Alternative Systems of Medicine In India (Part-3)

The government has been actively trying to promote AYUSH. Allopathic doctors have come out strongly against it, from decrying the replacement of Hippocratic oath with Charaka Shapath to calling out pseudo-scientific claims on AYUSH medications. However, the government has also pushed back. A recent instance is, of an allopathic practitioner getting notices from Ministry of AYUSH, for trying to spread awareness about an evidence-based claim of some ayurvedic medications causing liver damage.

The government is desperate to fill the gaps in rural healthcare delivery, and promoting AYUSH is one measure taken. But, the reality is that people in rural areas have knowledge of preparing herbal home remedies for simple ailments and prefer allopathic practitioners due to the instant symptomatic relief afforded by the latter ( Most of them do not understand the science behind either). Also, for serious diseases like complicated pregnancies, fractures and kidney stones, which need surgical intervention, tertiary care hospitals with specialists are needed.

There is little doubt that AYUSH has benefits and affords relief for several diseases. The need of the hour is fixing of the broken public healthcare system in the country, rather than quick fixes like compulsory rural service and using AYUSH practitioners. AYUSH has great potential in the wellness industry, which needs to be encouraged. Rather than diluting AYUSH by trying to integrate it with allopathy and making pseudo-scientific claims, systemic reviews and scientific trials to back the benefits with evidence and document the side-effects will make it safe, acceptable and universal.

Author: Mahima Prasad

Doctor, dog enthusiast, UPSC aspirant

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