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Understanding Ayurveda : An Experience Based Science in Terms of Evidence Based Science
Modern medical science has made tremendous advancements which are commendable and useful. However, there are certain limitations such as heavy cost of specialized equipments, chemicals and shortage of expert manpower. The diagnosis, clinical test and treatment are prohibitively expensive and have high risk of experiencing side effects. Hence there is resurgence and increased dependency on old folk medicine- alternate medicine in the society.
As Indians we are lucky to have Ayurveda as an established system of medicine being practiced for over 5000 years. This experience based medical science needs to be understood in the terms of modern evidence based science. The precious Ayurvedic practice if coupled with the advanced technology would help both the patients and the practitioners as well. A brief outline of the thought is given bellow for your consideration.
Modern Medical Science has assimilated efficiently the tremendous advancements in sophisticated technology and explosion of information which helps in providing precise diagnosis and therapy for relief of symptoms. However there are serious limitations in practicing these on long term basis as invariably it results in a chain of serious side effects, relief obtained is temporary in many a cases, involve fabulously high cost. This situation prompted to evaluate the possibilities of using Ayurvedic science as a savior or for seeking supportive complimentary role.
Ayurveda is an Ancient Science with cosmic philosophical concepts as a base, experience of practice through keen observations for diagnosis and treatment, experimentation, logical analysis and all these are passed on for generations hence is experienced based science with itâs own concepts and methods of analysis. Modern medical science is experimental based with physics and chemistry as a base. It is therefore difficult to translate Ayurvedic science to Modern medical science employing the set conventional standard approach.
Connotation of Philosophy meaning search for knowledge especially the Nature and meaning of existence and Science meaning knowledge obtained by experimental observations and testing of facts, based on the concepts and technology prevailing at that time point leads us to consider the following. Facts based on the latest available technology and information at that specific time point, are open to improvisation/change at a later date with the advent of new findings. Thus scientific evaluation need not be the last word and feeling of well being can be the acceptable parameter.
Physics and chemistry are material sciences. The fundamental base of all material sciences, as a tool, is mathematics with a set of axioms. However mathematics has a strong base of assumption, hypothesis and logic.Only human brain has the capacity to do this exercise. In Life Science, material science and philosophy has to go together, hand in hand, involving application of physics, chemistry and mathematics with a fundamental base of logic and philosophy to understand LIFEâS how ?why? individual, social and collective role and future of humanity. Therefore development of a new perspective with Ayurvedic principles as axioms and while implementing it for clinical studies, simultaneously utilize the latest advancements in technology as a supportive data base, which can be analysed for correlations at a later date. would be an ideal and pragmatic approach.
Homosepianâs are unique amongst all the living species as they have BRAIN with tremendous capacity and potential, which continue to develop and evolve. Since last century with the advent of modern material sciences, lots of new information has been generated. Human brain created and stored information Data Bank of this material and itâs organizational, functional and application code/pattern.
Important Fallacy Of Scientific Facts And Truth.
It is interesting to note that some of the principles in material sciences, which form the base of the concepts, improve/ change with the advent of new knowledge as the technology advances and new information is sought. In this context the statements accepted today are modified/may not be valid tomorrow. In other words the fact is not forever, it is valid only at that time point. With the advent of new technology and information, established and accepted facts are disowned, new facts are accepted, and it continues to improve. The old facts are automatically disregarded. This is a healthy sign for the progress of science. However itâs influence on the interdependent concepts in cognate disciplines particularly in our brain data bank are not corrected automatically. Perhaps in many cognate fields, the same unchanged data bank of the old facts is being utilized (the concepts based on yesterdays data as modified today are not revised to the extent required in the cognate disciplines.) .Thus there could be a loose link in the multidisciplinary scientific intrconnections and further more the new modified data required to be incorporated is also temporary till it is proved contrary on seeking further newer information.
Thus to disregard or overlook claims/concepts of ancient science vehemently, considering modern science as the last word, needs serious introspection.
New findings in Nanotechnology and Stem cells, indicating totally changed characters and behavior of the material at nano size and multiplication of the neuronal stem cells in brain, are the eye openers. In such a situation, it would be most appropriate to utilise ancient treasure of wisdom of Ayurved with stable concepts of Panch Mahabhutaas, as a base, design and conduct experiments, employing advanced technology to create data bank which would help to understand the mechanism of Ayurvedic therapy in contemporary perspective.
Ancient Indian culture has evolved over thousands of years with universe, body, mind and soul all together in totality. Ayurveda â to provide good health and mind, is evolved on these lines. The concepts of Ayurveda has been derived/ evolved, based on experimentation, observations, logic and concepts of Panch Maha Bhutas (Sky, Wind, Fire, Water & Earth). Interestingly the basis and concepts are not changing at different time points but are very stable. The change is envisaged in the environment and individual subject which is dealt with in all itâs minutest details as prakrati. Ayurveda has strong logical and experience base which is being actively practiced particularly in India. It has been evolving over hundreds of years of practice by specialized traditionally trained Vaidyas. Gurusâ pass on, these data banks in addition shared their experiences, from generation to generation. The basic concepts, characterization of individual (prakrati), logistics for diagnosis, defining the symptoms of the diseases, mode of treatment, preparation of drugs including different choices of raw material, their availability and appropriate selection, their properties and the intricate technology of processing, determine the potency and dose administration., contra indications, shelf life of the raw material and drugs etc are well defined and recorded. Charak Samhita-the magnum opus of Indian medicine was written about 2000 years ago.
Therefore it would be most appropriate to utilize this experienced based, ancient treasure of wisdom of Ayurveda in conjunction with the powerful tools now made available through technological advancements, without in any way polluting the essence of Ayurvedic principals, concepts and practice as it has totally a different base and concepts than that of the modern science.
