Every year, the World Health Day is observed on April 7 to raise awareness about health. In our country, environmental pollution and adulteration of foods have reached an alarming level, resulting in outbreak of different diseases. Diseases such as cancer, diabetes, cardiovascular diseases and chronic respiratory are increasing. Cancer is the sixth leading cause of death in Bangladesh, accounting for more than 150,000 deaths annually. We need to take proper steps to ensure good health for all as the country is facing serious health risks.
Ayurveda and Unani, known as alternative or natural system of healing, can play an important role in achieving the objective of ensuring good health for all. Ayurveda is an intricate system of healing, which originated in India thousands of years ago. The word Ayurveda is a Sanskrit word that evolves from combination of two words, 'Ayuh' meaning life and 'veda' meaning knowledge. Ayurveda 'Science of Life' or 'wisdom of life' deals with nature and includes all aspects of life.
This ancient art of healing asserts that science, philosophy and spirituality are all necessary aspects of healthy living. Thus Ayurveda is not only a comprehensive medical system but also a way of living and the very concept of mind, body and spirit originates from Ayurveda.
The ancient Ayurveda physicians realised the need for preserving the alliance of the mind and body and offered mankind tools for remembering and nurturing the subtler aspects of our humanity. Ayurveda seeks to heal the fragmentation and disorder of the mind-body complex and restore wholeness and harmony to all people.
It is now one of the most recognised and widely practised disciplines of alternative medicine in the world. Ayurvedic medicine is recognised by the WHO and is used safely by millions of people. The focus of Ayurveda is to integrate and balance the body, mind, and spirit, rather than focusing on individual symptoms. This is believed to help prevent illness and promote wellness by balancing the three subtle energies known as Doshas --- individually they are Vatha, Pitta and Kapha.
Ayurveda philosophy posits that people, their health and the universe are related. It is believed that health problems can result in when these relationships are out of balance.
Ayurveda is now backed by modern scientific research and technologies and provides its gentle healing touch to millions around the world. As a science of self-healing, Ayurveda encompasses diet and nutrition, lifestyle, exercise, rest and relaxation, meditation, breathing exercises, and medicinal herbs, along with cleansing and rejuvenation programmes for healing body, mind and spirit. It recognises the unique constitutional differences of all individuals and therefore recommends different regimens for different types of people. Although two people may appear to have the same outward symptoms, their energetic constitutions may be very different and therefore call for different remedies.
The benefits of using Ayurveda are many. The Ayurvedic approach to an illness is holistic and therefore after the treatment a person will find an improvement in his/her physical, mental and psychological conditions. The ingredients used in medicines are mostly derived from herbs, plants, flowers, fruits etc making it a remedy close to nature.
There are practically no side effects for this type of medicine. It has been found to be an effective cure for many chronic diseases. Treatment under this approach can bring about wellness to the entire body and will be in effect for a longer time than Allopathic treatment. It not only helps in treating diseases but also in preventing the occurrence of diseases. It gives guidelines on how to keep away of diseases by means of simple dietary and lifestyle changes.
Medicines are good enough even for healthy people since they are restorative in nature and helps in nourishing the body and enhancing mental ability. Treatment and medicines are comparatively cheaper than other systems of treatment. It recommends readily available herbs and spices for minor ailments. Ayurvedic therapies can give relief from stress and rejuvenating the body.
About 80 per cent people in developing countries rely on traditional plant-based medicines for their primary health care. Focus on natural products is increasing day by day as it serves as an enormous source of new drugs. The whole world is witnessing a resurgence of interest in traditional medicinal systems evolved in different parts of the world.
Both India and China have shown that how traditional medicinal systems can be utilised in proper development of entire health sector of countries, Bangladesh should not lag behind. Ayurvedic doctors are gaining recognition in recent years in our neighbouring countries, Sri Lanka, India, Bhutan, Pakistan and Nepal for example.
Given the continuing health challenges that country like Bangladesh faces, we have no choice but to develop and harness all systems of medicine and treatment. The positive features of Ayurved and naturopathy are diversity, accessibility, affordability and wide acceptance. Ayurvedic medicine with its availability and affordability can be an alternative choice to us.
It is needed to awaken interest in Ayurveda among young generations of the country and spur new research and development. If we can develop Ayurveda and Unani, we will feel its effectiveness as a remedy for chronic and life style related diseases. It has recently been recognised by western scientists for its ability to successfully cure a number of diseases. It not only provides a cost-effective way of treatment, but also revolutionises the pharmaceutical and health sector of this country. Though it has many things to offer for our health sector, it has been remaining neglected for long. It is needed to develop the field for the benefit of the country's people. Even we can earn foreign currency if we can develop the field.
For the development of the natural system of healing in Bangladesh, several effective steps can be undertaken, which encompass government patronisation, appointment of Ayurvedic and Unani graduates (BAMS and BUMS doctor) at different hospitals and health complexes, arrangement of higher education for BAMS and BUMS graduates, making herbal gardens, ensuring manufacturing of quality Ayurvedic and Unani medicines and also very importantly forming council for monitoring these systems.
It is hoped that the government, realising the importance of natural healing system, will come forward for the development of the field. If proper steps are taken, it is believed, medical professionals of Ayurveda and Unani will be able to contribute to the country's healthcare system for ensuring good health for all. r(World Health Day was observed yesterday)
Dr Samir Kumar Saha is Founder President of Ayurved and Naturopathy Association of Bangladesh. E-mail: [email protected]