AIM Swasthya, appreciates and applies the richness of traditions and nuances of new age biomedicine. For personal consultations, these are carefully titrated for you towards your experience of Swasthya.
Ayurveda had structured methods to acquire knowledge, which were called the Pramaanas (described below). Modern research for the same purpose is mostly based on probability based statistical testing. It has also been used sometimes to investigate Ayurveda’s principles and recommendations. AIM Swasthya incorporates rationale from both types of evidence to understand both problems and solutions better for each individual.
In Ayurveda, personal experience, experience of patients and peers have an important role to play. However knowledge seeking was not restricted to empirical experience alone as gathered by the repeated mention ‘pramaanas’ in the ancient texts. Pramaanas were the guides to procuring and processing information which would eventually acrit into knowledge. It is used widely in the Vedic philosophy and sciences, not just health.
There were broadly five types of Pramaanas: Pratyaksha, Anumaana, Yukti, Upmaana, Aapta. At the risk of over simplifying, here is a brief explanation of all five.
Pratyaksha is that which is learnt by using the senses.
Anumaana is assuming presence of the cause when one sees an effect.
Yukti is to cleverly design tests with variable knowns and unknowns to study nature of objects.
Upmaana was used to perceive analogous conditions in order to improve understanding and allow for interventions.
Aapta praamana is assumed certain ‘truths’ which are difficult to perceive normally. These had to be established by only some chosen, ‘self – realized’ authorities who would arrive at the same ‘truth’ independently.
A. Generalities for health:
For health promotion, AIM Swasthya understands that the general principles for health first need to be shared and re-iterated in our ever evolving mileu. In light of time tested ancient principles, there exist newer threats and maybe also effective contemporary solutions which need to be duly considered. Also, we provide detailed self-evaluation and counselling for proactive individuals and families to live healthier.
B. Pattern recognition in prevention:
For disease prevention, AIM Swasthya has an even more strong and unique role to play.
Health screenings can identify individuals with high risk of preventable chronic diseases. Such individuals can be advised as a group or on an individual basis with more concerted efforts than required at the level of health promotion.
Also individuals who have suboptimal health who experience digressions from health such as disproportionate fatigue, recent weight gain or lack of ease are actively advised. Persons with recurrent diseases or predispositions to certain ailments can be assisted by identifying potential causes in lifestyle, environmental or predisposition, and provided with tools to manage those.
Persons in life transitions like puberty, pregnancy and lactation, menopause, andropause and aging are vulnerable to diseases. Timely actions can be very useful in preventing damage.
C. Specifics to improve disease management:
For better disease management we can provide complementary medicine to standard of care medications to address unsolved issues. We may also provide safer and more cost effective alternatives for selected conditions if reasonably desired. We are concerned with positively influencing the course of the disease, reducing drug related adverse effects and drug dependence, addressing neglected health concerns and improving quality of life, as best possible. In all cases, we work openly with other medical professionals and health providers caring for you.
Thus by being judiciously health promoting, preventative, complementary and alternative, AIM Swasthya is truly integrative. By knowing the background of these services you can choose how best would they benefit you.
In the Eastern cultures, the experience of health is not the prerogative of those who are physically healthy alone. While we strive to achieve physical health, the higher aspiration is actually a sense of harmony and connectedness. Swastha is – ‘स्वे स्थित: इति स्वस्थ:’ a person centred in the self. It is an experience of a harmony beginning from the gross physical self to the subtlest of spiritual energies. It is this ideal which aspires all initiatives of AIM Swasthya, although physical health is most desirably pursued.
Sushrut, an Ayurvedic surgeon who has authored a major authoritative textbook describes the state of Swasthya as a state of balance between the doshas, agni, dhatus, malas (products and processes of metabolism, anabolism and catabolism) with a pleasant state of the mind, the senses and the spirit.
But how does one experience this state? What are the features of those who are truly healthy?
Charaka says, those with a balanced musculature, appropriate compactness, resilience to ward off diseases, a robustness to withstand hunger, thirst, cold and heat, an exercise tolerance, an ability to digest food well and feel hungry regularly are those who are healthy.
Ayurveda essentially requires us to be aware enough to sense feedback and make measured choices to create a harmonious balance in health and life.
