Background: Ayurveda and IT today
Beginning of new millennium witnessed landmarks in history of Traditional Medicine (TM). Potentials of TM were recognized as probable solutions of many problems, source of Intellectual property Rights (IPR) generation and new research paradigms. Information Technology (IT) obviously started contributing in this situation for data management, communication and research activities. Emerging developments in IT reflected in new opportunities for Ayurveda, which is an ancient but complete science of life.
Ayurveda is rapidly becoming center of attraction for researchers. Life style diseases like cancer, diabetes, heart disease, mental disorders are growing worldwide. Ayurveda has been looked for solutions and that is changing attitude of patients hence style of practice. Ayurveda has maintained a boost globally. That affected mindset of fresh graduates who are turning to Ayurvedic practice effectively than before and Ayurvedic super-specialization is a reality today. The resurgence of interest in Ayurveda and other Indian Systems of Medicine worldwide and the opportunities created by such interest have been well perceived by the Government and it declared first ISM&H policy in 2002. That assured more budget, infrastructure, regulation and production of able practitioner, teachers and researchers of Ayurveda.
Indian IT potential is well appreciated by the world. Content, structure and logic of Ayurvedic texts remained challenge for IT professional as well as computer savvy Ayurveda experts. Many programs for Prakriti evaluation, databases on medicinal plants and formulations, clinic management systems, authentic websites and compilation and classification of basic texts were developed in last decade. Many efforts targeted Ayurvedic physician as end user.
IT: Opportunity for Ayurveda
IT inputs have changed world of medicine. It has modified diagnosis, treatment and telemedicine was added recently to provide better healthcare. This situation demonstrates need of integrated efforts from IT and Ayurveda for effective Ayurvedic practice.
Developments in IT would be effectively used in Ayurvedic profession for multiple objectives. It will range from training to policy making through operational research. Many IT tools can be used for global propagation of Ayurveda. Some of the areas are highlighted as example.
Ayurveda domain has remained a challenge for teachers and experts due to its complexity and vast logic just mentioned in Samhitaa. Information retrieval was an art and lot of experience, judgment and reciting was needed. Now computers are changing this scenario by development of easy accessible data from Samhitaa.
Various teaching modules could be developed in suitable multimedia form would make many complex concepts and terminologies clear. That will result in better understanding and perfection of any scholar, lay man or physician. Thus IT can play key role in preservation, exploration and presentation of ancient knowledge with enhanced access. Thus IT can help for training of Ayurvedic professionals also lay man.
Effective Clinical Management
Ayurvedic practice is experiencing a boom and needs to cope up with increasing expectations. Accuracy in clinical examination, better documentation, time saving clinical management etc. are few of these expectations. Networking of many physicians is a practical need for follow-up, referral and second opinion. This can be achieved by use of effective communication technology.
Decision Support Systems based on Samhitaa would assist physician for more precise diagnosis and treatment. Such programs would provide ready guidance for practice.
IT and generation of evidence base for Ayurveda
Ayurveda is being practiced for centuries and by generations of physicians. Ayurveda is a living tradition first transferred from a disciple to researcher. Strength of Ayurveda lies in its precise diagnosis by extensive clinical examination followed by multi-target treatment regime that includes diet, lifestyle and psychotherapy. Strengths of Ayurveda are being recognized by scientific community. Preventive measures (Svasthavritta), Rasaayana concept, Panchakarma therapies, Rasaushadhi are some of the well known strengths. In spite of this heritage Ayurveda is not being projected properly on global platform. On the contrary, Ayurvedic drugs are being declared as unsafe and toxic; such propaganda needs to be addressed with proper documentation.
Lack of proper documentation, poor awareness for research, inadequate training are the most prevalent causes for this situation.
According to Govt. of India data more than four lacks of Ayurvedic physicians, more than two hundred institutes and more than 50 research units are registered. Present research output does not correspond to this number.
IT based Ayurvedic practice would prove a solution by converting clinical records in to an evidence and source of innovation. Clinical research, which is strength of Ayurveda, can go hand in hand with practice of thousands of physicians. Ayurvedic practice with research base, effective documentation, data generation and export can be achieved by IT inputs to practice.
Propagation of Ayurveda
Ayurveda aims at prevention of diseases and restoration of normal health. Concepts of Svasthavritta like Prakriti, Dhaatusaarataa etc based advice, should be propagated. IT related applications could play important role for this purpose. IT could be a vehicle to propagate Ayurvedic concepts and achieve total health.
 ISM & H Policy Document, Dept. of AYUSH, Govt. of India, 2002.
 Robert B. Saper et al, Heavy Metal Content of Ayurvedic Herbal Medicine Products,
JAMA, December 15, 2004; 292: 2868 – 2873.
Last updated on March 8th, 2021 at 11:15 am