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.