Q.1 WHAT IS AYURVEDA?
“AYURVEDA” is made up of two words-Ayu_ and Veda. Ayu_ means life and Veda means knowledge or science. Thus “AYURVEDA’ in totality means ‘Science of life’. It incorporates all aspects of life whether physical, psychological, spiritual or social. What is beneficial and what is harmful to life, what is happy life and what is sorrowful life; all these four questions and life span allied issues are elaborately and emphatically discussed in Ayurveda. It believes the existence of soul( life spirit) before birth and after death too.
Q.2 WHAT IS THE ORIGIN OF AYURVEDA?
Ayurveda, the ancient most health care system originated with the origin of universe. With the inception of human life on earth Ayurveda started being applied. The antique vedic texts have scattered references of Ayurvedic Remedies and allied aspects of medicine and health. Atharva-veda mainly deals with extensive Ayurvedic information. That is why Ayurveda is said to be the off shoot of Atharva Veda.
Q.3 WHAT IS THE AYURVEDIC VIEWPOINT OF STRUCTURE AND FUNCTIONS OF BODY?
Universe as well as human body are made up of five basic elements colectively called ‘Panch Mahabhootas’. These are Aakash (Ether), Vayu (Air), Agni(Fire), Aapa (Water) and Prithvi (Earth). The sixth mandatory component of life is Atma (life spirit) without which life ceases. The human body is made up of Doshas (Bio-humours), Dhatus(Body matrix) and Malas (excretable products). Vata, Pitta and kapha, known as Tridoshs are physiological entities of the body which are responsible for carrying out all the functions of the body. Dhatus are the structural entities of thebody. These are Rasa (Plasma), Rakta (Blood cells), Mamsa (Muscular tissue), Meda (Fatty tissue), Asthi (Bony tissue), Majja (Bone marrow) and Shukra (Hormonal and other secretions of genital). Agni (Metabolic fire) is in thirteen different forms and carries out the whole metabolism of the body. The waste products of the body which are excretable are produced in the body as bye-products of metabolism. These are known as malas which include pureesh (faeces), Sweda (sweat) and Mutra (urine). All biotransformations within the body occur through Srotases (body channels) which are the sites for action of agni.
Q.4 WHAT IS THE BASIC PHILOSOPHY OF HEALTH, DISEASE AND TREATMENT IN AYURVEDA?
As per Ayurveda, ‘Health’ is a state of equilibrium of normal functions of doshas, Dhatus, malas and Agni with delighted body, mind and soul. It means that when Dosh-Dhatu-Malas and Agni are constantly in a state of functional equilibrium, then the health is maintained. Otherwise distortion of the equilibrium results into diseases. Erratic lifestyle is believed to be one of the basic causes behind the failure of mechanism of maintaining equilibrium.
Treatment either with or without drugs and application of specific rules of diet, activity and mental status as described, disease wise, brings back the state of equilibrium i.e. health.
Q.5 HOW IS DIAGNOSIS DONE IN AYURVEDA?
Diagnostic procedures in Ayurveda are two pronged; one is aimed to establish the state and type of pathology and second to decide the mode of treatment tobe applied. The former implies examination of the patient and make different investigations to diagnose the disease entity. Inspection, palpation, percussion and interrogation are the main modes of physical examination. The second type of examination is to assess the strength and physical status of the individual so that accordingly the type of management required could be planned. For this examination of Prakriti (Body constitution), Saar (Tissue quality), Samhnan (physique), Satva (Mental strength), Satamya (specific adaptability), Aaharshakti (diet intake capacity), Vyayaam shakti (exercise capacity) and Vaya (age) is done. On the basis of this examination the individual is decided to be having Pravar bal (excellent strength), Madhyam Bal (moderate strength) or Heen Bal (low strength).
Q.6 WHAT ARE THE MODES OF AYURVEDIC TREATMENT?
There exists eight divisions of Ayurvedic therapeutics, namely Kayachikitsa (Internal medicine), Shalya (Surgery), Shalkya (Otorhinolaryngology and Opthalmology), Kaumr Bhritya (Paediatrics, Gynaecology and Obstetrics) Agad tantra (Toxicology), Rasayana (Gerentorology), Vajikaran (Aphrodisiacs) and Bhoot Vidya (Psychiatry).
The principles of treatment are Shodhan (purificatory), Shaman (palliative and conservative), Nidan parivarjan (avoidance of causative and prescipitating factors of disease) and Pathya Vyavastha (do’s and don’ts regarding diets lifestyle). Shodhan therapy includes Vamana (medically induced emesis), Virechana (medically induced laxation), Vasti (medicated enema), shirovirechana (administration of medicines through nose) and Raktmokshan (Blood letting). These therapeutic procedures are collectively known as Panchkarma. Before executing Panch karma treatment Snehan (olation) and Swedan (getting perspiration) are to employed first.
Q.7 WHAT ARE THE MAIN CLASSICAL REFERENCE BOOKS OF AYURVEDA?
