The Commoditization Of Ayurvedic Medicine In India Essay

essay A

Get Full Essay

Get access to this section to get all the help you need with your essay and educational goals.

Get Access

While Ayurveda began as a medical system taught and practiced entirely within the upper Brahman caste, over clip it developed into a outstanding medical paradigm in mainstream India. Traditionally, Ayurveda was practiced by officially or informally trained Vaidyas whose certificates were based on a tri-fold experience in pattern, cognition of the statute medical texts and the ability to ground ( Wolfgram 2010 ) . The dogmas of Ayurveda are based in an esoteric apprehension of the universe and its relationship to the human organic structure. This cognition is based in ancient statute texts that are available to be studied and learned chiefly for the upper Brahman caste. Traditional common people medical specialty is derived from popular readings of these ancient texts. Ayurveda, as it is taught and practiced, entered a period of passage when Western ideals brought approximately by colonisation and globalisation began to infiltrate and boom in Indian society. In this research paper, I discuss the consequence Western pharmaceuticals has had on mending patterns in India and Nepal, including the position of both patient and therapist. I explore how Western scientific discipline has affected the significance of healing and the sensed efficaciousness of traditional Ayurvedic interventions. The chief intent of my research was to analyze the societal branchings of overhauling an ancient medical system.

Colonization brought about a passage in ideological thought to the Indian medical system, specifically by emphasizing the value of scientific evidence-based research and the standardisation of the production and presentation of pharmaceutical medical specialties ( Banerjee 2002 ) . Ayurveda became classified as an alternate medical system and was uprooted from its base in the statute Sanskrit important texts. Vaidyas ‘ important cognition was replaced by empirical grounds. Tried and true antediluvian therapies and interventions were replaced by modern scientific grounds founded on clinical research and research lab experimentation ( Cameron 2009 ) . One affect of this modernisation is that it reduced a medical system once based on a macro and micro cosmogonic apprehension of the existence to a system of handling symptoms ( Nisula 2006 ) . Technical cognition of medical specialties replaced Ayurvedic conceptual cognition of the organic structure and its wits ( Banerjee 2002 ; Cameron 2009 ; Nichter 1989 ) . The Colonialists embarked on tackling the autochthonal pattern of roll uping herbs and workss and turned it into a large-scale industrial endeavor, replacing homemade decoctions and pulverizations with neatly packaged tablets, capsules and sirups ; signifiers that mimic modern Western pharmaceutical merchandises ( Banerjee 2002 ; Wolfgram 2010 ) Hence, the nexus between biomedicine and Ayurveda became medicine ( Nisula 2006 ) .

With the inflow of Western thoughts and influence on society, Western scientific discipline became the standards for judging the proof and efficaciousness of Ayurveda ( Wolfgram 2010 ) . In order to last, Ayurveda had to yield to the force per unit areas of modern society and validate Ayurveda as a legitimate scientific discipline ( Banerjee 2002 ) . Ayurvedic ‘purists ‘ , Suddha, believe that an Ayurvedic physician who aligns him or herself with modern, scientific methods misuses the term Ayurveda by associating it with Western political orientation. However, Cameron ( 2009 ) studies that in Nepal, Ayurvedic physicians whom she worked with considered Ayurveda irrelevant to traditional and modern labels. ‘Many physicians I worked with are committed to showing Ayurveda as secular, scientific and cosmopolitan ; hence, transcendent of traditional and modern labels ‘ ( Cameron 2009 ) . This belief in the pureness and cosmopolitan truth of the Ayurvedic paradigm has provided its advocators the assurance to direct Ayurveda into the universe of scientific modernness in order to redefine it by the scientific discipline that was endangering to destruct it ( Nisula 2006 ) .

The societal motion toward holistic theory and nature in the sixtiess and 1970s did non change by reversal the powerful flight of pharmaceuticals, but it helped to make a niche market for the integrating of Ayurvedic medical specialties into the popular pharmaceutical market ( Banerjee 2002 ) . Government-supported autochthonal Indian medical specialties and the demand for modernised medical specialty created a really moneymaking market ( Bode 2006 ; Nisula 2006 ) . An consequence of the modern capitalist political orientation brought by the West has been what Mark Nichter ( 1989 ) calls ‘the commoditization of wellness ‘ : ‘when one ‘s wellness is dependent upon medical specialties which must be purchased ‘ ( Nichter 1989 ) . A society in which this is mostly assumed creates a cultural objectification of the organic structure and a unidimensional position of what wellness is. This differs from the traditional belief that a individual ‘s wellness is multi-dimensional and affected by single fundamental law every bit good as external influences such as the physical environment, lifestyle picks and cosmic alterations. In Nichter ‘s words, commoditization does non go on in a vacuity. ‘The pharmaceutical industry has responded to, built upon and perpetuated cultural wellness concerns ‘ and fulfills the demand for new, improved and speedy proficient solutions and holes ( Nichter 1989 ) .

