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It's World TB Day 2018 and tuberculosis remains a major public health challenge. If anything, the crisis has been deepening. India continues to lead the world in TB cases and multi-drug-resistant tuberculosis (MDR-TB) incidence. Each year, the disease claims over 400,000 lives and the success rate for MDR-TB is a disturbingly low 46%. The assumption that Ayurveda can solve the problem may seem far-fetched, but there's plenty of reason to believe that it can help take India closer to achieving Prime Minister Modi's ambitious goal of eradicating TB from the country by 2025. To understand how Ayurveda can help fight the tuberculosis pandemic, we need to take a closer look at the problem.
Understanding the Problem
While there can be no denying the fact that modern medicine plays an important role in public health, in many ways, the irresponsible use of allopathic drugs and antibiotics has given rise to the current pandemic the problem of multi-drug resistant tuberculosis. As pointed out by the World Health Organization (WHO) and USAID, India has over 850,000 new cases of tuberculosis that remain undetected or are 'treated poorly' each year. This includes cases of substandard drugs and therapies, as well as failure to follow the entire duration of treatment. Both circumstances increase the risk of drug resistant TB. These explanations are not just propounded by Ayurvedic practitioners or naturopaths, who wish to promote alternative therapies, but by all responsible practitioners of medicine and the WHO itself. Now that you've understood the root of the problem, we can get to the role of Ayurveda in tuberculosis management.
How Ayurveda Can Help Fight the TB Pandemic
As an Ayurvedic practitioner and lifestyle consultant, I strongly believe that Ayurveda has an important role to play in public health, disease prevention, and treatment, but it is our duty to use Ayurveda responsibly. This means that recommendations should be evidence-based.
Tuberculosis in Ayurveda
Vedic medicine refers to an ancient disease, called Yakshma, which was then redefined as Rajayakshma. This is essentially tuberculosis, which is caused by Dhatukshaya or emaciation and tissue loss. Ancient texts also mention Dhatwagninasana (metabolic problems), wherein there is a loss of rasa or fluid, rakta or blood, and meda or adipose tissue. They also describe wasting of muscles or mamsa, which leads to ojokshaya or weakening of immune function.
Ayurvedic experts also attempted to treat the condition, making several recommendations. Many of these therapies have been verified through modern studies, but we still have a long way to go. Until we have more data, based on what we already know, we can say that certain Ayurvedic formulations could help fight the TB pandemic, as they are effective as an add-on to conventional treatment. And yes, there's proof for those claims.
Modern Recommendations from Ancient Ayurveda
With the arrival of modern anti-TB drugs in 1947, the use of Ayurveda for TB was abandoned. But, here's what studies at the time found early TB drugs showed a cure rate of just 11.42% and a mortality rate of 40.9%. However, patients who received Ayurvedic medications in addition to conventional drugs showed a cure rate of 41.3% and the mortality rate dropped to just 3.8%! Today, there is growing interest among the global health community in traditional systems like
Ayurveda for solution to the TB pandemic. The main Ayurvedic formulations used to treat and manage TB include Ashwagandha, Chyawanprash, and Bhringarajasava.
Ashwagandha & Chyawanprash
Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) is regarded as a rejuvenator or rasayani of the body and is also known to increase balya or strength. This makes it particularly useful in the treatment of TB. It helpseliminate ama or toxins from the body and relieves kshayapaha or conditions of malnutrition and emaciation.
Chyawanprash, which contains a blend of herbs like ashwagandha, amla, pippali, and gokshura, among others, is regarded as the most important of all rejuvenators. According to the Charaka Samhita the herbal formulation is particularly effective at relieving respiratory distress and replenishes rasa and energy levels.
The Evidence: A review of various studies that appeared in the Journal of Intercultural Ethnopharmacology found that Ashwagandha can protect against side effects of TB drugs, also increasing their efficacy. One of the studies reviewed also proves that Ashwagandha can providerelief from symptoms like weight loss. Researchers investigating the effects of a combined treatment with Ashwagandha and Chyawanprash also observed improvements in body weight, reduction in severity of symptoms, improvement in liver health, and better recovery.
How to Use Ashwagandha & Chyawanprash
Ashwagandha 500 mg - 2 capsules twice a day (entire duration of treatment) we have more data, based on what we already know, we can say that certain Ayurvedic formulations could help fight the TB pandemic, as they are effective as an add-on to conventional treatment. And yes, there's proof for those claims.
Bhringarajasava for Tuberculsosis
In Ayurveda, we regard Bhringrajasava as a rasayana or rejuvenant as well as a kasahara, which means that it is also effective for respiratory infections. Because of its properties as vishaghna, it also helps to lower ama or toxin levels. It also improves energy levels, blood and fluid production, while protecting against liver damage.
The Evidence: A clinical study that evaluated the efficacy of Bhringarajasava found that the Ayurvedic formula provided relief from pain, fever, appetite loss, weight loss, breathing difficulty, and coughing. How to Use Bhringarajasava Bhringarajasava 30 ml mixed 30 ml of water thrice a day (entire duration of treatment + additional 6 8 months)
The Final Word
While the main line of treatment remains allopathy, which is unavoidable, Ayurveda can help improve recovery and the effectiveness of standard drugs. Studies so far, clearly prove that Ayurvedic therapies can improve patient outcomes, increasing the effectiveness of modern anti-TB drugs, reducing side effects, and providing symptom relief. So, if you or a loved one suffers from TB, make sure to follow your doctor's recommendations religiously, but get a little extra help by using these proven Ayurvedic remedies for tuberculosis. If you're having trouble finding these Ayurvedic formulations at your local store, you can order them directly from allAyurveda.com. Just make sure to inform your doctor before you begin any complimentary therapy, whether with supplements or Ayurvedic medications.
This article is contributed by Dr. Pratik Bhoite, Ayurveda expert at allAyurveda.com
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