Frequently Asked Questions About Ayurveda
To know the unknown to see the unseen is the basic hunger of all human beings. The hunger for search helped markedly in the development of our civilization. Here I am giving the most searchable items on the giant web based search engines regarding Ayurveda.
What is Ayurveda?
Ayurveda is the science (Veda) of life (Ayu). It is not a science of merely disease and treatment, but it includes all the aspects of life aiming the ultimate happiness through the attainment of Physical, Mental, Social, and Spiritual health. This science deals with the advantageous and disadvantageous as well as happy and unhappy states of life along with the beneficial and harmful measures for the life (Carak Samhita). This science of life has being practised from the very beginning of the human race and was being recorded since the days of Punarvasu Atreya, Agnivesha and Dhanvantari which is dated back to five thousand years back. Ayurveda which had to face its bad days during 14th-18th century due to the suppression by the Moghal and British rulings is again being practised through worldwide after the recommendation of WHO to it as an alternative health system.
Do Ayurvedians practice Surgery?
From the very early age, Ayurveda had being practised in synchronization between School of Carak (Medical System) and School of Dhanvantari (Surgical System). The great physician Carak himself advises some cases in his book to be referred to the physicians of School of Dhanvantari, where the cases were better intervened with surgical procedure. The surgeon of Ayurveda Susruta recorded the surgical principles in his book Susrut Samhita that is considered the most ancient book on surgery. Most of the modern surgical principles, instruments, concepts of pre-operative and post-operative fluid therapy, the concepts of disinfections before and after surgery etc. are only extraction of susrut samhita. Therefore, Susruta is credited as the father of surgery by the whole world. In the days of Susruta the anaesthetic procedure was of course not so developed and therefore the modern Ayurvedic surgeons often seek helps of the modern anaesthetic procedure during the surgical operations.
Isn’t the Ayurveda a system of herbal medicine?
Most of the ingredients of Ayurvedic medicines are of plant origin, but it is not very true. It will be better to say that the Ayurvedic drugs are of natural origin and not of synthetic origin as the allopathic system does. The drugs in Ayurvedic system were mostly prepared from plant, animal, as well as mineral origin. The metallurgy in India got remarkable attention after 4th century through the work of Vagbhatt, Banabhatta etc and finally in the 14th century, the metallurgy got its full bloom by the effort of Indian chemist and physician Nagarjun, Bhairavanada, Nityanatha, Annantadeva Suri etc. However, the Rasaushadhi (a class of ayurvedic medicine) prepared by different Shodhan (special processing for medicinal purpose) procedure can be said as semi synthetic preparations.
Is it true that Ayurvedic medicines do not have side effects?
As all the medical systems have some side effects in their drugs, Ayurveda has also the same. As only the Ayurvedic drugs are of natural origin does not indicate that, the ayurvedic drugs do not have any harmful effect. Susruta, an ancient Ayurvedic surgeon says when a poison is administered in a small dose and in a proper way may act like a medicine, on the other hand when an amrita (amber/ medicine) is used in an improper means may act like a poison. Therefore, there is no strict demarcation between a medicine and poison. It depends on the means and method of administration. Like other medical system, Ayurveda also uses a lot of poisonous substance in treatment. As a result, though the ayurvedic drugs have a minimum side effect than the other systems, it can also be harmful for our body when not administered in a proper condition and measure as per requirement. Therefore, any ayurvedic drug should never be taken without the advice of a registered Ayurvedic physician.
Can an Ayurvedic physician prescribe Allopathic drug?
