In response to a feature in The Times of India: “Efforts on to standardize ayurveda,” “Medicinal plant cultivation: Change in approach needed,” “Not enough facilities to ensure quality of medicines,” Feb. 22, 2016.
Achieving full potential of Ayurveda [2, 3, 4] medicines require a much broader approach than what is currently in use. Trying to fit Ayurveda into the existing framework used by modern medicine is less than optimum. The organizing principle for modern medicine is “treatment of diseases.” With gross simplification, modern medical model for pharmacology consists of:
- diagnosing, identifying symptoms and causes of diseases,
- identifying, discovering substances and compounds that can alleviate the symptoms, and
- treatments for symptomatic cure.
In contrast, the organizing principle in Ayurveda is “normal health.” And the fundamental idea is to assist the body to return to normal health using naturally occurring substances. Hence, the benefits achievable using Ayurveda system with a disease-oriented model, will be less than its full potential. Better results are possible with a personalized, helath-oriented framework.
In modern pharmacology, once the active ingredients are identified and dosages determined, standardization and quality assurance are straight forward.
But dependence on natural substances by Ayurveda inherently makes standardization and quality assurance methods used in modern pharmacology a misfit, due to natural variations in the substances used. A personalized health/wellness centered framework is better suited for Ayurveda. Developing such a health-centered framework is necessary to help achieve the full potential for Ayurveda.
Over dependence on traditions may not always by helpful. In addition, incorporating current medical knowledge, biochemistry, theories of human physiology and clinical practices can help enhance Ayurveda’s effectiveness.