Building Bridges - Ayurveda and Modern Medicine
Ayurveda is a 5,000-year-old system of natural healing that has its origins in the Vedic culture of India. Although suppressed during years of foreign occupation, Ayurveda has been enjoying a major resurgence in both its native land and throughout the world. Tibetan medicine and traditional Chinese medicine both have their roots in Ayurveda. Early Greek medicine also embraced many concepts originally described in the classical Ayurvedic medical texts dating back several thousands of years
More than a mere system of treating illness, Ayurveda is a science of life (Ayur = life, Veda = science or knowledge). It offers a body of wisdom designed to help people stay vital while realising their full human potential. Providing guidelines on ideal daily and seasonal routines, diet, behaviour and the proper use of our senses, Ayurveda reminds us that health is the balanced and dynamic integration between our environment, body, mind, and spirit.
By: Neelam Jhangiani
The resurgence in its popularity is because of the growing comprehension of the powers of Ayurveda, and an increased awareness of the unique benefits it offers. In India, Ayurveda has regained its lost ground as companies have started promoting ayurvedic brands heavily through mass media. There is an undercurrent in the Indian consumer market and a renewed tendency to turn back towards natural cure.
Therefore, herbal therapies, natural medicines and yoga centres have made a huge comeback. People have come to understand that Ayurveda is more than just a therapeutic science, it can also prevent diseases and rejuvenate the body—two aspects that are completely unique to Ayurveda. Also, Ayurveda works on the holistic principle that good health is the combination of a healthy body, mind and soul. Thus, Ayurveda fills a gap in the field of healthcare that was missing. "Not only does Ayurveda treat diseases of the body, it also focuses on the mind and soul, which has the overall effect of addressing the root-cause of the disease than mere superficial symptomatic treatment," says Madhusudan Chauhan, Director, Jiva Ayurveda.
Ayurveda has been relevant for thousands of years, because it is based on the fundamentals of good health that has not changed. While Ayurveda may not be a complete alternative to modern medicine, it certainly is a complementary therapy that can be used alongside modern medicine, he adds. Modern medicine has been extraordinarily developed with the amalgamation of technology in the field of diagnostic, prognostic, and curative procedures. However, Ayurveda existed past 5000-years ago and has been time tested. Efforts are being made to update the age-old scientific wisdom in various aspects by focusing on its pharmacological and therapeutic potential. Scientists are directed towards herbal research including the development of new active principles beneficial in various disorders. "The Department of Ayush is creating awareness about the strengths of these systems, expanding outreach and ensuring affordable services for everyone," says Vijay Karai, Founder and CEO, AyurUniverse. It is showcasing a high level of efficacy towards the system of preventive cure. It is working to integrate Ayurvedic healthcare delivery systems in National healthcare programs, hence we reckon Ayurveda is coming up in a strong way for the next generation.
The Government of India is showcasing a high level of interest in Ayurveda. A typical health insurance covers hospitalisation expenses incurred during the treatment procedure. However, insurance companies now acknowledge the necessity of traditional and alternative medicine like Ayurveda and include them in health insurance cover. In India, there is an ever-growing interest found in those who prefer Ayurvedic medicines and are not keen on western medicines. Since Ayurvedic treatment has its foundation in natural treatments, it becomes lucrative to Indian masses. By including traditional medicines in individual plans, health insurers are covering a niche segment. The treatment has been showing positive remedial effect hence the requirement by insurers for accepting the claim has been on an increase.
The last five years have been the 'Renaissance of Ayurveda' in the Indian market. While allopathy had taken to the fore over the last 30 years, a new government, creation of the Ministry of Ayush, consumer interest and global trends has led to a huge surge in traction for the industry. Consumers that in the past have stayed away from Ayurveda i.e. millennials and younger consumers are now open to trying out the science.
"This is where we believe that we are differentiated at Dr. Vaidya's as we try to bridge the gap between 150 years of family legacy and the modern 21st century consumer," says Dr. Arjun Vaidya, CEO and 6th Generation Vaidya at Dr. Vaidya's Clinic.
