Wednesday, July 15, 2015


Times of India
July 14, 2015
Bangalore, India

"We have been used like tissue papers and mercilessly thrown in the waste bin..." This is how a few Ayush doctors described the government's alleged apathy towards them.

At a press meet here on Monday, they alleged that they haven't been provided with adequate facilities despite serving in rural parts of the state for years. They have decided to go on an indefinite protest from July 20.

The government had sought the services of Ayush doctors in 2006 as there was a shortage of MBBS doctors in public health centres (PHC). They were recruited on contract basis with a promise to make them permanent later on. "Our many pleas for increase in basic salary and other benefits like insurance cover and TA/DA allowance have fallen on deaf ears. We run 272 public health centres in north Karnataka but we still don't have a permanent job," rued BS Madhukar, Ayurveda doctor.

According to him, in the past eight years, the government has given them medicines only thrice. "These drugs last only for three months. How can we continue treating poor patients if we are not supplied with adequate medicines?" he asked.

Atmaram M Shetty, another doctor, said though the basic salary of allopathy doctors was raised to Rs 28,000, Ayush practitioners received only Rs 13,000 till 2014. "Though it was increased to Rs 15,400 this year, we are struggling to meet family expenses," he added.

"In case of emergency leave, our salary is deducted. Allopathy doctors went on a protest demanding revision in salary last year and the government immediately considered it,'' Shivalinga PPA, member of NRHM Karnataka Ayush Doctors' Association, said.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015


Times of India
Wednesday, March 25, 2015
by Sunitha Rao
Bangalore, India

Every fourth Saturday of the month, the otherwise quiet Advanced Centre for Ayurveda inside the sprawling Nimhans (the National Institute of Mental Health and Neuroscience) campus comes alive. A psychiatrist and an ayurveda doctor screen 60-80 patients suffering from muscular dystrophy and other psychiatric illnesses. The ayurveda centre has been helping those suffering from schizophrenia to tackle their violent, aggressive behaviour and sleeplessness. Nimhans has been collaborating with the Indian ancient medicine since 1959. In 1970, the centre was upgraded by the Central Council for Research in Ayurvedic Sciences (CCRAS) with the establishment of the Advanced Centre for Ayurveda in Mental Health and Neuro Sciences on 1.5 acres inside Nimhans.

Dr D Sudhakar, assistant director of the centre, said: "The focus is more on collaborative studies. They are suggested select therapies of Panchakarma that does detoxification. Medicated oil massage, termed Shirodhara in ayurveda, is also helpful. Today, almost every house has a psychiatric patient and a diabetic. Anxiety, stress, depression have become so common." He further said, "There is no 100% result for medication in neurological disorders. So we suggest them kriyas in ayurveda that can help them. For instance, those suffering from muscular dystrophy are suggested some Panchakarma therapies that reduce stiffness in the arms and calf muscles. What we give is supportive therapy." Dr P Satish Chandra, director of Nimhans, said, "Psychiatric patients and those suffering from neuro-generative disorders are told about possible treatment in ayurveda. We go ahead only if the patient is willing to take up ayurvedic therapies along with allopathic treatment." However, the 30-bed hospital, which sees 40 patients at the OPD everyday, lacks certain facilities.

A remark in the patient's feedback records summed up the scene at the centre. "For a Panchakarma treatment it requires seven days of stay in the hospital. But the facilities have to improve. When ayurveda treatment is on, we expect a typical ayurvedic diet chart, but here, the food given to all Nimhans patient is the same from the same kitchen. Ayurvedic centre should have its own kitchen," a patient wrote in the feedback records.

Low IQ? Get treated here

The Advanced Centre for Ayurveda in Mental Health and Neuro Sciences, which is conducting in Manasa Mandata (slight mental retardation) among children, picks over 50 students from various schools every year for treatment. "We visit schools and find out the IQ of children in the age group of 8-13 years. We make them play games, interact with them and assess their IQ. The IQ for children of this age group should be ideally 90-100. But we have seen children whose IQ was below 52, and the parents, teachers were not much aware of it," said Shruthi Keerthi, a clinical psychologist at the centre. "In some cases, mild mental retardation can be noticed in the form of frequent bed wetting, lack of concentration and poor communication skills. We first reach out to the schools and explain the teachers about our project. We also interact with children. But it's the parents who have to bring the children to our centre after interacting with the teachers," she added.

