Keywords: Ayurveda health systems, Ayurveda Ecosystems, millennials
Talking about our planet resources: an abundance of the Sun and sunlight, showered on us daily is described by Aditya Hrudayan from Ayurveda:
“He is omnipresent, one who pervades all with countless rays. He is the power behind the seven sense organs, the dispeller of darkness, bestower of happiness and prosperity; the remover of misfortunes and is the infuser of life” (1).
The 5000 years ancient Ayurveda health systems can only increase at an increasing rate and at the pace forecasted if Ayurveda turns into complete organic farming for herbs, roots, and medicinal plants. The Sun and climate are stunning but the monsoons and weather conditions in areas where most medicinal plants are grown, are unpredictable.
Solar Panels in Indian Mythology! What we call mythology today was called history by our ancestors. Inspirational treasures found in these ancient myths are now being decoded and reinterpreted. Advanced devices used for capturing and using solar energy in aircraft and their technical know-how has been detailed in Vaimanika Saasthra in fourth century BC text written by Maharishi Bhardwaj discovered in a temple in India.
The Ayurveda sector had a market size of US$4.5 million. The global growth rate has been 10-15% year on year. The Ayurveda market is forecasted to reach the US $ 5 Trillion by 2050. Approximately 25 % of $ 4.5 million was on account of Ayurveda medical, wellbeing, and medical tourism like resorts, retreats, and Ayurveda massage services.
The export of Ayurveda and herbal products to the US alone was $ 446 million in 2019. The ministry of Ayush, India (AYUSH) has forecasted the export of Ayurveda and herbal products to the US alone to touch $ 8.0 billion by 2022.
Source: The Economic Times, India
The increasing rate of dependency on Ayurveda products is related to Non-Communicable Diseases (NCD). Modern medicines and treatments are either too expensive, invasive, lifelong, or ineffective. Therefore, more people are turning towards ‘alternate medicine’ like Ayurveda, Naturopathy, Unani, and Homeopathy.
Universities and research centers in the US, Europe, and Russia are aggressively researching for underpinning knowledge of traditional medicines for cancer, diabetes, and Parkinson’s’.
Its been found that some of the scientifically proven drugs come from traditional medicines. Take the example of aspirin, that is synthesized from salicylic acid where the active ingredient is “dried myrtle leaves”. The leaves were dried by ancient Egyptians – by using the ‘willow bark that was used by the father of modern medicine, Hippocrates, in the fourth century BC. In this case, science followed the medicine and not vice versa.
Another example is od’ ing antimalarial substance that was discovered through Chinese medicinal herbs in the fourth century- a formula discovered by a Tu Youyou, a chemist from China. The drug delivered from her research was ‘Artemisia’ within the yellow herb called Wormwood (Artimisiaannaa). This drug saved millions of lives and she was awarded the Nobel Prize for medicine in 2015.
The healthcare ecosystem of Ayurveda is not yet developed sufficiently to give Ayurveda based care and insurance companies in India itself are mostly unwilling to support Ayurveda based treatments. Another impediment is the shortage of quality of raw materials, consistency, and more importantly the scarcity of medicinal plants and herbs. Medicinal herbs and plants are either endangered or their production is low, due to adverse and unforeseen weather conditions.
The production of medicinal plants is challenging due to the varying chemical potency, which in turn varies depending on the minerals in the soil. For these reasons, FDA approval is difficult, more so in the case of multiple herb drugs (adapted from 2).
India has great weather, soil mountains, and rivers full of minerals and nutrients. India’s ancient 5000 years Ayurveda culture imbedded with Vedas, spiritualism, and reverence for mother earth is unique.
Ayurveda health systems the natural science of life with a deep understanding of herbs and roots for diseases. The profound tradition of meditation, the tradition of yoga and Vedanta recognizes the entire universe to be dwelling within each of us as our true self (adapted from 3).
The ecological problems due to pollution of air, water, and mother earth need to have a deeper look for reforms and a relook with solutions sooner rather than later. The massive huge loss of plants, animals, water-life, and agricultural land for want of pure fertilizers and tools needs urgent attention – if Ayurveda health systems are to turn into active and aggressive health care hospitals. We have exploited our mother earth, rivers, and living organisms to the full capacity. Unless the basic ecosystems are not fixed we cannot envisage our Ayurveda health systems and medical systems to bloom.
Pandemic COVID-19 is a big call for us to change our lifestyles where ever we may be, by reducing consumption of meat, use clean solar energy, and stop caring for ‘me and myself’ alone. We need to completely stop using fossil fuel energy. Ecological change cannot come about by a few people changing their attitude and actions towards ‘mother nature’, but can come through communal/unitary actions which are required to bring about the reforms to our ecosystems. Globally speaking, it is a question of the survival of our species. Ayurveda health systems can thrive with an attitude of social wellbeing. The Ministry of AYUSH, India came about after the UN 2015 conference to balance our natural environment and India’s great ecological traditions, for the benefit of all ‘beings’ and future generations.
In recent years the natural disasters that have been attacking our planet with tsunamis, cyclones, floods, and fires to name a few, year after year are now getting out of hand and beyond understanding. We, common people, are in self- despair when any devastation takes place, read the blame games of politicians and media and soon forget about it and move on with our day to day lives. We forget that we are all sharing and using planet assets. Illegal mining, quarrying and razing of forests, building skyscrapers are roles of giant corporations but we the common people also absolve ourselves, of our social, personal duties. We become indifferent to the planet as well as to the role that we play in destroying or ignoring it.
