I have covered briefly here the predicament we all face today in modern medicine. Below are a some more thoughts on this:
The causes of the main chronic diseases are well established and well known. The most important modifiable risk factors are excessive eating, physical inactivity, stress, and alcohol and tobacco use.
These causes are expressed through the intermediate risk factors of raised blood pressure, raised glucose levels, abnormal blood lipids profile (particularly low density lipoprotein–LDL), and overweight (BMI ≥ 25) and obesity (BMI ≥ 30). The major modifiable risk factors, in conjunction with the non-modifiable risk factors of age and heredity, explain the majority of new events of heart disease, stroke, chronic respiratory diseases and some cancers.
The burden of chronic disease has major adverse effects on the quality of life of affected individuals causing premature death and creating large adverse – and under-appreciated economic effects on families, communities and societies in general. Several misunderstandings have contributed to the inattention to chronic diseases and people got into the habit to consider it normal to live with a chronic disease.
Most of the above is due to the fact that our modern healthcare delivery system attempts to restore health by treating the symptoms of disease in the body. Modern medical practice defines wellness as “the absence of defined disease” and prescribes treatment to “attack” the disease, often using artificial drugs and medicines that can have various negative side effects, and often applying the same treatment to a given set of symptoms irrespective of the individual’s requirements or constitution.
We are very aware that in the current healthcare delivery system, lack of patient involvement and disconnection in body-mind interactions are a real problem.
In contrast to this, Ayurveda defines wellness as being when all bodily tissues, organs, systems and functions are acting together in a balanced way in order to maintain health and wellness, in spite of potential illness-causing influences. Ayurveda focuses treatment on the complete person, in an integrated approach that includes the body, mind, spirit and soul.
Ayurveda considers the development of consciousness is essential for optimal health and developed techniques of awareness as one of the main ways for achieve good health. Whereas modern Western medicine is excellent in handling acute medical crises, Ayurveda demonstrates an ability to manage chronic disorders that modern medicine has been unable to achieve.
We tend to forget that in the early development of modern medicine, and until less that seventy years ago, biological active compounds from plants played a vital role in providing medicines to manage different disorders and related conditions such as pain. For example, in the British Pharmacopeia of 1932, over 70% of the organic monographs are on plant derived products. In today’s world 75-80% of the world population depends on crude plant drug preparations to treat their health problems.
We are in a situation where in today’s world various driving forces are shaping change and challenging the modern medical practice – for example:
there is an increasing awareness of optional or potential integrated solutions outside of modern medical practice;
patients are turning to alternative medicine due to dissatisfaction with modern medical approach for today’s chronic diseases; and
there are both cost effectiveness and long term benefits of Ayurveda.