Ayurvedic medicines like Saraswath Gritha (medicated ghee) and Brahmee Gritha made up of herbs are used to treat mild mental retardation. "There is a lot of stigma associated with these problems. We have had cases wherein after a couple of months of treatment with us, the children have improved their IQ from 52 to 61," Shruthi Keerthi added.

Reading palm leaves keeps him busy At a time when people of his age enjoy their post-retirement life, Lakshmi Narayana H S, 64-year-old ayurveda practitioner, is busy reading palm-leaf manuscripts about ayurveda to bring them to the mainstream. "Not all that is written and researched about ayurveda by our ancestors is available now. My effort is to make those manuscripts get into the mainstream... The inscriptions I have carry ayurvedic solutions for cancer, geriatric problems, heart ailments, diabetes."

It means that these diseases prevailed then also and the medicines they have suggested can be relevant now, said Lakshmi Narayana from Anekal, who retired as a clerk at the Advanced centre for Ayurveda, Nimhans. He has palm-leaf books of various sizes ranging from 25 leaves to 300 leaves. "I go in search of palm-leaf scripts. Sometimes people have contacted me and given the palm leaves they have for studies," he added. As a young boy, he grew up seeing his uncle provide ayurveda treatment to people which nurtured his curiosity for the Indian traditional medicine." He has transcribed the inscriptions in Marathi, Tamil, Kannada, Halegannada and Telugu. He uses magnifying glasses to read the inscriptions and makes note of them in Kannada. "Some of the palm leaves that date back to the Krishnadevaraya empire of Vijayanagara, have details of medicines for different kinds of fever," Lakshmi Narayana added.

"I appreciate his efforts. But we do not know whether the manuscripts he has transcribed are present in the ayurvedic textbooks already," said Dr D Sudhakar, additional director of Centre for Ayurveda in Mental Health and Neuro Sciences.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015
by Anand Chandrasekhar
Berne, Switzerland

Practitioners of traditional Indian medicine Ayurveda will soon be able to get a federally recognised national diploma after passing an exam. They hope this move will bring credibility, especially in the eyes of health insurance providers.

Prior to the approval of the national exam and diploma, Ayurveda lacked official recognition in Switzerland unlike other complementary and alternative medicine practices.

“Training institutes and schools offer diplomas but they are not officially recognised," Catherine Goodman Zosso, vice president of the Swiss Professional Association for Ayurveda Practitioners and Therapists (VSAMT), told

She believes that one of the main reasons for Ayurveda’s failure to be taken seriously by the authorities is that it is associated more with “wellness” than with medicine. “Many hotels offer Ayurveda massages as a part of their spa packages and in the early days most Ayurveda practitioners had minimal qualifications and experience,” she says.

As a result of this lack of credibility and recognition, most health insurers refuse to reimburse patients for the cost of Ayurveda consultations, including those with supplementary coverage for alternative therapies.

“I have been practising in Switzerland for over ten years but have only been recognised by insurers for two years,” Bern-based Ayurveda therapist Krishnan Binu told “Most insurers do not reimburse patients for Ayurveda treatments.”

This means patients have to dip into their own pockets if they want to avail of an Ayurvedic consultation.

Lobbying authorities

After being rejected in 2005 by the authorities for lack of scientific proof of their efficacy, complementary and alternative medicines made a comeback in 2009 when two-thirds of Swiss backed their inclusion on the constitutional list of paid health services. As a result of the vote, five alternative therapies – homeopathy, holistic, herbal and neural therapies and traditional Chinese medicine – were included under the basic health insurance package on a trial basis from 2012 to 2017, provided they are administered by certified medical doctors.

Despite efforts to lobby the government, Ayurveda was not included among them.

“The authorities asked us to wait until the trial period for these five therapies was over before demanding the inclusion of Ayurveda,” Franz Rutz, president of VSAMT and one of the main leaders of the people’s initiative, told

Instead, the association concentrated on preparing Ayurveda for inclusion among the disciplines eligible for the national diploma. This would allow practitioners without a medical degree to receive an official professional qualification and pave the way for Ayurveda’s recognition by the health insurance industry. Steps taken included clearly differentiating Ayurveda medicine from Ayurvedic massage and categorising the practitioners on the basis of their expertise, experience and qualifications along the lines set out by the national exam requirements.