Awareness about what really, one may ask? The key idea in Ayurveda’s definition is ‘measures’ – qualitative & quantitative. We are required to keep an eye out for the extent to which different elements impact life. These elements could be behaviour, foods, seasons, practices, medicinal products, social environment. Their impact is judiciously accounted for by an individual, a family, a community, an expert physician, a specialist or established health systems; progressively as complexities increase.
As individuals, our conscious awareness about their impact enables us to respond to feedback from our body, mind and spirit. We can then quickly balance the excesses and incorporate the missing elements, becoming physicians.
Ayurveda is concerned with: What and how much we eat and when, how do we spend our mornings, what do we do more of in winters, when do we drink water, how do we respect natural urges, when do we take supplements and corrective measures for ‘feeling unhealthy’, how do we ward off effects of an occasional late night meal, whether we address our modifiable risk factors, how are our attitudes to medications when needed, whether we realize a dependence on them to correct it or respect it, how we learn from health experts, specialist doctors and our grandmas, whom do we interact with often, how we channel our emotions, how we respond to situations, how much love we channel, how do we gain contentment by ‘giving back’.
Thus it is a way of life and not just a system of medicine. It is a system of healthy living which also includes corrective measures.
Informed choices are made when we know their risks and benefits and we intelligently balance them out to achieve our life goals*. Fortunately there are almost no absolutes on this path, although some choices may be more beneficial or detrimental than the others!
*Ayurveda embraced all four kinds of life goals (Purushartha – the purpose of an individual): of virtue (dharma), wealth (artha), passion (kama), liberation/nirvana (moksha). You could have any pursuit in life and benefit from Ayurveda. It does NOT need you to confirm to a particular religion or have ascetic aspirations.
As pragmatically as possible.
‘Study the past if you would define the future’, said Confucius. What if, we could carefully draw on the strengths the past successful healthcare systems for a healthy, love filled, fearless future?
Ayurveda’s non conformist definition
Ayurveda was conceived many millennia ago, but it is by no means archaic and stagnant. Time tested products and practices are its strengths but it is not limited to them. What defines it, one may ask. To put simply, Ayurveda, is the knowledge of the measures of beneficial and risky elements which impact life as a whole (in disease and in health).
हिताहितं सुखं दु:खं आयुर्तस्य हिताहितं ।
मानं च तच्चं यत्रोक्तमायुर्वेदर्सोच्यते॥
(Ref: Charaka Samhita. Sutrasthana 1. Shloka 41)
With such a non-conformist definition, Ayurveda has progressively grown in every century since its origin with newer products, formulations, practices, procedures and foods in the experience of newer vaidyas. Useful interventions were passed from one generation to the next, discussed in peer exchanges, documented in newer texts, and the ineffective ones got blown away with the winds of time.
Role of experts & Integrative Medicine
However, not all interventions could be used by everyone. There was a strong sense of domain expertise and cross talks existed between treatment providers, community health workers and caregivers. A vaidya could advise a mother on the kind of foods to use, refer a case to surgeon or ENT specialist or collaborate with a pediatrician or gynaecologist, request for certain quality of herbs from medicinal plant gatherers and request a pharmacist for specialised formulations. An inherent self regulation in the system allowed for a local health-conscious ecosystem.
In our times, all these tasks involve a different level of training, expertise and regulatory requirements making such exchanges complex. With much foresight nearly 40 years ago in the US, began a movement with a called Integrative Medicine to offer personalised, comprehensive care with a team of experts . It attempts to recreate that collaborative mileu which encourages medical doctors to work with other health providers like nutritionists, physiotherapists, Yoga, Tai chi, mindfulness & meditation experts with some aspects from Traditional Chinese medicine and Ayurveda, amongst others.
Ayurveda in contemporary Integrative Medicine
Today the best medical schools – Harvard, Duke, UCSF, John Hopkins, Karolinska, Wisconsin, Maryland and Mayo and Cleveland Clinics – offer such clinical service departments. It is seen that the role of Ayurveda is only trickling, beginning with Osher centres for Integrative Medicine at UCSF and Harvard. Yet, there is much more that can emerge for health through a truly Ayurveda inspired program for Integrative medicine.
The continuum of health to disease and the continuum of spirit, mind and body provide this framework. AIM Swasthya not only adds diverse time tested Ayurveda’s interventions to its therapeutic armamentarium, but also extends the idea of comprehensive care to prevention and health promotion. Ayurveda’s adaptive philosophy and the new age aspirations of Integrative Medicine are thus pragmatically aligned in AIM Swasthya.