Ayurveda in USA and other Holistic Health Modalities

Impact and Reach of Ayurveda in the USA and comparison with Modern science and other holistic health systems like TCM/Naturopathy

Student Blog-- Dr Monika Singhal

The global alternative medicine sector is expected to reach close to $115 billion by 2015, according to Global Industry Analysts. Market growth is fuelled by a trend toward herbal and nature-based products, based on the presumption these products cause fewer side effects than modern medicines. Alternative medicine disciplines such as acupuncture, homeopathy, massage, ayurveda, and traditional Chinese medicine are being practiced more widely in the western world.

Around 75% of the population in emerging nations receive alternative medical healthcare, compared with over half of the population of developed nations, particularly for lifestyle-related diseases.

The alternative medicine market is also benefiting from changes in the insurance landscape, with more companies covering complementary and alternative medical care. One major obstacle to industry growth involves the comparatively slack condition of its regulations, and less extensive research and developing methods than in modern medicine.

Being a Medically trained physician from India , I have observed that in india today also people have faith and belief in alternative holistic modalities especially ayuveda preventive treatments. Since from last 10years, I am in US have noticed that awareness about ayurevda/yoga have tremendously increased and will continue to grow in coming years.

Modern Western Allopathic medicine is based on a medical model which is basically mechanical, materialistic, inorganic and inert. It considers only the physical body and treats the mind as a physical entity. It emphasises the use of inorganic substances (drugs), mechanical testing, invasive treatments like surgery and a passive approach by the patient.

Naturopathic medicine on the other hand is organic, naturalistic and energetic. It recognises the life-force as the guiding force behind the biochemical changes.It's treatment focuses on harmonising the life-force and strengthening the body through natural substances such as herbs and diet, and action by the client such as lifestyle changes and exercise.

However, most naturopathic systems are deficient is in the way they classify the energetics of substances. The majority of systems - Chinese medicine included - considers substance energetics on an outward or quantitative basis only. For example, meat may be prescribed to a weak person because of it's strong capacity to strengthen and provide energy. In this way it may balance the person at a gross level. But this perspective fails to recognise the negative impact meat has on an inner level because of the dulling effect it has on the mind, emotions and senses.

Ayurveda's focus is more on creating energetic balance at the higher energetic or inner level. It sees all life and Nature constantly evolving toward a higher level of consciousness. All substances have an impact at this higher level of consciousness as well as the more gross body level. Ayurveda seeks to connect us with this intelligence inherent in Nature and uses substances and processes which work positively as this higher level - such as yoga asana, pranayama, mantra and meditation - to facilitate this. It categories substances and activities according to their capacity to achieve this higher level of consciousness. It recommends we avoid substances which stimulate us or dull us. Stimulants and dulling substances act on the body level, distort consciousness and lead to a lack of sensitivity and self awareness. For example, the cup of coffee we have to get us going in the morning may take us to work and get us to do the job but then who is it that is going to work and running our lives - us or the coffee ??.

In the end I will just say Ayurvedic medicine is about facilitating the process of raising our level of consciousness. This state of consciousness is defined as peace, union with the Divine or realisation of our true Self. That’s my input on this topic and I am open for feedback,discussions.
About the Author

Monika Singhal is a trained Physician from India. Ms Singhal completed medical school(MBBS) from All India Institute of Medical science, (AIIMS) New Delhi. She did her post graduate studies from MPH from IIHMR, Jaipur. She has worked with naturopathic physician in Seattle from 2011-2013.