Modern vs traditional medicine
At present, there is a shadow boxing going on between two streams of medicine in India ! Sharing few of my thoughts here as a practitioner of Modern Medicine ( Allopathy in popular language )! But I will stick to calling it Modern Medicine because we are not just other (allo) pathy & we are relatively new compared to Ayurveda, Chinese medicine, Homeopathy, Unani etc…… So it’s apt to call ourselves as Modern Medicine practitioners rather than Allopathic Practitioners !
First , let me talk about Ayurveda . I know nothing about it as I have not studied or practiced it . It’s just an outside view ! So, I will be very brief !
Ayurveda has been around for atleast the last 3000 to 4000 years! Or may be even 5000 years . The very fact that it has survived and is still in existence for last so many centuries is a testimony that there is something in it that is useful to the health of humankind! Everything in medicine ( any stream) starts with observation ! I am sure , our forefathers observed a patient , tried some herbs , saw some utility and continued such herbs and the tradition was passed on through generations ! There is no question that some of them may work for some diseases ! The question is how do you scientifically validate it and standardise it to suit the modern times & for acceptance by rest of the world ! Unfortunately , very little has been done towards this ! All we have done is surrender this tradition to few ndividuals & few business houses for economic gains and possibly political gains !
What is the solution ? We need to identify the Ayurvedic Pandits and Families who have for centuries practiced this stream ; setup credible modern research programs under their stewardship ; get it peer reviewed and publish it ! That’s the only way to make Ayurveda a credible Science ; not by selling its soul to Dongi Babas who use it to create their business empires ! These Babas are not the ideal Brand Ambassadors for Ayurveda to the outside world ! By allowing them to assume those roles, we are diminishing Ayurveda to a laughing stock !
Next , I will talk about Modern Medicine ( Allopathy ) which I have been associated for last 37 years first as a student & then as a practitioner. By no stretch of imagination ,it is an exact science ! But a true practitioner of this should know clearly what he does not know ! That’s our biggest strength not a weakness . We are constantly looking at new data snd are constantly critiquing ourselves to get better and better ! The testimony to this is the position we are in today compared to one year ago as far as COVID therapeutics are concerned . We tried few things ; not all of them worked ; few of them have shown tremendous promise & few of them have fallen by wayside . We admit it and move on to improve ourselves & we are still in the process of refining it ! That’s the beauty and promise of modern medicine ! As a Science , It does not claim cure when there is none ! ( an individual Allopathic doctor claiming a cure when there is none should definitely be admonished !!) . The eradication of Small Pox, Polio from the face of the Planet , cure for malaria , cure for TB, Cure for Typhoid , Cure for some Cancers , Control of Hypertension , Control of Diabetes, Relief from Heart Disease , Relief from Debilitating Joint immobility , Transplantation of Organs , Life saving surgeries on virtually every organ in the body are some of the feathers we proudly carry on our hats !
Now , coming to the present situation around which there is lot of shadow boxing –
80% of COVID patients do not require anything ; Neither Allopathy Nor Ayurveda . So any medications you treat these 80% with , is bound to give you so called excellent results because these patients would have got better anyways !( Ivermectin, doxycycline, HCQ, Flavipiravir, Coronil , Kabasura Kudineer , even Gomutra or Cowdung !!!) . That’s plain fooling people or is being used as placebo to alleviate your anxiety ! The Allopathic drugs in the above list were tried out of desperation at the beginning of pandemic but as more and more data showed us the futility of these drugs, more and more of us have stopped using it ! If it is still being used by some , it’s because of individual practitioners unwillingness to delearn or out of fear of being accused of not doing anything . You can hold the individual practitioner responsible but It’s not the fault of science itself !
What about the rest 20% of COVID Patients ? How many of these patients whose blood oxygen goes down have been treated at Inpatient facilities at Ayurveda or Unani or Homeopathy Hospitals as opposed to Allopathy Hospitals? Why is that none of the Ayurvedic practitioners have setup hospitals for sick COVID patients ? That data will speak for itself !! We ( Practitoners of Modern Medicine) have managed these patients and 9 out of 10 patients who have been admitted to hospital have been successfully discharged ! It’s true that 2 to 3 out of 10 patients admitted to ICUs might have died ; but that is our limit of what we can achieve with the current understanding of the disease and the current armamentarium we have to fight COVID !
I am sure , Allopathy and Ayurveda have their role in caring for the Sick ! Individual patients are free to follow whatever their believes are ! It’s their right . They should go ahead with their preference ! But our only suggestion is never mix medicines from two stream simultaneously . Doing that creates two problems .
One is possible deadly drug interactions between different medications which can kill a patient over the long term ; As a modern medicine practitioner , I would have no idea of the content of Ayurvedic or Homeopathic medicines & the Practitioners of other streams will have no idea of the content of our medicines ! At the end of the day , all drugs ( from any stream of medicine) are chemicals and chemicals interact , sometimes in a dangerous way ! But remember in Modern medicine , the first thing any drug or vaccine trial has to prove is about the side effect profile before even going to the next step of proving its efficacy ! To that extent , I can easily claim that Modern medicine understands side effects better than the other stream ! The alternate medicine stream on the other hand claim falsely that there are no side effects ! How do we know ?
Second, if a patient simultaneously follow two streams of medicine , he or she won’t know whom to blame when the treatment does not work ( Unfortunately , it’s the allopathy which bears the brunt of this ! ) Have you ever seen violence against Ayurveda or Homeopathy Practitioners because of bad outcome ?? So it’s good to follow one stream of medicine at a time so that bouquets and brickbats are shared appropriately !’
So , next time you need doctor , please go to practitioner of any stream of medicine or even two streams of medicine if you wish; see who will have a more convincing explaination of your illness and treatment plan and stick to that stream of medicine ! Worst thing you can do to yourself is a cocktail from multiple stream of medicine ! If you are on both types of medicines , please do not ask us why the Ayurveda or Homeopathy did not work ! We will not know ! & I am sure those practitioners will not know why Modern Medicine did not work !
Most intriguing part for us is the treatment by these alternate medical streams for relapsing and remitting diseases such as Asthma or Rheumatological diseases for which we claim no cure ! But the Usual story is they are treated during the quiet periods by these alternate streams with various medications and when there is an acute sick worsening of the same disease , patients are promptly referred to us ! It’s like saying – “we will treat you till you get sick ; once you are sick , we can’t treat you anymore , you go to modern medicine practitioners “ : How logical is this ??
Health is a cumulative entity. You can only build up your health over a long period of time . Similar way, disease also accumulates over a length of our lifetime ! It’s unfair to blame the modern medicine practitioners for a bad outcome for a sick admission after a person takes alternate medicine for months / years. If someone looks at Modern Medicine as only a terminal care ; that’s what it will be . The typical example of this is Hypertension snd Diabetes! If alternate medicine cannot cure you after many years of treatment of Hypertension and Diabetes ; we cannot cure you in hours or days in Hospital when you are sick ! Anyways, we don’t claim curing either hypertension or diabetes !
This write up is no way a fight between them & us ! It’s our way of defending when we are under fire ; that too by people like Baba Ramdev who has so much mass following . We feel that people are being misled by such fools & it is only appropriate that our side of story should be heard .
Thanks for reading this long blabber ! Please share with others if you feel it’s appropriate ; please delete it if you think it’s a waste of time !
Dr Girish H C
Pediatric Critical Care Consultant