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The Evolution of Ayurvedic Medicine

What Is Ayurvedic Medicine

Ayurvedic Medicine is one of the world’s oldest medical systems and remains one of India’s traditional health care systems. It is based on ancient writings that rely on a “natural” and holistic approach to physical and mental health, according to the NCCIH. As stated by the NCBI, Ayurveda believes that the entire universe is composed of five elements: Vayu (Air), Jala (Water), Aakash (Space or ether), Prithvi (Earth) and Teja (Fire). These five elements are believed to form the three basic humors of the human body. Ayurveda treatment starts with an internal purification process, followed by a special diet, herbal remedies, massage therapy, yoga, and meditation. Goals of treatment aid the person by eliminating impurities, reducing symptoms, increasing resistance to disease, reducing worry, and increasing harmony in life, as indicated by Hopkins Medicine.

The Start of Ayurvedic Medicine

Image is courtesy of NCBI.

According to the NCBI, Ayurveda has an age-old history since the 2nd Century BC. Ayurveda

has its foundations laid by the ancient schools of Hindu Philosophical teachings named Vaisheshika and the school of logic named Nyaya. The Vaisheshika School preached about inferences and perceptions that should be obtained about a patient’s pathological condition for treatment. In contrast, Nyaya school propagated its teachings on the basis that one should have extensive knowledge of the patient’s condition and the disease condition before proceeding for treatment. Even before these schools were established and also today, the origin of Ayurveda is considered to be divine, from the Hindu God, Brahma, who is called as the creator of the universe. It is believed that the creator of the universe passed on this holistic knowledge of healing to the sages for the well-being of mankind.

The Modern Culture of Ayurvedic Medicine

Practitioners of Ayurveda in India undergo state-recognized, institutionalized training. Currently, Ayurvedic practitioners are not licensed in the United States, and there is no national standard for Ayurvedic training or certification. Ayurvedic medicines are regulated as dietary supplements rather than as drugs in the United States, so the FDA does not require them to meet the safety and efficacy standards for conventional medicines, according to the NCCIH. These medicines can interact, or work against, the effects of Western medicines. Scientific research is still undeveloped to comment on the benefits/harms of using ayurvedic medicine.

A 2013 clinical trial compared two Ayurvedic formulations of plant extracts against the natural product glucosamine sulfate and the drug celecoxib in 440 people with knee osteoarthritis. All four products provided similar reductions in pain and improvements in function. On the other hand, A 2015 published survey of people who use Ayurvedic preparations showed that 40 percent had elevated blood levels of lead, and some had elevated blood levels of mercury, as indicated by the NCCIH. About one in four of the supplements tested had high levels of lead, and almost half of them had high levels of mercury. Thus, Hopkins Medicine provides the following advice applicable in the 21st century: while Ayurveda can have positive effects when used as a complementary therapy in combination with standard medical care, it should not replace conventional medical care, especially when treating serious conditions.

Article Author: Gurdial Gill

Article Editors: Stephanie Sahadeo, Victoria Huang


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