Are ayurveda treatments and ayurvedic medicine effective? Ask the Professor, with SCU’s Dr. Anu
Dr. Anu answers the following commonly asked questions about Ayurvedic medicine and its efficacy and educational opportunities at SCU, below.
What is Ayurvedic Medicine?
Ayurveda is one of the World’s oldest medical systems, delivering personalized health care. Ayurvedic medicine encompasses the physical, psychological, and spiritual dimensions of life by taking into consideration of dynamic concepts of wellness, prevention, and management of diseases. This holistic approach to healing that evolved from these origins relies on natural remedies—including medicinal plants and minerals, exercise/yoga, lifestyle modifications, diet modifications and bodywork and detoxification therapies—to optimize health and manage the diseases. Ayurveda strongly advocates the pursuit of physical, mental and spiritual well-being through self-discipline and strict adherence to a code of good conduct and to proper diet, exercise, and daily living routines
Ayurveda, as a system of health care and medicine, reflects time-tested knowledge of health and illness during a human life span for leading a healthy, happy, and peaceful life. It is still widely used in India as a system of primary health care and interest in it is growing globally. This traditional medical science explains the prevention and health promotion and treatment of diseases.
Are Ayurvedic treatments effective?
Scientific studies on health promotive methods as well as disease management through Ayurveda have shown that Ayurvedic medicine is effective, and this may lead to wider use of Ayurvedic treatments in the future. Literature documentation shows that this science is practiced for 5,000 years indicating the effectiveness of this time-tested medicine for treating various disorders and bringing optimum health.
What does the scientific community say about the efficacy of Ayuvedic Medicine?
Research is the prime need for the development of Ayurveda globally. Research in Ayurveda is slowly growing and the potential of Ayurvedic medicine needs to be explored further with modern scientific validation approaches to evaluate the effectiveness and efficacy of these interventions. Over the last few decades, there are many high qualities research studies conducted in Ayurveda giving promising results. Ayurveda is a traditional healthcare system of Indian medicine since ancient times. Ayurvedic medicine is considered integral to India’s health system along with conventional health care.
According to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, Ayurvedic medicine is considered as one of the world’s oldest medical systems. The World Health Organization recognizes Ayurveda as one of the traditional health care systems and took the initiative in developing a benchmark for teaching Ayurvedic Medicine globally and formulating policies and regulations on these traditional health care practices for the promotion of Ayurveda. At present, there is a lack of scientific validation in various concepts explained in Ayurveda. Hence, evidence-based research is highly needed for global recognition and acceptance of Ayurveda, which needs further advancements in the research methodology in Ayurveda.
At present, if you do a search for Ayurveda on PubMed, hundreds of clinical research studies in Ayurveda are accessible.
PubMed is a service of the National Library of Medicine that contains publication information and brief summaries of articles from scientific and medical journals. It is a free resource supporting the search and retrieval of biomedical and life sciences literature with the aim of improving health–both globally and personally. For guidance on using PubMed, see How To Find Information About Complementary Health Approaches on PubMed, from the National Institutes of Health.
Below are a few Ayurvedic research studies I recommend for further reading:
- Furst DE, Venkatraman MM, McGann M, Manohar PR, Booth-LaForce C, Sarin R, Sekar PG, Raveendran KG, Mahapatra A, Gopinath J, Kumar PR.Double-blind, randomized, controlled, pilot study comparing classic ayurvedic medicine, methotrexate, and their combination in rheumatoid arthritis. J Clin Rheumatol. 2011 Jun;17(4):185-92. doi: 10.1097/RHU.0b013e31821c0310. Erratum in: J Clin Rheumatol. 2011 Oct;27(7):407. PMID: 21617554.
- Kessler CS, Dhiman KS, Kumar A, Ostermann T, Gupta S, Morandi A, Mittwede M, Stapelfeldt E, Spoo M, Icke K, Michalsen A, Witt CM. Effectiveness of an Ayurveda treatment approach in knee osteoarthritis – a randomized controlled trial. Osteoarthritis Cartilage.2018 May;26(5):620-630. doi: 10.1016/j.joca.2018.01.022. Epub 2018 Feb 7. PMID: 29426006.
