Ayurveda – No More an Alternative

“The natural healing force within each one of us is the greatest force in getting well.”≈ Hippocrates

The above quote nails down the essence of Ayurveda. Ayurveda is a healing system that originated between 2500 BC and 500 BC during the Vedic civilization in India.

Contrary to the belief that Ayurveda is not as effective as the conventional system of medical practice, Ayurveda is that system of medicine that can help an individual in preventing or reducing the intensity of an illness. This is because Ayurveda has a holistic approach to an ailment and looks at attacking the disease from its root unlike most conventional medicines that attack the disease and provide symptomatic relief only. Ayurveda also believes in maintaining harmony with the ecosystem and strives to achieve minimal destruction to natural resources.

There is an increase in various lifestyle disorders that conventional treatment options fail to address effectively. Obesity is one such metabolic disorder that arises mostly due to a sedentary lifestyle coupled with a family history of obesity. Statistics reveals India to have above 30 million obese people.2 This number is rising at an alarming rate.2 Current treatment options involve the use of anti-obesity drugs that suppress the appetite. When none of the weight loss products seem to exert a beneficial effect, people resort to the option of surgery. Although bariatric surgery has helped in achieving weight loss, this method can lead to some post-surgical complications such as micronutrient deficiencies, psychological disturbances and weight regain.

A lot has been written about herbal products in the market that do not carry out preliminary standardization tests that are mandatory for other synthetic or semi-synthetic drugs. Take for instance, toxicity due to heavy metals such as lead, arsenic, and mercury in many herbal medicine products. However, such heavy metal toxicity can also happen through administration of mainstream pharmaceutical drugs that are not governed by good manufacturing practices and regulatory inspection. An unbiased view of the conventional and traditional system of medicine is required to allay such fears.

Most companies manufacturing medications containing herbal extracts follow the WHO guidelines for standardization of herbal formulations to test the authenticity of raw materials and the active constituents as well as for the presence of foreign matter, heavy metals, pesticides, microbial contamination, radioactive contamination and so on. This ensures that the product will have enormous health benefits with no adverse effects.

This decade sees a growing interest in Ayurveda. People now acknowledge this traditional system to be of immense value especially in treating disorders such as obesity, insulin resistance, and allergy. To treat obesity, Ayurveda starts by correcting the basal metabolic rate. This, in turn, enhances the uptake of nutrients by the cells and helps in the regulation of hormones that induce breakdown of fat.

Ayurveda believes in internal as well as external purification of the body by application of herbal products. For weight loss, Ayurveda follows a five step detoxification regimen called “panchakarma” treatment which involves medical vomiting (vaman), medical purgation (virechana), enema therapy (basti), blood leeching therapy (raktamokshana), herbal steam therapy (dhumpan), and herbal powder massage (udvartana).

This intricate system of medicine lays emphasis on food and lifestyle along with supervised quality medication to attain sound health. As we all know, “In a healthy body lies a healthy mind”.

References

1. Pandey MM, Rastogi S and Rawat AKS. Indian traditional Ayurvedic System of Medicine and Nutritional Supplementation. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2013;2013:376327.

2. Gouda J, Prusty RK. Overweight and Obesity among Women by Economic Stratum in Urban India. J Health Popul Nutr. 2014;32(1):79-88.

3. Rizvi AA. The evolving role of bariatric surgery in patients with type 1 diabetes and obesity. Integr Obes Diabetes. 2016;2(2):195-199.

4. http://www.slideshare.net/yashbiochem/obesity-ayurvedic-management-archana-kulkarni-bams-mdayu. Accessed on October 8th.

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