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The on-going tussle between Allopathy and Ayurveda along with the rest of the streams of medicine viz. Unani, Homeopathy, Siddha etc., in India is unwarranted. Each has its place. Whereas the cure or annihilation of symptoms of the disease is much faster in allopathy, the other streams though slow, provide permanent remedies as they restore balance to the body and mind, in the opinion of the indigenous medical practitioners. In any case, the amount of clinical and pharmacological research done in allopathy exceeds that of all the other streams put together. This is precisely because western countries and private companies invest huge amounts in medical research and development. For instance, the vaccines produced for Covid-19 one year after the pandemic spread, are in themselves evidence of the technical and financial means that are available to them although many years of research into cancer and other lifestyle diseases have not yielded any comprehensive cure.
The holistic medicinal wisdom of this country is preserved mainly in Ayurveda. As a matter of fact, it is the indigenous medicine that has been practiced for five thousand years in this land. This ancient wisdom is to be renewed, revived and promoted. The shrubs and herbs that are available in India are of immense medicinal value. Many people proudly say these medicines of Ayurveda come from roots and shoots of plants (i.e., from the earth) rather than from medical labs (laboratories) which in fact mostly use them to make their expensive drugs.
Charaka and Sushruta’s contribution to ancient medicine was so great that we so fondly remember them across the ages. However, much of the wisdom was lost under Moghul and British colonial rules. Now, Indians are stuck on western medicine. It is nobody’s case to argue all allopathic medicines are synthetic. They are also from medicinal plants. However, the plant extracts are tested in labs for their suitability and compatibility at the cellular and molecular level.
Many proponents of indigenous Ayurveda medicine say that Ayurveda heals a disease from within unlike allopathy that merely suppresses symptoms. As noted earlier there are no medicines to cure many of our life-style diseases like hypertension (Blood Pressure) and diabetics permanently in allopathy. Allopathy only manages the effects of these diseases but would not eliminate them from the body. Ayurveda practitioners say their medicine works right from the cellular level. If taken by everyone, even before the onset of disease, it would set right the imbalances in the body before they turn into disease. Ayurveda concentrates on lifestyle and diet. Health of the gut is the most important. Hence, the medicine lays stress on a balanced diet. Ayurveda stresses on removing root-causes but not in suppressing symptoms. That is to heal from within. Accumulation and aggravation of disease is prevented in Ayurveda by mind-body techniques of meditation and breathing exercise.
The most powerful fundamental principle of Ayurveda is emphasis on self-healing. For instance, modern day tensions result in Blood Pressure rising in many people earlier than in olden days. The same is true for diabetics and cancer too. These diseases are the result of inflammation in the body. The complexity in a person to get the disease depends as much on the environment, as is the genetic composition of his body. In modern day people chase their objectives at a rapid pace and run against the time. So, calming the mind is not within their reach in a fast-moving world.
However, when in crisis, people madly rush for a cure. This happened recently in Andhra Pradesh. A man by name B. Anandaiah made a preparation (though he called it Ayurvedic medicine, the Ayush Ministry did not approve of it) alleged to cure Covid-19. He also said that it would boost oxygen levels in critical patients. Many people including the serious patients of Covid-19 in ICU wards thronged his medicine-distribution-centres in Krishnapatnam village, Nellore district of A.P. This has drawn national attention. He also administered eye-drops for Covid-19 cure. The Government of Andhra Pradesh stopped him while conducting an investigation and sent the samples to the Central Council for Research in Ayurvedic Sciences (CCRAS). Later, Anandaiah obtained permission to distribute his preparation as a “supplement” to boost immunity from getting Covid-19, rather than a medicine for Covid-19.
Recent statements by Baba Ramdev on allopathy also caused a stir in the Indian Medical Association (IMA) which voiced serious objections. In any case, the timely intervention by the Union Health Minister, Shri Harsh Vardhan and the subsequent retraction by Ramdev helped to settle the issue. Undoubtedly, the Government at the Centre is sympathetic and understanding to the indigenous medicine and its values. So, activists for native medicine should not intransigently stand or make irresponsible statements against allopathy. After all, we are living in a world where other nations do matter. Each stream has its value. The scientific community as a whole should be viewed as a brotherhood dedicated to the service of humanity rather than being split by multiple schisms. To get a more orderly situation, “Integrative medicine” was proposed. That is, to combine Allopathy with Ayurveda and other minor systems. However many physicians disagree with what they call mixopathy. In this regard a broader debate is needed.