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Year : 2020  |  Volume : 7  |  Issue : 5  |  Page : 53-55

Potential for interdisciplinary research in ayurveda

Department of Swasthavritta, Dr. D. Y. Patil College of Ayurved and Research Center, Dr. D. Y. Patil Vidyapeeth, Pune, Maharashtra, India

Date of Web Publication26-Feb-2020

Correspondence Address:
Medha Sanjay Kulkarni
Department of Swasthavritta, Dr. D. Y. Patil College of Ayurved and Research Center, Dr. D. Y. Patil Deemed to be University, Pune, Maharashtra
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/jdrr.jdrr_79_19

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“Interdisciplinary,” is a twentieth-century word. Interdisciplinary or interdisciplinary studies involve the combining of two or more academic disciplines or research into one activity. Ayurveda is classified into eight main sections, namely Kaya-General medicine, Bala – pediatrics including obstetrics, Graha-psychological disorders due to possession by evil spirits, urdhwaga-diseases of the head (eyes, ears, nose, throat and teeth), Shalya-Surgery, Damshtra-Toxicology, Jara-Geriatrics and rejuvenation and Vrisha – aphrodisiacs and the treatment of sterility. These areas can be conveniently classified into basic biomedical, behavioral, and clinical. There are many disciplines within each of these areas and significant overlap in and between these three major groupings. These overlapping of the areas can be considered as interdisciplinary approach of the ancient Indian medicine system. Again, over the course of time, many new additions were done in this science. In Sushruta Samhita sutrasthana chapter 4 in shloka 7, it is clearly written that by the study of a single science a man can never understand the true knowledge; hence, a physician should study as many allied branches of science as possible. Moreover, the physician who studies and practices medicine with all aspects is the true physician. So here, it is clearly indicated in Ayurveda science that an interdisciplinary approach is must to acquire the holistic knowledge of the science. The present article is an effort to explore the scope of interdisciplinary research in Ayurveda.

Keywords: Ayurveda, interdisciplinary, research

How to cite this article:
Kulkarni MS. Potential for interdisciplinary research in ayurveda. J Dent Res Rev 2020;7, Suppl S2:53-5

How to cite this URL:
Kulkarni MS. Potential for interdisciplinary research in ayurveda. J Dent Res Rev [serial online] 2020 [cited 2022 Jun 28];7, Suppl S2:53-5. Available from: https://www.jdrr.org/text.asp?2020/7/5/53/278914

Editor: Dr. Sarika Chaturvedi

  Introduction Top

Ayurveda is a traditional science of Indian medicine. There is exclusive possibility to evolve Ayurveda as a science of total health and long life. It has a holistic approach which covers both health and disease condition involving body, mind, and spiritual aspect. Modern knowledge system is represented by biomedical science which integrates biology and medicine. Physiology, biochemistry, biophysics, and microbiology are the integral components of biomedical science. Whereas, medicine is represented by pharmacology and pathology. Both the sciences share same vision of open and sincere scientific enquiry, but their perspectives on the nature of man and universe are different. Ayurveda is basically practical, systemic, and holistic compared to biomedical sciences which are theoretical, structural, and have reductionist approach. Its theories are based on cellular and molecular biology, whereas Ayurveda uses the logical theories of Pramanas, its fundamental principles. Ayurveda adopts personalized approach by considering individual genomic variation (prakriti) to design specific treatments most suitable for a particular person. This philosophical difference between these two sciences must be bridged using appropriate research methods for the development of evidence base research protocols. At the same time, the classical approach of Ayurvedic research methodology should not be compromised for convenience of existing scientific methods.[1] Basic concepts of Ayurveda such as Prakriti, Agni, Doshas, Dhatus, Rasayana, and Shatkriyakal can contribute newer directions in biomedical research.

Many major health problems faced by society are extremely complex and inherently require research from various dimensions of science. Ayurveda has classified its areas of expertise in eight branches. It has based its fundamental principles such as Lok purush samya siddhanta or man is epitome of universe, Panchamahabhoota theory, Tridosha theory, concepts of Dhatu, Agni, Ama, Srotas, and Ojas. Theories of Ayurveda were supported by evidences according to period and conditions when they were established. Ayurveda is a fully developed science which has a critical scientific approach based onits Pramana vijnam (4-fold testing methods). In spite of all this primary strength the ancient researches have clearly mentioned the need of integration and collaboration from allied sciences. In Sushruta Samhita Sutrasthana chapter 4, it is mentioned that an Ayurvedic physician must explore contemporary sciences for collecting new proofs constantly to update and validate its basic fundamental principles.

