There has been a resurgence of interest in traditional systems of medicine in India, both in terms of innovation and investment. At the inaugural session of the Ayush Global Investment and Innovation Summit held in Gandhinagar, Gujarat earlier this year, the Center announced several initiatives targeting this sector, including to farmers, the encouragement of start-ups and the promotion of medical tourism.
The first-ever mega event of this scale in the Ayush sector (Ayurveda, Yoga and Naturopathy, Unani, Siddha and Homeopathy) has also facilitated deals with international and national institutions and various other sectors, fueling financial considerations, mutual research and increasing its global reach.
Some of the key initiatives included the introduction of a special category of Ayush visa for foreign nationals who wish to come to India to enjoy traditional medicine and the formulation of regulations on safety and quality standards for food products in the “Ayurveda Aahara” category – a movement that will ensure the manufacture of quality Ayurvedic food products and contribute to the expansion of the international market for Make-In-India products.
The Ministry of Ayush has also signed a host country agreement with the World Health Organization (WHO) for the establishment of a WHO Global Center for Traditional Medicine at Jamnagar in India, with its interim office at the Institute of Ayurveda Training and Research (ITRA) in Gujarat. . The center is expected to be supported by an investment of around $250 million from the Indian government to harness the potential of traditional medicine worldwide through modern science and technology.
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The renewed interest in traditional medicine comes at a time when there is widespread panic across the world amid the pandemic. People have realized how Ayurvedic medicines and many other products help people to increase their immunity. “In times of Covid-19, turmeric exports from India have increased in several ways. Innovation and investment increase the capacity of any sector. Now is the time to increase investments in the Ayush sector as much as possible,” Prime Minister Narendra Modi said at the global summit.
Ayurvedic medicines, in particular, have proven to have the potential to support the traditional medicine market. According to a report published by Allied Market Research last year, the global Ayurvedic herbs market size was valued at $9.5 billion in 2020 and is expected to reach $21.6 billion by 2028, with a CAGR of 10.8% over the forecast period. The market is expected to present an incremental revenue opportunity of $12 billion from 2020 to 2028.
Ayurvedic herbs are now recognized worldwide for their safe and cost-effective disease management, especially in patients with diabetes, skin diseases, obesity, low immunity and infertility, says Dr. Meena Deogade, Associate Professor, All India Institute of Ayurveda, a public Ayurvedic medicine and research institution located in New Delhi.
Deogade discusses how a number of herbal medicines in the ‘rasayana’ category have been evaluated for their immunomodulatory effect through in vitro and in vivo experiments. “Stress is invariably linked to waning immunity. Herbs like amalaki, yastimadhu, stavari, mandukaparni and brahmi have beneficial effects on psychosomatic aspects of immunity. Today, the Majority of skin diseases are autoimmune in origin and are difficult to manage.So a holistic approach of Ayurveda makes management of various conditions like psoriasis, eczema, ringworm infections, loss hair loss or alopecia.Obesity and diabetes are the major lifestyle disorders seeking solution worldwide.Treatment principles correct the metabolism thus treating the condition using herbs like trikatu, haridra, asana, meshashringi, guggulu and triphala,” she adds.
Dr Sumol Ratna, General Practitioner, Assistant Professor of Medicine at the International Institute of Medical Sciences, Noida, believes that the underlying comorbidity and immune status in Covid-19 significantly determine the severity of the disease. “Traditional and modern medicines not only treat the acute phase of the disease, but improve immunity, comorbidities and a healthy lifestyle. It is evident that traditional measures positively influence mental health and immune function. Therefore, Ayurvedic and allopathic treatments are important in managing any infection.
There is a huge need for Indian medicines to have the technological support to take them to the next level. “The focus on research will lead to more patents being filed for Indian medicines. This will provide empirical and scientific evidence for Indian medicines,” Prof. V Kamakoti, Director of IIT Madras, said during an event organized by the institute with the Ayush Ministry on the indigenous medicine system in India last month. last.
