Why the calls to make ayurveda "evidence based"?



This article tries to be neither here nor there. It reflects the current irrational thoughts about ayurveda.

  • The drugs are not evidence based
  • They do not deal with the active principle and are therefore not rational
  • Modern medicine with its technology knows everything about the body, whereas ayurveda is deficient
  • Ayurveda is a belief system
  • Today we have modern science, not allopathy. Medicine has changed

These notions may interest those that do not know about ayurveda and have no inclination and willingness to learn.

Ayurveda is not a drug vs disease name based medicine. It studies the forces playing in the person (who has a mind and emotions and a way of living, and lives in an environment) and shows the path to be healthy with a zest for life through a cultivated balance and a set of instructions to counter environmental negativity. It aims to ensure good health and longevity.

It provides a person a map of his or her body type and mental makeup and suggests appropriate nutrition, exercise, rest, circadian rhythm, mental qualities, clothing and exposure to elements, to ensure health.

Thus it empowers the person. The knowledge seeks to empower the family on good care of the one suffering. Society is instructed to be ethical and moral.

In case of acute disease, the disturbance is mapped and with appropriate diet and rest recovery ensures. The person learns from each illness the exciting factor and the learning becomes preventive medicine. This fact was stressed by Gandhiji in his writings. Disease teaches one why self restraint is necessary.

For medicine, the options are the tastes sweet, salty, pungent, bitter, and astringent. Yes, these are enough. The kitchen provides the material. A whole lot of logic goes into this.

The body is examined according to the type. A person possesses physical, subtle, and causal or karmic body. The components are dosha, dhatu, mala and agni.

The dosha are vata, pitta, and kapha. Vata is essentially about movement and transport. The location of pitta are small intestines, stomach, liver, spleen, pancreas, blood, and eyes and indicates metabolism. Kapha provides stability and luster to the body. The dhatus are plasma/ lymph, blood, muscles, fat, bone, bone marrow, and the reproductive fluid (male and female). Mala is waste. Agni is primarily the digestive fire.

The person, family and society act in unison and are responsible for good health and vitality. This ensures public health. The physicians job is cut short to emergencies that are rare.

The interplay of the components of the body and processes in the quest to provide health interests the physician who is guided by taste and properties of herbs and minerals in determining medicinal interventions to facilitate recovery according to the innate nature of the body and mind.

The physician prepares the herbo mineral composition according to the individual's need. The combination can have curative materials, adjuvants to enhance effects, elements to minimalize toxicity, components to strengthen the eliminative organs and facilitate elimination, and material to increase the inherent strength of the body. Metals are processed so they are devoid of toxicity.

The physician plucks the herbs at opportune time to harness their maximum potential and administers the drug at the time when it will have the most impact.

Surgery is well developed. The instruments of Sushruta, the pioneer of surgery, are acknowledged to be enough for any kind of surgery. There are provisions for injuries, snake and animal bites, and other forms of poisoning.

The above knowledge and process cures and keeps complications at bay.

The person is thus considered a dynamic biological entity with several dimensions reacting to the environment and not a machine that blindly depends on chemicals. Good health and cures are the goal and responsibility.

The modern practitioner is wary about ayurveda for several reasons;

  • It has a formidable pharmacopeia
  • It understands and utilizes the basic determinants of health
  • It can handle emergencies
  • It can prevent disease
  • It can handle and cure disease
  • It has surgical interventions
  • It can perform transparently
  • It is safer than modern medicine
  • It is less costly and traumatic

In short, if properly sponsored, it has the strength to replace modern medicine. This is why there is so much anxiety. This is why it is being projected as inadequate. This is why public opinion is being created against it.

There is also the desire to practice it and stay relevant when the shove comes to the push. Therefore it has to be reduced to the disease - drug paradigm. It has to be aligned to the modern day approach. The corporate want the array of drugs to ward off competition and add to its revenue and profits.

Sadly this will be detrimental to the patient who is already suffering due to the entry of reductionism in the holistic sector and the commercialization that is taking place.

Despite the advances, modern medicine remains allopathy because it blindly proceeds against the body and its working leading to disease, disability, and death. It is not evidence based medicine. It is drug industry need based medicine. The results are shocking. Never before have people suffered so much and from a profession that is supposed to help not harm.

It is not enough to do as told by the largest industry on earth. The old adage, operation successful patient died, is so very relevant. The person is ignored and forgotten. The patient needs help and health and yet standing between him and his objective remains the lone strategy of scientific medicine.

If change is needed in ayurveda then, as the practitioners are pointing out, the roots are to be strengthened. The malicious attempts to rob it of its philosophy and methodology need to be countered.

Greed is the hallmark of our civilization. Altruism is projected to hide the deceptive intent. But at the end of the day values do matter. The world is waking up to the hydra headed monster of material development and the play of forces that rob people of their knowledge, rights, identity, importance, and wellbeing.

The attempts to fool people are no longer working the way they have done so far. They are taking their own decisions and are rebelling against dictatorial medicine. That form of medicine is busy in building an impregnable system for the near future where the maximum harm is to be delivered by brutal force.

At this juncture sincerity and intent to heal, and the desire to undo the damage should triumph over all other interests