Welcome to the final article in this seven part series on Ayurvedic Medicine and the natural botanicals used in this ancient medical science that is becoming increasingly popular in the West. The prior articles have individually focused on the medicinal treatments, such as Turmeric, Ginger, Guggul and Amalaki, and their capacity to treat and prevent diseases. As promised in a past article, I will now devote this final one to a major precept of Ayurveda that may seem foreign to those in the United States who are educated in or treated by Western (Allopathic) Medicine. This precept of Ayurveda is medical synergy.
Before I get into this concept as it applies to medicine, think about this question. You go to your doctor due to an illness of some sort and are hopeful for a treatment, perhaps a cure, which usually comes in the form of a medication. How many of us go to the doctor when we are healthy as a method of preventing illness? Yes, there are guidelines for screening for Cervical, Breast, Colon and Prostate Cancers at varying ages. Yes, there are recommendations for yearly physicals as well. However, these visits are to check for symptoms or signs, to ensure there is nothing wrong. They are generally not focused on how to do things right from a healthy perspective.
Secondly, as we all know from the numerous advertisements, medications have side effects some of which are life-threatening, though most people get lesser ones instead of major ones. This brings me to my second question. When you report such side effects to your doctor, and you should always do this, what is the next step in treatment? The options are few and in my field of Pediatric mental health, like many others in western medicine, a popular option is to give another medication to treat the side effects of the first. This can be effective of course, yet as a physician I am concerned about how the combination of medications may interact. Another common option is to prescribe a second medication to combat the disease itself. However, there is often a scarcity of clinical research studies that support multiple simultaneous medications for treating an illness.
Now, imagine a scientific medical approach that was based upon not only prevention and maintaining a health body and mind, but additionally on combining treatments so that together each of them enhances their individual benefits. This is the concept of synergy and one that has been embraced, researched and employed in Ayurveda for hundreds of years. It is actually standard practice in Ayurveda to treat patients with synergistic natural treatments, such as combining Turmeric with Ginger in order to potentiate their effects. Synergy is a standard in Ayurvedic Medicine and is just one reason western culture is incorporating the tenets of Ayurveda into daily living.
Western medicine has made truly remarkable advances in medical technology and treatment that have allowed people to live longer, healthier lives. Our country is undergoing a medical revolution at this time that will change the way doctors practice and patients are treated. From this revolution will evolve a medical system that combines the wisdom of Eastern Medicine with the advancements in the West, thereby creating a balanced medical approach focusing on prevention. In the future, the terms Eastern, or Ayurvedic Medicine, and Western, or Allopathic Medicine will cease to exist. The new global medical system may be termed Integrative or Holistic Medicine, terms that are familiar today, or perhaps a new name will be given, such as Synergistic Medicine. Whatever we call it, it will undoubtedly contain some of the major concepts covered in this series on Ayurveda, such as adaptogenic medicines that modulate the body’s response to stress. As we in western medicine are now discovering, there is much to gain by studying a medical science that has prospered for millennia and continues to evolve.
To further your knowledge in eastern medicine, or Ayurveda in particular, search this term on the internet and you will find a wealth of resources and practitioners, many of them closer to you than you think. I welcome you to follow the link below as an additional resource.