Ayurvedic Medicine Essay
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Class name Date Introduction Ayurveda, the ancient Sanskrit word (Ayus/living and Veda/revealed wisdom) comes from the traditions of the ancient Indian sages, also known as Rishis. The word “denotes the enlightened knowledge of all aspects of optimal, healthy, everyday living, and longevity” and, its followers believe Ayurveda to be a “fortress of wisdom” (Ninivaggi 2008, xvi).
Being that the medical practice of Ayurveda goes back as far as 6,000 years, 3,000 of those years recorded and verifiable, it is worth inquiring about why the seemingly successful methodologies and medical practices have not been adopted into the Western framework of scientific medicine.
Although Ayurvedic methods and its practitioners are becoming more popular in the United States, with the increased interest by North American patients in preventative and holistic treatments, there appears to be a disconnect about these procedures as validated by providers within North America and our system of payers (i. . , the insurance agencies).
As indicated by the Rocky Mountain Institute of Yoga and Ayurveda website, a Boulder, Colorado agency, it was learned that although reimbursements can be found, it often times requires a unique “system of billing and coding” to ensure payment. There are numerous reports and studies being done that show how Ayurvedic medicine is not just an ancient version of complementary and alternative medicine, but rather these studies demonstrate the validity for support of the treatments.
One example of this would be in cancer treatment, there are herbal and traditional medicines that are being studied worldwide to validate their effect on cancer. Alternative and more natural approaches to curing and managing cancers are becoming more popular and common. With the existing regulatory policies and perceptions surrounding Complimentary and Alternative Medicine in the United States, it is my goal to show and provide statistics that will increase awareness and acceptance of the medical wisdom of Ancient Ayurveda.
There will be an investigation and explanation showing how Eastern Indian healthcare treatments have been scientifically examined and how they can successfully be adopted into the U. S. healthcare model, via a more global perspective on illness, disease and the prevention of disease from a wellness and holistic approach. Review of Literature The following section summarizes the history of Ayurveda, describes major trends and holes found in the existing research, and explores the evidence both supporting and disproving Ayurveda as a viable and proven healthcare strategy. The History of Ayurveda
The concept of Ayurveda was developed sometime around 2500 and 500 BC in India. Ayurveda is rooted in Buddhist and Hindu traditions, but it has been said to connect with Asian medicine (Warrier 2011). Essentially, Ayurveda suggests that the body’s ability to heal itself “acts through three forces called doshas. These are vata (space and air), pitta (fire and water), and kapha (water and earth)” (Yeager 1998). In order to live a healthy life, these doshas must remain balanced. Typically, Ayurveda is most often used to prevent disease, and has proven beneficial in the treatment of high blood pressure, cholesterol and stress (Yeager 1998).
Ayurveda is also helpful in everyday life. Translated, Ayurveda means “science of life. ” This definition is relevant because the ancient Indian system of health care focuses views of man and his illness evolving from the body and its external factors (Yeager 1998). In the present context, the Ayurvedic system of medicine is becoming more widely accepted. It is practiced in India and also in the more economically evolved countries such as Europe, the United States and Japan (Samy, Pushparaj and Gopalakrishnakone 2008).
In the mid-1990’s, The World Health Organization also recognized Ayurveda as a system of sophisticated traditional medicine that involved the study of life stimulating observation, and fostering scientific research (Berra and Molho 2010). With the existing and evolving global healthcare crisis that is also currently plaguing the United States (U. S. ), one would believe that an affordable, safe and proven health system so globally recognized would have been able to pass at minimum the test of time but, this is not the case.
Although the recent decade has brought about many observations that have added to the scientific credentialing of Ayurveda and other forms of Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM), there are still concerns about the ancient Indian treatment and its scientific validity, this is especially true in the U. S. (Rastogi 2010). “Before the recent upsurge of traditional medicine in a global perspective, Ayurveda was persistently criticized for its ambiguity and philosophical tenants incomprehensible to occidental mind” (Rastogi 2010, 1).
Ayurvedic Research Methods Ayurveda is arguably an under researched topic, as scholarly research did not truly begin until the 1970s. This stunted research can be separated into three distinct categories: the examination of traditional Ayurveda in pre-colonial South Asia, the examination of Ayurveda in colonial and post-colonial times in South Asia, and an examination of Ayurvedic practices outside of South Asia (Warrier 2011). The first wave of Ayurvedic research used treatises written in Sanskrit to decipher the origins of Ayurveda.
This research helped to conceptualize and understand the Ayurvedic understanding of the body, health and practice, which heavily differed from other representations during that time (Warrier 2011). The second wave of research showed that Ayurvedic practices were encouraged in India until 1835 when British policy changed. When India gained its independence in 1947, the government took immediate steps to standardize Ayurveda; however, the practice was still poorly funded. The effects of British colonialism and favoritism for biomedical has been long lasting.