Present review was aimed in the various fields of Ayurveda and other contemporary and allied science. Various aspects of researches such as literary, experimental, therapeutic, and clinical were considered from interdisciplinary perspective. Critical analysis was performed to evaluate interdisciplinary approach adopted by various experts. After considering all the avenues, following analysis was performed.

  Background of Interdisciplinary Research in Ayurveda Top

After considering the developments and additions in the science the commentaries on Samhitas were written. These are the best example of interdisciplinary literary research in Ayurveda. These commentaries were useful to throw light upon the hidden meanings of the shlokas. Furthermore, critical and systemic reviews and translations of Ayurvedic ancient texts in modern languages helped to establish a coherence between the Ayurveda fundamentals and modern science concepts. However, few projects of clinical, experimental, or drug research were attempted but without substantial results. Some steps were taken by the organizations like the Central Council for Research in Ayurvedic Sciences, Central Drug Research Institute, Department of Ayurvedic, Yoga and Naturopathy, Unani, Siddha, and Homeopathy.[2] At present, the areas covered in ayurvedic research are basic concepts, literature, clinical management, and drug research in respect of new formulations and standardization. In a nutshell research in Ayurveda can be classified as research in fundamental conceptual area and in disease management.

Often the research undertaken in Ayurveda has been using research methodologies adopted from conventional medicine that are mostly based on basic sciences such as physics, chemistry, or biology. However, these may not be always suitable for Ayurveda research. Second, Ayurveda believes in holistic approach and hence, objectivity is lacking in the interpretations of the researches. The entire life science of Ayurveda is based on macrosome-microsome concept (Lok Purush Samyasiddhanta) this is in clash with the conventional simplistic approach that determines the composition of matter and its action while Ayurveda's philosophy emphasizes on cognizant experience and subjectivity.

  Scope of Interdisciplinary Research in Ayurveda Top

There is a vast scope for research in all the eight branches of Ayurveda from an interdisciplinary perspective. In each of this collaboration with other basic and allied sciences some research has been done, but no noteworthy outcomes are noted. Many plausible important areas of Ayurveda's unique theories are till date unexplored. Hence, a totally new aspect should be adopted for research in Ayurvedic science and therapeutic framed specifically. These aspects need collaboration with experts of Ayurveda, basic sciences as well from contemporary and allied sciences. Some areas for interdisciplinary collaboration in the branches of Ayurveda are listed below.

Basic fundamental science (Samhita Siddhant)

Conceptual and explanatory or interpretive study in the basics, namely Dosha, Dhatus, Mala, Agni, Ama. Ojas and Srotas, Marma, Prakriti as well in Rasa-Guna-Veerya-Vipak-Prabhavais needed. This will help to create an appropriate interface for the development of specific research methods for easy understanding.[3]

Pharmacology (Rasashastra and Bhaishajykalpana)

Inclusion of knowledge about botanicals, zoological, and mineral sources with respect to physiological, pathological, toxicological aspects is the specialty of Ayurveda. Ayurvedic Vaidya's use various compositions, formulations, and dosage forms with knowledge of therapeutic and untoward effects of these substances.

In the area of drug research by adoption of reverse pharmacology (clinic to laboratory) approach one can understand mechanism of action of the Ayurveda drug at various biological levels and optimize efficacy, safety, and acceptability of that particular drug. By interdisciplinary involvement of pharmaceutical science, molecular level action of herbomineral preparation can be targeted. In the past studies, many medicinal herbs are evaluated in this manner. Few examples are anti-stress, anti-anxiety, adaptogenic activities of specific medicinal plants.

