

 

Here are a few articles by learned that need to be read to remove misconceptions

1. Ayurveda, the Science of Life, is always relevant

2. Ayurveda is the Science of Life that is modern and ancient

3. Introduction to Ayurveda

4. Ayurveda – a distinction approach to health and disease

5. Use of Metals – unconsidered objections w.r.t Ayurveda

6. How Yoga and Ayurveda might help being infected by Corona Virus

7. Clinical efficacy of Ayurvedic management in computer vision syndrome A pilot study

8. Dashavidha Parikshya Bhava (tenfold of investigation) according to Acharya Charaka - An ancient method of research

9. Ayurveda and Modern Concepts

10. Evidence based traditional medicine for transforming global health and well-being

11. Ayurveda fundamentals and science-A perspective

12. Home Remedies

 

To read 114 articles on Ayurved and natural forms of treatment

What is required is Integrations of the various forms of medicine so as to serve the patient best. For that students of Allopathy and Ayurved need to study their form of medicine. The government can assist by making such study mandatory after consulting both. 

 

Dr Mandip Goyal of Gujarat Ayurvedic University, Jamnagar made a case for such integration and wrote in the AYU Journal March quarter 2021 issue, “Further, if providing health to each individual of the society is the ultimate goal, then the best way is to integrate the various systems of medicine and treat the person as per the need and its condition under the same roof. This can happen in either way, based on the physician's expert opinion or the demand of the patient. For this educating experts of the various existing systems of medicine regarding other systems of medicine can be the first initiative. There is a need for bridging information among various existing health-care facilities in countries and understanding and updating the existing treatment approaches accordingly.

 

Taking a cue from these findings, the collaborative researches can be planned and data to elicit the chances of drug-drug interactions, or any adverse events, or to generate evidence of the effectiveness of integrated approaches of medicines can be established. This will boost the confidence of health experts and patients will have more choices to opt for their disease management.”

 

Read  Integrating Yoga with Modern Medicine + Is Integration of various Systems of Medicine the need of today

 

Towards this objective Dr Mandaviya, Hon'ble Union Minister of Health & Family Welfare jointly inaugurated the 'Department of Integrative Medicine' at Safdarjung hospital, New Delhi on 7th February 2023. The department will offer services in specialty OPD, Panchakarma Therapy, and diet consultation for the patients.

 

Further, there are already operating Ayurveda Centres in 12 Military Hospitals of AFMC and 37 Cantonment Board Hospitals.

 

The government is opening Ayush Hospitals too. As on date of writing there are 237 NABH Accredited Ayush Hospitals. To read list The hospital accreditation program started in 2009   

 

Pune got its second Ayush Hospital. According to this Hindustan Times report, “The hospital will have mud bath naturopathy therapies, Panchakarma, Kshar Sutra and other AYUSH treatments which will be done free of cost.”

As more hospitals open the common man will visit them more often. So with time various misconceptions about Ayurveda shall vanish. If Ayurvedic doctors write about their research work in mainstream publications it will help improve people’s knowledge about Ayurveda. 

 

By establishing the WHO Global Centre for Traditional Medicine in Jamnagar, India in the year 2022 the government has taken a positive step. Excerpts from the WHO site, “The new centre focuses on four main strategic areas: evidence and learning; data and analytics; sustainability and equity; and innovation and technology to optimize the contribution of traditional medicine to global health and sustainable development.”