Meanwhile, the Ministry of Tribal Affairs commissioned Patanjali Ayurveda, headed by Baba Ramdev, to identify and document authentic herbal medicines found in the tribal areas of Uttarakhand. Haridwar-based Patanjali Yogpeeth Yoga Institute has experience documenting 65,000 plants and has worked with 200 tribal communities as a whole. Union Minister for Tribal Affairs Arjun Munda, in a meeting with Acharya Balkrishna, MD and co-founder of Patanjali Yogpeeth last month, said that the practice of growing medicinal plants and preparing of medicinal plants should take the form of a subsistence mission, especially in tribal areas abounding in medicinal plants. The project operates in four districts of Uttarakhand—Dehradun, Udham Singh Nagar, Pithoragarh and Chamoli—which have large tribal populations. Conclusions should be taken in Ayurvedic practice, after due consultation with the Ayush Ministry.
Unani, another form of traditional medicine based on a holistic approach compared to conventional organ-targeted medicine, is also gaining momentum. Speaking about the effectiveness of unani, Abdul Majeed, president of the medical division of unani pharmaceutical company Hamdard Laboratories, said the pandemic has widened the scope of information and use of traditional supplements.
“Unani has proven its ability to boost immunity during Covid and now we want the next generation to understand the Indian traditional medicine system and its effectiveness,” he says. With a robust R&D department and technologically advanced infrastructure, Hamdard offers more than 600 product offerings, including Safi, Cinkara, Roghan Badam Shirin Almond Oil, Joshina and Sualin, the best-selling products in the healthcare segment.
India has the unique distinction of having several recognized systems of medicine. Ayush, for example, has played an important role in meeting global health care needs. “The National Commission for the Indian System of Medicine (NCISM) is the central body that regulates education and registration in the Ayush systems. Registration is required before a professional can begin to practise; only registered practitioners are qualified to prescribe drugs in India,” says Deogade of the All India Institute of Ayurveda.
For the standardization of Ayurvedic medicines in the country, the Center established the Pharmacopoeia Commission for Indian Medicine and Homeopathy (PCIM&H) in 2010. Development of pharmacopoeias and formularies as well as acting as a central laboratory of Drug trial and call for the Indian systems of medicine and homeopathy are the main areas of business of PCIM&H. It is the nodal agency in setting quality standards for medicines in the Indian systems of medicine and homeopathy.
More recently, there has been a digitization of the product licensing process to ensure that there is a robust system to create a database with seamless integration of all states in India. “The ministry has launched the Ayush Grid which is the IT backbone of the sector and captures the work of all stakeholders in Ayush systems including Ayurveda. The licensing and manufacturing of drugs, both of shastric or conventional nature and of proprietary and novel nature, is regulated by the licensing authorities of Ayush State. Each manufacturer is mandated to have a qualified Ayurvedic physician and a quality control chemist as official technical experts within their facility,” says Tej Katpitia, CEO, Sri Sri Tattva, an Ayurvedic Brand and FMCG.
The Drug Controller General of India also issues the Certificate of Pharmaceutical Product or CoPP and WHO GMP Certification by Central Drug Standard Control Organization (CDSCO) when Ayurvedic products are to be exported to various countries with standardization. The Government of India’s Quality Council of India (QCI) has also launched a voluntary certification scheme called Ayush Premium Mark and Standard Mark for companies to meet the highest manufacturing standards for export and domestic markets.
TRADITIONAL TIBETAN MEDICINE
Also known as Sowa-Rigpa medicine, Tibetan medicine, a centuries-old traditional medical system, is also gaining acceptance. Some of the herbal medicines used in this system have been scientifically researched at clinical and chemical levels, as well as by governmental and non-governmental institutions, and found to be effective in treating different diseases.
“We believe that science and Tibetan medicine are mutually dependent. Since the establishment of the Central Council of Tibetan Medicine (CCTM) in 2004, it has become very convenient to authenticate the reliability of a doctor practicing Tibetan medicine. Any individual or institute practicing Sowa-Rigpa or Tibetan medicine must be registered and recognized by CCTM,” says Dr Tsewang Tamdin, Chief Medical Officer, Men-Tsee-Khang, The Tibetan Medical & Astro-science Institute, Dharamsala, Himachal Pradesh.