Promote traditional medicine with data, clinical trial studies, and research papers: IMA chief

Coronil was launched as Covid-19 drug by Patanjali Ayurved in the presence of Union ministers (Image: Patanjali Ayurved twitter)

The Indian Medical Association (IMA) which has been in the news for its sharp reaction to the launch of Patanjali Ayurved’s Coronil drug for COVID in the presence of Union ministers, clarifies that it is not against Ayurveda or any other form of traditional Indian medicine but feels the only way to promote it is by backing each product or solution with scientific rigour.

Dr J A Jayalal, the national president of the IMA told Financial Express Online that the key to promoting traditional medicine lay in backing it with data, clinical trials, and research papers that have been peer-reviewed in reputed scientific journals. Clarifying that the IMA has nothing against traditional medicine, he said, “we totally welcome Ayurveda especially in areas like rejuvenation or in cases of chronic illnesses where you need lifestyle changes. These could be around pain relief and through interventions to aid mental calmness.” Also, it is a form of medicine that looks at an individual makeup and prescribes solutions accordingly. There is, however, a need for greater research output and clinical trials-led solutions, he said. Some of the areas where there is scope for research, he said, included “touch therapy based on scientific understanding of the nerves and their functions apart from research in areas such as natural immunity building and in nutrition.” He however emphasized that these cannot be just in-vitro studies that are done only in the laboratory. It has to be extensive research that is extrapolated with large population studies that are backed by clinical trials that are properly evidence-based as per the research guidelines. “Only when this is done and data presented in research papers that are peer-reviewed in reputed scientific journals, will there be a clear case for advocating its usage,” he said. The IMA’s contention, he points out, is on these grounds as there is a need for what goes into a drug, the drug trial data, and the research conclusion. After all, as he said, there are different aspects when it comes to dealing with medicine for coronavirus. It is around prevention, treatment, and even some post-COVID complications.

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In fact, he said, in any such effort, “we not only welcome the traditional forms of medicine but are also willing to extend our helping hand to them in any of these efforts.”

Dr Jayalal, who is a professor of surgery at the Tirunelveli government medical college in Tamil Nadu, feels there is a danger of losing the traditional richness of Ayurveda and other forms of traditional medicines if we do not leverage it with greater research to come up with innovative solutions.

On the move to empower Ayurveda graduates to get trained in certain surgical procedures and get a masters degree in it, he said, “while it is restricted to certain procedures they all need proper understanding and knowledge for without adequate knowledge it can be disastrous especially in areas like removing the gall bladder or appendix.” More importantly, he said, “they will have to depend on Allopathy interventions for anesthesia in any surgical procedure. Therefore, if we end up mixing medicines then how are the traditional medicines going to grow?” he asked and added: “We have taken up this issue for the last two to three months and even taken the matter to the Supreme Court.”

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