Ayurveda has holistic approach for health and treating patients. Ayurveda has genomic approach as evidenced by considering each individual as an independent entity, classifying them on Prakrati bases. Individualâs constitution which includes physical, behavioral pattern, mind set, diet, symptoms of ailments and environmental factors, all are considered for diagnosis and for treatment. The experience of such practice is passed on over generations which developed competency in adopting environmental, social and cultural changes. Hence infectious agents such as resistant bacteria, new virus strains, synthetic toxic substances and pollutation which are the evils of modernization (these are well defined concepts in modern science) are being tackled differently yet very well by the present Ayurveda practitioners.
The line of Ayurvedic therapy is to cleanse, purify and strengthen the body systems to deal with the ailments. The source of the material for preparing the drugs for therapies are all natural. These source materials such as different parts of plants and herbs, their extracts and minerals are processed specially to make them more specific, effective and in certain cases to remove/inactivate the toxic elements or nullify the toxicity. In other words, to make them compatible and friendly to be received by the body without side effects. Furthermore, based on analysis of individualâs constitution, therapy is determined coupled with conditioning of the body systems, (by activating) to receive the therapy effectively, prescribing the regulation of essentials and restrictions of various components of dietary intake, so also prescribing mental and physical exercises, the therapy is individualized and total. Hence generalization of common formulation and patenting has totally different relevance in Ayurveda.
The advancement in technology in the new millennium can be gainfully utilized to enhance\augment the diagnostic and therapeutic practices and for quality control of raw materials, processed material for drug preparations and to qualify their shelf life. This exercise is essential as it would develop bridges between Ayurveda and Modern Medicine for the free flow on both the directions. It would facilitate, dove-tailing the ancient treasure of knowledge of Ayurveda practice and advanced material technology for the betterment of Mankind.
Now the tissue culture technology provides live animal and human cells and tissues under controlled and defined conditions for experimentation. Different experimental systems, characteristics and behavioral pattern of cells, precise technology and parameters to be used for studying responses of cultivated cells to probing molecules, are well established. Effects of different components of Ayurvedic potions, individually and collectively can be studied at any desired time point, on these live cells for elucidating their response employing appropriate parameters and precise technology.
The most important aspect in research and experimentation is the effective planning of the experimental design, choice of appropriate experimental systems, technology and parameters of assessment. Cell is the smallest metabolically active, self regulatory unit of an organism. There are a wide variety of differentiated cells (about 200) in our body, performing different functions in an orderly manner. The activities of cells are regulated by the nucleus through genes. Genes do have an influence of micro and macro environment that is nucleoplasm and cytoplasm. Drug /Therapeutic molecules influence cellular consequently physiological/metabolic activities of an organism. Though there is a tremendous biodiversity to the extent that no two individuals are alike, all live forms are governed by the same rules and principles through cell systems and function through cell/nucleus interdependent complex/metabolic pathways. These are well documented in terms of chemical reactions and physical entities. Live cells in vitro as primary cultures and cell lines, is an excellent experimental system which can be maintained under defined conditions and permits to treat them with tests substances and study their metabolic responses at any desired time point. Live cells representing different tissues such as liver, pancreas, kidney, lung, muscle, brain, blood etc. when exposed to Ayurvedic preparations would exhibit specific response. Similarly response of serum from the blood, perspiration and urine samples of the untreated and treated patients can be screened on different cell types. The information obtained would reveal the exact nature of molecules of the potion reaching the target cells and the response of the cells to it. It is possible to use different cell types such as neurons, hepatocytes, alpha- beta and acinar cells, fibroblasts, endothelial cells, leucocytes, R B Cs, macrophages, each performing specific, specialized functions and other specially developed cell lines like MMH-GH etc as experimental systems.
Therefore it is of utmost interest to study the influence of Ayurvedic preparations, natural molecules, on varied cell types, singularly and collectively. The response of the cells to these preparations could be studied employing modern technology/with relevant parameters from amongst these, viability, growth, mitotic activity, degeneration, pycnosis, apoptosis, cytoskeletons, mitochondrial respiration, synthesis of various proteins i.e. cytokines, enzymes, hormones, growth factors, changes in the membrane properties, receptor blocking-activation-reaggregation, immunological surface markers, signaling, cross talk ,regulation and expression of genes and structural entities etc.
A systematic effort to develop a data bank on the effects of established Ayurvedic/ Herbal preparations on different cells and tissue types in vitro would go a long way to understand and define the mode of action of Ayurvedic therapy. Components of Ayurvedic therapy may have stimulatory, blocking or modulatory effect on specific metabolic pathways in cells and tissues through which the effect is brought about. Some of these processed molecules used as a drug may have specificity for distinct cell types, some coupled component may function as a specific delivery vehicles. Some may act as an antioxidant specific to a cell type. In many a cases, effect may not be directly on the affected/ malfunctioning/ diseased cells or tissues (as assumed) but effectively through target âpredilecting cells which may have a modulating influence / effect on the affected cells. Based on the data generated, on the effects of therapeutic components on cells in vitro it would be possible to postulate mechanism of action at systemic levels. Perhaps some drugs may be triggering tissue specific Stem cells for replacing the diseased/deranged cells. This would facilitate to understand the mechanism of action of drugs, effective components, measures required to be undertaken for quality control, quantum of dose and shelf life of the drug, toxic effects if any and understanding of Ayurved in contemporary time.
Therefore, it is strongly recommended to initiate the work involving Ayurvedic and Allopathic hospitals, Scientists including Biostatisticians and Regulatory experts. The efforts will culminate into the global acceptance of Ayurveda.