Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi urged countries of the world to recognize the value of the traditional medicine system in his country, known as “Ayurveda”, while many doctors believe that his call lacks solid scientific foundations.
Modi, during a global conference on “Ayurveda” held in the state of Goa, located on the southwestern coast, expressed his satisfaction with the spread of traditional Indian medicine in many countries of the world, according to the newspaper “.The Times“.
And he added, “I am glad that more than 30 countries have recognized Ayurveda as an alternative medicine system,” adding, “We must reach more countries by uniting efforts.”
Ayurveda is based on a “natural” approach to physical and mental health, incorporating products derived mainly from plants and focusing on diet, exercise and lifestyle changes.
Millions of Indians still rely on traditional medicine because they cannot afford to see a doctor.
In November 2014, during his first year as prime minister, the Modi government created a new ministry for Ayurveda, yoga, naturopathy, Unani and other healing methods to promote them as potential alternatives to science-based therapies.
Although these traditional medical systems have their loyal followers, and may have some benefits, only a few of their treatments have undergone rigorous scientific experiments and tests, and the studies available in this framework indicate uncertain or sometimes negative results as a result of relying on different products of Ayurveda medicine.
While in Goa, Modi also inaugurated a new Traditional Medicine Research Institute, as well as two virtual institutes in Delhi and Ghaziabad.
Over the years, some of Modi’s ministers and supporters have made outlandish claims about the benefits of traditional medicine, including businessman and yoga teacher Baba Ramdev, who used to say that Ayurveda can cure many diseases, especially cancer.
And last August, Ramdev said in a video clip: “To save humanity, the world must resort to yoga, Ayurveda and Indian culture.”
Modi tends to be more cautious in confirming Ramdev’s remarks, telling the Goa state conference: “The world has tried many methods of treatment and now it is returning to the ancient method of Ayurveda.”
One of the main goals of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party is to revive Indians’ pride in their culture and heritage.
The BJP believes that much of India’s “ancient wisdom” was destroyed first by the British colonial rule and later by the neglect of the “Western” elite that ruled the country after independence.
In many ways, adherence to traditional medicine in India remains common sense, and even Mahatma Gandhi himself questioned Western vaccinations based on spurious evidence.
The Indian Medical Association has consistently disputed some of the claims made by some ministers, including the claim that many people with COVID-19 have been cured.
Subhash Arya, a retired pediatrician, said that while everyone should approach Ayurveda with an open mind, the process of regulating traditional medicine is vital.
He continued, “Like all medicines, Ayurvedic medicines, including tonics and nutritional supplements, must be rigorously tested and subject to quality control.”
He concluded by saying, “The unfounded allegations in the media about the efficacy of traditional medicine must stop.”