Ayurveda – Timeless Medicine
Ayurveda is considered as the most ancient & timeless science. It is a sophisticated yet powerful science of healing. Modern science has developed exponentially in the last few decades & is helping mankind in different ways.
Both these systems of medicine have their own plains of understanding. A collaboration of both these systems can open up a new dimension in curing disease in a better way. Application of one science in understanding the other & integrating it in the treatment aspect can do wonders to mankind. This paper by Dr. Antonio Morandi will highlight the probable possibilities of integration & opening up new ideas which can help in the diagnosis & treatment of a disease.
Ayurveda is considered as a way to look at nature, it is an ancient science of healing. All the concepts described in Ayurveda are experiential. It always gives a holistic approach to health or the disease. All the observations made are dynamic in nature.
Modern science on the other hand is mainly experimental, which has advanced in the last few decades. It is based on the analysis of the things & there is a standardization of the observations.
Difference between the modern science & Ayurveda is given in table 1.1
Traditional – Ayurveda
Based on Analysis
Based on Synthesis
Based on Objects
Standardization of observations
The shape gives rise to Function
Function to give reason to shape
Both the modern system of medicine & the traditional system of medicine work on different plains. Integration of both these systems may lead to the loss of identity of anyone or both. But if there is any possibility to integrate both these systems & combine their knowledge then it will give a different perspective in the diagnosis & treatment of the disease.
Gap Junction concept
Due to the difference in the viewpoint of both the systems, there lies a gap that needs to be filled for proper integration of the systems. The principles of Ayurveda can be the answer in filling these gaps through the concept of “Loka Purusha Samya”. By observing nature many problems in filling the gaps can be solved. Every object in nature collaborates with each other similarly every cell in the human body collaborates with each other. The cells as well as the objects in nature pass the information through collaboration & synchronization between them. Such synchronization does not harm the individual object but only helps in better its understanding. This concept of transfer or bridging can be called a “Gap Junction Concept” which can be applied for the integration of both systems.
Using this concept, the commonalities between both the systems can be sorted out by which there can be a transfer of information & knowledge. Such synchronization can change the perspective of both the science giving rise to a more global understanding of the realities.
Few experts including Dr. Antonia are presently working on Collaborative medicine & science wherein there is search to identify the common points from each system & combine both so that a new paradigm is formed which can explain nature in a better way.
The principles of modern science are mainly based on chemistry whereas principles of Ayurvedic science are based mostly on physics. Thus, Ayurveda plays a key role in the understanding of modern science as chemistry is based mainly on physics. This theory can help in completing the bridge between the two systems.
Some of the common junctions which can be explained has been given as an example below.
The formation of the universe is based on many theories & among them, the “String Theory” has been in the headlines.
The String Theory or the “Theory of Everything” is a theoretical framework in which the point-like particles of particle physics is replaced by a one-dimensional object called string.
There occurs an interaction between these strings by the permutation & combination; creating vibration among them. Such vibrations give rise to a matter of reality.
In Ayurveda, the universe is explained based only many philosophies, one of the most acceptable being the Sankhya philosophy. According to this philosophy / Darshana the universe is caused by the interaction between the Purusha & Prakrithi, which can be correlated with the interaction among the strings.
The Purusha Prakriti interactions give rise to the Satva, Rajas & Tamas can be correlated with the formation of Vibrations among the strings. Such vibrations give rise to the panchamahabhuta matter or the reality.
Rajas can be considered as a tendency to the movement, Sattva the balance & Tamas the resistance to the movement. The combination of these creates a vibration. When these vibration is plotted on a graph it seems similar to “OM”
In both these theories, such simple vibrations lead to more complex vibrations which further form the matter or the panchamahabhuta. These matter shows its own properties and due to these properties, the matter is perceived.
According to Ayurveda, the Perception of the object is done by the indriyas. Each mahabhuta is connected to an indriya which is having a similar vibration. Here the connecting bridge between the mahabhuta & indriya is done by the Guna which is the perception. This process can be said as a phase interference.
When one of the mahabhuta interacts with a different indriya of different vibrations then we are not able to perceive the object, this is called destructive interference. eg: eyes cannot perceive sound. But when a mahabhuta interacts with the indriya of similar vibration then there is a perception, this is called constructive interference. Eg: Perception of sound by the ear.
We can use this guna concept to understand the modern understanding of perception. In modern science, the perception is understood by Quanto – Morpho – Functional informational unit. According to this, the perception is done by Motion, Cohesion & Transformation. Through the motion & cohesion, we may have the perception of consistency & density. Through the motion & transformation, we have the perception of temperature & time. Through cohesion & transformation, we have the perception of shape & structure. So in the modern viewpoint, we need all these types of considerations to understand reality.
The guna on the other hand is a simultaneous knowledge & contextualization of data & their dynamic cause & effect relationship because guna is the expression of the real interaction between the different vibrations of the bhuta & the indriya.
