Modern Medicine And Ayurveda Have Managed To Enter Into A Fight At The Worst Possible Time
The recent statements made by Baba Ramdev and views expressed by the head of the Indian Medical Association, Dr Johnrose Austin Jayalal earlier, are both condemnable.
If India had a combined task force of allopathy and indigenous medical systems of Ayurveda and Siddha, it could well have made a cost-effective yet clinically efficient firewall against the pandemic.
The nation is facing a bio-war like situation. The Wuhan virus unleashed from China is playing havoc within the country. Every medical professional is functioning today as a frontline warrior. Anything that distracts the nation's attention from the pandemic should be considered as nothing less than an act of betrayal, if not legally, at least socially. Hence the central government is absolutely right to condemn the statement of Yogacharya Baba Ramdev regarding Allopathy.
Equally wrong is the way Ayurveda and Indian systems of medicine, in general, are dismissed by some influential establishment allopathy physicians as pseudo-science.
Even more strongly condemnable and downright perverse are the views expressed by the head of IMA (Indian Medical Association) – Dr Johnrose Austin Jayalal, who in an interview to a foreign Christian magazine spoke of him working as a Christian doctor and spoke of 'Christian healing' and stated that more 'Christian doctors' are needed in the secular institutions of India. Such explicit communal depiction of the medical field, to say the least, is shocking.
And no mainstream media outlet criticised him for this unethical evangelical rant that was clearly unbecoming for a medical professional.
The general prejudice against allopathy comes from a misplaced sense of anti-colonialism and a general negative perception of reductionist methodology.
In reality, allopathy is not strictly 'Western', in the sense that it has absorbed within it knowledge treasures from varied indigenous cultures and traditions.
Some of the most potent drugs of allopathy medicines are from Native American shamanic medicine. The underlying philosophy of allopathy medicine may also create an uncomfortable feeling for many as it tends to move towards a materialistic and reductionist worldview. But the point is that it works. It misses. It errs. It does course correction. Yet, by and large, it works.
On the flip side, it is supported by big pharma industries, which apparently value profit curves more than concern for the general good of all. From food charts to medicines, recommended pharma-profits also seem to play a hidden role in the way allopathy functions as a system.
Here is an illustration:
In the early 1880s, the ability of the synthesized chemical, acetanilide, for sudden reduction of fever in patients was accidentally discovered by doctors in Germany. Then in 1893, physiologist Joseph von Mering discovered a derivative of acetanilide - N-acetyl-p-aminophenol. He considered it a toxic chemical.
In 1947, physiologists of Yale University rediscover N-acetyl-p-aminophenol and dismiss notions of toxicity and point out its ability to reduce pain and fever. No side-effects, they declare.
In 2011 a study showed paracetamol causes reductions in haemoglobin similar to another drug which has been proved to create internal bleeding like ibuprofen and better known aspirin. In fact, it was the concern about the stomach bleeding and ulcer related to aspirin which boosted paracetamol sales back in 1962.
By 2014 when the whole sequence of events made it to the cover story of 'New Scientist', the scientists were discussing whether paracetamol was a 'safe-placebo' or not. (Tiffany O'Callaghan, Cure-all No More, New Scientist: 31-May-2014)
This is just one instance of one of the most common over-the-counter drug.
In the case of indigenous systems like Ayurveda, there is a strong need to integrate it with the diagnostic techniques as well as the scientific rigour of allopathy. There are important discoveries being made in various fields from nano-medicine technologies to neuro-immunology, ethno-botany to evolutionary biology, cellular biology to genomic studies. These cannot be tapped into for Ayurveda without institutional integration and cooperation.
And it has to be said that most allopathic doctors have responded with prejudice, when it comes to even an integration in name.
The much-maligned decision of the Narendra Modi government to integrate Indian medical systems like Ayurveda, Unani, Siddha, homoeopathy, yoga and naturopathy with Western allopathic healing is actually a much-needed systemic change.
But who opposed it tooth and nail, and on what grounds?
Dr Johnrose Austin Jayalal – and in his own interview he gave to Christianity Today he said it was because he associates this with 'cultural value and traditional belief in the Hindutva'.
It takes quite a lot of conceit and ignorance to characterise Ayurveda negatively as Dr. Jayalal did in his interview to Christianity Today.
According to Dr. Apurve Mehra, founder of Biogetica, in recent trials conducted as per the 2020 released WHO guidelines for evaluating natural remedies for fighting the Wuhan virus, Ayurvedic medicines Reginmune and Immunofree have shown tremendous promise:
Covid patients on average take 14 days to be negative without treatment and 11 with treatment. Many were shocked that Ayurveda outperformed the current lines of treatment. The result of this trial is possibly the best news for India at the moment as we are buckling under the second wave.
Dr. Apurve concludes the article stating this:
Hence this new data is clearly showing that herbal medicines from the Ayurvedic, TCM, and African traditions are extremely efficacious and effective in treating and preventing Covid and that Dr’s from all traditions should recommend them to patients regardless of the Dr’s training and belief system
Of course, some eccentric Siddha and Ayurveda doctors have been making some unsubstantiated claims. Anecdotal and visibly exaggerated, these claims, coupled with the aversion for allopathy, can cause havoc during a pandemic. Blind hatred and prejudice against any system of medicine will always result in loss of knowledge and an increase in human suffering.
Then there are the vaccine opponents. Those who oppose vaccines should be condemned by practitioners of all medical systems as enemies of humanity at this juncture.
If only we have a combined task force of allopathy and indigenous medical systems of Ayurveda and Siddha, we could have made a cost-effective yet clinically efficient firewall against the pandemic.
A national crisis has provided us an opportunity to focus on and further develop our indigenous knowledge systems. At least now, a group of scientists, medical professionals from allopathy and Ayurveda-Siddha, as well as credible physicians from all non-allopathic medical disciplines should come together and issue a statement of harmony and cooperation resolving to use all their resources of knowledge to fight the pandemic and not each other.
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