Gene finds its link with Ayurveda
Ancient Indian method of medical treatment – Ayurveda cannot be ignored, as it is now proved that the ancient Indian knowledge of Ayurveda medicine has molecular basis. Research groups in Bangalore, Hyderabad and New Delhi have through independent studies identified, what they say are sets of genomic markers for the three states Ayurveda uses to classify people into different physiological constitutions: vata, pitta, and kapha.
According to the principles of Ayurveda, every person has an underlying physiological makeup that corresponds to a combination of these states – with different strengths assigned to each. Even if one can monitor ones own body, as it has its own capacity of curing some particular diseases in a given period of time.
The recent findings on genomic studies suggest that people assigned the states of vata, pitta or kapha through traditional methods of classification have subtle differences in their genetic make-up that could influence their predisposition to various diseases and response to factors ranging from climate to diet.
“These studies are intended to establish cross-talk between Ayurveda and genomics. I was trying to find out whether if Ayurveda can be explored through genomics or not” said Mitali Mukherjee, the scientist at the Institute of Genomics and Integrative Biology (IGIB), New Delhi, who had published the first research paper connecting this central concept of Ayurveda with genetic makeup in 2008. She along with Dr Bhavana Prasher and scientists from Bangalore and Hyderabad has discovered this connection of Ayurveda and Genome.
Ayurvedic practitioners use medical history, body structure, sleep patterns, likes and dislikes relating to diet and environmental factors such as hot and cold weather, even the manners of speech and movements of people to classify them as vata, pitta, or kapha.
The IGIB team has found that people classified as vata, pita, or kapha have differences in several genes that might influence, among other processes, susceptibility to bleeding, clot-formation, obesity, heart attacks and the capacity for tolerating low-oxygen conditions.
Dr Mitali Mukherjee says “Human genomics happened to me purely by luck”, who started her research 12 years back. After completing her Ph.D. in bacterial molecular genetics from the Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore, the expected thing to do was to go abroad for a post-doctoral study, but I wanted to stay back and do something that was relevant to India. At the time, Samir Brahmachari, Director, Council of Scientific and Industrial Research, gave me an opportunity to join his research in human genomics” she says to Youthens News. Since then, there has been no looking back.
The aim of Mukherjee’s research is to understand genome variations in relation to susceptibility to disease. Her research will eventually lead to work in the area of personalized medicine. A fairly recent addition to her research is Ayurgenomics, a concept that explores the principles of preventive medicine through the integration of Ayurveda with genomics. “We have coined the term Ayurgenomics” says Mukherjee with pride. She is a recipient of Prestigious Shanti Swarup Bhatnagar Award — conferred by the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) by the then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.
Ayurvedic practitioners have often argued that modern medicine is primarily aimed at managing the symptoms of illnesses, while Ayurveda assigns importance to the underlying baseline constitution of each individual.
Health is always defined in the context of disease, if some one is disease free, he is accepted as healthy. But Ayurveda has defined a healthy person in different stages, which are broadly defined in 7 constitutions like diet, weather, behavior etc.
These studies will eventually lead to establishing Ayurveda on sound footing along with modern medicine, because through genome if the constitution of an individual’s health or body is classified and identified. Ayurveda can bring forth the solution by prescribing different medicine at different stages and there by assuring good health to every individual.