Year : 2021 | Volume
: 5 | Issue : 2 | Page : 55--59
Scope and limitations of integrated research approaches for corroboration of Ayurveda
Central Council for Research in Ayurvedic Sciences, Ministry of Ayush, Government of India, New Delhi, India
Dr. Narayanam Srikanth
Editor-in-Chief, Journal of Research in Ayurvedic Sciences; Director, General In-Charge, Central Council for Research in Ayurvedic Sciences, Ministry of Ayush, Government of India, New Delhi.
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Srikanth N. Scope and limitations of integrated research approaches for corroboration of Ayurveda.J Res Ayurvedic Sci 2021;5:55-59
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Srikanth N. Scope and limitations of integrated research approaches for corroboration of Ayurveda. J Res Ayurvedic Sci [serial online] 2021 [cited 2022 Jan 22 ];5:55-59
Available from: http://www.jrasccras.com/text.asp?2021/5/2/55/333539
“Truth can be stated in thousand different ways, yet each one can be true”
- Swami Vivekananda
Integrated research approaches are centered at collaboration between two or more sciences in order to get particular evidences as well as to increase precision in validating the undertaken research. Integration is a must step in order to update the discoveries in a particular science and to test the discoveries/concepts with the help of new innovations, for refining relevant knowledge, for establishing scientific evidences, and for mainstreaming of the related science. Research by means of integration between two or more scientific disciplines which have similar goals/applications is termed as interdisciplinary research. It will not be exaggeration to interpret that the foundation of science is in fact a combination of interdisciplinary researches which have more similarity and less differences among the disciplines. In the context of Ayurveda, discoveries of ancient seers in disciplines such as botany, herbal pharmaceutics, metallurgical science, physiology, pathology, observations of natural phenomena, and therapeutic experiences have altogether contributed in the foundation of fundamental principles of Ayurveda. All the aforementioned disciplines shared similar basic philosophy, and this is the reason for hardly considering them as a separate discipline.
Along with industrialization and advancement in technologies, scientific minds have discovered several methodologies to access a hypothesis as well as to generate evidence for accepting/rejecting the same. Unlike Ayurveda, the origin and development of modern medicine are not depending on concepts/considerations, which are impossible to be accessed in laboratories. In ancient times, the law-governing authorities (kings/emperors) had a strong belief in Ayurveda and ancient seers of Ayurveda, rather than accessing testing method and generated evidences. However, in modern era, the expectations of law-governing authorities are centered on “accessible database of evidence,” and the priority is hardly or never given to understanding the rationality of implemented fundamental concepts of Ayurveda. The situation has been forcing Ayurveda toward modernization or expressing Ayurveda in terms of modern medicine. In simple words, Ayurveda concepts established through numerous studies conducted by ancient seers of Ayurveda are to be again re-established and to be validated with regard to evidence generated by using modern technologies. To achieve this purpose, Ayurveda researches will need collaboration from relevant modern researchers. This is the first and one side view of meaning of integrated research approaches for corroboration of Ayurveda.
Ayurveda is an Indian system of medicine, and its fundamental literature is in Sanskrit language. The basic factors in Ayurveda physiology, pathology, and pharmaco-therapeutics are created based on correlative observation of natural phenomenon and functioning of human body. The primary physio-pathological factors, their functions, drugs, and their pharmacological properties as well as the special attributes narrated for them are subjects of correlation among logic, self-experience, and observations. Generation of vivid laboratory evidence for all of these seems hardly possible. Moreover, analytical approaches are inadequate to understand complex systems such as Ayurveda. It is crystal clear that experience-based correlations are true but they cannot be clarified through generating laboratory findings. With modern technologies, it is easy to generate a database of positive changes in human body due to Ayurveda interventions; however, scientific interpretation of the findings in terms of modern pharmacology is the foremost stumbling block in integrated research approaches for corroboration of Ayurveda. The task is possible with rigorous efforts and involvement of intelligent, highly skilled researchers and by maintaining consistency in endeavor for long periods. As such, integrated research is focussing on proving facts which are already well established by ancient seers. There will be less scope for new discovery and thus such research will halt the Ayurveda progress. It will prove scientific nature of Ayurveda and will help understand Ayurveda in modern view and thereby globalization and mainstreaming. In contrast, such research may create incomplete or erroneous interpretation, may vanquish the traditional knowledge, and most of all it will affect the whole educational system of Ayurveda. Definitely, in limited sense, this first view can prove a boon for establishing the scientific nature of Ayurveda at a global platform.
The second view, i.e., another side for integrated research approaches toward Ayurveda, is far more positive and encouraging than the previous one. This view depends on a basic question, which is “Can Ayurveda interventions be utilized along with modern medicines? If yes, then is the outcome significantly better than Ayurveda or modern intervention alone?” It is worth mentioning that the integrated research attempt made with the second view is aimed at discovering best effective intervention/interventions, strategies, and technologies or at modifying the old one into a new one in order to increase their acceptability as well as applicability. Testing of Ayurveda concepts or re-establishing or revalidating them is not the point of focus in the second view. It can be understood that in the second approach scientific nature of Ayurveda is accepted and onward research planning is expected for improving the level of final outcome. This view is in favor of drug discovery and development by undertaking relevant portion of Ayurveda as well as modern medicine. The central focus of this view is toward betterment of mankind through providing best therapy, solving the global health concerns, giving equal value to related health sciences, and creating a well-balanced, affordable, convenient, and superior way of treating illness. The integrated research strategy can only be understood by unbiased minds who are well versed in planning of research, data collection, data analysis, data interpretation, and have significant understanding of Ayurveda as well as modern medicine. It is seen that the integrated researches with the second view have been initiated from Ayurveda fraternities as well as from modern medical organizations. Undoubtedly, the pure goal of integrated researches, i.e., ignoring the differences and working hand-to-hand for betterment of mankind, can only be achieved by following the second view.
Every science has its unique concepts which cannot be exactly expressed in terms of other sciences. Hence, in order to understand and utilize a science, it is mandatory to have at least basic knowledge of the fundamental concepts of the related science. Integrated research approaches involve community of scholars/scientists of two or more disciplines and thus require complete, faithful, timely, and honest collaboration among them. It is understandable that the aforementioned two views/sides are simultaneously being followed for corroborative researches in Ayurveda, but very few researches are being done with the help of all necessary modern technologies. A research conducted with limited analysis and by utilizing limited sources cannot be considered as a complete research, and thus contribution of such work is always a matter of concern. Such researches can highlight the research question, can enlighten few facts, can possibly generate some strong evidence, and may create base for further research. However, such researches can never serve as pillar in corroborating a science. The situation is currently applicable to Ayurveda which indicates strong need of supporting Ayurveda researchers through required trainings as well as on financial ground.
The integrated research approach is similar to the phrase by Swami Vivekananda “Truth can be stated in thousand different ways, yet each one can be true.” The truth discovered by ancient seers of Ayurveda is narrated in Sanskrit, and it is experience- and insight-based. In integrated research, the same truth has to be tested, expressed, and applied in different forms in a way which is suitable according to modern era. In recent times, initiatives for pure Ayurveda-based as well as integrated research approaches for corroboration of Ayurveda have been taken by various organizations, and significant contributions are expected in the form of new drug discovery, management of lifestyle disorders, and use of Ayurveda formulations along with or as add-on therapy in life-threatening ailments. The seeds have been sown, the growth process has begun, and hopefully, within a few years, the sweet fruits of these researches will be serving the health need of human civilization.
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Conflicts of interest
There are no conflicts of interest.