It is the nature of people to choose sides. Those with a scientific, evidence-based mind set often choose Allopathic medicine, often called Western Medicine. Those who have lost faith in Allopathic medicine, perhaps because of the side effects of drugs, the complications of surgery, or the lack of relationship with their physician, often choose an alternative form of medicine. That choice is more commonly a system of medicine that supports the body to heal itself. For this service, more people are turning to practitioners of Ayurvedic Medicine.
The choice however does not have to be one or other. The choice can be to integrate elements of both systems of healing and take the best that both have to offer. Allopathic medicine shines both on the battlefield when injuries are acute, massive and life threatening and surgery or strong drugs are needed. Allopathic Medicine also shines in the diagnostic arena. There is no substitute for interpreting blood tests, MRI’s, CT scans and many other tests if you want to know exactly what is happening in the body. Ayurvedic Medicine shines in disease prevention, in the treatment of subacute and chronic illnesses and in the realm of subtle diagnostic evaluation. When the best of these sciences are integrated, the patient receives optimal care.
It is difficult to find practitioners who are well- trained in both sciences. Those with a medical degree who have studied some Ayurveda will lean toward Western Medicine. Those with an Ayurvedic Certification who have studied some Western Medicine will lean toward Ayurveda. Few centers and few practitioners have well-trained, highly skilled Practitioners of Ayurveda working alongside Medical Doctors. Call me an optimist but I believe that day is not so far away.
Imagine a patient who receives two evaluations with two mutually respectful practitioners discussing their case and then determining a treatment plan based on utilizing the least invasive treatment approaches first. Ayurvedic medicine would be the first line of treatment most of the time. Healing through diet, life style, herbs and yoga therapies have the least side-effects while offering a high potential for healing to occur. If they fail, strong drugs and eventually surgery can be considered. Meanwhile the patient is monitored using both the subtle diagnostic tests of the Ayurvedic practitioner and the concrete diagnostics tests of Western medicine.
There is an evidence basis for the use of Ayurvedic Medicine. One only needs to comb through the research in peer-reviewed medical journal on line to find extensive studies on herbs, meditation, relaxation, yoga nidra, diet, color and so on. Lacking are bundle studies looking at the entire paradigm as a whole. But they are coming. Reductive medicine has torn Ayurveda into parts for studying it. When studied as a whole, it is only possible that the sum will be greater than the parts.
The California College of Ayurveda is collaborating with UC Davis Medical Center to help design these studies. A couple of skin care studies are under way even now. True Integrative medicine is not far away.