While Ayurveda has been always hailed as the oldest system of healthcare and its virtues extolled, it has always been lumped with the generic ‘Alternative Medicine’ on the global scene. Things are in for a major overhaul as six major universities in the United States are gearing up to conduct an extensive study on Ayurveda. The universities participating in this research are: Harvard University, Scripps Clinic, University of California San Diego, Mt Sinai University, University of California San Francisco and Duke University, North Carolina.
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This study on Ayurveda and its healing powers is held at The Chopra Center for Wellbeing in California and is called the `Self-Directed Biological Transformation Initiative (SBTI) Research Study’. It intends to analyze the effect of Ayurveda on genes, hormones associated with metabolism and mood change, bacteria found in the gut and on the skin and weight and stress issues. The Center is stranger to such researches on Eastern traditions of health and well-being. Earlier Deepak Chopra had conducted a study on the effects of meditation and yoga on gene expression.
The study gains significance when compared to how Western medicine looks to treat symptoms and often theories and practices contradict or overlap each other. Ayurveda on the other hand is a holistic system that takes the whole body or system into consideration while offering treatment.
Already Ayurvedic Ashwagandha’s effectiveness against Alzheimer’s and the effect of meditation on brain activity has made the West sit up and take notice of this system evolved five millennia ago. Besides more study on these subjects, there will also be research on how a diet and lifestyle based on the principles of Ayurveda can influence brain functions. According to Dr Murali Doraiswamy, professor at Duke Institute for Brain Sciences and part of the research team, “That type of information can help us not only better establish how Ayurveda works at a cellular level but also how best to integrate it into a modern healthy lifestyle.”
Despite Ayurveda’s popularity, it has always been relegated to the level of a ‘pseudo-science’ for lack of sufficient research on its safety and effectiveness. While this perception is slowly changing, this study on Ayurveda is bound to strengthen the image and acceptance of Ayurveda the world over.