Distinguished Ayurvedic scholar Dr JLN Sastry believes that Ayurveda controls and combats newly emerging conditions. In an interview with Biplob Ghosal of Zee Media Group, he discusses the benefits of Ayurveda and its efficacy in curing among others gastroenteritis and heart related problems.
He also explains how Ayurveda has been made contemporary by marrying the age-old traditional wisdom with modern science. Dr Sastry is the Head of Healthcare Research in Dabur Research and Development Centre. Hailing from a traditional Ayurvedic family of Kakinada, Andhra Pradesh, he has more than 25 years of experience in the field of Ayurveda.
Following are excerpts from the interview.
Ques: Dengue and chikungunya cases are increasing exponentially in Delhi-NCR every year. How effective is Ayurveda treatment in treating cases like these?
Dr Sastry: These two conditions were not mentioned in the ancient times. But, Ayurveda specially believes in controlling and combating newly emerging conditions. The seers and sages of Ayurveda have given the kind of scope way back in 500 BC. Ayurvedic scripts quote that the conditions which are prevailing today may not be there tomorrow, but the principles of management on the basis of symptoms is well explained. It is advised that the wise physician needs to address these new diseases on the basis of symptomatology. Both these conditions fall under the principles/symptoms documented by Sushruta (2 AD) in his work under Masak damsa lakshanas (mosquito bite borne conditions). There are total 12 different kinds of vishama jvaras (infectious fevers) and descriptions you come across in ayurveda including their management.
In case of Dengue, the main concern is low platelet count (thrombocytopenia). The case becomes serious when your platelet count goes below 25,000 which may result in internal bleeding and so on. So, managing the thrombocyte count is critical although infection contributes majorly to the disease. In Ayurveda some herbs like Giloy/Guduchi (Tinospora Cordifolia) which has the potential in management of thrombocytopenia. Manjeeth/Manjistha (Rubia cordifolia) which is again known for managing the platelet count are the ideal herbs to be administered under palliative measures. Modern scientific literature suggests that these two herbs are extremely useful in conditions where platelet counts are low.
On the other hand, these herbs are also reported in the management of different kinds of fever according to the Ayurvedic literature. The need of the hour is that both the Ayurvedic and modern doctors / scientists should work together to provide better management for these conditions
Ques: These days gastroenteritis and heart related problems have become common and are found to be affecting people of all age groups. What are the real causes for such ailments and how is Ayurveda beneficial is such cases?
Dr Sastry: There are multiple reasons for rise in both the above mentioned entities. First, in case of gastro-intestinal conditions, the changed life style including untimely meals, junk food etc have resulted in increasing gastro-intestinal problems (irritable bowel syndrome, gastroesophageal reflux disease etc). Second, in case of cardiovascular problems, the high calorie diet, obesity, oily foods, stress, sedentary life etc. play a major role in increasing cardiovascular problems (hypertension, coronary artery disease etc). Both these conditions can be prevented by adopting good regimen and dietary principles advised in Ayurveda. Simple dietary ingredients like jeera (cumin seeds), dhaniya (coriander), sonf (fennel seeds) etc can efficiently manage GI disorders. On the other hand, usage of lahsan (garlic), ajwain (Bishops weed), pyaaz (onion) etc can prevent serious cardiovascular disorders.
Ques: Is Ayurveda a better option than Allopathy? If yes, how?
Dr Sastry: Both Ayurveda and Allopathy are two different systems which target different sets of people. Both the systems have their own role to play. For example, if acute and emergency conditions are to be managed the modern system will be more proficient while life style disorders and non-communicable diseases are most effectively handled by Ayurveda. According to the latest market trend, people are consistently shifting towards Ayurveda and natural remedies for all sorts of problem across ages.
Ques: Can Ayurveda and modern science go hand in hand?
Dr Sastry: Ayurveda is not just a system of medicine but a science of life and longevity. Dabur being the country’s largest Ayurvedic healthcare company has taken a giant leap in its mission to make Ayurveda contemporary by marrying the age-old traditional wisdom with modern science. Dabur is a Science based Ayurveda company that has embarked the journey to become the largest bulk grower of rare medicinal herbs, bringing around 3,800 acres of land across the country under cultivation of these medicinal plants by the end of the FY 2016-17.
Ques: Has the government done enough to promote Ayurveda in India?
Dr Sastry: India is the only country in the world having a separate ministry for Ayurveda ‘AYUSH’. Talking about the efforts taken by the government, recently the government spoke about enhancing Ayurveda's global acceptance as evidence-based medicine. Also, Mr Yesso Bhikari Naik, Minister for AYUSH, Health and Family Welfare stated that every AIIMS centre will have an indigenous medicine department of which Ayurveda will be a major component. Apart from this, contribution of World Health Organisation (WHO) towards the implementation of pharmaco-vigilance in Ayurveda and the publication of documents for rational use is nothing less than progress.
Ques: Dabur is one of the country's top manufacturers of Ayurvedic products. Could you elaborate on the company's future plans in the Ayurveda field?
Dr Sastry: Dabur is planning to increase the sourcing of medicinal herbs. Dabur has 2,100 acres of rare herbs under cultivation at the end of fiscal 2015-16. This would be increased to 3,800 acres by the end of FY 2016-17, by the end of Q-1 we have reached 2,700 acres. Also, Dabur has identified around 100 rare and critical medicinal herbs. Out of which we are currently cultivating 23 herbs. Rest are being procured using sustainable collection modules.
Dabur will nearly double the area for the cultivation of rare medicinal herbs in the country which is spread across eight states – including the most difficult terrain on earth Leh-Ladakh. This initiative involves local farmers and tribal communities across the country and will benefit around 2,500 farmers.
Beginning as an Ayurvedic medicines maker from the by lanes of Kolkata, Dabur has transformed itself into a transnational FMCG Company. This journey has been propelled and powered by Dabur’s rich heritage of Ayurveda and deep knowledge of nature. Dabur has married this traditional knowledge of original Ayurveda scriptures with modern day science to develop products which are loved by consumers across generations.