India lacks water resources and has untimely monsoons that wreck the divine plants, herbs, and roots needed for Ayurveda health systems and medical systems. Maybe we can’t do much in national or global planning but we can do our bit in climate change and global warming. Ayurveda health systems have always, since 5000years ancient culture been advocates of eating on Banana leaves or other natural large leaves of trees and plants rather than on metal and crockery. The worst case is the new culture of disposable crockery, plastic glasses, and cutlery for parties and then thrown away ultimately to end up in rivers and oceans. Kerala the home of Ayurveda health systems despite its clean green culture still faces the modern conveniences and their consequences in urban cities and finally in its waters.
Modern Day Farming is the Closest Allie of Ayurveda Health Systems
Conventional farming involves the use of chemicals or modified organisms to keep away pests and weeds and to provide nutrition to plants. Harmful hormones are also used to increase the yield. These pesticides are poisonous in nature, they can cause neurological problems, cancer, infertility in both males and females, ADHD, Skin problems allergies, asthma, and many more medical challenges.
Research conducted by an Environmental Working group(EWG) in Kerala showed that these chemicals, pesticides, and pollutants even crossed the placenta and caused harm to the fetus in the womb. They can cause low birth weight, birth defects: neurological and behavioral problems, like hormone imbalance, autism, and cancer. WHO states that ‘genetically modified organisms (GMOs)have altered genes that can be transferred to humans and have a negative effect.’
Researchers found that flavonoid levels and antioxidants in onions were at a higher level when grown organically (4). India has the largest number of farmers globally but most of them are struggling. The Patanjali group of Ayurveda has developed the largest organic Ayurveda plants, herbs, vegetables, and fruits' farming fields and orchards. At the same time, there are new questions arising about the sustainability of organic farming. Is Organic Farming Sustainable? New research in some countries in Europe is finding many reasons against organic farming; one big one being the low yield. Such pros and cons will keep on as science of Ayurveda health systems' develops.
Organic Turmeric Field. Image credit: Wikipedia
Ayurveda farmers need more education about methods of incorporating organic food products within Ayurveda by helping them with the required tools. Sensitizing patients and consumers of Ayurveda health systems and medical systems also need to be shown the importance of organic food and herbal products to be effective by inculcating and adopting in their diet habits. The in-depth analysis of the benefits of organic farming and the treatment of food and grains from harvest to storage to retailing will be dealt with in another blog.
New Age Ayurveda Health Systems
Notwithstanding, the changing lifestyles and environmental factors, resistance to antibiotics, side effects of modern medicines, and the rise of NCDs have raised consumer awareness. This has led to a number of mainstream fast-moving companies to adopt Ayurveda health and wellbeing products. Large companies have been able to build strong brands using Ayurveda natural ingredients. The global success of 5000 years’ ancient yoga has triggered and paved the path to all-natural and Indian things. Ayurveda has gone from being treated with suspicion to gaining wider acceptance especially by the millennial.
A 2019 start-up aKIVA shots aim at making lives “simplified and Ayurvedified’ with their ready to drink Ayurvedic juice shots and fusion of gur ( jaggery) candies. Herbs and fruits like wheatgrass, Jamun(Juniper berries) and amla
(Indian gooseberry) are sources of these concoctions and these are targeted at health-conscious millennials. aKIVA raw materials are sourced from diverse locations in India from East to North and West to the South. The manufacturing of aKIVA products is mostly done in North India. The company sells both online through Health Kart and 1mg; and retails through big supermarkets like Godrej Natures Basket, Spencer’s, and Big Bazaar.
Image credit: gobontobox.in
Image credit: lbb.in
Organic tobacco is another Ayurveda health system innovative endeavor to stop people from damaging their bodies and causing pollution. The use of natural herbs with Zero chemicals has been founded by Chabra. P “Organic Smokers”. A variety of ingredients can be used. Presently they are using rose petals, spearmint leaves by rolling in the paper, and tipped with cotton filters and tar secretor mouthpiece.
Another company ‘& Me’ manufactures health drinks focusing on female consumers. These are a combo of fruits, vegetables, spices, herbs, and flowers for general wellbeing, fast metabolism, and providing relief to polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOD). The raw material comes from Ayurveda vendors from India and Nepal. These health drinks are retailed through specialty stores in big cities in India. Currently, their main focus is to solve issues of distribution before expansion into large distribution chains.
Dr. Vaidya’s (famous Ayurveda health company) new venture ‘HERBO fit’ after the success of anti-hangover ‘Liv itup’ is a metabolism-boosting pill and is readily available.
Finally, a big focus on Ayurveda health systems is on prevention and disease management of modern lifestyle diseases. This sector is gaining momentum with Ayurveda and targeting health-conscious millennial and growing geriatric segment. It is hoped that all this focus and demand will in turn reverberate the eco-system beyond alternatives.
1.Vedic ROOTS: ‘Mystic Mangroves: An Ecosystem like no other”, Quarterly Medical Journal Vol. 05, Issue 1, May 2015.
***(Excerpts from Indian Concept & Cosmology and on Navigating cosmic vehicles by G. R. Josyer. International Academy of Sanskrit research 1973, Samara n grana Sutrashara of Bhoja, “Flightpath” by Indian Journalist Mukul Sharma, The Times of India: April 18, 1899)
2, Subodh. S. Ayurveda 2.0: Rediscovering Ancient Remedies for Modern Needs, May 03, 2019. The Startup.
3.Fawley.D. “World needs to wake up to Ecological living”. Politics. Daily O. 23.11.2015
4.Kerala Ayurveda Wellness Naturally. Why Ayurveda is Stressing on Organically Grown Produce? 17 Dec. 2019