Current practices of Ayurveda are much of hybrid between the two medical practices (Warrier 2011). The third wave of research focused on the advent of Ayurveda in the West (the United States and the United Kingdom) beginning in the 1980s. Deepak Chopra and Maharishi Mahesh Yogi are cited as influential individuals who popularized Ayurveda in the West. Although Ayurveda became more popular, it was discounted as a “New Age” fad. The third wave of research largely avoids discussions of healthcare reform, or conversations on the “legitimacy and authenticity of their [Ayurveda] practice” (Warrier 2011).
Ayurvedic research presents additional problems. Firstly, “It’s difficult to conduct double-blind placebo-controlled trials, [… ], because Ayurveda is a holistic system that treats individuals differently with multiple methods” (Hontz 2004). However, these modern scientific studies often ignore the primary objective of Ayurveda, which is to see patients as individuals in need of unique care. Secondly, the new and emerging research has not been disseminated, and the new textbooks on the practice have not been updated. Because this new wealth of information has not yet made it to professionals or students, it is of little use.
Within the study of Ayurveda, numerous scholars are calling for new research methodologies (Baghel 2011). In the past, many studies have focused on the use of the plants and herbs (herbal pharmacology) in Ayurveda. Despite the screening of over 2000 medicinal plants over ten years, no conclusive data emerged. Based on the inconclusive findings, other researchers continued to suggest that Ayurvedic research should address the uses and benefits of plants. This research has led to advances in traditional medicine, such as the use of certain plants when modern medicine is unavailable (Baghel 2011).
Currently, Ayurvedic research is concerned with altering the research methodologies, separating itself from traditional scientific practices. Another issue with Ayurvedic research is the translation of terminologies. “For instance, Vata is not air, Pitta is not fire and Bhasma is not oxide- they have much deeper scientific meaning” (Patwardhan 2009). Because Western scientists fail to grasp the full meaning of certain terms, the scientific research of Ayurveda falls short and its reputation has actually been damaged.
These failures concerning Ayurvedic research have resulted in certain consequences. Scientists have simply viewed Ayurveda as a means to bolster modern medicine, rather than a unique practice. In addition, eastern Ayurvedic practices have reached a standstill in the midst of the research and implementation controversies. This has severely paralyzed the Ayurvedic educational system, along with its practice (Patwardhan 2009). Many scholars and practitioners conclude that Ayurveda needs to define itself and establish a universal methodology (Baghel 2011).
Unless this occurs, Ayurveda will continue to loose momentum. Scholars have suggested adopting a transnational approach to Ayurveda in order to refocus the research. Evaluating Ayurveda from a transnational perspective means looking at, “[… ]where personnel, ideas, meanings, symbols, products, and practices are constantly crossing boundaries [… ]” (Warrier 2011). This viewpoint would ideally look at the influence of of local practices on global traditions. The American Healthcare System: Evolution? There is evidence in the U. S. nd throughout the world of a growing demand for alternative healthcare choices, based upon the best practices from varying healthcare models.
This demand for options appears to be based on an opinion that any single system of healthcare has its inadequacies and will not be able to solve all contemporary health care needs (Shankar 2010). It is this perhaps this assessment that has brought about the dramatic growth of the Complementary and Alternative movement as well as the awareness and evolution of myriad methods of Integrative Medicine (I. M. ) in the last ten to fifteen years.
Luckily for proponents and practitioners of Ayurvedic medicine and research, governments and regulatory bodies appear to have also begun to understand the need for varied approaches to health and wellness with the intent that all new models must also establish their safety, quality and efficacy (Shankar 2010). Agencies such as the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM) and The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) are just a few of the institutions in the United States that are starting to provide guidance and policy around C.
A. M. and I. M. , which is a positive step because without these policies and approvals, there would be no evolutionary progress whatsoever in terms of Ayurveda in delivery in the U. S. Over the past two decades, U. S. mainstream medicine has become more accepting of Ayurveda and other alternative medical practices. “A widely quoted study in the New England Journal of Medicine suggests that a third of Americans spend $14 billion a year on alternative medical methods” (Perry 1994). Yet much of this money comes from consumers’ pockets.
Although the interest in alternative medicine has increased in recent years, it is still difficult to find insurance coverage, but some companies are offering group and individual policies (Dharamsi 2011). Although the coverage is substantial, it is not full coverage. The need for insurance companies to alter their plans is becoming more pressing as the prevalence of Ayurveda increases in the U. S. Despite this acceptance, many questions and controversies remain. Doctors in India and the U. S. are concerned with the standardization of the practice of Ayurveda in the U.