Their efforts paid off when Ayurveda was officially approved as one of four therapies – including Chinese and European traditional medicine, as well as homeopathy – for the national diploma by the State Secretariat for Education Research and Innovation (SERI).

“The Ayurveda groups were very active in the public consultation,” says Nicole Aeby-Egger, who is in charge of professional training at SERI.

Road ahead

The first exams are expected to be held in November and applicants will first have to pass a series of six pre-exams. However, those with recognised qualifications and at least five years of experience could be exempt from the pre-exams. The exam is also open to foreign nationals but will only be offered in German, French and Italian. Besides benefiting the 2,500 alternative medicine therapists in Switzerland, the national diploma is also seen as a victory for patients who put their trust in alternative medicine.

“Patients can soon go to a professional who has passed these exams instead of someone who has done a weekend course,” Rudolf Happle, secretary general of the Organisation of Swiss Alternative Medicine Professionals, told

According to him, the government will maintain a list of practitioners who have obtained the diploma and it is planned that the list will be available on the internet for verification.

India-trained Binu hopes that the national diploma will make Swiss health insurers more receptive to Ayurveda. Rutz, who is heading the Ayurveda lobbying effort, is optimistic.

“We are currently in talks with major health insurers to recognise those who pass these exams,” he says. “So far, we’ve received a positive response from them.”

According to Rutz, the next big challenge is ensuring that practitioners who obtain the national diploma have the right to prescribe Ayurvedic medicines and food supplements. Currently, patients can buy them only from pharmacies due to quality control issues. The Swiss regulations on therapeutic products are currently being revised by the Swiss parliament and Ayurveda practitioners are hoping for yet another reason to celebrate.

Sunday, April 12, 2015


MD India.Medindia
Mumbai, India
Friday, March 27, 2015

Kerala Health Minister, V.S. Sivakumar, said, "Ayurveda expertise and care for the treatment of various developmental disorders in children, mental retardation, cerebral palsy, autism, and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) will be made available at major Ayurveda hospitals in the State."

Minister Sivakumar inaugurated a scheme that provides Ayurveda treatment for developmental disorders in children, launched in the pediatric division of the Poojappura Ayurveda Hospital for Women and Children, under the Government Ayurveda College, Trivandrum on March 26. "Steps will be taken to strengthen the pediatric wing in Ayurveda hospitals," he said.

A screening programme for identifying development disorders in children was also inaugurated by the Minister. A total number of 103 children below ten years of age were screened. Sixty were detected with cerebral palsy, twenty six were diagnosed with autism, seven were found to be hyperactive, another five had Down's Syndrome and seven children were found to have mental retardation.


DNA/Diligent Media
Tuesday, March 10, 2015
New Delhi, India

Urging to dismiss the notion of Ayurveda as an "unproven" discipline, President Pranab Mukherjee on Saturday said the centuries-old knowledge system is believed to have treated diseases that resembled HIV and tuberculosis in ancient times and needs to be demystified and popularised.

Speaking at the 58th session of the All India Ayurvedic Congress, Mukherjee said for that too long Ayurveda has been dismissed as an "unproven" discipline and he would like to see Ayurvedic medicine being demystified and popularised through informative marketing and user-friendly packaging.

The President said he would like to see the day when we have mobile clinics delivering Ayurvedic treatment and medicine through the villages in all parts of India and that he would particularly like to encourage the youth of India to study, safeguard, practice and propagate this ancient knowledge system.

"It is believed that centuries ago, the medicinal systems of Ayurveda and Siddha had laid down protocols for successfully treating diseases that resembled the diseases that we know today as HIV and tuberculosis. If these remedies could be researched and the findings pursued, they could bring new hope to millions and revolutionise modern medicine," Mukherjee said.

To achieve this, there should be greater collaboration between ayurvedic and allopathic researchers to widen the database of treatment protocols and successful medical practices for the benefit of our people, he said.