None of the medical systems is defined based on the drugs they use. The systems differentiate based on their concept on constitution and functioning of the body, production of disease, their pathogenesis, and their treatment principles. Ayurveda differentiate itself from other systems by its basic principles not by the origin of drugs it uses. Carak, an ancient ayurvedic specialist in medicine says that there is no substance in the universe that cannot be used as medicine provided one knows how and where to administer them (Ca, Su, 26/12). Therefore, from the very beginning, Ayurveda believes in using the substance, which can treat a disease as medicine without causing any remarkable bad effects. Relying on ayurvedic basic principles of disease occurring and their management, Ayurveda permits any applicable substance and procedure in treatment procedure. The ayurvedic literature, which is comparatively a little ambiguous and cryptic, is better understood if one has a minimum knowledge in modern science. Keeping this in concern Indian Government and health authority of this country had tried for an integrated system of Ayurveda with modern science. As a result, the Ayurvedic students are equally taught with both Ayurveda and modern (allopathy) system simultaneously. During the study of every subject like Anatomy, Physiology, Pathology, Pharmacology etc. in Ayurveda, interpretation of this ancient knowledge with modern system is well taught to Ayurvedic students. Thus, an Ayurvedic Practitioner is equally trained to deal a disease in both Ayurvedic and allopathic point of view. Hence, Indian Jurisprudence has emendated a law under Drug and Cosmetic Rule’ 1940, section 2 (ee) that the state can give permission to registered Ayurvedic Physician to prescribe allopathic drugs. More than 13 states in India have already allowed the BAMS doctors to prescribe allopathic drugs in need. Assam, Maharastra, Himachal Pradesh, Andra Pradesh, Tamilnadu are some examples. Recently an effort has also been put to integrate Ayurveda in all the medical studies of allopathic system in India. Such integration has already been started in the state of Maharastra.
What are the further studies one can do after having BAMS degree?
Answer: After doing BAMS Graduation, one can further continue their study in various Ayurvedic Post Graduation courses. Various Ayurvedic College and Universities in India and abroad offers PG (M.D./ M.S) courses in not less than 15 departments. Many Ayurvedic and Modern Medical Colleges offers a number of short-term Diploma courses in various Ayurvedic and Modern medicine and surgery. Some of such Diplomas are also available through distant learning. One can also study Business Administrative courses (MBA etc.) after BAMS or MD, which gives a large career, options in Hospital Administration or Drug Industries etc. There are also options to appear in different level of Civil Administrative Service examinations. Question: What are the career options after doing BAMS or MD (Ayu)? Answer: After doing Graduation or Post-Graduation in Ayurveda, one can accept a variety of career in various fields in our country as well as abroad- 1. One can simply work as a Medical Officer under NRHM, Govt. of India, 2. Indian government appoint BAMS and MD under Public Service Commission. 3. One can do private practice by his own. 4. One can practice in various nursing homes as a consultant or a resident doctor. 5. If, anyone interested in working abroad, they can join as a research scholars in a huge number of countries like USA, Japan, Malaysia, Pakistan, Srilanka and other neighbour countries of India. One can also start their career as a scholar in both clinical and laboratory researches in India itself. 6. One can opt for teaching profession in various Ayurvedic College in India and abroad after doing post-graduation. 7. If one can like to do administrative service, he can go for the entrances for administrative service after doing BAMS. 8. One can also go for management service in Hospitals or Drug Industries after having an MBA after BAMS or MD (Ayu). 9. Various Ayurvedic medicine companies or nutrition product companies appoint BAMS or MD in various ranks.
How dependable are the Ayurvedic Medicines sold by some Quacks (Canvassers, Kabiraj) in open markets ?
Ayurvedic System is based on a very logistic and a unique science of ancient philosophical origin. Further, modern practice of Ayurveda deserves detail knowledge of modern science as well. Each ayurvedic medicines are prescribed to prepare in some unique procedures and forms. Such Quacks we are talking about has no knowledge on either of these. Most of the ayurvedic medicines sold by these quacks are Rasaushadhi, Samskar (Ayurvedic purificatory procedures) of the Rasa Drugs before the preparations of which are strictly advised. Otherwise, such medicines have a lot of bad effects and also required benefits are not expected from such improperly prepared medicines.
What about the Ayurvedic Products advertised through various media?
