Controversy over Allopathy-Ayurveda is Unfair

Dr. Pradeep Kumar Singh
Today, when India is struggling with the corona pandemic and more than 3.5-lakh deaths have taken place, the Indian Medical Association (IMA) has expressed displeasure over the statements of yoga guru Swami Ramdev regarding Allopathy. But the issue is not only related to Swami Ramdev or the IMA, but also to about 139-crore people of the country. Therefore, a thorough analysis of the controversy is imperative.
The Allopathy, also called the modern system of medicine or evidence-based medicine is based on scientific research. The use of Allopathy in India is believed to have started in 16th century through doctors from Portugal. The health infrastructure for this system of medicine was developed, and the education of modern medical science was introduced in the country by the British during the colonial period. Gradually this method of treatment became popular. Along with this, the Ayurveda, continued to be neglected by the government. This led to the conflict between the Ayurveda and the Allopathy.
Ayurveda is thousands of years old Indian medical system. It defines the science of life. The description of diseases and medicines is found in Vedas, especially in the Atharveda. With further development in the medical system, two texts – Charaka Samhita and Sushruta Samhita were composed. Maharishi Charak presented a detailed discussion on diseases in Charaka Samhita. The great physician and surgeon Sushruta mentioned different types of surgeries and hundreds of medicines in Sushruta Samhita. He is recognized as the father of surgery. It is believed that he developed the method of plastic surgery about 2,500 years ago. Another classification gives a detailed description of Ayurveda in 8-parts. Thus, Ayurveda is a developed and systematic system of medicine. It is the cultural heritage, eternal identity and soft power of the nation.
For more than a century, the society felt attracted towards Allopathy, for many reasons. In this system, the medicines given to a patient usually impart immediate relief. Also, taking the medicines is relatively convenient. In serious diseases, when the patient cannot afford to spend time, this system of medical treatment is considered the most appropriate. In such a situation, the concern of the aggrieved family members of the patient is on the earliest recovery, the expenditure becomes the secondary. Therefore, for some people, it becomes a medium of profiteering. Perhaps this is one of the reasons that this method of medicine remains the first choice for most of the youth who want to become a doctor. Pharma companies producing medicines also have good opportunities for profiteering. According to media reports, in January, the Serum Institute had asked for price of the corona-vaccine for the market and the government at Rs.1000 and Rs.250 per dose respectively, but the Government of India fixed the uniform rate of Rs.150 per dose. Again, in April the price system of the vaccines demanded by Indian companies for the vaccination of 18-44 age group is highly irrational. In addition, many private hospitals are also charging arbitrarily high service charge for vaccination.
In Ayurveda, the recovery from a disease is generally time taking, but many diseases are claimed to be completely cured. Sometimes medicines have to be prepared from herbs, which becomes inconvenient. The preventive measures, dietary control, life-style and ethical (positive) thoughts are also considered to influence the recovery. Ayurveda continued to be neglected even in independent India. Although, the surgery was developed from Ayurveda itself, but after a long time, limited training to Ayurvedic practitioners was included in the Masters course in the year-2020. Hence there has been a shortage of trained and skilled doctors in this system of medicine. At the same time, due to lack of profiteering opportunities, the youth does not seem to take interest to make a career as an ayurvedic doctor. However, in view of the ill effects and excessive cost of allopathic treatment, and also advancement of research work in Ayurveda by Swami Ramdev and other Ayurveda experts, along with promotion by electronic media, now the trend of the society is once again drifting towards Ayurveda.
In thermodynamics, two categories of processes – isothermal and adiabatic are quite popular. The isothermal processes are very slow, with the result the thermal equilibrium between the system and surrounding remains maintained during the changes. But the adiabatic processes are rapid. The heat exchange does not occur between the system and surrounding during the changes. This causes decrease in internal energy of the system. Analogically, the ayurvedic medicines act slow apparently making balance with the nature, causing negligible side effects. Also, there are ample opportunities for improvement in case of an error. In contrast, allopathic medicines have a quick effect, causing significant side effects. Also, the treatment sometimes leaves limited opportunities for improvement in case of an error. An example of this can be seen in the form of black fungus or heart diseases in some patients recovered from corona. Most of the corona infected patients even in moderate category also take long time to regain their health after getting recovered from the infection.
It is important to note that both the medical systems have their own merits, demerits and importance. During the corona period, many health workers associated with Allopathy have saved the lives of crores of patients by working hard to protect the patients putting themselves in difficult situation. Also, many such corona warriors had to sacrifice their lives. The society shall remain grateful to all of them. Ayurveda and the associated health workers have also played an important role in health care. Ayurveda experts kept on advising various ways through the media to increase immunity, avoid infection, and recover from infection. Most of the infected ones who underwent treatment in home isolation, or those after getting discharged from hospital, kept following code of conduct prescribed by Ayurveda experts. Apart from this, crores of people who remained uninfected, also followed the code of conduct prescribed for the purpose. This becomes apparent from the increase in the sales of Coronil at Patanjali stores during the Corona-Tsunami.
It has been observed, that when parents support one of the two children in making career or promoting business and neglect the other, the the first takes it as his privilege and the other gets depressed. As the second one starts struggling to make progress, it is natural for both of them to be jealous of each other. In recent decades, the promotion of Yoga and Ayurveda has increased health awareness in society, which can adversely affect the business related to Allopathy. This seems to be the cause of concern to some allopathic doctors and pharma companies. Thus, induction of unhealthy feelings between the practitioners and businessmen of both the systems of medicine is natural from principles of both the sociology and the economics. Swami Ramdev has already been at the target of several foreign companies for business rivalry. The occasion and choice of words for the questions raised by him on Allopathy may be inappropriate, but these questions belong to the people of the country. Allopathy will have to face the truth on basis of scientific principles. The mouth of the society cannot be closed by showing the fear of legal action. The IMA is expected to avoid the controversies, and focus on bringing transparency in medication in private hospitals, rationalizing consultation fees, and controlling profiteering to maintain the sanctity of medical profession. The two medical systems should complement each other, rather than become competitors.
(The author is Professor and Former Dean (Research & Consultancy) Sant Longowal Institute of Engineering & Technology, Longowal, Longowal)