Art or science, poetry or philosophy, religion or mythology, commerce or manufacture, ancient India excelled in almost every field of human activity or enterprise for centuries. India witnessed advancement in science and technology long before the cultivation of the same in most ancient nations of Europe. There should be no wonder if the science of Medicine received its share of attention as well in this period. The Indian Medical Science forms part of the Vedas, and is called “Ayur Veda”. The presence of the Ayurvedic principles in the hymns of the Vedas, the earliest records of human intellect, establishes for good the antiquity and the originality of Indian Medicine. In fact, the branch of science was so advanced at the time that it was the Indian Ayurvedic Scholars who first understood the necessity of dissection of the human body in the education of Physicians and Surgeons.
Taking a cue from the old wisdom science, Parassinikkadavu Ayurveda Medical College (PAMC) was established, which is located in Parassinikkadavu, a small town in the banks of Valapattanam river in Kannur district of Kerala. It is one of the earliest- formed Ayurvedic colleges in Private sector in Kerala and was established in 2002 under Pappinisseri Visha Chikitsa Society, which is a charitable organization. The Pappinisseri Visha Chikitsa Kendra, the herbal garden, the 150- bed PAMC hospital, PAMC pharmacy are the different units of the institution. The college imparts instruction at the graduate level in BAMS, B Pharm Ayurveda, B Sc in Ayurvedic Nursing and MD (Ayurveda).
In the month of November, 2013, we had four visitors from Germany. They were Dr Angelika Pytlik , a Homeopathic practitioner and a trained Acupuncturist, Dr Ozgur Caesar, a specialist in Gynaecologic Oncolgy, Dr Melanie Wandolsri, a specialist in pediatrics and Dr Peter Krannich, who is trained in Orthopaedic rehabilitation and Naturopathy. Their eagerness and enthusiasm to learn more about Ayurveda and its practices turned a casual visit into more of a study tour. A detailed week-long schedule was laid out as per their request, to arrange for their visit to all departments, showcasing of different treatment procedures and interaction with doctors of different specializations from our college.
The chief clinical areas selected for interaction were Psychiatry in Ayurveda, Kaumarabhrithya (Ayurvedic pediatrics), Shalakyatantra (ENT and Ophthalmology in Ayurveda), Prasoothi tantra (Ayurvedic Gynaecology), Panchakarma and Agadatantra (Toxicology in Ayurveda). They were primarily interested in knowing more about the diagnostic techniques based on basic Ayurvedic principles. Hence, a separate session on the topic was organized to explain to them about the diagnostic techniques and medicine selection based on the concept of Pancha Mahabhutas (air, water, fire, space and earth), and concept of Tridoshas (vata, pitta and kapha)
The department of Alternative Medicine at University of Essen deals in Ayurvedic medicine, and our guests had taken basic courses in Ayurveda. Though this had exposed them to the various treatment modalities in Ayurveda, they were still not very familiar with different terms used in Ayurveda. In fact, conveying to them the language of Ayurveda turned out to be the most difficult part. As a step to overcome this hurdle, we prepared power point presentations in German for our interactions in the following days.
Practical demonstration of some procedures was organized with the consent of patients in Shalakyatantra and Panchakarma. Our guests watched the procedures with great enthusiasm and were inquisitive about the fine details. Procedures like Nasya, Abhyanga and Swedana therapies were demonstrated to them. Later they visited the hospital wards to see patients. Their respect for Ayurvedic treatment procedures and consideration to the privacy of the patients were commendable.
Another session we organized for them was discussion on cases treated in our hospital. We discusssed about the ayurvedic perspective of the disease, its diagnosis and determination of treatment based on the concepts of Ayurveda. Mr. Peter Krannich, in particular, was interested to know about the art of diagnosis in Ayurveda, Specifically about pulse diagnosis. Pulse diagnosis or Nadi Pareeksha is a technique by which the Vaidya diagnoses the condition of the patient feeling his pulse and determines the treatment as per the variations in pulse. They wanted to have a lecture on pulse diagnosis and also wished to observe how a patient is examined and diagnosis made as per concepts of Ayurveda. However, our one-week schedule could not accommodate for a session on the same.
The department of Toxicology (Agadatantra) has special importance in Parassinikkadavu Ayurveda Medical College. A specialty hospital established under Pappinisseri Visha Chikitsa Society functions to conserve the knowledge and treatment related to Ayurvedic Toxicology. The high incidence of death related to snake bite, led the pioneers to start an exclusive center for the management of snakebite and other toxicological diseases in an Ayurvedic perspective. During the initial period of service, the center provided medical treatment for snake bites only under Ayurveda system.
Today, this system of treatment has been replaced and developed into an integrated system of medical treatments combining both Allopathy and Ayurveda. Over one lakh patients have been treated so far, with the mortality rate falling under 1%. Our guests were very pleased about all this. There is a lack of awareness among the international scientific community about Ayurvedic toxicology as a separate and advanced wing. The visit to the department was hence highly informative to our guests, and helped broaden their perspective towards Ayurvedic toxicology.
Medicines form the backbone for any medical system. The knowledge about raw drugs and the preparation of medicine is important. Originally, Ayurveda was a system in which the Vaidya (doctor) used to procure the herbs and prepare medicines for their patients. The combinations of different formulations were decided as per the condition of the patient and hence it was considered as a personalized medicine. In Ayurveda, the knowledge of principles of medicine preparation is equally important as the principles of treatment. The treatment becomes complete only with the logical preparation of medicine as per the need of the patient.
Our herbal garden spreads over five acres of land and has around 430 plants with proper identification. Our visitors walked around the garden with our doctors to see all the plants. The problem of language surfaced again as they were not familiar with the English names as well as the scientific names of the plants. But a German book on medicinal plants they had with them had the pictures of most of the common medicinal plants along with its English names.
In Parassinikkadavu Ayurveda Medical College Pharmacy, the traditional Ayurveda medicines are manufactured as per GMP standards. This pharmacy produces medicines to meet the requirement of both Ayurveda hospital and Visha Chikitsa (Toxicology) hospital. It also has many other branches and outlets. Our guests visited all sections of pharmacy and spent a long time watching the preparation of different medicines. There was also a discussion session on the basic concepts governing Ayurvedic pharmaceutics and pharmacology.
The last day they visited the academic wing of the college. Dr Angelina Pytlik was very surprised to see that majority of students were girls and was extremely happy to know the number of girl students undergoing professional education in Kerala. They could’nt believe such an extensive Ayurvedic curriculum was being followed here, and was impressed by the educational atmosphere in college. We also discussed with them the need for an integrated system of medicine. The short visit to our college was enlightening to our guests and intensified their enthusiasm to know more about Ayurveda. Being such an elaborate science, it was very difficult for us to give them an exposure to the different fields of Ayurveda in such a limited time. They also suggested about the need to introduce more awareness programs in Europe so that all can get to know about benefits of Ayurvedic life-style and diet. Dr Ozgur told us while leaving : “It was very interesting and I will definitely come back”.
There cannot be water-tight compartments between different systems of medicine. All systems aim at alleviating human suffering. That which is really good in one must be assimilated by the other. The real system of medicine should be one, unifying all the different schools and thereby forming a united system in which all the good things of all the schools should be given a place, so that this united system may be more perfect than the disjointed individual sciences. Our object must be to put a stop to the habit of throwing stones at each other and work together for the betterment of human kind. We at Parassinikadavu Ayurveda college were pleased about the fact that we were able to deliver the lectures fruitfully even though they visited us on such short notice and also were happy about the lasting love and friendship they showed us which we will cherish for the years to come.