This research discusses alternative medicine from the Ayurvedic perspective. A background to the emergence of this culture will be explored as well as methods and training; benefits; contraindications, research, recommendations and implications.
Alternative medicine pertains to practices, which produce healing effects on the body, but supporting evidence may be insufficient or not accepted by scientific medical practitioners. This research paper will examine alternative medicine originating from the Ayurvedic discipline.
Ayurvedic is traditional Indian medicine translated life knowledge. During the medieval period of history ayurvedic emerged into a practice of many medicinal preparations and surgical procedures. There are eight components to Ayurvedic practice namely, general medicine; pediatrics, surgery, ophthalmology/ ENT; demonology / exorcism/psychiatry; toxicology; elixirs and aphrodisiacs (Singh & Pravin, 2002).
Diagnosis is achieved by exploring the five senses. For example, hearing is used to observe breathing and speech for abnormalities. Marman marma is very important to the practice because it explores lethal points. Ayurvedic doctors emphasize collaborating the physical and mental states of being when perceiving an individual’s personality. It is believed that the mental influences the physical and vise versa. Precisely, this is the fundamental philosophy of Ayurvedic alternative medicine practice (Subapriya & Nagini, 2005).
The use of plant-based medicines or therapies has been advocated in this practice. They include cardamom, cinnamon and Neem. Milk, bones, and gallstones are some animal products occasionally applied as treatment. Additionally fats are consumed or applied externally as topical mixtures. Sulfur, arsenic, lead, copper sulfate and gold are mixed in medicine for either consumption or topical applications. The strategy whereby minerals are added to medicines is traditionally called rasa shastra in Ayurvedic alternative medicine culture (Subapriya & Nagini, 2005).
Methods and training
Since 70% of the Indian population is predisposed to alternative medicine in 1970, the Indian Medical Central Council Act was forced to standardized ayurveda practice by providing accreditation for persons and institutions that teach and practice the discipline. Subsequently, study and research protocols were passed by the Parliament of India. More than 100 colleges provide degrees programs for qualification in the practice of traditional ayurvedic medicine. Research and teaching in ayurveda is also supported by states entities so that training could be offered in communities where people are interested in becoming practitioner and cannot attend the major colleges (Sharma, 2003).
Central Council for Research in Ayurvedic Sciences (CCRAS) is a state sponsored educational institution established to research many concepts/practices in the discipline, which have been consistently challenged by scientific medicine. Specifically, these research institutions are exploring biopiracy and unethical patents accusations. As such, the Indian government, in 2001, sanctioned establishment of a Traditional Knowledge Digital Library with repository of 1200 formulas of many systems of Indian medicine, including ayurveda, unani and siddha. The library houses 50 traditional ayurveda books digitized and available on the web (Sharma, 2003). .
According to World Health Organization Ayurveda is not merely a system of medicine, but also a way of life for many people. Benefits are that the practice prevents as well as cures diseases. Especially, in countries where scientific medicine is very costly Ayurveda is affordable, less adverse effects and more consistent with the patient’s ideology if he/she does not believe in scientific medicine (World Health Organization, 2002). The holistic approach is also useful since medical science does not perceive health care from the premise of body mind and spirit. Ayurveda seeks to align these aspects of the human evolution with health care.
Studies conducted in 1990 testing toxicity of ayurvedic medicines in India revealed that 41% of them contained arsenic. Mercury and led were found in 64% of them. Further research conducted in 2004 confirmed various levels of heavy metals in 20% of ayurvedic preparations that were manufactures in South Asia marketed in Boston. Conclusions were that ayurvedic preparations can create serious health complication. As such, they ought to be tested for heavy-metal contamination (Sharma, 2003).
In 2008 a study revealed that of 230 ayurvedic preparations 20% of them contained mercury, lead or arsenic. Importantly, 40 % of rasa shastra medicines were marketed via the Internet from US and Indian suppliers continued these toxins. Consequently, U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in 2012 issued a statement linking to lead poisoning with Ayurvedic drugs since toxic materials were found in the blood of pregnant women who had ta Ayurvedic preparations. In response to these startling reports regarding Ayurvedic preparations practitioners contend that chemical toxicity is reduced through samskaras or shodhanas purification processes similar to Chinese medicine, but it is more complex involving other non- scientific. However, this is a precaution that must be taken when seeking alternative medicine therapies through Ayurveda (Sharma, 2003).
Research continues in Ayurveda alternative medicine approaches to make practices and drug preparation safer to use. Specificity, of these studies have been discussed under education and training since they are part of the education and training curriculum
From the perspective of a scientific health care practitioner, while Ayurveda has its toxicity medicine issue its role in disease prevention and cure is significant to the culture of alternative medicine and is a traditional practice that is cherished as solemn. My recommendation for Food and Drug Administration to caution manufactures as well as users of the toxicity in medicines, so users take it at their own risks
Ayurveda alternative medicine practice has been valuable to health care cultures across the world for centuries. The implication for scientific health care practitioners understands that all drugs have toxicity. These research studies did not state exactly how much lead or mercury each portion of preparation contained, but reported the amount of products which contained these chemicals. In planning health education/promotion ventures for pregnant women and children this information should be included as a precautionary measure in avoiding lead poisoning.
Sharma, A. (2003). Panchkarma Therapy in Ayurvedic Medicine. In Mishra, Lakshmi Chandra. Scientific Basis for Ayurvedic Therapies. Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press.
Singh, P., & Pravin, S. (2002). Banaras Region: A Spiritual and Cultural Guide. Varanasi: Indica Books
Subapriya, R., & Nagini, S. (2005). Medicinal Properties of Neem Leaves: A Review. Curr Med Chem Anticancer Agents 5 (2): 149–6.
World Health Organization (2002). WHO launches the first global strategy on traditional and alternative medicine. Retrieved August 4th, 2013 from http://www.who.int/mediacentre/news/releases/release38/en/