Dr. Rasaliji was a cardinal figure in my research. As an Ayurvedic practician in Nepal, he represents a modern Ayurvedic therapist who clings to his self-taught cognition of the traditional constructs of Ayurveda based on the authoritative texts. Dr. Rasaliji represents a little figure of today ‘s Ayurvedic practicians who possess a wealth of cognition and experience in traditional Ayurvedic redresss every bit good as that of allopathic pharmaceutical interventions and implements. Dr. Rasaliji ‘s cognition and experience is based in a pure ‘love of the game ‘ , and that sets him apart from other practicians, even those who besides integrate Western and Ayurvedic systems. In his pattern, he implements the best of both universes ( Cameron 2009 ) .

Dr. Rasaliji introduces the construct of utilizing biotechnology like the stethoscope non merely to corroborate what he already figured out through Ayurvedic scrutinies of the patient, but besides – and possibly more significantly – to reassure the patient of his findings and to carry through the patient ‘s outlook or ‘mental image ‘ of what is supposed to be seen at the physician ‘s office. ( Cameron 2009 ; Nisula 2006 ) . The modern patient ‘s inexplicit trust in engineering provenders into the popular intuition of traditional Ayurvedic intervention. In Nisula ‘s research, he found that the bulk of people in India today are non precisely familiar with the constructs of Ayurveda, and even the 1s who do mostly prefer biomedicine ( English medical specialty ) over Ayurvedic intervention and be given to travel to an Ayurvedic practician merely when biomedicine has failed them or when it has been strongly recommended by a friend or other trust-worthy beginning. Ayurveda is an reconsideration to prevalent biomedical logic. However, Ayurveda still serves as a safety cyberspace ; sought out whenever biomedicine has disappointed ( Nisula 2006 ) . This ‘fetish of modernisation ‘ is what Nichter ( 1989 ) uses to depict the culturally constructed efficaciousness of modern medical specialty in India. The ‘power of the manus ‘ of the doctor has been transferred to the stethoscope. Alternatively of the traditional pulsation reading, patients ask the physician to touch the stethoscope on the country of the organic structure that is ailing. Prescriptions have become a manner of pass oning a physician ‘s attention and competency. It shows he knows what he is making without explicating anything. The usage of modern medical nomenclature has besides become more familiar and soothing to patients ( Nichter 1989 ; Hardon, Van der Geest and Whyte 1998 ) .

The footing of Dr. Rasaliji ‘s opposition to wholly overhauling his pattern lies in his concern with keeping independency and liberty. He believes that keeping autochthonal medical patterns is one manner to enable his state to keep liberty from foreign powers. He assesses that his state does n’t necessitate to depend upon the West for what it can supply for itself and that implementing modern medical specialty sacrifices a bequest of autochthonal quality medical intervention in exchange for convenient yet compromised wellness attention merchandises and intervention. Because he has seen ways in which pharmaceutical production companies are willing to cut corners on quality in order to salvage money, he believes that the modern market topographic points net income before people. He himself continues to venture out into nature to reap workss for usage in his pattern and for experimentation to fulfill his wonders of the workings of medicative workss and mixtures ( Cameron 2006 ) .

Hardon, Whyte and Van der Geest ( 1998 ) agree with Dr. Rasaliji that pharmaceuticals ‘allow person and peripheral communities to exert more liberty in wellness attention but besides create dependance on distant markets ‘ . Cameron ( 2006 ) besides writes about how the politicization of wellness instruction and health care Torahs are ways to defile a pure medical system that has worked successfully for 1000s of old ages. Nichter ( 1989 ) besides reports on other Vaidyas who portion Dr. Rasaliji ‘s concern about keeping liberty. Dr. Rasaliji is concerned chiefly about Nepal ‘s dependance on modern states. Other Vaidyas ‘ are concerned about the organic structure going dependent on Western medical specialty in order to keep wellness as opposed to traditional herbal redresss that are meant to be impermanent because they restore the organic structure back to its normal functioning capacity ( Bode 2006 ; Nichter 1989 ) .

The pharmaceutical industry has a big influence on physicians and patients by marketing to them new and progressive medical specialties. Doctors are in bend educating their patients of what these modern medical specialties can make for a individual ‘s wellness based on what the pharmaceutical representative said. The pharmaceutical industry has a inclination to overstate its claims of its medical specialties. The manner that it entreaties to the people is by permeating its advertizements with cultural significance and deductions of position that the viewing audiences can associate to and want. Like Dr. Rasaliji, one medical physician in India laments his place in that he has a batch of cognition of holistic interventions but if that was the advice he gave his patients, they would ne’er come back. Alternatively, he caters to their outlooks by ordering medicines and executing injections, cognizing that this is the lone manner his patients will be satisfied. This physician admits he is influenced by advertisement and recognizes the position that comes along with being treated with modern medical specialty. He says in Nichter ( 1989 ) : ‘As a physician I must name non merely the disease but the prestigiousness and the pocketbook of my patients. ‘ This determines the type of intervention he implements ( Nichter 1989 ) .

