Global Ayurveda Day and the Global Scenario of Ayurveda by Dr. Kiran Lal
Outsukya moha arathithan jaghana Yo apoorva vaidyaya namostu thasmai.”
The Legendary Sage Vagbhata started his book Ashtanga Hridayam, an ancient text of Ayurveda, with these sentences. For me and many other Ayurvedic practitioners and doctors, this was the first lesson we learned in the Ayurvedic colleges on our first day. I believe it is impossible to comment on Ayurveda without mentioning these lines. There are many more universal truths that are mentioned in the works of Charka, Susrutha and other textbooks that stand tall in the scientific bookshelf of the world.
Ayurveda elaborates on the interconnection of the universe, the macrocosms and the microelements in life. This makes it a global, timeless system of medicine, and the real challenge for Ayurvedic practitioners is to provide the universal truths of Ayurveda to mankind with its real taste and flavors.
It is said that the great sage Charaka was a person who used to move from place to place to teach and provide valuable treatment to remote and desperate populations in the countryside and remote villages. He also studied and recorded medicinal plants so that people could make efforts to value and conserve them.
I think Ayurvedic practitioners all over the globe are also doing the same, spreading this knowledge of life through the wonders of Ayurveda. In this special occasion of Dhanwathary Jayanthi – The Global Ayurveda day, let us pledge the same:
We will spread the legend of ancient, barefoot physicians across the world and preserve our valuable wealth of medicinal plants in its pure form.
Global Export of Ayurveda products from India
The global shipping statistics above show that 4,730 Ayurvedic shipments of varying volumes were exported from India to destinations across the world. Australia, USA and UAE are the most frequented destinations. Due to the lack of clarity in customs regulations we cannot get an exact picture and many of the crude products are exported from Australia, Hong Kong, Singapore, UAE and China. Unavailability of export data from Sri Lanka is also considered. Interestingly, Ayurvedic products are available in more than half of the world’s countries and Ayurvedic services are available in many more countries in different forms. Regional regulatory frameworks like ASEAN Common Technical Dossiers (ACTD) offers access to Ayurvedic products to all the member states.
The Global initiatives in recognition of the role of Ayurveda in public health and drug approvals
Malaysia’s efforts to mainstream Ayurveda in the public health have been remarkably successful - they have allotted Ayurvedic services in 12 integrated hospitals across the country. More than 2000 Ayurvedic products are registered in regulatory frameworks with a very transparent filing mechanism. Thanks to TCM Division of Ministry of Health and Indian diaspora for advocating for Ayurveda and Siddha medical systems!
UAE, Australian Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) and the Canadian natural product approval system also have similar merits. Singapore and the USA also have flexible guidelines or free marketing permissions compared to the EU states.
Ayurveda graduates are recognized as traditional/complementary medical professionals in the UAE, Singapore, Malaysia, Maldives, South Africa, the Philippines and Australia. Many Ayurvedic doctors in the EU are working alongside western medicine doctors and it is a promising sign for Ayurveda products and services. The Netherlands and Japan started giving insurance coverage for certain Ayurveda services as well. Leading hospitals in India are introducing Ayurveda as part of their holistic medicine departments. At Medanta, the Medicity in Delhi, Ayurveda is a part of every medical specialty in that hospital!
The new directions and challenges
In the past decade we have seen tremendous changes in organizational structures and industrial development in Ayurveda that all give very promising outcomes, like more awareness of Ayurveda. More than 20 Ayurveda manufacturers are producing Ayurveda products in the USA with similar facilities available in the EU as well. Ayurveda training facilities and colleges are available all over the USA and the EU! Ayurveda is no longer an “Indian” thing any more, thanks to all the global ambassadors and initiatives to create a global acceptance for Ayurveda.
The question remains: are we serious enough to pass down the great science of Ayurveda to our future generations? The unethical sourcing of medicinal herbs is rapidly destroying them in an alarming way. Many of the herbs are on the red list and banned from export. But there is no local restriction and many of the species are still collected from the wild. In the next decade, we may have severe shortages or face the extinction of many of these herbs. It is already visible in the Indian Ayurveda industry where some manufacturers have already started using substitutes for many endangered items or using adulterants to fulfill the market demand. Ayurveda is no longer a local brand so it is the responsibility of the global Ayurveda community to take initiatives!
We are the only ones who can change this scenario. Let us take steps for the conservation, organic cultivation and commercialization with fair trade practices. Let this Dhanwanhari Jayanthi be a step for some rethinking and initiatives for a better future for Ayurveda!
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