When scientists and pharmaceutical companies across the world are engaged in the development of vaccines against the novel coronavirus infection in human bodies, they must not ignore the potential of traditional medicines, especially of Ayurveda, which can improve the body’s immunity against harmful viruses.
Integration of traditional and modern medicines can make changes in the medical philosophy and treatment methods in the changing scenario of novel viruses’ outbreak. So, traditional and other herbal medicines, which can boost the immune system, need to be promoted. Very soon, the Ayurveda system of treatment is likely to take over the modern medicine in maintaining the immune system, feels Dr Suresh Saravdekar, honorary consultant for medication management at the Institute of Medical Sciences (IMS), Banaras Hindu University in Varanasi.
“If there is immunity, there is no disease. When there is no disease, the necessity of cure does not arise. So the natural immunity of the human body needs to be improved, for which traditional or herbal medicines can play a vital role as immunomodulator,” he says.
Dr Sarvadekar was speaking to Pharmabiz in the backdrop of COVID-19 pandemic and the ongoing discussion among the medical community on the development of vaccines to prevent transmission of the corona virus.
He said several Ayurveda and Siddha medicinal products can help increase the immunity in people, which will lessen the risk of disease if people contract any complex virus. So, the modern system practitioners should find the positive side of the traditional medicines and they can recommend them as complementary medicines/diets to boost immunity of the patients. While deciding medications for disease management, at stages where the potential of herbal or traditional medicines can be utilized to modulate the immune system, the doctors of modern medicines should recommend them without any hesitation or by avoiding all negative forms of prejudices against alternative medicines. In general, the ayurvedic medicines are suitable to all environments.
Dr Saravdekar, a former professor of pharmacology in two medical colleges in Maharasshtra, said in IMS at BHU in Varanasi the modern doctors refer the patients to Ayurveda doctors if they find traditional treatment is suitable to address one particular ailment. The medication management panel in the Institute of Medical Sciences comprises doctors of modern medicine, dentistry, nurses and Ayurveda doctors. He said BHU has accepted traditional medicine as a complementary part to treatment and it is the only centre where both modern and traditional systems of medicines are controlled by one director. BHU is the only university in India that implemented this system.
According to him, Ayurveda system has specific guidelines for diet, sleep, exercise etc. It will improve the body’s natural immune system which can be activated through ayurvedic herbal medications. About 50% of the patients in India are immune-compromised due to old-age-diseases, diabetes and hyper tension, so they are susceptible to virus infection. This category of patients can be administered with traditional medicines to strengthen their natural immunity which will form as weapons in human body to fight against the antibodies.
Regarding development of vaccines by pharma industry in India, Dr Saravadekar said the Indian pharma sector has the potential to develop vaccines against harmful viruses. When vaccine is injected into the human body it induces the active immunity in the body, whereas the antibodies or immunoglobulins injected into a patient from outside creates the passive immunity. So, traditional and modern medicines should go hand in hand as both will help improve the active immunity and the passive immunity in human beings.