Synthesising Ayurveda in western medical practice

Ayurveda as a comprehensive medical system is still not sufficiently known in the health systems of Europe and America. Both doctors and patients ask whether and how Ayurveda can be integrated into patient care in a western country.Here,Dr. med. Hedwig H. Gupta talks about the efficacy and scope of ayureda medicine in the west and some recommendations for integrating Ayurveda in western medical practise.

Ayurveda is a comprehensive medical system and other medical systems, including conventional medicine and homeopathy, can be understood from an ayurvedic perspective. Today, a lot of concerns are raised about the combination of Ayurveda and conventional medicine. This isdue to the fact that each has a different understanding of diseases, their pathophysiology, their causes and the approaches to treatment which can lead to contradictions. For example,while rheumatic disorders,  are understood by conventional or modern medicine as an autoimmune diseaseand are treated in a immunomodulatory manner;in Ayurveda, they are diagnosed as a metabolic disorder and treated by purifying the body and strengthening its immunity.

So also, another factor that can lead to uncertainty in the minds of the people, isthe use of very effective isolated active substances inconventional medicine as opposed to the complex formulationscommonly used inAyurveda.Homeopathic doctors in the Westsometimes worry that ina combination of systems, allopathic or ayurvedic medicine, as the case may be, Homeopathy could be easily “drowned out”.

 Background of the integrative use of ayurveda

Even if Ayurveda is a completely independent system, its logic often fulfils the goals of allopathic medicine. In Allopathy, many common diseases are regarded as essential or idiopathic and are therefore only treated symptomatically.In Ayurveda,even for such disorders,treatment of the root cause of the illnessesis possible. This is sosince in ayurvedic aetiology,factors are also considered which although they may be observed in conventional medicine, but their role is not understood, such as the meaning of stress and malnutrition in essential hypertension.

Ayureda is also more successful in terms of implementation of goals connected to desired changes in behaviour or nutrition. This is due to the simple fact thatinherent in this system, is the clarification with each patient that his cooperation is central to the success of the therapy.

That said, concepts in conventional medicines arechanging. Over the last few years these changes have brought its ways of thinking closer to Ayurveda -an example can be seen in pain therapy.

Here, a multimodal therapy concept with painkillers, physical applications, nutrition therapy, relaxation techniques and behavioural therapy is now being used, which corresponds to the basic pillars of ayurvedic therapy.The current recommendations for personalisation of therapeutic guidelines also correspond to the personalised approach practiced in Ayurveda.

Ayurvedic concepts or principles can be supported with conventional medical methods and vice versa. For example, the success of surgical interventionsis much higher, when the pre- and post operative treatment is done according to ayurvedic principles.Similarly, an ayurvedic diagnosis would indicate the necessity of an operation but the surgery itself is carried out with modern methods and integrated into an overall ayurvedic concept.

So also, modern cancer therapy is better tolerated and is less burdensome and exhausting for the patient  if ayurvedic treatments can be integrated for detoxificationof the body and promoting strength of the patient.

In the case of integration with Hhmeopathy, itcan be understoodon the basis of Samkhyadarshanaas a therapy on the level of „energy“ and the Mahagunas.Therefore, from an ayurvedic point of view, there are no contradictions in therapy, even if one system is homeopathic and one allopathic. Just as mantras and phytotherapy do not contradictone another.

Other naturopathic procedures can also be well integrated into a ayurvedic therapy concept. Since Ayurveda is a very open system which assumes that there is nothing in the world which cannot be used therapeuticallybut with the presumption that  its quality and effects are well understood from an ayurveic point of view. Given that it is so, every therapy procedure can be integrated. In fact, Ayurveda would also recommend the use of locally available plant materials.

Recommendations for the integration of Ayurveda into modern medicine

Every physician is committed to the principle of not causing any damage to the patient. Every medical system in the world has been developed and is still in use because it has particular strengths in therapy and/or diagnostics that benefit the patients. Therapy is therefore not about waging a war of systems, but about finding the safest, most effective therapy with the least side effects for the patient.

To be able to find the most suitable therapy it is helpful to have an understanding of the strengths and weaknesses of the particular medical system, its mode of action, guidelines, scientific observations and last but not least personal experience.

In the author´s personal opinion and experience, the depth offered by Ayurveda makes it suitable tobe a kind of umbrella arching over the complete field of therapy.

The ayurvedic recommendations on health maintenance, lifestyle, hygiene and nutrition can form the basis of any treatment.

Ayurvedic therapy methods such as phytotherapy, the external treatment methods of Keraliyan Panchakarmas, ayurvedic behavioral and psychotherapy as well as the processes ofSamshodhana,when applied correctly improve results oftreatment without provoking side effects.In addition, other natural remedies can also be used. Conventional medical diagnostics serve the principle of certainty in the medical system, assuring that dangerous structural illnesses are not overlooked. The more intensive therapies are used when the easily tolerated methods of Ayurveda and other natural remedies do not give sufficient relief. In the case of acute and life-threatening illnesses, conventional medicine is usually the first choice.In the case of atherapy requiring tobe adminsitered over a longer period of time,gentler therapies should be given a preference..

Medical treatmentcan be considered to have been applied correctly, when it brings about a disease-free state, and a doctor is the person most suitable to free the patient from his suffering.”


 Dr. med. Hedwig H. Gupta

Specialist in orthopaedics and rheumatology,

Ayurveda, therapeutic yoga, acupuncture, manual medicine Director of the vidya sagar Academy for Ayurveda and Yoga Therapy Member of the Board of DÄGAM e.V.

Seestr. 5, 71638 Ludwigsburg, Tel 07141 9900844, Fax 07141 9900855

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