Research in Ayurveda is a burning problem. Despite being projected as a safe and a gentler option for the treatment of various diseases, the Ayurveda system continues to get thwarted because claims about the effectiveness and safety lack evidence and clinical data. It suffers a discreditable reputation for having no research in it. Though several research papers are available on the name of Ayurveda, yet most of them are written by non-Ayurvedic scholars. Research work done by Ayurveda scholars too exist. But their number is far less than their total number. Though reckoned as a combination of modern and ancient approach most of the research work is neither concretized nor fleshed out. It poses a serious question -What should be the direction of research in Ayurveda? 

Evidence of Research in Ancient texts 

Before we ponder on the direction of research on Ayurveda we should know the status of research prevalent in ancient times. The answer is found in the ancient texts itself. Mentioning the use of fecal matter of pigeon in dissolving blood clots, application of fecal matter of leech as an ointment in epilepsy, feeding a diabetic patient with the barley coming out in the form of fecal matter of donkeys and horses signifies that some research work was there for such inferences. Knowledge of improving condition in tuberculosis by using goat’s milk and meat, an indication of wearing white clothes for a thin person and avoiding wearing a red cloth by a pregnant woman as a part of their treatment reflects the status of the research at that time. While doing research these days, we set standard criteria for evaluating the result. We fix a standard and gauge the quality of that substance in comparison to that. We observe this kind of thinking in Charaka Samhita. Using aphrodisiac drugs, a man attains potency enabling him to have enhanced velocity like a sparrow, raised the quantity of semen like an elephant, and strength like a horse. 

Research in Herbs 

There is an inevitable relationship between herbs and Ayurveda. Many formulations mentioned in the texts are combinations of herbs and minerals. Interestingly a lot of work has been done on the classification and mode of action of herbs by scientists of other fields. Research on the mode of action of drug combination is still a matter of mystery. Active principles in the herbs have been isolated. For instance, Sarapgandha (Rauwolfia serpentina) is an herb used for hypertension. Its active principle reserpine was isolated and made synthetically. The use of milk is contradicted with amla (Emblica officinalis)but is indicated in formulations made of amla with other herbs. Compilation of scattered material is also taken as research Compiling matter related to topics described at different places in different texts then presenting a critical opinion on it is also given the name of research. Many research papers are the result of such a process. Similarly, some institutions publish many books in the name of research under this protocol. Even in some international seminars, the compiled and edited matter is read as the keynote address.

This is not research

 Number of people knowing both Ayurveda and Allopathy is few. Any attempt in establishing a relationship with the modern theory is also labeled as research. Thus reconciling the doctrines of Ayurveda with the principles of contemporary science is also labeled as research. Whenever a new disease appears on the scene of our society, correlating its symptoms with a disease mentioned in Ayurveda texts as also labeled as research. Some pharmaceutical companies present their products in the market as a researched product. They project it as a research work after making minor changes in the classical products.

 Area of research that needs to be explored 

Texts have mentioned in detail about the symptoms that signify the death. What is the verity of these symptoms? How it can be explained in modern parameters? How past deeds are the causes of present sufferings? How sins committed in this life cause diseases as abdominal diseases, headaches and various types of skin disease? Use of words heaven and hell is mentioned in the texts, research needs to be done on what is the geographical location of these places. How various Gods and sages became a victim of diseases? How our past deeds make us take birth in a specific place? Are heavy metal preparations really dangerous? How diseases are caused by incompatible food? How diseases are produced after experiencing causes? Why products of different pharmaceutical taste differently even when they are having the same formula? How the effect of wearing herbs on the prosperity and health of a person is justified? Many such topics need to be explored.

Prof. Anup Kumar Gakkhar

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