Whether Ayurveda formulations stand scientific scrutiny is a question most patients ask but is resented by practitioners of this medical system. I spent several years studying herbs and natural solutions, speaking to Tibetan, Ayurveda, modern medicine experts, and scientists. Let me summarise the understanding that I developed.
- A majority of modern medicines available to us are of plant origin. Post discovery, to produce on a scale and maintain consistency, most of these medicines started getting manufactured using chemicals.
- There are standard globally accepted protocols before any drug can enter the market. The regulatory approvals worldwide are robust. All modern drugs have to go through repeated efficacy trials, and all medicines must mention side effects.
- Ayurveda education and training stand on the foundation of Charkha and Sushruta Samhita, written by ancient scholars 2500 years ago.
- Medical formulations available and prescribed are still largely based on these ancient recommendations.
- Clinical trials on Ayurveda formulations are not robust and universally accepted for their efficacy.
- Ayurveda medicines do not provide details of the analysis of chemical combinations found in the formulations, and there are no safety and efficacy trials available for consumers.
- Most Ayurveda practitioners have little or no understanding of the constituent herbs in their formulations. The botany, collection methods, processing, medicine formulation processes, and quality control are not part of the training curriculum. Herb collection from forests is often done surreptitiously without regard to their sustainable management. It has led to many species becoming scarce and being close to extinction.
- It is fallacious to believe that herbal medicine has no side effects.
- Ayurveda is wrapped in cultural nationalism. It is time it is unshackled from this wrap and put on a purely scientific basis.
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