IT HAPPENS ONLY IN INDIA,
GREAT JOB MR. PARMAR
it is good to eat as many as vegetables and fruits (totally vegetarian), but my aurvedic doctor asked me to stop eating every...
Modern science and ayurveda have often had a difficult relationship. At times, the ancient system of medicine gets derided for charlatanry. But increasingly, modern science is recognising ayurveda. The April 15 issue of Down To Earth in 1993 reported another instance of such collaboration. Edited excerpts:
Scientists working to develop new ayurvedic drugs are concentrating on the treatment of memory disorders. Says Sukh Dev, professor of chemistry at IIT-Delhi, “Ayurveda prescribes several remedies for improving memory and intelligence. Our experiments are validating many of these claims.”
Dev and his team have prepared extracts from several plants that are classified in ayurveda as having memory enhancing properties and tested them. The extracts are from plants such as ashwagandha, shankhapushpi and jattamansi. The researchers say the way in which these plants affect the brain is different in each case.
Ashwagandha and shankhapushpi alter the concentration of neurotransmitters—chemical substances known to play vital role in mental processes. For example, an abnormally high level of Gamma Amino Butyric Acid (GABA) or a reduction in the level of acetlycholine, both neurotransmitters, can affect memory.
Dev says recent tests showed ashwagandha reacts strongly with GABA, while shankhapushpi enhances acetylcholine concentration and jattamansi stimulates production of a chemical in the brain called nerve growth factor that can reverse nerve decay caused by aging. His hopes are high that jattamansi could yield a drug that could arrest memory decline in the elderly.
The thrust of Dev’s research is to verify through modern testing techniques the efficacy of medicinal plants listed in ancient ayurvedic medical texts. His research has already led to the development of “guggul”, an ayurvedic formulation that is being marketed for treating obesity, lipid disorders and rheumatoid arthritis. Dev says he expects research in ayurveda to provide drugs that are particularly effective in enhancing memory and intelligence, retarding aging, protecting the liver and increasing immunity. About 25 per cent of modern medicines, Dev notes, are derived from plants mentioned in texts of traditional medicine. Traditional systems of medicine practised in other countries also have provided a fertile source for modern drug development and Zhong Yao, practised in China, is a case in point. It has been intensely researched in the past two decades and this has yielded a number of drugs whose effectiveness have received international acclaim.
In India, however, despite the considerable effort in researching ayurvedic formulations by institutions like the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research, the Indian Council of Medical Research and the Central Drug Research Institute, success has been limited. “Crores of rupees have been spent on the study of Indian medicinal plants and other formulations,” says Dev, “but the outcome has been disappointing, chiefly because most of these studies were half-hearted. Unfortunately, India does not have adequate research facilities to study ancient ayurvedic formulations on a modern scientific basis and develop them into potent medicines.”
Dev says there is need for a well-equipped centre to research the potential of ayurveda drugs. The department of science and technology is considering estabilishing such a centre with facilities for research in botany, pharmacology and clinical testing.
Modern science’s recognition has exposed ayurveda to the corporate pharmaceutical companies. Markets are flooded with medicines, quality of which are not fully studied. In 2010, the government notified that ayurvedic drugs will be clinically tested. But, due to absence of post-market surveillance, quality control remains a problem