So by understanding the concept of Guna, we can understand the concept of perception in modern science in a much better way.
Complex Adaptive System & Coherence of Guna, Dosha & Dhatu.
When coherent ensembles of Guna are grouped in conceptual items then it gives rise to Dosha ( Vata, pitta & kapha). Further, the coherent ensemble of dosha when grouped into functional items gives rise to Dhatu & when there is a coherence of the dhathu we get the Ojas.
The health of the body is maintained if the system is able to adapt which is made possible by the maintenance of coherence within the body. Thus ojas plays a vital role in the maintenance of the health of the person. In an unhealthy person, there is no coherence leading to reduction of ojas & then leading to ill health.
In modern science adaptability & coherence is understood by the Complex Adaptive System.
According to this concept, each system has coherence with each other & it adapts to the environment. A human body can be considered as a macrostructure. This complex macroscopic structure is a collection of relatively similar & partially connected microstructures formed in order to adapt to the changing environment & increase their survivability as a macrostructure.
In nature also we can see many examples of coherence & adaptability, one of the examples being the starling birds flocking together. These birds make a group & move around in coherence with each other They move in such a pattern so as to rescue themself from any predators & to move faster in air. Thus the coherence of each bird helps them adapt to the environment & helps in the survival of the individual bird itself.
In a human body also each cell has to be perfectly synchronized to make the whole human body healthy similarly in ayurvedic concept also the coherence of the dosha, dhathu, panchamahbutha & indriya have to be perfectly synchronized to make the person healthy.
Thus we can understand that the higher the compatibility, the higher is the adaptability leading to higher health & higher ojas & vice versa.
Higher Compatibility > Higher Adaptability > Higher Health > Higher Ojas
Lower Compatibility > Lower Adaptability > Lower Health > Lower Ojas
Loss of complexity & simplification of physiological pathways represent typical features of many diseases as well as of the aging process.
This concept can be used as a tool to understand many diseases like Parkinsonism, myocardial infarction etc.
Understanding such concepts helps us to find out the commonalities between the two system & integrate both for a better diagnosis & treatment
Explaining the commonalities with a scientific example – Alzheimer’s disease.
Alzheimer’s is now a common & widespread disease. The below image (image 1.1) shows the difference between a normal brain & that of the Alzheimer patient. We can try to understand this difference in morphology using the Guna concept.
A healthy brain can be considered as having the Guna – Snigdha, Slakshna, Mrudu & Guru. It is also having Kapha predominance with the predominance of Jal & prithvi mahabhuta.
Whereas the Alzheimer’s patient brain is having Ruksha, Khara, Katina & Laghu Guna, having the predominance of Vata i.e the the predominance of vayu & akasha mahabhuta.
Even in the symptomatology of Almeriers, we can find the features of Vata, details of which have been given in the table given below ( Table 1.2)
Symptoms of Alzheimer’s (Table 1.2)
This symptomatology reflects the loss of Structural compactness & coherence observed in the morphology.
While observing the tissue changes also we can see a disruption of the tissue in the Alzheimer’s patient compared to that of a healthy brain. This disruption in the tissues is caused by the accumulation of the amyloid which leads to the loss of network of the information in the brain.
Even the healthy neuron is characterized by Vata & Pitta. The gunas being the laghu, ruksha, khara, sukshma, tikshna & vishada guna. It is also having a predominance of tejas, jala, vayu & aksha mahabhuta. These characteristics are substantiated by their properties of spreading nature, the transmission of information fast & far, etc. In Alzheimer’s disease, there is an increase of the laghu, rukhs & kahara guna and there is a decrease in the sukshma, tikshna & vishada guna. So basically there is an increase in the vata & a decrease in pitta. Pitta is the one which is responsible for passing on information which is not happening in the case of Alzheimer’s due to the decrease the pitta.
In Alzheimer’s disease either there is a formation of the amyloid plaques formation or there will be neurofibrillary tangles. This formation can be understood by the increase of the vata i.e increase of the Ruksha guna & decrease in the snigdha guna.
The integration of the system comes into play in such conditions. As we can see that there is an increase in the vata & decrease in the pitta, by this understanding the early vata hara treatment can be applied & further increase of the vata can be avoided. This can help in improving the quality of life of the patients.
Thus a study of biomarkers & ayurveda’s clinical phenotyping may help in discovering novel prognostic factors, in order to identify “high risk” individuals & optimize treatment according to single patient.
Ayurveda gives us the spectacles to see nature through the eyes of nature. It is based on physics, both are inclusive of epistemology, for its inclusive nature Ayurveda can explain modern medicine while modern medicine, being exclusive cannot explain Ayurveda.
it can lead to a deeper understanding of pathophysiology & to support possible alternative or complementary therapeutic strategies.
the implementation of Ayurveda in modern science will lead to a Paradigm shift to a higher level of consciousness for the benefit of all mankind.
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