New Delhi, Apr 24, 2012: In order to overcome the lack of basic research in ayurvedic biology, the Department of Science and Technology (DST), Ministry of Science and Technology, has constituted a task force under the chairmanship of Dr MS Valiathan, national research professor, Manipal University. The objective is to promote the application of basic sciences in the investigation of ayurvedic concepts, procedures and products, and nurture the discipline of ayurvedic biology.
The program on ayurvedic biology was initiated primarily by the office of the principal scientific advisor to the government of India, Prof P Chidambararm. The program, now re-conceived, is being implemented by the DST. The program steered by a task force will promote high quality research which would lead to major contributions to scientific knowledge and which could have implications for improving the standards of health care. The investigative work in this program will necessarily involve the full participation of scientists and ayurvedic experts who would be part of established institutions of science, medicine, and ayurveda in India.
The concepts of body constitution, digestive process of food in the gut and substrates in tissues, rejuvenation, body adaptation to seasons, degradation of habitat by human conduct, and taste as a chemical indicator are examples of the rich collection of cues that ayurveda provides for the modern investigator. But the research in ayurveda has been dominated by studies on medicinal plants and the development of herbal drugs, which has a large market growing at 15 percent per year. The basic research which employs modern biology, immunology, and chemistry to investigate the concepts, procedures, and products has received little attention. This gap calls out for correction lest the absence of basic studies according to modern scientific protocols should lead to ayurveda being regarded as a form of “herbal therapy” as was done by the Walton Committee in the UK.
The DST through its call to potential researchers has encouraged the individual or groups of scientists, physicians and ayurvedic experts to submit project proposals on any interesting aspect of ayurvedic concepts, procedures, or products, which would lend themselves to investigation by modern scientific protocols. However, proposed study should involve active participation by scientific and ayurvedic institutions and all project proposals as per DST should conform to its format for ayurvedic biology.