Dangerous mixing of medicine
AYUSH and modern medicine have distinct approaches and methods of practice, they cannot be merged.
Although the National Medical Commission Bill has been referred to the standing committee, certain concerns need to be answered. The best alternative, however, would be to revamp the MCI to remedy the shortcomings which had cropped out of it. But, if the government is too adamant, then it is important that at least some major concerns are addressed. There are several points of contention in the NMC. The issue of allowing profit organisations to open medical colleges and charge at will is a serious one. This will lead to medical education becoming out of reach of many deserving students.
But, the major contentious clause is number 49 of the bill, which permits AYUSH doctors to undertake a short bridge course and receive an official licence to practice modern medicine. It is important here to study the principles and patterns of treatment in the various systems of medicine and then evaluate whether is it feasible to mix them.
AYUSH - Ayurveda, Yunani, Siddha, and Homoeopathy – were developed in different parts of the world during the ancient times. Ayurveda is based on the principle of harmony and balancing of three Doshas i.e Vata: dry, cold, light, mobile, clear, rough, subtle; Pitta: slightly oily, hot, intense, light, fluid, free-flowing, foul-smelling; Kapha: oily, cold, heavy, stable, viscid, smooth, soft. The Ayurvedic concept of physical health revolves around maintaining these three in a balanced state to prevent disease. When the three Doshas are well harmonised and function in a balanced manner, it results in good nourishment and well-being of the individual. But, when there is imbalance or disharmony within or between them, it will result in elemental imbalance, leading to various kinds of ailments.
The basic theory of the Yunani system is based upon the well- known four-humour theory of Hippocrates. This presupposes the bodily presence of four humours viz., blood, phlegm, yellow bile and black bile. This type of treatment involves the use of naturally occurring drugs, mostly herbal. The drugs used, originated from both animal and mineral substances. Unani medicine presupposes that the drugs also have their own temperament. Since in this system, the emphasis is laid on the particular temperament of the individual, the medicines administered are such that they match the temperament of the patient, thus accelerating the process of recovery and also eliminating the risk of reaction.
In the Siddha system of medicine, man is viewed as a microcosm and the universe as macrocosm. In other words, man is a miniature universe in himself. The whole universe, in turn, is believed to be constituted of five primordial elements viz. Earth, Water, Fire, Air and Space and so is man. The Pancheekaranam theory (Five Fold Combination) of Siddha science explains the origin and formation of these basic elements as well as the role of these five elements in the formation of every substance, both in the universe and in humans.
The concept of Homoeopathy is entirely different. According to the definition of the National Centre of Homeopathy, "Homeopathy is a system of medicine that is based on the Law of Similars". Contemporary homoeopathic remedies function upon three main principles − first, that a perfect remedy to a disease would be a "poison" that causes the very same symptoms. Minimal dose − the cure is taken in the minimal quantity, so by itself, it is not dangerous for the patient but at the same time, it neutralises the causes of the disease. The single remedy − what it means is that there is only one cure for a given set of symptoms.
The knowledge of modern medicine is based on the anatomical structure and the physiological functioning of our body. There is study of pathophysiology to know how the ailments developed. The treatment method can be medical or surgical, depending on the type of ailment. This system has been developed in a scientific manner in the last century and has evolved with time in vastness like that of the ocean. Drugs are put into public use only after multiple clinical trials. When the basic concept of disease and health is different, training the personnel from AYUSH in the modern medicine with meagre knowledge will create confusion and mismanagement of the patient. If the benefit to the patient is desired, the only way is to integrate AYUSH as a complementary aspect of the modern system.
There is also a serious apprehension that most of those who are imparted bridge course would go in for full-fledged practice in modern medicine. This may virtually kill AYUSH. It is, therefore, even more important for the practitioners of AYUSH to oppose the bridge course rather than those practising modern medicine.
(Dr. Arun Mitra is senior vice President Indian Doctors for Peace and Development. The views expressed are strictly personal)