Worldwide Contribution Of Ayurveda In Health Care And Wellness – World Health Day
If there is one thing in our lives that is priceless and needs to be nurtured with utmost respect and care, it is our health. Good health – of mind, body and soul – is the fulcrum around which our lives revolve as it results in a disease free, happy, financially prosperous and productive population.
Indian medicinal wisdom has, since thousands of years, believed in the maxim ‘Arogyam Dhansampada’ or health is wealth! Health is our body’s fundamental metabolism and functionality that enables the person to fight diseases, adjust to physical, mental and environmental changes to perform responsibilities and tasks in a capable manner.
Importance of sound health cannot be stressed enough, it not only ensures a happy, long, disease free life but also helps reduce the monetary burden of medical treatments and hospital costs. Governments the world over, take health very seriously as it is one aspect that can seriously hamper progress of a country due to unhealthy spending on public health.
Why do we celebrate World Health Day?
What is Ayurveda and its healing benefits?
What is health according to Ayurveda?
What are the 5 principles of Ayurveda?
What are the 3 Ayurvedic body types?
Vata dosha– energy of movement related with elements Akash/space and Vayu/wind
Pitta dosha– energy of metabolism/digestion connected with elements Agni/fire and Jal/water
Kapha dosha– energy associated with elements Prithvi/earth and Jal/water
Ayurveda is the most ancient as well as the most evolved healing system which promotes wholesome treatment of diseases via healthy diet and lifestyle choices, without any adverse side effects or harm to the body. Since the past three decades, Ayurveda is finding acceptance across the world due to its focus on holistic healing.
Although Ayurvedic practitioners are not licensed in the United States, there are standalone courses and workshops, certificate programs and master’s degree programs for Ayurvedic studies within broader holistic health programs in some American states. The Ayurvedic Institute in New Mexico, California College of Ayurveda, Nevada City, Kerala Ayurveda Academy in Milpitas, California and Seattle, Washington are some of the best Ayurveda schools in the USA. Similarly, Ayurvedic courses are also offered at institutes all across the world with countries such as UK, Australia, Singapore also gradually adopting Ayurveda.
Ayurveda is recognized in Nepal, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Sri-Lanka, UAE, Colombia, Malaysia, Switzerland, South Africa, Cuba, Tanzania. Romania, Hungary, Latvia, Serbia and Slovenia are 5 countries of the European Union (EU), where Ayurvedic treatment is regulated.
Ayurvedic texts have been translated into German, Arabic, Latin, and many other foreign languages. Demand for herbal products and Ayurvedic massages is also on the rise.
Ayurveda WHO and India
Ayurveda – looking ahead
World Health Day (WHD) is celebrated on 7th April every year to mark the anniversary of the founding of WHO (World Health Organization) in 1948. Every year a theme is selected to highlight a priority area of public health concern in the world. For World Health Day 2022, WHO is focusing on the climate crisis and how to ensure a healthy planet for healthy humans.
It is estimated that more than 13 million people die due to avoidable environmental causes like pollution, unclean water, food paucity etc. According to WHO the climate crisis is the single most existential as well as health emergency that the world is facing currently.
The WHO, through their health campaign, will aim for a global economy that has human health, equity and ecological sustainability as its objectives and will encourage countries to take substantial steps to protect the planet, public health and prioritize the well-being of societies. In addition, the global COVID 19 pandemic, although demonstrative of the healing power of vaccines, has mainly highlighted the importance of having a strong immune system that can defend the body against infections by adapting to the Ayurvedic lifestyle.
Ayurveda, the oldest known medicinal science that finds mention in Vedic texts, literally means the ‘science of life’. The great rishi, Veda Vyasa, preserved the entire knowledge of Ayurveda in writing, along with the more spiritual insights of principles, righteousness, and self-realization.
Ayurvedic health care is based on the belief that prevention of diseases and maintaining health through a proper lifestyle, dietary regimen, right thoughts, and ayurvedic medicines can create the right balance of mind, body and soul!