"It would also be appropriate to establish channels of direct connectivity between Ayurvedic laboratories and drug manufacturers. Some modern hospitals are additionally offering Ayurveda in the name of integrative medicine. I would definitely encourage hospitals all over India to add the facility and service of Ayurvedic treatment in whichever way they can," he said.


DNA/Diligent Media
Friday, April 10 2015
New Delhi, India

With new herbal products being introduced in the market every other day, ayurveda experts have demanded a strong regulatory mechanism to ensure people are not misguided and land up in trouble.

According to the experts, it needs more people keep a check on the new herbal products coming into the market. Dr Kuldip Kohli, director of AYUSH in Maharashtra, said, "Every other day, a new herbal product is being introduced in the market which may have a rational or an irrational combination. People feel it is very easy to float their products in the market as there is no good regulatory mechanism to ensure that the product is safe for use."

Dr Kohli, who agrees that ayurveda has been a preferred choice of people for years, said that FDA has a very few drug inspectors to check on these products. "FDA needs to have more drug inspectors for ayurveda like they have for allopathy medicines," said Dr Kohli.

According to ST Patil, joint commissioner (drugs) of FDA, there is only one technical officer for ayurveda. Doctors say that people, especially the ones suffering from chronic ailments, rely on herbal products in the market.

"Such medicines are neither effective nor tested by any drug controller. Hence, it's not advisable for patients to buy them. People tend to discontinue their regular medicines and rely on ayurvedic ones that are not prescribed by an expert and land themselves in trouble," said Dr Tushar Rege, diabetic foot surgeon.


The Times of India
Saturday, April 4, 2015
New Delhi, India

In a significant scientific validation for traditional therapies, India's premier medical institution, AIIMS (the All-India Institute of Medical Sciences) has found certain Ayurvedic formulations effective in treating rheumatoid arthritis (RA), which causes irreversible joint damage. The study, conducted on 125 RA patients, found Ayurvedic medicines Ashwagandha powder and Sidh Makardhwaj, helped in relieving pain in tender and swollen joints, and increased mobility in a majority of subjects. Ashwagandha powder is derived from a plant while Sidh Makardhwaj is a formulation of herbal and mineral ingredients.

The study was part of a larger research being conducted by the institution, known for cutting-edge treatments, for scientific validation of therapies offered under traditional systems of medicine. PM Narendra Modi's endorsement of alternative medicine has given further push to the programme.

AIIMS is also conducting multiple studies to validate alternative therapies for epilepsy, Alzheimer's and chronic heart failure, among others. Dr Y K Gupta, who heads AIIMS' pharmacology department, told TOI that scientific validation of alternative therapies and medicines was one of the mandates of the institute.

"Interest in traditional medicines is renewed and growing exponentially due to the adverse drug reactions and economic burden associated with modern system of medicine. The central government is promoting them too," he added.

AIIMS is also conducting studies to validate the medicinal values of turmeric, Shankhpushpi or Evolvulus alsinoides and stem bark of terminalia arjuna (a medicinal plant used by Ayurvedic physicians) for treating various health ailments. AIIMS doctors said Ashwagandha powder had anti-inflammatory, anti-stress and immuno-modulatory properties, which help improving physical function and joint pain in RA patients.

A researcher who participated in the study said the formulations had multiple benefits. The subjects were administered 5 gram of Ashwagandha powder twice a day for three weeks with lukewarm water or milk and 100 gram of Sidh Makardhwaj daily with honey for the next four weeks as part of the pilot study."The drugs decreased RA factor and there was significant change in post-treatment scores of tender joints, swollen joints, pain assessment score and patient self-assessed disability index among other," the researcher said. The study has been published in the latest issue of the Indian Journal of Medical Research.

Dr (Gen) Ved Chaturvedi, rheumatologist at Army (Research and Referral hospital) said this is a welcome step. "Whether we accept it or not, there are many people in India who subscribe to the health benefits of alternative therapies. It is important to scientifically validate the claims about their efficacy rather than ignoring them totally," he said. According to him, rheumatoid arthritis is a debilitating condition in which patients have to take life-long medications. "In many cases, where treatment is delayed or the joints get damaged badly, costly joint replacements is done," added Dr Chaturvedi.

The NDA government recently announced opening of institute of Ayurveda on the lines of AIIMS in Delhi and several other parts of the country.