The Condition of Ayurveda in Nepal

The value of Ayurveda hasmounted these days by people knowing the potential benefits of natural medicines because of their high acceptance by patients, its effectiveness and safety. A resurgence of interest in Ayurveda has resulted from the preference of many people consumingproducts of natural origin yet Ayurveda is still behind the stage to many people. But when we view the history of Ayurveda in Nepal, we understand that Nepal has a glorious history on Ayurveda. Even the festivals and ethnic rituals celebrated in Nepal have the background of Ayurveda. All these show Ayurveda’s long tradition and deep attachment to the Nepalese culture. In Nepal, Ayurveda is being used as a sociocultural and hereditary therapy. In present, there are more than 6 Ayurveda Campuses/colleges running bachelor and certificates level in Nepal.In Nepal, Ayurvedic health services are being provided by the government through pharmacies since 1973 BS and the department of Ayurveda, leading organization in Ayurveda, was established under the ministry of Health in 2038 BS. But, there has not been much development of Ayurvedic science for long in Nepal.

Dr. PramodBhatta, Head of the Department, Institute of Medicine (IOM), Ayurveda Teaching Hospital, TribhuvanUniversity (TU) is the distinguished Ayurvedic doctor of Nepal. He is the well-known personality in the field of Ayurveda. He is the Associate Professor and has the teaching experience of 23 years in this field. Since 1996, he has been involved in teaching sector whereas, he is teaching in TU since 2000. Numbers of success stories in his work life as a doctor and as a teacher has made him a distinguished professional in the field of Ayurveda. He had been involved in various other research activities including clinical research. He also had done a case study as a Corresponding Author of “Role of Ayurvedic Treatment in Minimizing Gastric Cancer Related Complication: A Case Study” withDr. Bhakta Man Shrestha in 2015 and several other publications which were both individual and collective.

The history of Ayurveda medicine evolved since the very beginning of the mankind, like simply in the uses of herbs, foods and spices, minerals, medicines and so on. Yet these are not done scientifically but only through experiences either knowingly or unknowingly.The process, theories and philosophies that were described on Ayurveda text are the basis of all the activities that are used to prevent the diseases by Nepalese people since a long period of time. Ayurveda is a Sanskrit word. In Sanskrit ‘ayus’ means life and ‘Veda’ means knowledge or science. So Ayurveda refers to science of life. It is based on maintaining balance among five basic elements namely earth, air, water, fire and ether.It is said to be given by God for the benefit of human, and everything was given for balancing healthy life. It is one of the oldest forms of health care in the world dealing with prevention and cure of diseases through the use of herbal, herbomineral along with detoxification and other mode of treatments which helps in maintaining equilibrium with nature between person’s body, mind and spirit. Ayurveda is also a natural therapy since it inter-relates the living body to biological, mental and spiritual activities and prescribes the natural herbal and purified and processed metallic medicine based on ayurvedic texts taken from our surrounding.The treatment is based on holistic approach of medicine and lifestyle modification.Thus, Ayurveda is not merely a system of medicine, but a way of life.

The eight branches of Ayurveda are:

  1. Internal medicine: Kayachikitsa
  2. Surgery: ShalyaTantra
  3. Ears, eyes, nose and throat: ShalakyaTantra
  4. Pediatrics: Kaumarabhritya
  5. Toxicology: AgadaTantra
  6. Purification of the genetic organs: VajikaranaTantra
  7. Health and Longevity: RasayanaTantra
  8. Spiritual Healing: BhutaVidya
Elina Maharjan

The treatment of various diseases in Ayurveda is different such as: the treatment of Fever, diseasesof the digestive system,the respiratory system, the liver and spleen, the heart, the urinary bladder, the kidneys, male and female reproductive diseases, nerves, skin, tissue metabolism, pregnancy and delivery, childhood diseases, mouth, throat, nose and ears and eyes.

The most prevalent users of Ayurvedic medicine are individuals who have refractory conditions and nonlife-threatening conditions that may be chronic such as neurological disorders, arthritis, etc. The second-largest group of users is those people with chronic, potentially life-threatening diseases, such as cancer and human immunodeficiency virus/acquired immunodeficiency syndrome, osteoporosis, rheumatoid arthritis, diabetes, eczema, psoriasis and Parkinson’s as well as psychological problems such as depression and anxiety with positive results. Both groups turn to Ayurveda medicine for a variety of reasons, such as management as the main treatment option and improved immune functioning, overall functioning, and quality-of-life (QoL) by coping with side effects from conventional therapies, and to relieve symptoms related to their illness. The expansion in use of traditional system among cancer patients warrants evidence of safety and effectiveness for these interventions as concomitant to conventional cancer therapy. There are many reasons why people living with cancer use traditional systems of medicine like Ayurveda. Accessibility, affordability, tolerability, compromised QoL, and variable success rates are the problem areas (or the areas of concern)of conventional cancer care.