Ayurveda is a preventive healthcare lifestyle system, which enables one to take care at home, at work, during holidays or at business trips. Amongst household chores, daily commute to office and back brings the stress of everyday life wherein you hardly find time to unwind. Ayurveda provides a wealth of knowledge and understanding on 'do it yourself (DIY) tips' on how to take care at home. You always don't need to run to your nearest detox centre. India has known the age-old tradition of massage, which has been received extremely well by the west now.
There is an ever-growing thirst for Ayurvedic facial masks and hair to do at home. The very popular 'Haldi Doodh' is now being perceived and sold by Starbucks in US & UK as 'Turmeric Latte'. Ayurveda is not just about herbal remedies; it is a way of life. It is about embracing lifestyle habits that will turn you into the most beautiful version of you.
Factors favouring industry
Ayurveda is peerless in focusing on diet and lifestyle to treat diseases. In addition to personalised medicines, Ayurveda is the only health science that prescribes customised regimens for diet, lifestyle, meditation and yoga. And that is important because the major and most common diseases today are lifestyle diseases. Diabetes, high blood pressure, heart problems, stress, anxiety—most of these start because of faulty lifestyle or dietary choices we make throughout our lives, which eventually become major health problems. "Ayurveda is very effective in treating these diseases, but more importantly, Ayurveda can help in preventing these diseases from happening," says Mr. Chauhan.
The second unique factor about Ayurveda is that it considers every patient to be different. All treatment regimens are prepared based on the patient's Prakriti and Vikriti, which makes it more effective.
Thirdly, Ayurveda is affordable and easily available. At Jiva, we make it possible for patients to approach our doctors for quality treatment either through our network of 80 clinics across India, or via teleconsultation. Patients can consult our doctors on phone, or through video-consultation.
Today, the consumer is extremely health conscious and is ready to walk that extra mile where health is concerned and do understand the harmful effects of chemicals. The organic and natural revolution has gripped the world with healthy eating and fitness becoming important for one and all.
In addition, global trends support the build up of alternative forms of medicine. Brands like Dr. Vaidya's understand the disconnect between science and consumers and bridge this gap with their new age ayurvedic solutions. One of the key finding of a study shows that India's ageing population and the rise of the health conscious young population will drive the growth of the Ayurveda sector. "The size of the Indian Ayurveda industry at Rs 30,000 crore per annum compares well with the overall market size of the wellness industry, which is put at Rs 85,000 crore. Ayurveda and Yoga are branches of the system," says Mr. Karai. Perception towards Ayurveda is changing, people are attracted towards the science of natural medicine and it is being perceived as a preventive and health promotive approach which takes into consideration the whole body, mind and spirit while dealing with the maintenance of health, treating ailments in a holistic way.
Another important factor favouring the industry is that Indian consumers are happy to consume quintessentially Indian products – gone away from the obsession of imported products. Government support with creation of Ministry of Ayush and other government incentives including promotion for exports and international co-operation is also proving to be the driving force for Ayurveda industry.
In 2018, the Ayurveda sector saw a landmark achievement, touching a gross market size of $4.4 billion, or roughly Rs 30,000 crore and it is projected to record a CAGR of 16% until 2025
In 2018, the Ayurveda sector saw a landmark achievement, touching a gross market size of $4.4 billion, or roughly Rs 30,000 crore and it is projected to record a CAGR of 16% until 2025. According to the study, as much as 75% of the $4 billion Ayurveda market is accounted for by Ayurveda products and only a quarter of the market size is contributed by services. About $4 billion domestic market comprises ethical, classical, over-the-counter, personal care and beauty products. It excludes services like medical, well-being or medical tourism services.
"Estimates vary about the growth of Ayurveda industry into the future, but two different estimates put the industry size at being 13 billion by 2025," says Mr. Chauhan.
Doctors at their telemedicine centre, Jiva Medical and Research Centre, consult more than 8000 patients every single day. Besides that, thousands more walk-in to their network of 80 clinics across the country to consult with doctors. "That alone gives you a glimpse of the size of the industry. Market pundits place the gross market size at $4.4 billion in 2018, with projected expectations of 16-23% CAGR until 2025."
"Even from an anecdotal perspective, consumers interest both in India and globally has increased significantly as consumers have understood the harmful effects of chemicals and want to go back to the "roots"," says Dr. Vaidya.
