Ayurveda and Ancient Medicine vs. Modern Medical Research

The Modern-Ancient Medicine and Nutrition Systems Connections: What Do Ayurveda, Ancient Chinese Medicine, Homeopathy and Modern Medicine Have in Common?
Harleena Singh
Feb 13, 2011

Ever since human beings began to engage in agriculture a hundred thousand years ago, there has been a quest for a diet that delivers power, energy, respite from diseases, and a healthy long life. History documents an astounding rapid pace of development in the last one hundred years of modern medicine and nutrition, which was initiated about three centuries back. Modern science is still carrying on the tradition of experiments and discoveries, searching for the vital food ingredients and properties that will heal and protect us from ill health. Amazingly, our scientists and nutritionists now realize they are re-discovering the nutritional facts, principles, and food that many ancient traditional medicines and nutrition systems have professed and implemented for a long time.

The traditional systems like the Indian Ayurveda and Chinese medicine have a remarkable rich depository of knowledge and experience of thousands of years. These systems have studied the various aspects of human beings, and their correlation with the innumerable animals, plants, and minerals, in totality. They have come out with time-tested themes and principles that strike the right balance between all the concerning elements and their properties, which is conducive to a person’s good health. The use of nutritional plants and herbs is based on this underlying deep understanding of the nature, energies, elements, and their reactions.

ayurveda vs modern medicine

The modern nutritional science now believes that dietary alterations can modify gene expression, something that the Traditional Ayurveda Medicine (TAM) and Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) proponents have been claiming for hundreds of years. This discovery resonates with the ancient Indian saying that “we become what we eat,” and proves that the energies of the food we eat have a profound implication on us. For centuries, the traditional systems have emphasized on the importance of diet as even the Greek physician Hippocrates had said, “Let food be your medicine and your medicine be your food.” A famous Ayurveda proverb, “When the diet is wrong, medicine is of no use,” and a Chinese saying, “Leave your drugs in the chemist’s pot if you can heal the patient with food,” speak clearly, of what the modern nutritionists discover now.

Ayurveda and Chinese medicine have always maintained that poor nutrition is the cause of illnesses. These traditional alternative and complementary medicine systems heal or prevent the diseases by a proper food system, according to a person’s individual needs, and depending on the body types. This fact is now supported by the modern biochemical research, which acknowledges that metabolism of each person works differently. In addition, as the modern nutrition science is growing and learning, it has accepted the presence of invaluable anti-inflammatory, anti-oxidation, anti-stress, rejuvenating, and curative properties in many of the traditional herbs and food.

The rush for patents by the American and other pharmaceutical companies for old traditional herbs and herbal formulae is evidence of their established fact of genuineness. Some important Indian Ayurvedic proven herbs are turmeric (curcumin), bhringaraj, ashwagandha, triphala, commiphora mukul, trikatu, chywanaprash, and many others. These are used to help cure and prevent atherosclerosis, diabetes, asthma, osteoarthritis, jaundice, indigestion, and other problematic symptoms. The Chinese herbal medicines include herbs that might contain animal parts and minerals to help balance ‘Qi’, the life force in a person’s body. In recent years, scientists have discovered that many traditional herbs are rich in vitamins, essential oils, omega-3 fatty acids, phyto-sterols, and have detox properties. The ingredients in many herbs are found to be analgesic, anti-spasmodic, lipolytic, digestive, diaphoretic, antiseptic, carminative, aphrodisiac, and are beneficial in many other ways.

The more recent complementary medicine system is Homeopathic medicine, which evolved some 200 years back in Germany. Working on the principles of ‘like treats like’ and the ‘Law of Similars’, the homeopathic dilutions or medicine stimulate the person’s innate healing processes. These medicines are created from animals, plants, and minerals like arnica montana, red onions, belladonna, calcarea, oyster shells, cuttlefish ink, and sulphur. Clinical studies and research trials have proven the ability to produce physiological and clinical changes with the help of the homeopathic medicine. Scientists have experimented to discover that the dilutions of a medication dose in fact make it more effective. Like the other traditional systems, homeopathic treatment too depends on many subjective factors and differs from person to person.

The world will benefit if there is a collaboration and understanding of the modern nutrition science with the mind-body medicine, and nutritional wisdom of the various traditional complementary and alternative (CAM) systems. The collective knowledge and experiences of the ancient and the modern medicine and nutrition systems will surely work wonders for the entire humankind.

(Harleena Singh is a professional freelance writer with a background in teaching and education. She has a keen interest in food, nutrition, and health related issues and can be approached through her website http://www.freelancewriter.co.)

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