While talking with Dr. Bhatta, in today’s society, along with the resurgence of Ayurveda medicine, there still are lots of drawbacks. In present days, people seek modern health facilities which provide immediate relief and in most cases only cover the superficial pain. They recommend Ayurvedic treatment as second class knowledge or alternative form for treatment only. People only choose Ayurveda when there is no any alternative for them to be cured in complicated cases. When people visit the doctors in their last stage, there is very less chance for them to be cured. Usually, the ayurvedic medicine should be used for about three months and follow a proper diet to see thesubstantialresult.

In Ayurvedic treatment, people do economic evaluation comparing with modern allopathic medicines. The evaluation of its adequacy, costs and consequences, direct and indirect benefits, efficacy of the procedure and even the availability of the service.The other weakness is that there is lack of worldwide market and people are less aware of the benefits of Ayurveda.It is said that Ayurveda is a good field of research and one who wants to research has unlimited opportunities in Ayurveda.Although we have such unlimited opportunities,Nepal has limited numbers of teaching hospital and research activities as needed.There is still no adequate data for the promising care as there are no enough patients for bringing out the data and research. Due to little documentation of the active component of the Ayurvedic herbs and a lack of understanding and evidenced based research on their mechanism of action, there have been doubts regarding the validity of the effectiveness of Ayurvedic medicines.

“Ayurvedic medicine practiceshould be more service motive rather than business motive which will enhance its credibility,”says Dr. Bhatta. There is lack of proper qualified manpower for spreading positive message about it. People lackClear-cut vision/planning about how to visualize the importance of Ayurveda to all the people.The other felt weakness of Ayurveda is that there is inadequate integration and linkage to modern technology. There is lack of understanding and utility of some modern medicines and technology which have been proved very effective in different conditions. If they could be merged, then there can be effective results. Yet there is still much to work on effective implementation of this field from the central level to grass-root level, which creates the gap between them about the qualitative form of Ayurveda. Even the research from grass-root level such as traditional healers can help in bringing about the changes in this field. There can even be international affiliation and coordination with various institutes working internationally in Ayurveda.

These few weaknesses in field of Ayurveda and its medicines have concealed the prerequisites of its growth and development.

Dr. Bhatta during the Presentation

Dr. Bhatta has been working in this field knowing the value and benefits of Ayurveda in Nepal. He was born on 25th October, 1965 in Kathmandu,son of late Dr. VaidyanathBhatta. He graduated in Ayurveda from India, did Masters from Philippines and did PhD from India. When talking about what he likes the most about his profession, he says that there is job satisfaction when he sees the smile and happiness in the face of his patients although with the chronic illnesses. He has seen patients with chronic illnesses who were told to have short period of time for living, those people lived quality lives after treatment. One of his patients who had liver cancer who had been told that he would live only for 3 months, who came to see him, lived for 13 years with quality life after the proper treatment. There are various other success stories in his work experience so far.

His efforts are for enhancing research activities as well as in education field for the development of human resources. His contribution in this field has been for disease management with comparatively low cost; to help in minimizing cost burden of management for both patients and their families.The two things are most attractive in the Ayurveda Teaching hospital; one is that the system of examining the patient is based on ancient Ayurvedic examination with integration modern diagnostic tools quite similar to that of modern medical system and the other is that when observing the classrooms, they are similar to the classes in the modern medical college along with proper teaching materials.His work is relevant in present days for his services are for supporting patients to attainhigh qualitative life through both cure and management of the chronic illnesses. His major influence is on the chronic cases and in cancer.

With such professionals in the field of Ayurveda, there can be much improvementin Ayurveda and its varioussectors. Enhancing proper education system with these experts can help in development of new generation in this field to minimize the observed weaknesses of Ayurveda that are seen in today’s context as well as design Ayurvedic short and long term health package programs (teaching, examining, supporting) for people to understand and practice Ayurvedic system for better health.

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