The patient ‘s outlook is that Western medical specialty provides speedy holes. This is desirable among the fast-paced life styles of the urban on the job category. However, in the small towns, traditional cognition about how the organic structure works has been slightly maintained. Although western medical specialties and interventions have been integrated into the outlooks of villagers, its usage is more limited, viz. , for more serious unwellnesss necessitating a stronger, quicker-acting medical specialty. Herbal redresss are still really popular for care and bar. Because western medical specialties are seen to be invasive and fouling to the organic structure ( particularly over the long-run, but besides in the short-run ) restorative herbal interventions are applied after the usage of western medical specialties in order to reconstruct the organic structure back to its original operation capacity. Despite this perceptual experience of Western medical specialty as polluting and invasive and Ayurvedic medical specialties as being free of side effects, lay cognition of the differences between Ayurvedic and allopathic medical specialty is minimum ( Nisula 2006 ) .

Ordering of allopathic medical specialties increased every bit shortly as practicians themselves began do money off of the medical specialties they prescribe. This has influenced the patients ‘ perceptual experience of what modern medical specialty should look like, hence making more of a demand for medical specialty in this format. The handiness and widespread usage of pharmaceuticals has cultivated ‘a greater sensitiveness to symptoms and a lower threshold of uncomfortableness ‘ in patients ( Hardon, Van der Geest and Whyte 1998 ) , non to advert the ill-effect on the organic structure as it responds to the stressors and diets of a modern life style. The rise in the usage of quinine waters is a really clear illustration of the extent and the affect of commoditization of wellness, representing that pharmaceuticals are trade goods and patients believe these trade goods will work out their jobs ( Hardon, Van der Geest and Whyte 1998 ; Nichter 1989 ) .

In yielding to the force per unit areas of the West in overhauling medical specialty, the manner medical specialty is practiced in India and Nepal shifted, but it has n’t immensely improved the medical system. The upper category is still catered to and medical attention is still mostly out of range for the lower castes. For those exposed to modern civilization ( i.e. the urban upper category ) , medical intervention has evolved into a gross outlook of patients for touchable interventions such as usage of technological equipment and pharmaceutical prescriptions ( Hardon, Van der Geest and Whyte 1998 ) . Even though the lower castes still rely to a great extent upon traditional medical specialty, they are influenced by the societal belief that allopathic medical specialty must be superior merely because of its prevalence in the urban on the job category ( Banerjee 2002 ; Hardon, Van der Geest and Whyte 1998 ) . As Ayurvedic medical specialty becomes more elect and western medical specialty becomes more available, Ayurveda becomes even more out of range to the hapless ( Banerjee 2002 ; Bode 2006 ) .

Ayurveda has been recast in the cast of modern medical specialty, reduced to a concrete signifier ; following modern medical specialty ‘s land regulations of scientific cogent evidence of efficaciousness, standardisation and high costs ( Banerjee 2002 ) . The pharmaceutical industry distinguishes itself from tradition but has integrated traditional rules and images back into the new theoretical account. Commoditizing Ayurvedic medical specialties may let people to keep their cultural individuality alternatively of demanding that people wholly embrace modern medical specialty ( Hardon, Van der Geest and Whyte 1998 ) . The belief that anything of value can be commoditized has diminished the value of the conceptual rules of Ayurveda in mainstream society, but Ayurveda as a paradigm of health has non wholly lost its bridgehead in the heads of the people. It has been kept alive and booming possibly because of modern medical specialty ‘s intercession. The manner that its rules and dogmas have integrated yet remained intact has created a paradox in that it was saved because of its integrating with modern engineering.

Mentions Cited

Banerjee, M. 2002. Power, Culture and Medicine: Ayurvedic Pharmaceuticals in the Modern Market. Contributions to Indian Sociology36 ( 3 ) :435-67.

Bode, Maarten. 2006. Taking Traditional Knowledge to the Market: The Commoditization of Indian Medicine. Anthropology & A ; Medicine13 ( 3 ) :225-36.

Cameron, Mary M. 2009. Untouchable Healing: A Dalit Ayurvedic Doctor from Nepal Suffers His State ‘s Ills. Medical Anthropology28 ( 3 ) :235-267.

Hardon, Anita, Sjaak Van der Geest and Susan Reynolds Whyte. 1998. The Anthropology of Pharmaceuticals: A Biographical Approach. Annual Review of Anthropology25: 153-78

Kurup, P. 1983. Ayurveda. Traditional Medicine and Health Care Coverage: A Reader for Health Administrators and Practitioners50-60.

Nichter, Mark. 1989. Anthropology and International Health: South Asiatic Case Studies. Dordrecht: Kluwer Academic Publisher

Nisula, Tapio. 2006. In the Presence of Biomedicine: Ayurveda, Medical Integration and Health Seeking in Mysore, South India. Anthropology & A ; Medicine13 ( 3 ) :207-24.

Wolfgram, Matthew. 2010. Truth Claims and Disputes in Ayurveda Medical Science. Journal of Linguistic Anthropology20 ( 1 ) :149-165.


Get instant access to
all materials

Become a Member