Medicine: the science or practice of the diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of disease (in technical use often taken to exclude surgery). For centuries medicine has been the backbone of health care and prevention of disease. In the West most forms of medicine are chemical based and man-made but on the other hand many people also use more homeopathic forms of medicine containing natural herbs and plants to cure ailments – some of these can be categorized into Ayurvedic medicine.
In a further analysis of these two forms of medication one can determine, if there is, which type is more effective and suitable for todays day and age. From the stone ages humans have been practicing health care for the most part in rudimentary ways. There is indication of Neolithic people using herbs and other plants as forms of medicine for thousands of years. This begs the question if our ancestors were correct in their first method of technique or if the advancements in Western medicine since then have proven to be more effective?
A form of modern day medicine that follows the patterns of the Neolithic people is Ayurvedic medicine. This form of medicine originates in India about 5000 years ago and focuses on the body, mind, and environment trying to bring a balance amongst these three factors and thus hoping that this will bring forth a healthy being. “Ayur means “life” and “vedic” means “knowledge” in Sanskrit – in essence Ayurveda hopes to bring knowledge of life to the way of medicine. Since this form of medicine was first practiced in India many philosophies of Hinduism are woven into the way Ayurveda is practiced.
Hinduism deals a lot with the spiritual world and how the body and soul connects with the universe. Much like concepts in Hinduism, “the concepts of universal interconnectedness, the body’s constitution (prakriti), and life forces (doshas) are [also] the primary basis of ayurvedic medicine. ” (Johns Hopkins) . These three doshas are categorized by one: Vata; which controls bodily functions dealing with motion. Two: Pitta; which controls the body’s metabolic functions. Three: Kapha; which controls growth in the body.
Through these pathways those who practice Ayurveda try and achieve a homeopathic method of restoring or preventing disease. Hindus believe that to reach salvation, or moksha, one has to find the right balance in life and follow that path. Ayurvedic treatments follow a similar pattern where one must find the imbalance in ones life and treat that at its core. Ergo bringing balance back to these doshas. Many of these methods include a wide range of therapies, meditation, dietary changes, yoga, etc. Aside from the treatments methods Ayurveda medicinal products also greatly differ from that of the West.
Where Western medicine is man-made and evidence based, Ayurvedic medicine is all natural taken from herbs, plants, spices etc. For example; Triphala, a common Ayurvedic medicine is a full combination of plants. This particular medicine is made by combining three different types of fruit bearing plants (without the seed). Ayurvedic medicine, like this medication, all follow a fully plant based foundation. When using these kinds of medicine the years of education that go behind it is still important.
In the United States and Canada there are no Ayurvedic training and licensing standards set nor are there any practitioners but “in India, there are many undergraduate and postgraduate colleges for Ayurveda, where the training can involve up to five years of study” (Altmedicine). Ayurvedic medicine has proved to help in many situations in a case study I read from the Jiva Ayurvedic treatment center a forty year old woman suffering from cancer used the Rasayana and Sroto Shodhak Chikitsa treatment, which combined minerals, herbs, and spices for a longer lifespan and to boost immunity.
It was recorded that “her bone scan, brain scan, and the thorax-abdominal scan reports showed up normal results, indicating that her condition was stabilizing with the treatment” (Jiva). This case is just one example of the many times Ayurvedic medicine has been effective in helping prevent and treat disease. On the other hand though, as technology has improved and the study of the body has reached new depths Western medicine has discovered startling new medications that have paved way to the eridcation of some of the most fatal diseases and prevented many others.
Western medicine is an applied science where the patient is treated by various health care professionals, coming in contact with numerous technologies, and ingesting a chemical based medication. To sum up Western medication in the most laman of ways: clinical judgement is used to find a prognosis and diagnosis for a patient’s ailment and thus drugs and sometimes radiation or of the like are used to treat or prevent the disease.