An explorative research has already been done on a number of herbs used in Ayurvedic System as per modern science and further studies are going on. Today we know the chemical compositions and modern mechanism of actions of almost every drugs used in Ayurvedic medicines. Many medicine companies are preparing some medicines in the name of ayurvedic proprietary and widely advertising them through various media. However, the real fact is that most of such products are a mixer of ayurvedic ingredients along with some hormones and synthetic chemicals etc. They often cheat the customers showing the products doing quick actions, which is in fact, can be considered as adulterated. Moreover, a pure Ayurvedic medicines picking from the advertisements is not safe as because, it is various time uncoordinated to have an ayurvedic medicines in a modern diagnosed disease. Use of Ayurvedic treatment requires strictly ayurvedic diagnosis or ayurvedic interpretation of the disease, which cannot be done without by a registered ayurvedic physician.
How safe are the heavy metals used in Ayurveda?
Heavy metals like Mercury, Lead, and Tin etc. are known to cause damage to Kidney and some other harm to our body. It is the reason why many modern medicine practitioners are often seen to advising their patients not to use Ayurvedic Rasaushadhi (a category of Ayurvedic medicines) and they apprehend that such Ayurvedic formulations are toxic to the kidney, liver or to other systems. Nevertheless, the real fact is that neither the Ayurvedic system applies heavy metals in toxic form nor Ayurvedic Rasaushadhis are toxic as the modern practitioner claims. Ayurvedic Metallurgy (Rasa Shastra) is a huge subject, which deals with the special purificatory procedures (Shodhan kriya) of every metal used in Rasaushadhi and their harmless administration procedure into the organic body. Ayurveda itself describes the toxicity that may arise if such metals are used without treating by the Shodhan procedure mentioned for respective metals or other poisonous drugs. These toxic symptoms mentioned for a non-purified metal resemble the metal toxicity described by modern science. This means ancient Ayurvedic Scholars were completely aware of the metal toxicities and they used these metals only after finding a way to transform the metals into non-toxic by the process of some Shodhan procedure. In modern days, many studies have been made on the Ayurvedic Rasaushadhi (metal containing formulations) and no harmful effect has been found unlike it is claimed. For example, an ayurvedic formulation ‘Makaradhwaja’ that is prepared using Mercury, Gold etc. was studied and found not to be nephrotoxic but protective to the kidneys from nehrotoxins. Shukla et. al. observed that ‘Makaradhwaja’ has no toxic effect on kidney, on the contrary it protects the kidney against the toxic effects of Mercuric chloride. In this regard, some western doctors like Sir Charles Pardeay quotes the ayurvedic metallic preparations as the greatest triumphs of Ayurveda. Easily saying like the Iron can be administered in its oxidised (Fe2+ or Fe3+) form with the presence of VitC or Folic Acid, ayurvedic scholars found the means how some other metals can be medicinally utilised. Ayurvedic scholars have been using Dhatri Lauha, the finely powdered rust Iron (oxidised Fe) amalgamating with Amla, which is a depo of VitC since 3 thousands of years. Now, if modern science would not have been discovered that oxidised iron can be admininstered safely with the presence of vitC, would it be fair to say that ayurvedic procedure of administering Iron is not safe even after observing that the same can cure number of anaemia cases? Of course, if the heavy metals are not properly purified (undergone Ayurvedic Shodhan process) as specially described for respective metals, it may cause many adverse effects as mentioned by both Ayurveda and modern science. This is one of the reasons why seeking ayurvedic medicine from quakes or from anywhere who has no institutional study of Ayurveda may be dangerous. Therefore, any Ayurvedic products should never be taken without consulting a registered ayurvedic physician. Moreover, whether it is Ayurvedic, modern or any other system, side effects is always there with a medicine if not properly administered. Medication is always advised by calculating the ratio between the benefits and the harms by the medicine. A huge bulk of modern medicine has a number of side effects does not mean that we should not take the modern medicine. Important thing is that a practitioner of the respective system is better known about where and when, how and what type of medicine from his system will be beneficial to his patients.