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Table of Contents
Year : 2020  |  Volume : 8  |  Issue : 4  |  Page : 243-245

Challenges concerning global acceptance of Ayurveda researches

Department of Rasashastra and Bhaishajya Kalpana, Mahatma Gandhi Ayurveda College Hospital and Research Centre, Datta Meghe Institute of Medical Sciences (Deemed to be University), Wardha, Maharashtra, India

Date of Submission10-Jan-2021
Date of Decision13-Jan-2021
Date of Acceptance13-Jan-2021
Date of Web Publication11-Feb-2021

Correspondence Address:
Dr. Dhiraj Singh Sumersingh Rajput
Department of Rasashastra and Bhaishajya Kalpana, Mahatma Gandhi Ayurveda College Hospital and Research Centre, Datta Meghe Institute of Medical Sciences (Deemed to be University), Wardha, Maharashtra.
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/JISM.JISM_2_21

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How to cite this article:
Rajput DS. Challenges concerning global acceptance of Ayurveda researches. J Indian Sys Medicine 2020;8:243-5

How to cite this URL:
Rajput DS. Challenges concerning global acceptance of Ayurveda researches. J Indian Sys Medicine [serial online] 2020 [cited 2022 Sep 29];8:243-5. Available from: https://www.joinsysmed.com/text.asp?2020/8/4/243/309122

Research is an integral part of origin, development as well as precision in concept and applicability of everyday science. Genuineness, reliability, validity, and scope of any science depend on quality of research through which foundation of pillars of that related science has been done. Further, it is also clearly understandable that any established concept in science should be proven accurately by repeated researches from different angles of testing. However, in order to grow and spread, every science needs to be easily and broadly accessible to the community, especially to researchers or scholars who are relevant to that particular science. During ancient times, the ways for accessing the scientific knowledge generated by experience and experiments of few intelligent seers were either through direct communication or the manuscripts. As such knowledge was given authorized seers; hence, there was no need of documentation of their experiments. From the history, it can be assumed that very few attempts were made to validate such researches and mostly the knowledge was accepted without any doubt. Such particular picture is seen in all traditional medicines (TMs). However, modern medicine is developed after significant progress in technologies which has contributed in creating evidence-based database and is more reliable and valid than TM. In contrast, TM has been developed on the basis of self-experience, critical observation of natural phenomenon, and strong belief in traditional manuscripts.

Ayurveda is one of the oldest TMs originated as well as developed in India and has been fulfilling the healthcare needs since centuries till date. The foundation of Ayurveda is based on several fundamental concepts which are experience-based and not accessible by laboratory methods. In other words, the parameters for research in Ayurveda are conceptual-based rather than numeric or visible findings in the laboratory analysis. This difference has resulted in a keen understanding of Ayurveda researches by only Ayurveda-versed people. Due to such limitations, in several countries such as United States, Ayurveda has been considered as a form of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM).[1] According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the term “complementary medicine” or “alternative medicine” is defined as a set of healthcare practices that are not part of that country’s own tradition or conventional medicine and are not fully integrated into the dominant healthcare system.[2] In simple words, despite oldest traditional medicines, Ayurveda has not been fully accepted at the global platform. It can be said that the scientific community at the global platform is making unbiased decision but it can also be claimed that the scientific community is failing to understand Ayurveda due to multifaceted and complicated nature of Ayurveda concepts.

To serve at global platform and to gain status equivalent to modern medicine, Ayurveda must be recognized as a major healthcare system instead of CAM and this is possible only after global acceptance of Ayurveda researches. The latest examples showing non-acceptance of Ayurveda researches at the global platform are limited or no authorization granted to Ayurveda research organizations for the treatment of COVID-19. It is well known that Ayurveda includes medicines which act as immunomodulator, rejuvenator, antioxidant, antiallergic, anti-inflammatory, antidiabetic, antihyperlipidemic, hepatoprotective, nephroprotective, cardiotonic, antibacterial, antifungal, antihelminthic, nutritional source, etc. These pharmacological properties are proven by clinical studies and by in-vitro and in-vivo experiments and have been presented at the global platform through peer-reviewed international journals. However, most of these researches are considered doubtful, incomplete, low standard, non-scientific, biased or misleading, and are not in the format which is expected by the global scientific community. Acceptance at the global level will bring Ayurveda under mainstream, will allow Ayurveda physicians as health practitioners abroad, will bring more advanced research facilities and funds, will grant authority for researches evolving diseases such as COVID-19, and will increase career opportunities for Ayurveda scholars. In view of increasing global acceptance of Ayurveda researchers, few renowned authorities have recurrently emphasized on bridging Ayurveda with evidence-based scientific approaches in medicine,[3] need of new research methodology for Ayurveda,[4] improving quality of scientific research and publications,[5] revival, modernization, and integration of Indian traditional herbal medicine in clinical practice,[6] and development of Ayurveda—tradition to trend.[7] Considering these aspects as well as the expectation of scientific community, the main challenges concerning global acceptance of Ayurveda researches are discussed onward.