- Gannon JM, Brar J, Rai A, Chengappa KNR. Effects of a standardized extract of Withania somnifera (Ashwagandha) on depression and anxiety symptoms in persons with schizophrenia participating in a randomized, placebo-controlled clinical trial. Ann Clin Psychiatry. 2019 May;31(2):123-129. PMID: 31046033.
- Chopra A, Saluja M, Tillu G, Sarmukkaddam S, Venugopalan A, Narsimulu G, Handa R, Sumantran V, Raut A, Bichile L, Joshi K, Patwardhan B. Ayurvedic medicine offers a good alternative to glucosamine and celecoxib in the treatment of symptomatic knee osteoarthritis: a randomized, double-blind, controlled equivalence drug trial. Rheumatology (Oxford). 2013 Aug;52(8):1408-17. doi: 10.1093/rheumatology/kes414. Epub 2013 Jan 30. PMID: 23365148.
- Peterson CT, Lucas J, John-Williams LS, Thompson JW, Moseley MA, Patel S, Peterson SN, Porter V, Schadt EE, Mills PJ, Tanzi RE, Doraiswamy PM, Chopra D. Identification of Altered Metabolomic Profiles Following a Panchakarma-based Ayurvedic Intervention in Healthy Subjects: The Self-Directed Biological Transformation Initiative (SBTI). Sci Rep. 2016 Sep 9;6:32609. doi: 10.1038/srep32609. Erratum in: Sci Rep. 2016 Oct 10;6:34678. PMID: 27611967; PMCID: PMC5017211.
How can SCU help me get started in my journey into Ayurvedic Medicine?
- The Understanding Ayurveda for Beginners course is the perfect place to start! It’s a 15-week online program. Students will be able to explore and comprehend the basic principles of Ayurveda necessary for other courses.
- TheAyurvedic Wellness Educator Certificate (Level I) program educates students to serve the community in the area of prevention and health promotion through Ayurvedic guidance on diet, lifestyle, basic rejuvenating herbs and spices, bodywork therapies, yoga, and meditation practices. Students will grow as a natural medicine healer and empower others to lead healthier happier lives.
- The Ayurvedic Practitioner Certificate (Level II) programis a continuation of the educational journey and personal transformation with increased professional opportunities resulting for graduates. The Practitioner program is intended for Ayurvedic Wellness Educators who are interested in deepening their competencies in Ayurveda natural medicine including clinical assessments and treatments. Students from all schools of Ayurveda are welcome.
Dr. Anupama Kizhakkeveettil is an Ayurvedic practitioner, licensed acupuncturist, yoga teacher, Professor and Program Director for Ayurvedic Medicine at Southern California University of Health Sciences (SCU). Her contributions to the field of complementary and alternative medicine include extensive travel to propagate Ayurveda worldwide, numerous research presentations at national and international conferences, publications in various peer-reviewed research journals, and regular participation as a peer reviewer at conferences. She has presented more than 130 conference presentations and 44 research papers published in peer-reviewed journals. She currently serves on the Research Working Group of the Academic Collaborative for Integrative Health and she recently completed an NIH-funded research study. Many of her research papers have earned special recognition at the conferences where they were presented, and she has received a number of awards for her work on Ayurveda and complementary and alternative medicine. In 2020, she received Sheikh Zayed International Award for Ayurveda. She was also invited to attend WHO’s International Expert consulting meeting in 2019 and 2020. As an advocate for the Ayurvedic profession and the advancement of its goals, Dr. Anu serves on the board of directors of the California Association of Ayurvedic Medicine, a nonprofit devoted to furthering Ayurvedic education, research, and practice in California, National Ayurvedic Medical Association (NAMA), an organization that represents the Ayurvedic profession in the United States and strives to promote the practice of Ayurveda nationwide and National Ayurvedic Accreditation Council. Previously, she completed six years of service as a member of the Action Board of the American Public Health Association (APHA), helping to coordinate grassroots and grasstops advocacy activities.