Time To Combine Traditional And Modern Medicines


The corona crisis has shown us a stark reality that was otherwise ignored for a long time. Our health systems and healthcare facilities are inadequate, overly expensive, and largely out of reach. When someone in our families falls sick then we get bothered about familial health. Running between doctors, pharmacies and pathologies our budgets get imbalanced, yet we do not focus enough on improving the overall health of the family and community. Interesting is that we belong to a nation that has for centuries built its own traditional medicinal practices such as Ayurveda, which opened up to Central Asian Unani medicines. However, from time to time we keep reading about these practices being pseudoscience. A recent example is a friction between Baba Ramdev and Indian Medical Association.

While we (a team of scientists, civil society workers, academicians, and researchers) are trying to find sync between traditional and modern medicinal practices, I sat down with Dr. Lenin Raghuvanshi to discuss the question of access to affordable healthcare for all. Dr. Raghuvanshi holds a bachelor’s in Ayurveda, Modern medicine and Surgery (BAMS) from State Ayurvedic Medical college, Gurukul Kangari, Haridwar. He has won and has been nominated for several prominent national and international awards for his human rights work over the past three decades.

Dr. Lenin Raghuvanshi: Health is a fundamental right. It links with Article 21 of the Indian Constitution that talks about the right to life with dignity. Traditional medicines are indigenous wisdom to cure and prevent diseases. Both modern (which is mostly referred to as scientific) and traditional practices are important for sustainable and healthy living. In times of crisis like Covid, modern medicines can be used as emergency response, but we must follow a proper food and nutrition regime. We must use natural and herbal products in our diet. Now, if we want to find sync, the ideal thing is to check each herb/plant’s nutritional value. It is simply a scientific method. Lifestyle changes, meditation, yoga, and switching between different types of food are mentioned in traditional systems.

Traditional medicines help in prevention. Secondly, after the emergency treatment from modern medicines, traditional medicines and indigenous knowledge are the best for the recovery and rehabilitation of the body and mind. Several stomach-related diseases can be cured permanently with the help of traditional medicines.  Science needs to verify and check traditional medicines so that we have more options for a healthy life.  That is how we will find the sync you wanted to know about. Good luck!

Ashish Singh is a doctoral candidate at the National Research University Higher School of Economics, Moscow, Russia

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