Traditional healers have contributed a lot to the field of Ayurveda. Before the Ayurvedic medical education system got its shape in India, traditional healers carried the rich tradition of Ayurveda on their shoulders over the centuries. Even today we can see a few successful traditional healers across India. At this point of time, when scientific research, experimental and clinical studies, pharmacological and pharmacognosy advances are taking place, here is a look at the advantages and disadvantages with traditional healers and qualified Ayurvedic doctors.
Who is a traditional healer?
Traditional healer is the one who acquires knowledge of the science of healing through the family elders. The practice of healing is passed on from one generation to the other.
When India was looted continuously by Mughals and western powers, when all the treasures of knowledge of Vedas, mathematics, astrology, astronomy, sociology, numerology and other Indian sciences were burnt into Ashes in the libraries of Nalanda and Takshashila (Taxila) universities, Ayurveda survived. It is agreed that most of the Ayurvedic treatises were also burnt into ashes, but the practice of Ayurveda was preserved in each and every corner of India through traditional healers.
- Thorough knowledge of Ayurvedic principles.
- Strict and pure application of Ayurvedic principles.
- No bias of modern medicine system.
- Sound knowledge of very rare Ayurvedic herbs.
- Use and application of yet-to-be-explored treatment techniques, herbs and herbal formulas.
Mix-o-pathy – Today, patients come to Ayurveda after having tried all the other medical systems. Often patients are taking allopathic medicines, homeopathy pills, naturopathy treatments, acupuncture therapy, some Chinese home remedies and then come to an Ayurveda healer for treatment. Under such circumstances, pure knowledge of Ayurveda alone won’t help. Knowledge about interaction of Ayurvedic medicines with allopathic medicines is often lacking in a traditional healer.
Knowledge about new herbs – Ayurvedic pharmacopoeia is ever growing. Herbs from Unani and other systems are seamlessly getting integrated into Ayurvedic system with the help of scientific research. Knowledge of such updates is often lacking with traditional healer.
Black hats – I just happened to visit a camp of a traditional healer near Bangalore High Court. My friend casually asked for an oil for hair growth. The healer picked up an oil and said that the price was Rs 1100/-. Hmm…
Things may worsen when a patient with serious condition goes to a wrong healer.
Knowledge not quantified – No one can really know the depth of knowledge of a traditional healer, for how many years, he has studied, what he has studied, what he knows, what he doesn’t etc.
Rare herbs becoming extinct very fast – If the theory of usage of secret herbs by Traditional healers is to be believed, then they must be very rare herbs. Because, most of the herbs that is around the country is already under the preamble of Academic Ayurveda.
Secrecy factor – The general conception about the Traditional healers is that their way of healing and choice of herbs are very secretive. They can put these secrets into tests or research. If their methods are so powerful, they can think of getting patents to their healing methods. But none of these seem to happen in the near future.
Regulation – As per the rules of Government of India, a person with a degree in B.A.M.S is only eligible to practice Ayurveda.
Pros of Qualified Ayurvedic doctor
Qualification – A qualified Ayurvedic doctor in India spends 5.5 years in studies in B A M S.,
Along with Ayurvedic treatises, he studies
- Modern Anatomy,
- Modern Physiology,
- Modern Pathology
- Modern techniques of patient examining.
- Pharmacology and Pharmacognosy
- Modern way of diagnosis,
- Usage of laboratory tests, such as blood and urine analysis, X ray, scanning, latest imaging techniques, etc.
- Modern ways of performing minor surgeries – such as opening an abscess, dressing
- Ayurvedic ways of performing minor surgeries such as piles, fissures, fistula etc
The knowledge of a qualified Ayurvedic doctor is quantifiable.
The method of acquiring knowledge is systematic.
Most of the other countries have rules and regulations for Ayurveda practitioners.
Regulation – As per the rules of Government of India, a person with a degree in B A M S is only eligible to practice Ayurveda.
Less or nil secrecy – The diagnostic decisions, treatment methods, herbs chosen etc are open to be examined in case of an Ayurvedic practitioner.
Lot of ayurvedic medicines – There are umpteen number of Traditional Ayurvedic medicines, proprietary Ayurveda products, Ayurvedic herbs and Western and Chinese herbs and methods, which an Ayurvedic doctor can adopt in his treatments.
Cons of an Ayurvedic doctor
Poor quality education – I see a lot of Ayurvedic colleges running without basic infrastructure.
The passing percentage of Ayurvedic graduates is too high. There is a scope to improve the strictness in annual examinations.
Black hats – To make quick money, a few wear a spiritual garb, a few mislead the patients. Black hats are not limited to Ayurveda. There are bad engineers, bad lawyers, bad police..
I, belonging to the latter group might have shown more inclination towards qualified Ayurvedic doctor, but I have tried to see the facts through impartial eyes.
A true traditional healer is still an asset for Ayurveda.