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Research In Ayurveda: More Priority Required

-By Dr. Rajendra Kumar Giri

With the advance in modern medicine and technology i.e. more potent means of diagnosis and treatment, many of the bacterial communicable diseases have been brought under control but new health problems in the form of chronic diseases have emerged. There is growing disenchantment with inability of modern medicines to provide convincing answer to chronic diseases like psychosomatic disease, AIDS and Cancer. On the other hand, large number of the global population perhaps, more than half, have no access to health care at all while for many of the rest, the health care they receive does not answer the problem.

Ayurveda and other indigenous practices represent a collection of human knowledge and experience which has been in practice before modern scientific methodology evolved. In the present context, traditional system of Ayurveda may be effective, simple, cheap indigenous means of medical care for the betterment of human life. The prime focus should be on whether Ayurvedic concept and practices have any factual basis. Can traditional indigenous system like Ayurveda solve the health problems without further research?

Ayurveda and other indigenous system are currently running parallel to country's western model of medical system. They have their own theories, rationalists, methodologies and practices which can not be shown in mathematical models and their efficacy can not be proved by statistical significance. Therefore these practices are considered as unscientific and not accepted in the scientific community. There is always a question mark on the rationale of promoting Ayurveda amongst the health planners of the country. It is not accepted scientific medicine and not approved by the reputed medical institution of the west. If we trace the history of modern medical knowledge, in fact, has been derived from intuitive, observational proposition and cumulative experience obtained from others. This science is also review of outcomes, errors, false theories and mistaken interpretation of primitive thoughts. Not only is there an increasing concern about the cost and allocation of health resources, but the efficacy of modern medicine is fundamentally questioned from the various viewpoint. In spite of being an integral part of modern society, modern medicine has not been able to escape from a series of controversy.

At present, the researches have been conducted in Nepal where problems are enormous. Various government research institutes are currently investing much on nonproductive sector. In the health sector, Nepal Health Research Council (NHRC) was established in 1991 to promote, guide and coordinate the scientific and quality research in health in Nepal. These institutes are not yet paying attention to conduct research on Ayurveda sector. Existence of indigenous Ayurvedic concept and system cannot be simply ignored. In the private sector, health research has become fashionable. One can come across many signboards of research institutes in various parts of Kathmandu, even nursing homes, private hospitals, clinics and diagnostic centers with the name 'Research' attached signboard. What research are they doing? Is the research based on the need of the country? The present important potential research areas may be community owned health institution. Ayurvedic system, rural health service delivery mechanism, utilization of local herbal medicine, integration of faith healers and traditional healers and other indigenous practices.

In Ayurveda sector, there are various books based on ideas and principles of Ayurveda like Samhitas (Charak, Susruta, Kashyapa, Astanga Hridaya, various NIGANTUS (books of medical plants)). They need to properly researched and documented. The Ayurvedic methods of treatment like Panchakarma, oleation message and sudation are becoming popularly accepted for chronic diseases. In surgery, KASHA-SUTRA technique for the management of anal fistula. There are some drugs which are recognized through research. The research has shown that Guggulu is an interesting drug for Ayurveda medicine for the management of various types of lipid disorders including serious complications like Atherosclerosis, Ischemic Heart diseases. In the same way Varun (Crataeva Nurvula), Kulatha (Dolichus Biflora), Goksura (Tribulus Terristaris) are very useful for urinary stone.

The department of Ayurveda has 279 essential Ayurvedic medicine mostly comprising herbal ingredients under about 40 therapeutic categories. Basic research is required on chemical constituents to regulate safety, efficacy and quality. These medicines play an important role in the health care of the large proportion of population. In the rural areas herbal practitioners and faith healers use herbs. A critical evaluation is required concerning phytochemistry and pharmacology of the herbs.

Research is an integral part of medical system and hence it should coordinate and initiate research on all aspects of Ayurveda. There is urgent need for the government to establish an Ayurvedic Research Institute furnished with the required equipment for research of international standard in matters related with the use of Ayurvedic medicines, entities and treatment. The Ayurvedic manuscripts available in the country needs to be preserved, databank, reference library should be established. Ethnomedical and ethno-botanical should be primary requisite for research on medicinal plants. For the above purposes, all the available resources of the country in national institutes like Tribhuvan University, IOM, NHRC, Department of Botany, RONAST, the government's department of plant resources and Forestry department should be coordinated.


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