The main classical texts for reference of Ayurvedic principles comprise of Charak Samhita, Susrut Samhita, Astang Hridaya, Sharangdhar Samhita, Madhav Nidan, Kashyap Samhita, Bhavprakash and Bhaisajya Ratnavali etc.
Q.8 WHERE DO RAW MATERIALS FOR MANUFACTURING AYURVEDIC MEDICINES COME FROM?
What ever is natural whether belonging to plants or animals or minerals: all are considered the source of raw material for Ayurvedic medicines. However 600 medicinal plant products, 52 minerals and 50 animal products are commonly used.
Q.9 HOW ARE AYURVEDIC MEDICINES MARKETED?
Ayurvedic medicines are marketed in various forms. The main ones are tablets, pills, powders, fermentation products (Asva-arishta), decoctions, medicated fats (Ghrita and Tail). For topical use drops, creams, lotions, liniments and ointments are available. Dried plant extracts in capsule form are also in use presently.
Q.10 IS THERE SCOPE FOR AYURVEDA IN THE CONTEMPORARY PERIOD?
Ayurveda has a wide scope as far as the prevention of disease, promotion of health and its preservation are concerned. Lifestyle rules mentioned in Ayurvedic texts if applied rigorously give definite results. Lifestyle related diseases, drug abuse, degenerative diseases, auto immune diseases and certain metabolic and allergic disorders are well manageable with Ayurvedic techniques and medicaments.
Q.11 IS THERE ANY RATIONALE BEHIND INTEGRTING AYURVEDA AND WESTERN MEDICINE?
Because of multidimensional wide range of efficacy of Ayurvedic treatment, where certain disease conditions or symptoms become refractory to conventional treatment, a harmonised approach of these two systems of health care has proven to be successful and fruitful. Sometimes Ayurveda helps for a synergistic activity while at other places to antagonise and minmise the toxicity of modern drugs.
Q.12 IS AYURVEDA RECOGNISED BY W.H.O?
About 20 years back, W.H.O. adopted Traditional Medicine programme in conjunction with the goal of health for all with the adoption of primary health care approach. W.H.O. has an open mind on Traditional Medicine. However, it endorses only that therapy which has solid scientific evidence with no toxicity. In view of this Ayurveda is duly recognised by W.H.O.
Q.13 DOES AYURVEDIC SYSTEM OF MEDICINE HAVE PLUS POINTS OVER CONVENTIONAL MEDICINAL SYSTEM?
Being holistic and disease eradicative with principles of individualised treatment, condusive to socio-economic conditions of India and with availability of abundance of formulations for any particular disease, use of food items as medicine and lifestyle rules, Ayurveda enjoys a better place in respect of prevention and cure of the disease is concerned in comparison to western medical system.
Q.14 WHAT IS THE MANPOWER AND INSTITUTIONAL PROFILE OF AYURVEDA IN India?
(i) Number of Registered Medical Practitioners 438721
(ii) Number of dispensaries 15193
(iii) Number of hospitals 753
(iv) Bed strength 35182
(v) Number of teaching institutions (Under Graduate) 219
Q.15 WHAT IS REGULATORY MECHANISM FOR AYURVEDIC i.e., EDUCATION AND PRACTICE?
The Central Council of Indian Medicine is a body corporate established under the provisions of IMCC Act, 1970 to maintain Central Register of Practitioners of Indian Medicines and for dealing with matters connected therewith. The Council is responsible for maintaining the minimum standards of education.
This Council as per the provisions in the Act. Introduced the following courses through Regulations.
1. Ayurveda Degree Course — Ayurvedacharya (BAMS)
2. Ayurveda Post GraduateDegree Course — Ayurved Vachaspati (MD Ayurved)
3. Ayurved Varidhi — Ph.D Ayurveda
Q.16 How should I access Ayurvedic Medicines?
Ayurveda Medicines are being sold in two ways, by practicing Ayurveda doctors and through retail counters. Again retail counters are of two types- purely Ayurvedic & secondly alongwith allopathic medicines. Classical Ayurvedic medicines as mentioned in original texts of Ayurveda are usually available in former type of counters whereas patent and proprietary medicines are mainly available in allopathic chemist shops. Both types of chemists by and large are available in almost all small and big towns/ cities where from required Ayurveda medicines can be accessed.
Q.17 How do I find a competent Ayurveda practitioner?
Any Ayurveda doctor having such degree/ qualifications as mentioned in 2nd,3rd and 4th schedules of Indian Medicine Central Council Act, 1970 is a recognized medical practitioner. BAMS and MD (Ayurveda) degrees of new pattern and equivalent qualifications of the time before the enactment of Central Act are recognized qualifications for the purpose of registration and practice of Ayurvedic Medicine.
Q.18 How safe is to buy Ayurveda Medicines over the counter?
Medicines are safe if the manufacturer is licensed and the label of the container specifically describes date of manufacturing, expiry date, batch number of the medicine, dose and indications alongwith ingredients of the medicine and necessary precaution.
Q.19 Can one take Ayurveda Medicine with modern medicines?