S.. In India, practitioners of Ayurveda are required to obtain a Bachelor of Ayurvedic Medicine and Surgery (BAMS) degree, which is the equivalent of five and a half years in medical school (Yeager 1998). However, no such lengthy certification exists (or is required) to practice in the United States. This is further problematic because many of the herbs and treatments used in Ayurveda are relatively untested or unregulated. This means that a person seeking Ayurvedic treatment is left with the responsibility to conduct their own research and find a reliable practitioner.
In order to mediate this issue, some U. S. medical schools are beginning to offer courses in Ayurveda similar to those seen in India (Swapan 2007). Yet, these courses are seminars and are completed in a matter of days. Ultimately, standardization is also necessary to price services so that they can be covered by insurance conglomerates. Medical scholars are investigating the potential of an integrative medicine (IM) approach (Patwardhan 2009). These same scholars often look to China as a successful example of integrative medicine.
China has accomplished this feat by requiring medical students to complete coursework in Western and traditional medicine (Patwardhan 2009). This dualistic approach means that doctors can provide patients with a combination of treatments. A similar situation is arising in India at the Banaras Hindu University where students integrate modern medicine with Ayurveda and Yoga (Patwardhan 2009). However, integration is sometimes difficult because implementation and methodologies have to be developed and agreed upon.
Further, many risks are involved with integration, including the potential to lose identity; conversely, there is the possibility of Ayurveda being overtaken by modern medicine. To be successful in the integrative endeavor, Ayurveda must “recognize, respect and maintain the respective identities, philosophies, foundations, methodologies, and strengths of all systems” (Patwardhan 2009). Research Approach Form of Knowledge Chronic disease in the United States (U. S. ) is now more of a challenge. The number of Americans suffering from chronic disease has increased rapidly in the past two plus decades, and today 51 percent of the U.S. population is struggling from conditions such as heart disease, cancer, diabetes, and stroke. Chronic disease in the U. S. is so prevalent that it is largely accepted as a part of everyday life.
Unfortunately, conventional Western medicine is largely focused on treating the symptoms of chronic disease and prevention often goes ignored. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Chronic diseases such as heart disease, stroke, cancer, diabetes and, arthritis are among the most “common, costly and preventable of all health problems in the U. S. Yet, they account for “7 out of 10 deaths or 51% of deaths” annually, according to a 2008 report of 2005 mortality data. The Problem. With the traditional Western model of healthcare in America being as financially lucrative as it has been historically (i. e. , reactive disease processes, hospitalizations, pharmaceuticals, insurance plans) one can only imagine that there is not much of a desire by these money making industries to move toward a model of preventative medicine. It is also less likely that these industries would consider Complementary and Alternative
Medicine (CAM). The proposed research study aims to explore the ancient art of traditional Eastern Indian Ayurvedic medicine, its validity as a scientifically proven means of symptom prevention, daily healthcare regimen, disease curative and whether or not this form of CAM has a current presence in the U. S. or any potential future in our existing healthcare system. Research questions. The research will address the following questions: 1. What is the Ayurvedic philosophy of health, healing and medicine? 2.
What does Ayurveda in North American U. S. culture consist of? Who are the practitioners? Who are the patients? 3. What does current research say about the outcomes of chronic diseases treated with Ayurvedic methods? 4. Are Ayurvedic treatments currently being paid for by U. S. insurance plans, if not, why not? 5. What are the trends with regard to CAM treatments in the American healthcare model? Target Audience The audience for this research and those that will benefit from its findings would be the United States population as a whole.
Not only will the current and potential patients of the ancient practice benefit by a growing and increased awareness and hopeful change in insurance policy if needed but, current practitioners and those considering the study and certification of Ayurvedic medicine should be relieved and assured of their futures as proven through reports of clinical outcomes and accepted methods of Ayurvedic delivery in Western culture. Controlling Factors Since Ayurveda is a somewhat recent discovery in The United States , the expanse of its historical data originates from India.
The majority of its practitioners and patients are native Eastern Indians and the information found within academic reports can mostly be traced back to organizations hailing from India. Since a determination about the effectiveness and utilization in The United States is the goal of the research, the information may be difficult to locate. The healthcare publications and journals that will report Ayurvedic outcomes will likely be written by Indian physicians based upon Indian lifestyles and dynamics of health within the country of India.
I would assume without further research and investigation, that there will be some conflicting if not incomplete and/or possibly biased information being reported. Data Collection Methods A dual approach of qualitative and quantitative research review will be done. I will use the world wide web and other library resources to locate industry white papers and respected journal articles that show specific recordable and scientific data about Ayurvedic deliveries and outcomes, statistics on use and trends, specific to the United States.
Since the Boulder, Colorado area is a well-known community of those who seek or practice CAM therapies some information can be obtained by agencies willing to share their experiences, knowledge and clinical data. IRB approval will be required to perform any type of survey or case study that will be implemented with these approving agencies.