The recent integration of the AYUSH system of medicine with allopathy has reignited the debate over the advantages of the two systems.
While allopathy claims to be more scientific, the AYUSH system id known to have lesser side effects and has a more established history in India. The AYUSH system of medicine comprises of five branches- Ayurveda, Yoga and naturopathy, Unani, Siddha and Homeopathy.
Popularly known as the Indian System of Medicine (ISM), it focuses on the preventive rather than the curative aspect of diseases and relies on natural herbs, lifestyle modifications, exercises and purification of the body. The ISM has great diversity and flexibility allowing for coverage of a brooder disease spectrum at a much lower cost leading to better acceptability and compliance. It has existed in our country since time immemorial and the recent decline in its popularity is majorly due to adulteration and use of toxic substances in preparations. The reliability and qualifications of AYUSH practitioners have been called into question with quacks mushrooming in every city. This paved the way for establishment of the allopathic system of medicine. Allopathy has witnessed unprecedented growth in the last few decades finding almost magical cures for diseases allowing miracles to happen every time an individual was cured of mortal illnesses. Greater standardization, a scientific explanation, and faster, more visible results helped allopathy become the medicine of choice across the globe. However, indiscriminate use of pills led to many problems, two of which came as warning signs of imminent breakdown of the system- first was at the individual level, namely side effects of the medicines which were basically unwanted, idiopathic effects leading to decreased patient compliance, second was at the global level, namely the emergence of resistance and the birth of superbugs and multidrug resistant variety of disease causing agents which cannot be controlled using any medicine known to man. Also, allopathy was unable to deal with the recent birth of lifestyle diseases like increased blood pressure and diabetes. The widespread crisis which ensued brought to forefront the problem of allopathy being an incomplete and as yet an infantile system incapable of bearing the entire load which was suddenly rested upon its shoulders. The most plausible solution is integration of the systems, that is, using allopathy and AYUSH together instead of pitting them against each other. Complementing the existing allopathic setup with AYUSH practitioners will lead to better disease management- both preventive and curative aspects, increased compliance and will allow for more patients to be dealt with on a daily basis due to increased available practitioners. Medicines prescribed alongwith lifestyle modifications can alleviate existing disease burden and prevent future emergence of illnesses. Allopathy and ISM, together, will bring about the dawn of a new age of medicine in India.