Wednesday, May 27, 2009


Ayurveda manuscripts and medicines

Many developments in traditional Ayurveda, classed under the Indian System of Medicine, and governed by the Department of Ayush under the Ministry of Health. The Drugs & Cosmetics Act of 1940 lists 54 texts, including the Charak Samhita of the 3rd century BCE, as authoritative ayurveda texts. But in a three-year project of the Indian Institute of History of Medicine (IIHM), based in Hyderabad, conducted with permission from the Ministry of Health, 30,000 ayurvedic manuscripts have been collected.

The manuscripts date back to the 15th century right through to the 19th century, and are written in Marathi, Modi, Sanskrit, Bengali, Kannada, Urdu, Persian and Hindi. They contain advice on proper eating habits, effective herbal medicines, concoctions and the like, and have been collected from various parts of India like Pudducherry, Gwalior, Nizamabad and Pune. 800 of these have been digitised and once the project is over, IIHM will upload the information on the internet for research and public usage.

Ayurvedic medicines are presently classed as herbal products and not drugs. There is a proposal with the Drug Technical Advisory Board, for amending the Drugs & Cosmetics Act to include new guidelines, which will make clinical trials mandatory for Ayurvedic medicines enabling them to be classed as drugs. This will mean that allopathic doctors will now be able to prescribe Ayurvedic drugs to their patients. Ayurvedic products for treating chronic diseases have fewer side effects. "There are no chemical drugs to treat chronic diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis. Phytopharmaceuticals can fill this gap," adds Somesh Sharma, chief scientific officer at Piramal Healthcare.

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