Concept of evidence in Ayurveda

There is a myth about Ayurvedic medicine that it has no evidence base. Since ancient times, Ayurved science has been very conscious about evidence. The described theories and practice of Ayurveda have been evidence based in its own course of time frame. In Ayurved concept of evidence is based on pramana vijnam or 4-fold testing. However, there is a need to evolve favorable and recent meticulous proofs to consider Ayurveda as global science. For example, in therapeutics Pharmacodynamics and Pharmacokinetics of the modalities of various Panchakarma therapy is an unexplored area. In this notion, integration of biochemistry, physiology, molecular biology, and biophysics can be helpful to obtain new evidence so that pharmacodynamics and kinetics can be more easily explainable. In the management of diseases along with panchakarma, integration with physiotherapy and yoga can give better results.[4],[5]

Multi drug therapy

The concept of multi drug therapy is presently in practice for the diseases such as tuberculosis, leprosy, and HIV/AIDs for the effective management of these diseases. This concept is not new to Ayurveda practitioners. The use of botanicals as single drugs in natural form or in processed form is in practice; however, wide range of multiingredient combinations from simple mixtures to complex processed dosage forms are more in practice. Usually, modern medicines use target-based single drugs which have known pharmacokinetics, dynamics, and precise dose. Ayurvedic formulations are multi ingredient and its pharmacodynamics are complex; hence, the efficacy of that particular combination has to be assessed as a whole. Integration of biochemistry will help to identify the resultant action and the ingredient responsible for the same.

Pharmacology (Dravyaguna)

Medicines in Ayurveda mainly herbal. Many of them are not available at present, some are extinguished and some are doubtful. Due to unavailability of certain drugs their substitutes are used. Initial integrated work on chemistry and pharmacology of active biochemical ingredients derived from medicinal herbs at renowned institutes like CSIR, ICMR, and DST under the complex drug research project delivered many promising molecules like glycosides, alkolides, for example, curcumin and guglip.

On the other side, due to globalization many new herbs which are not native are used. Properties and actions of these drugs are not known from Ayurveda perspective. Hence, establishing the properties of such herbs is one of the important required tasks.

By taking help of basic sciences of botany, ethnopharmacology, microbiology, bioinformatics, biotechnology, tissue culture, and horticulture researchers can propagate the endangered species and establish characteristics and properties of the immigrated medicinal herbs. Furthermore, for safety and efficacy studies of single drugs and combinations newer technologies like in silico methods can be used.

Immunomodulation (Rasayana)

Rasayana is one of the eight specialties of Ayurveda. It specializes in rejuvenative recipes, dietary regimens, special health promoting behavior and drugs. When properly administered these treatments can bring many benefits like longevity, memory, intelligence, disease freedom, youthfulness, and many more. Drugs like Ashwagandha, Shatavriare evaluated in respect to immunomodulator action and found to be a better and safer drug than Ginseng.

In Charak Samhita, 50 groups of ten medicines each are described in dashemaniya chapter. Out of them, Vayasthapak group is specifically mentioned having action of rejuvenation or hridya group is mentioned for cardioprotective action. These botanicals can also be tested for immunomodulation action.

Rasayanas for immunostasis action

The prevalence of lifestyle diseases is increasing. Among them cancer is conventionally treated by chemotherapeutic agents which are immunosuppressants and cytotoxic. Many plant-derived drugs have cytoprotective potential and immune protective activity. Moreover, they are demonstrating promising results as adjuvant drugs, which improves immunity and ultimately helpful in dealing with untoward effects of chemotherapy without compromising their anticancer activity.

  Conclusion Top

Today's Ayurved physician has to have a creative communication with medical professionals from different systems of medicine. However, many of the Ayurveda students lack a robust functional theoretical foundation. There is a lack of exposure to recent advances and to disciplines like public health, cell biology, epidemiology, biomedical engineering, pharmaceutics, clinical pharmacology, immunology, statistics, and information technology. As in contemporary research methodology all these disciplines play a crucial role, integrated approach in these areas is required. Interdisciplinary approaches between the contemporary and Ayurveda line of treatments will help to achieve holistic health strategy which will be a step towards the achievement of global recognition. Integration with other AYUSH systems like Homeopathy, Unani, Siddha, Sowarigpa, Yoga has to be also considered. Allied therapies like physiotherapy integrated with panchakarma and Yoga can be beneficial in disease management. To conclude, it is important to remember that today's interdisciplinary research often ends up as tomorrow's “traditional” discipline.

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Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.

  References Top

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