  The Language Barrier Top

The original manuscripts of Ayurveda are in Sanskrit language, and the translated texts are available in English as well as local language of respective states in India. However even after translation, the fundamental terminologies are still in Sanskrit and cannot be precisely translated in English. This is the reason that the Ayurveda researches contain Sanskrit terms and these terms are not all understandable by non-Ayurveda community. Uniformity, neither the language barrier nor the clarifying correlations, is considered while judging Ayurveda researches and expectation is made to express Ayurveda in terms of modern medicine. The language barrier is difficult to remove but it can be minimized significantly by adopting specified guidelines and completeness of information, mentioning valid supportive evidences as references, avoiding unnecessary Sanskrit words, high-quality analytical data, and scientific interpretation of presented data/observations.[8]

  Multiple Medicine Intervention, Data Interpretation, and Limited Investigation Parameters Top

Ayurveda is a healthcare system which focusses on treating with individual-based approach and not as whole population. Therapeutic concepts of this science expect physiological, pathological, and behavioral details of each individual along with physician’s experience; all this together result in choosing multiple medicines to treat a disease and the choice of medicine varies from physician to physician. One disease–one medicine approach is very rare in Ayurveda. Numerous case studies published in peer-reviewed journals clearly highlight the aforementioned fact. Moreover, due to the lack of facilities and financial limitations, the used investigation parameters are also not as advanced as the researches done in modern medicine. The multiple interventions used in Ayurveda researches create few doubts such as which medicine has which action, which medicine was acting on which pathological factor, what was the drug–drug interaction, what was the pharmacological basis for choosing that specific intervention, how the classical concept of Ayurveda is correlated in physiopathological point of view, and in which way the observed effects are related with therapeutic actions of intervention. Non-Ayurveda readers expect answer of the abovementioned doubts in the form of modern physiology, pathology, biochemistry, and pharmacological point of view. Incorporation of such interpretations is possible based on phytochemical information of herbs which are ingredients of the interventional formulation. However, each herb contains a large number of phytoconstitutes and thus has multiple actions. Moreover, each Ayurveda formulation contains more than one herb that is also combined through some special classical procedures which may alter phytoconstitutes. In such situation, it is indeed very much complicated to clarify the aforementioned doubts. This may be the reason that in most Ayurveda researches, the effect of therapy is presented in the form of Ayurveda concepts such as Rasa (taste), Virya (drug potency), Vipaka (change in taste of drug after digestion), Guna (classical herb attributes as per Ayurveda), Karma (functions/actions of herbs narrated in Ayurveda), and Prabhava (specific action of drug). The limited investigation parameters and interpretation in view of Ayurveda (which is considered as conceptual by non-Ayurveda researchers) create a sense of high limitations, incompleteness, and thereby unacceptability.

Complete expression of Ayurveda in terms of modern medicine is quite difficult, rigorous, time-consuming but possible with help of specialists in the field on pharmacology, pathology, and herbal chemistry. The integrated approach of Ayurveda research with help of aforementioned specialist can create complete research database, which will be acceptable at global platform.

  Challenge at the Level of Research Accessing Authorities Top

In order to understand Ayurveda, it is needed to have knowledge of both Ayurveda Sanskrit literature and experience under Ayurveda expert. Presence of such authority/authorities and accessing Ayurveda researches through him/them is the only best feasible way to judge scientific nature of Ayurveda researches. Unfortunately, the decision-making government authorities at national and international levels are either not Ayurveda experts, not completely aware of Ayurveda fundamental concepts or expect findings of laboratory investigations even for Ayurveda classical parameters which are unidentifiable in laboratory. In such cases, the clinical observations should be given utmost priority and efforts should be made to re-evaluate them to make a decision. This will be too much tedious, expensive, and time-consuming, and it will be best to authorize a team of Ayurveda experts for judgment of researches in Ayurveda. It is worth suggesting that every country must have such specialist teams for every TM which are actively serving under respective countries.

