Hygeia journal for drugs and medicines





    Former Post-doctoral Fellow (1977-1979), University of Aston-in-Birmingham, England

    Ayurveda differs from other medical practices on several important points. Ayurvedic theory and practice ate based on the doctrine of tridōṣa, which in turn, is derived from the six schools of Hindu philosophy namely, nyāya, vaiśēṣika, sāmkhya, yōga, mīmāmsa and vēdānta. Ayurveda recommends observation (darśana), palpation (sparśana) and interrogation (praśna) or the patient as the only diagnostic tools for collecting information on the pathological state. This fundamental difference between Ayurveda and Western medicine is ignored to such an extent that clinical testing of ayurvedic medicines is carried out using parameters of Western medicine.  Results accrued from such studies are of controversial nature and as a result, ayurvedic medicines are always proved to be ineffective.

     Ayurvedic theory also lays emphasis on the need to examine minutely ten factors for effective diagnosis and treatment of diseases. These ten factors are: physiological constitution, the tissue elements, digestive efficiency, circadian and circannual rhythms of tridōṣa, age of the patient and chronicity of the disease, stamina, type of land where the patient resides, homologation, food and emotional status. As ayurvedic theory correlates qualities of matter, seasons, symptoms of diseases and several other factors with tridōṣa, any new parameter introduced into ayurvedic practice calls for establishing its relationship with the tridōṣa. For example, clinical data obtained through instrumental techniques like spectrophotometry, electrocardiography, CT scan and the like are to be rationally correlated with tridōṣa, before they are integrated into Ayurveda.

    However, as such an exercise seems to be a difficult task in the light of present state of affairs, it will be more appropriate to depend on ayurvedic approach of diagnosis of diseases and Western knowledge and investigation technology for evaluating the success of ayurvedic diagnosis and treatment.

     Careful study of the Ayurveda text Aṣṭāṅgahṛdaya reveals nearly 2500 distinct symptoms. It is noteworthy that the author of Aṣṭāṅgahṛdaya states at several instances that symptoms are the only tools for gauging the various aspects the disease manifested in a patient.  These symptoms like pricking pain, sleeplessness, hypersomnia, lack of appetite, feeling of taste sensations in the absence of a sensory stimulus and so on need to be analyzed in the background of high or low stages of vātapitta and kapha, high or low stages of the seven dhātu, the three mala, characteristics of diseases, stages of pathogenesis (ṣaḍkriyākāla) and āvaraṇa. The Ayurveda fraternity should seriously consider this option to bring out the full potentials of the sacred knowledge of life. It is certain that such an approach will, in addition to standardizing ayurvedic clinical practice itself, contribute many ideas to Western medicine in its fight against diseases.




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