If not indicated otherwise by the attending physician, Ayurveda Medicines can generally be taken alongwith allopathic medicines. Moreover, Ayurveda Medicines are used as adjuvant to allopathic medicines in most of chronic and degenerative diseases. As such there is no harm to consume simple herbal formulations of Ayurveda even without the prescription of the doctor but mineral based medicines must be used after due consultation and advice of the doctor.
Q.20 What are the common Ayurveda Medicines which can be used without consulting the doctors?
Simple herbal medicines like powders, pills & tablets , syrups and decoctions can be used for the management of common ailments like cough, cold, fever, indigestion, vomiting, diarrhea, loss of appetite, body & joint pains etc, even without the prescription of a doctor. Similarly, herbal tonics/ health foods can also be consumed if the same do not create any alarming discomfort or upsets.
Q.21 How is India’s traditional knowledge on medicinal plants going to be protected and what is being done to avoid patents on Indian medicinal plants?
As per International Patent Classification (IPC) non-patent literature sources are many and diverse as compared to patent literature which is usually wholly contained in several distinctive databases. The situation when patent literature being easy searchable and available resources of non-patent literature sources very wanting leads to wrong granting of patent rights to newly claimed subject mater, especially patents on medicinal plants/plant products. In order to address the need of having easily accessible non-patent literature data base pertaining to traditional knowledge of uses of medicinal plants/medicinal plant based products or formulations, the concept of Traditional knowledge Digital Library (TKDL) is in the process of creation. This TKDL put to use will have a dual role to contribute in avoidance of grant of patents, firstly being productive in nature it will provide readily the information to examiners of patents during the examination process for grant of patent and secondly it being reactive in nature, can be utilised at a time of opposition proceedings for avoiding a patent on a traditional knowledge based claim.
Q.22 What are the main Rasayana (Immuno-modular) Medicines of Ayurveda?
Ashavgandha (Withania somnifera), Guduchi (Tinospora cordifolia), Amla (Emblica officinalis), Haritaki (Terminalia chebula), Shilajeet (Black bitumen or Mineral pitch), Suvarn Bhasm (incinerated Gold with herbal excipients) are very potent Rasayana medicines, prescribed judiciously in somatic degenerative disease conditions for immuno-modulation and and adaptogenic effects. Mandookparni (Bacopa Monieri), Mulethi (Glycirrhiza glabra), Guduchi (Tinospora cordifolia) and Shankhapushpi (Convolvulus Plenricaulis) are from main Psychomodular Rasayanas used extensively in mental disorders and for improving higher mental functions like concentration, retention and memory, Vijaysara (Pterocaspus marsupium) for Diabetes Mellitus, Katuka (Picrosshiza kurco) for liver disorders Vidang (Abies Webiana) for Hoelminthic induced Gasto intestinal problem, Bakuchi (Psorylia Corylifolia) for Leucoderma Bhallatak (Semecarpur anacardium) for piles and autoimmune disorders), Shirees (Albizzia Lebek) fr allergic conditions), Vacha (Acorus clamus) for speech disorders, haldi (Curcuma Longa) for urinary, allergic and septic problems, Neem (Melia Azadiracta) and Khadir (Acacia Catechu) for skin problems and Chirayata (swertia chirayata) for febrile disorders are some of the other Rasayana Medicines for disease-wise use.
Apart from the above mentioned medicines there is an eleborate code of conduct described in the classical text for achieving rejuvenation and maintaining youthfulness.
Q.23 What are the aphrodisiacs/Sexual Tonics for improving the quality of semen/sperm count and motility and fertility?
Musli, Kaunch, Shatavari, Gokshur, Ashavgandha, Utangan, Salmpanja, Vidari, Vijaya, urd, Bhautak, Akarkara, Abhrak Bhasm, trivang Bhasm, Makardhvaj are some of the Vajikarana medicines which on judicious use and adoption or specific do’s and don’ts of diet, definitely give a desired result.
Q.24 Is there any regulation for manufacturing Ayurvedic Medicines?
Yes, there exists such a regulation bywhich commercial manufacturing of Ayurvedic medicines is regulated. Manufacturers have to take prior license from the State Drug Controlling Authority for running an Ayurvedic Pharmacy. Formulations whether classical or patent proprietary have to be got cleared from the competent authority before starting commercial manufacturing.
Q.25 Is there any code of conduct for good manufacturing practices (GMP) in Ayurvedic Pharmacies?
Till date there was no provision/regulatory binding for ensuring good manufacturing of Ayurvedic medicines. Imposition of GMP through an amendment in the current licensing procedures has been implemented w.e.f. 23-6-2000. This will not only pose stringent guidelines for having standard hygienic conditions in the pharmacy, but will also help in improving the quality of medicinal products.
Q.26 What is Herbal Tea?
In fact, herbal tea is a misnomer, which confuses the consumer that it is a sort of tea made of tea leaves and other herbal ingredients. Actually, Herbal Tea is a combination of certain medicinal herb components devoid of tea leaves, which on boiling gives a palatable decoction and can be used as an alternative to conventional tea. In accordance to the composition the so called herbal tea has appetizing, antacid, soothing, antitussive, anti common cold and anti pyretic effects.
Courtesy: Department of AYUSH, Government of India