As we all know, Ayurvedic medicine system is an ancient system. If we suffer from any disease then we can get it treated with Ayurvedic medicine by following simple home remedies. Even if we suffer from an incurable disease we can still get a treatment in Ayurveda. Though there are so many facts associated with Ayurvedic medicine but still there is one section of people who are still suspicious about its credibility. Today we are here to address those suspicions and also to find a solution for them. As always, again we have with us, Dr. Parmeshwar Arora who is going to address our suspicions. Welcome to our show doctor.
Q. As I have just mentioned there are many facts of Ayurvedic medicine system but still some suspicions remain, like these medicines are not standardized or they contain metals. Including these, people carry various other doubts and myths in their mind. How do we dismiss those myths and what actually the fact is?
First of all, I would like to thank you for admitting the fact that first, it is the oldest system of medicine, second it teaches us how to keep ourselves healthy and third, how to treat diseases on day-to-day basis by using home remedies. Most of all, I appreciate you for acknowledging the fact that through Ayurveda even those diseases can be treated which are considered incurable in other systems of medicine.
In spite of these facts, it is true that some people have doubts about Ayurvedic medicines. First point that you mentioned regarding this was that Ayurvedic medicines are not standardized. Here, I would like to tell you that when it is about defining standards in Ayurvedic medicines, it has always been a difficult subject. I personally have attempted it as a student as well as a practitioner. See, I will give you an example…say you buy apple every day but on one particular day your family says that the apples are quite delicious today. Next day you buy similar looking apples and the quality is also, apparently as good but your family says that they don’t taste as good as yesterday’s apples. Similarly, when we consider herbs used in Ayurvedic medicines….there are various points of considerations like… the plant was plucked in which particular season, what was the height of that plant at that particular time etc.. For that matter, can you standardize even one household item that you use at home… can you standardize the grains used in your kitchen or can you standardize vegetables, fruits for that matter. If you are buying the same vegetables on two separate days, and if you compare their chemical composition, you can’t ensure that they match each other exactly. As I personally believe, when we talk about herbal medicines then the standards, which according to me is not a requirement for the general public but it is requirement for higher policy makers or foreign countries.
We should ignore the standardization and focus on growing herbs in clean atmosphere and healthy manner and then properly cleaning them, drying them and preparing medicines out of them. So, according to me, instead of paying too much attention to standardization, we should leave that matter to those who need them. The need for the day is that we cultivate and produce herbs in right manner (by right manner, I mean cleanliness) so that we can ensure that they have no contamination when they are cultivated. Talking about precision, Ayurveda even specifies that which medicine is to be taken in what period (kaal) of day and with which mantra (chant) and while facing which direction. So, bring them in practice and ensure that the herbs that you use to prepare medicine (whether it is powder, syrup, concoction etc), are cleaned properly and have no contamination. If, instead of this, we focus on deciding the standards, it will be our own loss. Those who talk about standardizing Ayurvedic medicines, I will only tell them that… as it is not possible to set standards for the apples that you buy everyday (they may sometime vary in colour, taste or even in property, to some extent), similarly it is almost impossible to set defined standards for Ayurvedic medicines too. If I ask my patients who are suffering from fever for a long time, to use Giloy (heartleaf moonseed in English) as decoction. One of them might get Giloy of thickness similar to little finger and the other may get an old Giloy stem which is comparatively thicker. Obviously, the thicker Giloy will be better in properties than the thinner one but it doesn’t mean that the thinner one will have no properties at all. Both of them have same properties, though one may be a bit better than the other. So, what I intend to say is…Since there are many differences, it is very difficult to limit them. To me standardization in Ayurvedic medicine should mean growing the herbs hygienically in clean environment, without use of chemicals and fertilizers, and then preparing medicines out of them. That too, hygienically and in a healthy manner (maintaining cleanliness at each step). These are definitely my standards and this is what I follow.
Q. You mentioned about chanting mantras while you consume your medicine. What is the significance of mantras in effectiveness of medicines?
See, your expressions have an important role to play in your treatment. If you are taking a medicine while trusting its efficacy, you get good results. When we do research, there are double blind studies. There is a term called placebo which refers to observing the effect of a particular medicine on the patient. In this procedure, while we fill one capsule with medicine, we fill the other one with glucose or sugar or something like that and then randomly we give these capsules to patients. While one patient is given the actual medicine the other is given a capsule with no medicine (blind study).
When we study the results, we observe 20-30% placebo effect (the patient who were given fake capsules also experience improvement). Here, it is actually the psychology which has worked…since the patient believed that he had taken medicines, his condition improved. Similarly, when we take the medicines while chanting mantras, we are actually purifying our mind and this positivity is attached to the effectiveness of medicine and thus there are desired results on the particular patient. In contrast, if you take certain medicine with negative feelings (i.e. you don’t trust its efficacy), there are good chances of its failure to achieve the desired results. So, it is all a matter of your psychology or expression.
You said it right doctor. In fact, I believe this positive attitude should be adopted in every field of life. So visitors, whenever we are ill and taking medicines, it is important that we tell to ourselves – we will be OK. Sometimes affirmations help a lot. If you keep on repeating it several times in a day that it is fine and you will be alright, then it works and you certainly improve. Ayurvedic medicines have been helping us always and will continue to do the same.