June 17, 2010

Call to validate and standardise traditional medicines

The study of indigenous systems of medicine should be integrated with the curriculum of modern medicine to strengthen and preserve traditional healing wisdom, J. R. Krishnamoorthy, CEO, Dr. JRK's Siddha Research and Pharmaceuticals, said on Thursday.

Delivering the First Government College of Integrated Medicine (GCIM) Alumni Endowment Oration hosted by Sri Ramachandra University (SRU), Dr. Krishnamoorthy said alongside familiarising allopathy students with Indian systems of medicine (ISM), students of traditional systems including Ayurveda, Siddha and Unani systems needed to be oriented with modern medicine.

Dr. Krishnamoorthy said the prevention approach of Siddha (“Unave Marundhu” or food is medicine) was deep-rooted in dietary habits and was increasingly relevant in an era of lifestyle diseases.

He pointed out that though ISM formulations enjoyed a distinct identity in the global markets, India's share of trade in this segment was only $ 1 billion whereas China's share in the $ 62 billion industry was around $ 19 billion.

Stressing the need for ISM practitioners to overcome stigma following the sensationalisation of sporadic reports on toxic effects of herbo-mineral formulations, Dr. Krishnamoorthy also felt that part of the purge had to come from within the fraternity as a few ISM physicians sought to profit from misleading claims.

Earlier, inaugurating a national workshop on analytical techniques in the standardisation of Siddha drugs, V. M. Katoch, Secretary, Department of Health Research, and Director General of ICMR, called for extending the technology platforms available for modern medicine to indigenous systems of medicine as well.

Pointing out that public faith in indigenous medicines had been built over thousands of years, Mr. Katoch called for application of technology to standardise and validate traditional knowledge.

S. P. Thyagarajan, Pro Chancellor (research), SRU, called for measures to validate and standardise traditional medicines that would help increase India's share in the global market for indigenous medicines.

It is estimated that 80 per cent of the world population used traditional medicines at some point of time and in a country like the US, the annual expenditure on traditional medicines had increased from $ 27 billion in 1997 to $ 40 billion in 2005, he said.

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