 

For students who wish to study Ayurved, amongst the best universities in India are Gujarat Ayurvedic University Jamnagar, Benaras Hindu University, Uttarakhand Ayurved University, National Institute of Ayurveda (Deemed to be a University) and MUHS (Maharashtra University of Health Sciences)

 

Kaivalyadham Lonavla is said to be the oldest Scientific Yog Research Institute in the world. “Established by Swami Kuvalayananda in 1924, we at Kaivalyadhama follow the undiluted principles of yoga, as described in the Yoga Sutras of Maharishi Patanjali. Kaivalyadhama was founded with the distinct purpose of merging yoga tradition with science, to make this knowledge relevant and accessible to the world.” For Education click

 

Chief Justice Chandrachud shared, in February 2024, his personal experience with AYUSH including Ayurved, Yog, Naturopathy etc while dealing with Covid19. He is quoted in this Hindustan Times report, “I took medicine from AYUSH when I was down with Covid. The second and third time when I had Covid, I didn't take any allopathic medicine at all,” he said, underlining his faith in alternative holistic treatments.” To hear Video

 

Being one of the Upa Vedas, Ayurved has existed for millenia. It is Sanatan.

 

The author is a MD  (Ayurveda Medicine), DY (Yoga), CCYP, BAMS, IMS, B.H.U. Contact - www.linktr.ee/AyurvedaMonk

 

Editor Notes – Sharing about Ayurved from a book and article.

 

1. I read this book on Ayurved titled Absolute Beauty by Pratima Raichur. Since found it useful, I am sharing some excerpts.

 

“Treatments work because Ayurved provides the key to health and healing that Western approaches lack: knowledge of the individual not the illness.” Pg XV

 

“In contrast to this material view, Ayurved is based on the premise that the mind and body are unified on the level of consciousness, and through this unifying field have direct reciprocal effects.” Pg. XVII

 

“Ayurved teaches that anyone can achieve this state of inner wholes, regardless of upbringing or place in the world, by learning to balance all levels of life in accordance with our constitutional makeup.” Pg. 9

 

“Ayurved is a science of longevity and immunity whose first aim is to maintain balance and overall well-being.” Pg. 16

 

“When we are in balance-when we are healthy in body and mind-we are naturally resistant to all disease, and the skin is naturally glowing.” Pg. 95

 

“One of the most striking contracts between modern medical science and Ayurved has to do with the different value they place on food and diet in the health and life of an individual.” Pg. 185

 

“Ayurved is the practical science of how to live according to your own nature-which on the level of consciousness is aligned absolutely with natural law.” Pg 362

 

2. Dr R D Lele wrote in Bhavans Journal (31 July 2020 issue), “Charaka Samhita (literally, treatise compiled by Charaka) is a Sanskrit work of great antiquity. It is an exposition of Ayurveda, the science of life, defined as the Science of the causes and symptoms of disease, of their treatment and of the maintenance of health (Sutra 1, 23).

 

The treatise contains a detailed classification and nomenclature of diseases— their Vyakhya (definition), Vyutpatti (etymology), Nidana (etiology), Poorva Roop (prodromata) and Roop (clinical picture), Samprapti (pathophysiology), Sadhya Sadhatva (prognosis), Chikitsa Sutra (line of treatment), Aushadha (drugs), Anna (diet) and Vihara (practices), etc. This conceptual framework and approach appear strikingly similar to contemporary medicine. 

 

The emphasis on the maintenance of positive health or Swastha Vrutta, is a distinguishing feature of Ayurveda.

 

In order to maintain positive health, Ayurveda prescribes specific daily routine ‘dinacharya’, and also a seasonal regime ‘ritucharya’. In ‘dinacharya’ great importance is given to diet which is to be taken in a proper way with regard to quality, quantity as well as frequency. Emphasis is given to physical exercise and personal hygiene. The daily regime advocates not to suppress certain natural physical urges like micturition, defecation, hunger, thirst, sleep etc. 

 

On the other hand suppression of harmful psychic urges is advocated—like greed, fear, anger, vanity, jealousy, malice and excessive attachment to anything. Equal importance is given to mental health, for which a regime of Sadvrutta (ethical life) is prescribed.

 

The aim of Ayurveda is to promote health-‘Swasthasya Swasthya rakshanam’, increase immunity and resistance — ‘Vyadhi Kshamatva’ and to cure disease — ‘Aturasya Vyadhi parimokshah’.”

 

May we understand and value what we have.  

 

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