Drug Discovery in Ayurveda
Editor’s Note from Sonica Krishan: This is an article submission by an author who is well versed with the sarcasm of drug discovery that seems to be cropping up in the Ayurveda medicine system. Her article compels the reader to understand and analyze the implications of the ‘new’ drug discovery in Ayurveda which seems to be not so much in flow with the authentic Ayurveda practices that have been carried out since ages. Please have a read.
Scope of new drug discovery has only secondary importance in Ayurveda until every “old drugs” and formulations with multi therapeutic actions (Karma) in the Ayurvedic medical literature are judiciously explored for their “effects” (not actions) in accordance to the state and stage of their application in various diseases in terms of Ayurvedic principles of Clinical Pathology and Pharmacology.
Although, the current trend in Ayurvedic drug research is the blind copying of western methodologies like bio- assay guided fractionation to discover any “active’’ compound by several cycles of fractionation of the extract linked with testing for activity of each fraction , until pure compounds are isolated from the fraction. Then experimental studies are conducted by using Western methodologies usually comprising some tests for relevant biological activity linked with the extract or any active compound. Thus most of the researches in all Ayurvedic research institutes are fundamentally designed imperfectly on the basis of biochemistry or molecular biology of the disease and their action is observed by conducting in vitro bio assays.
It’s disheartening to find that, the brilliant fundamental research protocols of Ayurveda has little relevance to these tests used except that it provided screening samples selected on the basis of their classical use mentioned in Ayurvedic medical literature. But unlike ethno pharmacological research which employ screening samples based on their assumed biological effects on certain “signs and symptoms” whose causes and effects are scientifically unknown and unexplored, Ayurvedic Medical system is based on solid rational thinking and scientific infrastructure (Basic evidences) well enough to explain the action and application of any Ayurvedic drug/medicine with its accurate appropriate purpose in each and every clinical status. Hence the very best test to verify a reputed efficacy of any known drug in Ayurveda in a particular clinical status is a well defined and designed clinical trial designed primarily on the basis of Ayurvedic clinical research guidelines and not really by bio assay guided fractionation! Moreover, these invitro test systems using animal tissue, cultured cells, cloned receptors or enzyme system could never ever successfully explain the exact scientific mechanisms of underlying pathogenesis in human body based on the fundamental Ayurvedic understanding and wisdom. For example, the key mechanisms in any inflammatory disease like for “Arthritis” (Modern Medicine) in terms of Ayurvedic pathology is not merely associated with the formation of various mediators involved such as lipoxigenases and cyclo-oxygenases involved in eicosanoid synthesis which are merely again only the probable effects seen owing to a further deep underlying well definable reason which is well solely precisely identifiable by accurately employing the Ayurvedic research methodologies . Thus Ayurveda targets to identify every cause and circumstance in the particular host responsible for the particular pathogenesis and not merely the pathogenesis as such. Again, the purpose of Ayurvedic clinical research is not to establish a guess ( probability) to the nature of active components of “anti inflammatory activity” but rather to judiciously explicate the cause and effects of the particular pathogenesis and mode of action and application of drug therapy in the particular status of pathogenesis in that specific host . So adoption of these western methodologies like bioassay guided process which culminates in the discovery of a well known compound is an utter waste of time and resources in Ayurveda and at the same time is turning no way beneficial to the scientific updating of this science . Can ever French or German language be acquired by learning English grammar?