Integrating and mainstreaming AYUSH – From vanity to empty

Integrating and mainstreaming AYUSH – From vanity to empty

Bringing AYUSH to mainstream treatment is being discussed seriously. But the question is that who would really benefit from such an approach? Have we clearly understood what is there in AYUSH that worth it to bring to the mainstream health care system?

Bringing AYUSH to mainstream treatment is being discussed seriously. But the question is that who would really benefit from such an approach? Have we clearly understood what is there in AYUSH that worth it to bring to the mainstream health care system?

The above subject is discussed by many from ethical, emotional and legal angle. But time has come we have to scientifically discuss about the issue of mainstreaming AYUSH. The million dollar question is that what is there in AYUSH that really needs to be brought to the mainstream health care system?

Starting from bacterial infection to fungal, parasitic to viral infections, allopathic system has drugs. To relieve pain and various health complications, wide range of steroidal and non steroidal drugs are available in allopathic system. Emergency health care and surgical intervention are also well advanced in allopathic system. The allopathic medical system also knows its limitation and it clearly defines and declares certain diseases are incurable. Simultaneously they are also engaged in intense research.

Today no one on earth can claim that they can live without allopathic drugs at least in one stage of their life. Quick relief to complete removal of certain vital organs and its perfect replacement, allopathic system can do. Interestingly none of such treatment approaches with convincing science is available in AYUSH. But AYUSH enjoys the status of system of medicine.

In the above circumstances, where do we find role for AYUSH as system of medicine offering treatment and cure to our health problems? Can we go on deceit our own intelligence by referring the medicinal values of Tulsi, Curcuma, Pepper, Ginger etc.,? Which disease the above herbal products can cure? Certainly AYUSH has paramedical value.

The research article of Vijayaprasad Gopichandran and Ch Satish Kumar entitled “Mainstreaming AYUSH: an ethical analysis” really poses several questions to all responsible citizens of this country. The article has cited several real incidents.

A frightened 17 year old boy came to primary care clinic with complaints of nocturnal emission. The allopathic practitioner had explained to the boy that nothing to worry about the problem and he requires no treatment. Subsequent to that the boy had visited Siddha practitioner in the same primary care clinic. The Siddha healer, on the contrary had viewed the problem differently and claimed that it is due to imbalance in the nadi (pulse) and require Siddha treatment.

Look at the science and approach of both the systems. The problem like nocturnal emission would automatically stop with time. So when some Siddha products are given and even when these Siddha products play no role, the problem is likely to go away. But from the patients point of view, the possibility is high to associate Siddha products only has cured his problem.

An insignificant non medical problem (nocturnal emission) is made to believe as medical problem and treatment is offered by AYUSH. Whereas the allopathic system explain such problems as part of normal physiology and help to eliminates the ignorance and social stigma from patients.
The second case history referred in the research article is also interesting. A farmer from a village had taken his son to primary health centre for cold and fever. When the Siddha doctor prescribed some Siddha products, his son finds no relief and hence had to visit allopathic doctor. But by the time, the suffering of his son has reached its peak. Subsequently the farmer had developed no trust in Siddha system as it had failed to offer any cure or relief even to common problems like fever, cold, body and head ache where allopathic system offers great relief and cure.

The third case history narration is even more shocking.

“A 28-year-old woman reported to primary care clinic with history of swelling of her legs. The Siddha practitioner in the primary health centre had started Siddha treatment to reduce swelling of her feet. She revisited the Siddha healer and during which the swelling had reduced but she had developed a skin rashes. The AYUSH practitioner however continued the same medicine for some more days and added a balm for local application on the rashes.

About a month later she came back to the primary health centre with an emergency condition of breathlessness and severe chest pain. Her blood pressure was recorded and noted to be 180/100 mmHg (very high!). The allopathy practitioner assessed her this time and found her to have high levels of proteins and blood in the urine. More detailed evaluation revealed that she was suffering from a condition called Systemic Lupus Erythematosus”.

Had the real health problem of the patient was diagnosed earlier, irreparable damage of the kidney of the patient could have been prevented. The patient also would not have reached the state of medical emergency. But AYUSH practitioner had failed because AYUSH system is not meant for treatment and cure but to offer some palliative care and paramedical support.

Even by AYUSH staying as ‘side stream’ system of medicine is capable of causing such confusion means imagine what would have been the medical situation if it comes to mainstream?

Some ISM practitioners advocate for an integrated treatment approach to deal modern health care problems where AYUSH and allopathy must go together.

The question is for which medical problem, an integrated health care approach is necessary and useful? Where is the study document, data, scientific validation to support the above claim? Such necessity is raised only by AYUSH practitioners to engage in cross pathy.

Do we have single scientific validation on the complimentary value of any AYUSH products along with allopathic drugs?

In the light of plenty of scientific findings about cross reactivity between herbal products and allopathic drugs resulting in poor performance of allopathic drugs, how we can accept an integrated medical approach of AYUSH and Allopathic system without any scientific basis? When scientific proof and ‘true’ definition of drug itself is lacking for even a single AYUSH product, how some AYUSH people propose integrated health care approach?

What use such integrated approach would do to the patients? Such an approach will certainly be useful to AYUSH healers in private practice to gain legal protection and legal sanctity for cross pathy.

Certainly AYUSH can be integrated with allopathic system not as medical system but as paramedical science.

For example, the patient who comes to the clinic with nocturnal emission practically need no treatment but requires counseling. The allopathic doctor after seeing such patients can refer them to AYUSH healers for counseling.

When patients with fever, head and body ache etc., come to clinic, the allopathic doctors can treat the patient and then the patient can be sent to AYUSH healers for providing valuable health advices, instructions for diet both for managing the present problem and how to prevent it in future.

The patients SLE when come to clinic, the allopathic doctor can treat the patient and if the patient requires massage therapy, the patient can be referred to AYUSH healer. The AYUSH healer also can provide their expertise in counseling and other health tips. This is how we should integrate both the systems.

Such integration also will help AYUSH to enter into the mainstream health care system. Unfortunately some ISM healers think differently. They believe that such situation would affect their reputation of AYUSH healers. Having better role and opportunity for AYUSH to serve the needy is more important than self pride or false self made identity. Some AYUSH healers feel that they will not be seen by the society as doctors if such integration is done.

AYUSH can survive only by re-promoting it as paramedical wellness based system. Cross pathy would neither help to fill up the gaps of allopathic doctors in rural India or would ever help to solve our health problems.

Instead of integration and mainstreaming of AYUSH, promote it as an excellent paramedical wellness based science. Let lakhs of ISM healers in private practice, instead of engaging in cross pathy for own survival offer their expert AYUSH paramedical service for own success and for the success of the system.

Dr S Ranganathan
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