Ayurveda has been a part of our daily rituals for generations. Apart from being a system of medicine, it extends its sweep to agriculture, animal health, diet, beauty, and rejuvenation.
This sector especially saw a noticeable growth ever since the onset of the pandemic, with an upsurge of interest in Ayurveda and its capacity to ward off infections by building immunity (Ayurveda, however, is not a cure or remedy for COVID-19).
Be it by using home remedies, decoctions, chyawanprash, herbs like ashwagandha and guduchi or branded drugs sold by thousands of patented Ayurvedic manufacturers – almost every family in India has resorted to the use one or more forms of Ayurvedic medicine.
Immunity boosting became the buzz word around this time, however, unsubstantiated claims made by well known proprietors of Ayurvedic medicines have also led practitioners of modern medicine to question claims of herbal medicines being effective in the prevention or treatment of COVID-19.
To be sure, India’s traditional knowledge digital library is recognised by the World Intellectual Property Organisation. In fact, 35,000 Ayurvedic formulations from the classical Ayurvedic texts have been converted into five UN languages and has been made available to patent claim examiners in the patent offices in Europe, the US, Japan, UK, Canada, and Germany.
Yet, what are the concerns around Ayurvedic medicines, which cautions people against continuous use of these products?
What are the strengths and limitations of Ayurvedic medicines?
Can a collaborative approach between other forms of modern medicine and Ayurveda benefit us?
While we don’t have a simple agreed way of defining safety and efficacy or of Ayurvedic drugs, is it fair to apply the allopathic gold standard of Randomised Controlled Trials (RCTs) to traditional medicines?
To understand the importance of Ayurveda, in episode 6 of Over2Shailaja, I speak to Dr Kishore Patwardhan, Professor of Ayurveda at Banaras Hindu University; Dr V Sujatha, Professor of Sociology at JNU, who has penned several books on Ayurveda; Dr Geetakrishnan, well-known Ayurvedic practitioner who is presently in WHO; and Dr Maël Voegeli, a French emergency medicine doctor who is currently studying the rasa shashtra branch of Ayurveda with AVP Research Foundation in Tamil Nadu and in Kerala.