  The Priority Challenge Top

Ayurveda is the most ancient TM and its concepts are based on natural observations and highly in favor of natural physiological mechanisms of human body. As this science is based on strong pillars of observation and experience-based concepts which cannot be accessed via laboratory investigations, it cannot be expressed completely in terms of modern medicine and cannot be perfectly translated to standard English; hence, priority should be given to the observed effects and not to how they are presented and interpreted. It is understandable that data presentation and interpretation is a highly sophisticated art and requires intellectual skills gained after significant training. Most Ayurveda researchers are lacking this data presentation and interpretation skill, but their work is genuine, and observations are critical and significant. Therefore for the betterment of social health, even with limitations, Ayurveda researches done need to be accepted at global platform which is a must step for mainstreaming Ayurveda.

  Challenges Ahead of Safety Studies Top

Safety of medicine is of utmost priority in every healthcare system. However in the context of Ayurveda, the safety of Ayurveda formulations is mostly judged with bias of heavy metal poisoning. In fact, safety is a multidimensional aspect which needs as detailed information of medicine as well as the concerned subject as possible. There are a number of quality researches done regarding safety of metallic, herbo-mineral, and medicines containing toxic herbs. It can be said that little or no attention is given to those researches at global platform. Moreover, the researches in Ayurveda are done by choosing specific reference/methodology from classical text and whether the same methodology is followed by various manufacturers or not is unknown. This difference results in making Ayurveda safety studies of only theoretical significance, and their actual applied aspect is viewed with skepticism. The methodologies which are proven safe by repeated scientific research on particular formulation should only be allowed by Central Government Drug Research Authorities for manufacturing the same by Ayurveda pharmacies. Otherwise, there will be no end to debate of safety of Ayurveda medicines.

The challenges concerning global acceptance of Ayurveda researches are complex in nature and their solution requires faith, understanding, positive synergistic attitude, support, encouragement, facilities for research, and trainings to Ayurveda scholars as well as practitioners and researchers. The path is difficult but it is the need of hour to bring Ayurveda in front line as well as to gain equivalent status and benefits to those of modern medicine. The process has begun by renowned Ayurveda experts by emphasizing on challenges in front of Ayurveda as well as providing their solutions. Whole world is looking toward Ayurveda with trust and therefore it is strong hope that Ayurveda will overcome all the concerned challenges and will become a major healthcare system on global platform.

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Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.

  References Top

Barnes PM, Powell-Griner E, McFann K, Nahin RL Complementary and alternative medicine use among adults: United States, 2002. Semin Integr Med 2004;2:54-71.  Back to cited text no. 1
Traditional, Complementary and Integrative Medicine, World Health Organization. Available at https://www.who.int/health-topics/traditional-complementary-and-integrative-medicine#tab=tab_1, last accessed on January 9, 2021.  Back to cited text no. 2
Patwardhan B Bridging Ayurveda with evidence-based scientific approaches in medicine. EPMA J 2014;5:19.  Back to cited text no. 3
Baghel MS Need of new research methodology for Ayurveda. AYU 2011;32:3-4.  Back to cited text no. 4
Patwardhan B, Vaidya AD Ayurveda: Scientific research and publications. Curr Sci 2009;97:1117-21.  Back to cited text no. 5
Sen S, Chakraborty R Revival, modernization and integration of Indian traditional herbal medicine in clinical practice: Importance, challenges and future. J Tradit Complement Med 2017;7: 234-44.  Back to cited text no. 6
Mukherjee PK, Harwansh RK, Bahadur S, Banerjee S, Kar A, Chanda J, et al. Development of ayurveda—Tradition to trend. J Ethnopharmacol 2017;197:10-24.  Back to cited text no. 7
Rajput DS Approaches for increasing quality of research publications in Ayurveda. J Indian Syst Med 2019;7:197.  Back to cited text no. 8


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