4 Things to Know about Ayurveda and Modern Medicine
When people think of ayurveda and modern medicine, they might envision a clash between Eastern and Western schools of thoughts. But in reality, we’re increasingly finding ayurveda in modern medicine, as healthcare professionals and scientific researchers are finding that it’s not a question of which one is better—but how they can be used together.
Historical Prevalence of Ayurveda
Exploring the origin story of Ayurveda would take us back to 2nd Century BC India.
Ayurveda is one of the oldest known systems of medicine and it’s based on a unification of mind, body, spirit and one’s environment. It prioritizes remedies derived from natural plants and minerals and encourages modest living and regular self-discipline.
Ultimately, Ayurveda’s whole-body healing approach focuses on the individual themselves, not what they may suffer from.
1. Ayurveda's Indian Roots have spread far and wide
Ayurvedic’s use of natural and purifying therapies and lifestyles were embraced then—just as they are now. Across India, Ayurveda joined other traditional forms of medicine, but it stood out as the most widely accepted and practiced.
After Ayurveda got its footing in India, it spread around the world in the centuries to follow.
In recent decades, Ayurveda principles have been applied in new settings. While it’s still most commonly practiced in India and Nepal, the traditional form of medicine has reached a wider global acceptance. The ancient medical science has also paved the way for research into the active components of herbal drugs.
Most importantly, Ayurveda has helped to recenter medicine so that it focuses on the treatment of the root cause of health problems, not just the symptoms themselves.
Growth of Modern Medicine
Sometimes called “Western medicine,” “conventional medicine,” or “biomedicine,” modern medicine got its start in 2600 BC when 200 diseases were diagnosed and treated in Ancient Egypt.
Later, around 460 BC, Hippocrates, the “Father of Medicine,” was born. He would go on to later prescribe the first form of aspirin and jumpstart the scientific study of medicine.
Following Hippocrates, big names in history like Leonardo da Vinci, James Lind, and Louis Pasteur joined others in making scientific discoveries, developing vaccines, and better understanding the human body and how it can become susceptible to disease.
Throughout the years, many new medicinal discoveries were made and countless lives were saved. We’ve seen a tremendous improvement in life expectancy and disease outcomes. Most of us have modern medicine to thank for our own physical and mental well-being!
2. Modern medicine comes with criticisms
However, modern medicine isn’t without its shortcomings. There have always been critics—even as early as 1926. More recently, there’s been a lot of talk about pharmaceutical treatments not having their intended outcome—or, worse, complicating health issues.
As such, there’s never been a greater call to embrace alternative medicines and ask questions like, how does Ayurveda differ from modern medicine? When we do so, the answer comes in the form of one of Ayurveda’s key understandings: that we need to treat the self.
As a complement to modern medicine, we could use Ayurveda to explore the root causes of our medical problems, while using biomedicine to address symptoms and improve our quality of life.
Scientific Support of Ayurvedic Practices
In today’s day and age, it’s hard to come to clearcut answers about our biggest problems. What’s the best way to practice sustainable living? What is Ayurvedic oil pulling—and can it really support my mouth?
To provide some answers, modern science is turning back the clock to prove what Indian practitioners have known for so long. In order to utilize traditional Ayurvedic philosophies as real-life treatments, studies like this one have assessed the safety and efficacy of many ancient Ayurvedic medicines.
3. Science has demonstrated that Ayurveda is generally safe and effective
Science generally reports that Ayurvedic medicine is safe and effective.
Interestingly, researchers are sometimes finding that Ayurvedic science uncovered therapeutic techniques and medicinal understandings far before modern medicine. As just one example, the connection between gut health, the immune system, and inflammation was understood by Ayurvedic practitioners thousands of years before Western medicine caught up!
4. Ayurveda and modern science can work well together
This isn’t to say that one form of medicine is superior to another. We shouldn’t be looking at the Ayurveda vs modern medicine debate with an expectation of a clear winner.
Instead, we should recognize that a complementary approach between ayurveda and modern science is likely the answer to better health.
As the aforementioned study’s authors concluded, “a combined (Ayurveda and modern medicine) therapeutic approach with superior efficacy and safety is likely to be a major leap in overcoming some of the current frustrations to treat difficult disorders.”
Blending Ayurveda and Modern Medicine for Better Health
Combined, Ayurveda and modern science can work collaboratively to achieve the best health outcomes. Ayurveda can help us uncover the root cause of a disease, while modern medicine has the tools to address symptoms.
Even if you don’t recognize it, you might already be embracing Ayurveda for modern life. Whether you’re using oil pulling mouthwash made with Ayurveda-inspired ingredients, or you practice yoga or meditation daily, you’re joining Terra & Co. in helping to bridge the gap between ancient and modern healing practices.