“Man is the epitome of the universe. Within man, there is as much diversity as in the world outside. Similarly, the outside world is as diverse as human beings themselves”. (The Ancient Ayurveda text, Charaka)
The knowledge and understanding of nature’s role in providing medical plants and other substances has been known since ancient times. This vast repository of knowledge has been bettered overtime through continuous exchange and trial and error. Different communities and regions have contributed to the growth of the ancient medicinal systems, particularly Ayurveda. It is because of its widespread use and potency, that Ayurveda has now entered mainstream medicine to work alongside medical biology or biomedicine. The other forms of traditional medicine include Unani and Siddha. Given the many fields of medicine, it is now an uphill task to integrate and assimilate the benefits of all in order to better cater to the healthcare needs of the modern society. The society now, more than ever, is so rife with ailments related to stress and a frenzied lifestyle, making it imperative to find better and additional methods to counter these.
Currently, at least 60% of the world’s population uses alternative medicines. These streams of medicines are not only used by the rural population in developing countries but also in modern medicine, dominated markets of the developed countries. India is home to a plethora of medicinal plants that are key components of these traditional medicine treatments. In rural India, at least 70% of the population depends on Ayurveda for its healthcare and the practitioners of this system often prepare their own concoctions for their patients.
In Western countries too, this stream of alternative medicine is gaining popularity, with at least 40% of population relying on herbal medication to treat myriad ailments and diseases. The interest and awareness of these traditional medicine streams is growing due to the efforts of government agencies and many NGOs. In addition, the public is realizing the adverse effects and reactions and prohibitive costs of modern medicines, leading them towards herbal medication. Alternative medication is extremely beneficial for those who have not been relieved by or cannot be cured by the modern medicines.
There are many groups and NGOs that endeavour to retain and encourage the use of traditional medicine. Their aim is to get people to volunteer in their program to understand and learn the science of these ancient medicinal systems and discover their many benefits. They strive to adapt these learning methods to contemporary standards such that people will volunteer to spread the benefits of this system and to understand why people still prefer modern medication.
These specialized groups are guided by experts of traditional Indian Medicines. The knowledge, treatment methods and expertise that these doyens of traditional medicine impart help the local communities around the country. These groups recognize the importance of continuing, supporting and disseminating knowledge about the Indian traditional medicine system to maintain the health and well-being of people and are relentless in this endeavour.