Although many of today’s medicines are made from plants it undergoes a chemical process to create the end result most of us use. The research and development that goes into creating a new drug is much more extensive than Ayurvedic medications because of the time and money invested as well as the compounds used to create the drug are much more extreme than most of the herbs and spices used in Ayurvedic treatments. In the United States, in every country for that matter, Western medicine has been the foundation of health care and been constantly advancing.
Since the days of plants – based medications and eradicating diseases like polio, to using new technology to detecting cancer earlier and discovering newer and newer vaccinations Western medication has been ever-changing. Unlike Ayurvedic medication, Western medicine has been known to work quicker and more effectively. Possibly because there is more evidence in favor of Western medicine as well as practitioners and researchers choosing that path to study and follow – with more people there is a more time and money invested.
Though this may be the opinion of some, both medicines have proven their merit in many cases. With an evident pattern among both these styles of medication where both try to prevent or cure illness the method amongst these two medicines are highly different. With such different methods there will undoubtedly be side effects that highly differ amongst these two styles. Ayurvedic medicine in some cases have showed a high count of metal in the medications used for treatments.
Research indicated that “one in five Ayurvedic medicines commonly used by followers of the ancient Indian health philosophy were found to contain the metallic poisons lead, mercury or arsenic” (Reuters). After studying these toxic metals it is unclear as to how exactly these metals get into the medications. Some researchers believe that it can be found in the soil that these herbs and plants are found and thus contaminates them or another possibility is the human pollution especially common in a lead polluted country like India.
Most commonly it may be a manufacturing accident or even intentional injection. Dr. Robert Saper of the Boston University School of Medicine and Boston Medical Center commented that “there’s some studies that show that some herbs have a very promising anti-diabetic effect, anti-high blood pressure effect, [and] a cholesterol-lowering (effect). ”
Evidence showing that though these medicines may hold metals, if researchers of Ayurvedic practice can remove the toxicity of these drugs than there is a promising future for Ayurvedic medicine and, if the right processes are harvested, can possibly be a leading system for generations to come. Western medicine on the other hand hold a different set of side effects that have a far wider range.
Because Western medicine is based more on a chemical process to create the drug the body becomes much more susceptible to negative reactions. Allergic reactions can be fatal; “antibiotics such as those in the sulfonamide and penicillin families cause allergic reactions in around five per cent of the population” (Betterhealth).
Another common issue with Western drugs is that people get highly addicted to them and it can cause ulcers or adverse long term effects like in the case of Advil; if used to an extreme it can cause stomach ulcers because the acidity in the drug strips away stomach lining. This is clear evidence showing that the acidic levels in many of the more modern medicine have a serious negative effect on patients. Relying on anything can be harmful because as the saying goes; too much of a good thing can be bad.
For Western medication, creating a new drug means doing hours of research and testing the drugs and once this is done the drug would have gone through numerous synthesis’ before finally being put on the market. Unlike Ayurvedic medicine, the United States has stricter regulations on the drugs that are produced as final products. The Food and Drug Administration, or the FDA has to approve the drug after its first stage of clinical testing, first on animals then on humans. After the passing those tests the FDA can deem the drug fit for consumption and is allowed to sell in the market.
Most people would imagine that once testing is complete all side effects should be known and if there is a serious problem with the drug then the FDA wouldn’t approve it, correct? Well the biggest issue that arises is that most of these drugs may have hidden effects that researchers don’t find, because they didn’t know to even look for it. Some of these effects can be so fatal that the drugs needs an immediate recall off the market but in most cases the drug might go back to the first phase of testing or it is added to the list of side effects this drug has.
For an individual trying to decide which method to try when dealing with a medical issue theres a lot of factors to consider with all these different issues with both styles of medicine is it hard for one to decide which method will be the best for them. From what I have learnt from my research if someone wants to pick a style of medicine it is impacted by one important element: time. The timing is very significant. Meaning that depending on how far along the medical issue is – be that it might be diabetes or cancer both have phases and with a combination of these both styles prognosis can be much more optimistic.
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