According to Ayurveda, external and internal factors such as ritus (seasons), environmental factors, food choices, physical activity, stress, injuries, personal relationships can affect the balance and change the constitution of a person to an imbalance state. In Ayurveda, balance/health is the natural order, and any disruptions or imbalance is disorder/disease. The body has continuous interactions between order and disorder and when the root cause of disorder is ascertained, corrective measures can be taken to re-establish order and regain good health.
Ayurveda benefits holistic healing, reductions in toxins/ama, better health at cellular level, stronger digestion, reduced stress levels, surge in energy/Ojas, a happier state of wellness resulting in a long, fulfilling life.
In the Charak Samhita Sutrasthana, Acharya Charak & Vaghbhata define health as “Samadosha, samagnischa samadhatumala kriyaha prasanna atmenindriya manaha swasthya ityabhidheeyate”
Ayurveda states that health or Swasthya, exists when the tridoshas (vata, pitta, kapha), digestive fire or agni, the dhatus or tissues, the malas or waste products (sweat, urine and feces ), panchendriya or five senses all function normally and when the mind, body and consciousness are in harmony.
Ayurveda states that we humans are mini versions of the universe and are made up of five core elements or Panchmahabhuta – namely Prithvi (earth), Vayu (wind), Akash (space) Jal (water) and Agni/Tej (fire) which are responsible for forming the tridoshas (vata, pitta and kapha). Any imbalance in one or more elements can cause toxin buildup and lead to diseases.
Ayurveda strongly believes that health is not a ‘one size fits all’ quick fix but it is a unique situation that depends on each person’s prakriti, the ritus/seasons, surroundings/geography etc.
Each person is born with a unique prakriti/constitution at birth which is the result of the interplay between the energies or tridoshas – vata, pitta and kapha. Although all the doshas are present in each person, one dosha is prominent (generally depending on the physical and emotional attributes of a person) and that is the body type of that person.
The tridoshas govern all the processes in the body and any imbalance in the tridoshas leads to negative mental, as well as physical, wellbeing which can result in diseases.
Ayurveda is enjoying a tremendous resurge in popularity in India, in fact, the COVID pandemic has made people realize the enormous value of Ayurveda and the deep and long term impact it can have in maintaining good health without the side effects. A recent survey revealed that there is an over 90% uptick in the awareness and adoption of Ayurveda in the aftermath of the pandemic, with women and millennials especially embracing Ayurvedic medicines.
The Indian government is also supporting this healthcare system through various AYUSH (Ayurveda, Yoga, Naturopathy, Unani, Siddha, Sowa-Rigpa and Homeopathy) related initiatives.
With an intent to combine the ancient Ayurvedic knowledge with modern medicinal research to help Ayurveda gain recognition globally, the Ministry of AYUSH has signed a Host Country Agreement with the World Health Organization (WHO) for establishing a WHO Global Centre for Traditional Medicine (GCTM) at Jamnagar in India, with its interim office at the Institute of Training and Research in Ayurveda (ITRA) in Gujarat.
The AYUSH Ministry already has MoUs with 18 countries for cooperation in Traditional medicine, establishing AYUSH Academic Chairs in international universities to promote Ayurvedic Medicine around the world. Also, AYUSH information cells have been established in 28 countries to disseminate information about Ayurvedic and alternative systems of medicine.
The pandemic has stressed the importance of Ayurveda and its healing powers like no other with the world recognizing the need to adapt to more natural and organic methods of treatments. In fact, Ayurveda is enjoying a revival not just in its home country India but also across continents from Asia to Africa and North America to Europe.
As per the joint market research of Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) and PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), the Indian Ayurveda market is all set to register 16 per cent growth (CAGR) till 2025 with over 77% of Indian households, both rural and urban, using some form of Ayurvedic medicines. Even globally, the market is expected to reach over $9 billion in 2022.
From skincare, diabetes, PCOD, depression, cardiovascular diseases, Ayurveda can treat a variety of physical, mental, and genetic issues.
Ayurveda is all set to play a major role in the new-age healthcare system, especially post COVID, as it is the answer to a population and healthcare industry looking for inclusive, holistic, affordable and sustainable medicines.
The Ayurveda benefits of treating the root cause of the disease and not just the symptoms while focusing on therapies that rejuvenate body-mind-spirit means that Ayurvedic health care might well become the future of global wellness.