Roadblocks to success
Mainstreaming Ayurveda is perhaps the biggest challenge today. People across the nation have very few avenues to access high quality Ayurveda treatment and medicines. Also, more research needs to be done to branch out the classical compendium to include newer health issues. Plus, there has to be more focus on promoting the 'preventive' aspect of Ayurveda in schools and colleges so that the next generation gets to know how to imbibe ayurvedic principles in their life to prevent diseases and stay healthy. The solutions for these challenges have to be devised by bringing all stakeholders, or their representatives, on-board for discussions.
Some hurdles pointed out by Mr. Karai and how they can be overcome are, firstly Ayurveda has mainly been concentrated only around Kerala in India but now with the ever-increasing demand, we find ayurvedic centres across exotic locations in various parts of the country. Second is allopathic medicine has made great strides in acute conditions, infection, and surgical interventions, but treatment options are limited to the growing epidemic of non-communicable and lifestyle-related diseases. Here comes Ayurveda, which has the potential to address these conditions. Allopathic and Ayurveda medicine systems are not rivals, they can coexist to promote the well-being of people.
Insurance coverage has been extended to Ayush treatments and 27 companies are offering 140 health policies to beneficiaries in India. This will hardly have an impact unless allopathic doctors take initiative in referring patients for traditional medicine. Most important hurdle until sometime back had been the health insurance as it would cover only allopathic treatments but not ayurvedic treatments. However, insurance companies have now started providing a comprehensive health plan. Off-late, policyholders include various types of treatments in their cover including Ayurveda. Also, as Ayurveda is one of the most common alternate solutions to allopathy, there is an increasing requirement to cover the treatment under general insurance.
"Lack of trust from consumers towards the scientific backing of Ayurveda – private and public sector investing together in high quality clinical trials," is an important hurdle points out Dr. Vaidya.
General consumer awareness needs to be increased - brands need to communicate to customers in a format that they understand. "This is what we endeavour to do at Dr. Vaidya's e.g. with 30 seconds regional language explainer videos," he adds.
With the government showing increased interest in growth of this sector, visible changes are seen in the industry's functioning. Some of important initiatives by the government include creation of Ministry of AYUSH, subsidies given for participation in global exhibitions and well as registration of the product in developed countries (including Europe, USA, UK and Australia). Other incentives given for creation of hospitals, education and teaching in Ayurveda. Proactive conversations between the Ministry and stakeholders e.g. Yearly CII AYUSH Conclave and creation of an Ayush start-up panel.
"With exception to Kerala, the first line of treatment has always been modern medicines, but now the image of Ayurveda is undergoing revision," says Mr. Karai. There has been a growing increase in Ayurvedic hospitals having accredited to NABH (National Accreditation Board for Hospitals and Healthcare). This serves as a development opportunity for all hospitals. These hospitals now have come of age and have the best practitioners who can help you with arthritis, diabetes, sleeping disorders, wrong food habits, muscle loss, health issues related to nerves and many more.
There is a large section of society who is going back to Ayurveda for solutions, which do not exist in modern medicines. Ayurvedic supplements again have seen a drastic rise in consumption. It may be to do with hair fall, acne, bodybuilding, energy, detox, digestive issues which everyone uses them as an extension of diet.
The Ayurveda industry has seen unprecedented growth in the last few years, which goes on to show that with the right kind of support it can continue on a steady growth path. According to recent estimates by FICCI and EY, the wellness industry will grow at a CAGR of nearly 12% for the next 5 years, and reach an estimated high of Rs 1.5 trillion by 2020. The growth is being attributed to the increase in disposable incomes and a rising prevalence of non-communicable diseases. The Ayurveda sector has the potential to scale, especially if wellness is combined with tourism. "In the years to come, at Jiva Ayurveda, we hope to broaden our current collaborations with research and educational institutions, both in India as well as abroad," says Mr. Chauhan.
The industry has great potential to globalise in many more countries than we are today with our ayurvedic products. More innovation is on the cards with companies like Dr. Vaidya's coming up with Chakaash - Goodness of Chyawanprash in a toffee and last but not the least, more trust and higher levels of adoption is expected among consumers with time and education.
The future of Ayurveda industry is set at a good pace and with proper government support and awareness amongst the masses the day is not far when Ayurveda would be the choice of treatment and no longer an option!