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Angry doctors/vaidyas and evidence-based science in the age of epigenetics

Lately, it is impossible to escape medical, sorry allopathic advice early in the morning thanks to WhatsApp.

Today, I have one Dr Umesh warning me that DRDO drug is not for Covid, but an “anti-cancer drug” (which it actually is not, as it may have established correlation but no causation) and a dentist with a self-proclaimed claim to fame of having seen Mucormycosis coming advising me not to smell fruits as they contain the “deadly black fungus” (which the fungus actually isn’t, as its spores are all around us in environment, more so in hot-humid tropical country like India, and hasn’t yet wiped us out).

It is clear that doctors are now not just virologists, microbiologists, epidemiologists but also guardians of evidence-based science (that they think their branch of knowledge is having exclusive right over), and so they are really angry with the “misinformation”, especially by non-doctors.

I think that doctors have a right to get angry, very angry as they have had horrible two years where they have toiled physically and many doctors have even died in the line of duty.

As I am not aware of any Vaidya or homeopath dying while trying to treat covid patients (while doctors have died by thousands), it is obvious that the allopathy fraternity will erupt if someone from the other curative branches of medicine criticizes them today.

I concede to the right of doctors to be furious, but I feel that, in the process, they are forgoing the very spirit that has allowed allopathy to become a science.

What Covid should teach allopathy is the shortcomings of the evidence-based method when applied in a limited way, and hence instead of getting angry with other holistic methods like Ayurveda, they should start the process of widening the scope of the process they trust.

If we look at one simple difference between allopathy and Ayurveda from a doctor’s perspective, a doctor imagines that his method, his diagnosis and his medicines represent the cause-and-effect understanding of illnesses that are established and “proven” using clinical experiments at a large scale, and he also presumes that Ayurveda is mostly hear-say of un-validated cures offered without rigorous tests and hence it is nothing more than mumbo-jumbo.

While I have no comment on what a doctor thinks about Ayurveda, but from my perspective, there is another difference between allopathy and Ayurveda, and that is treating each human differently.

As allopathy uses “evidence-based” method, it has one-cure for all. If an Indian teenager or American veteran has body temperature above 99 F, both get paracetamol (in most circumstances) because clinical trials have “proven” that if you take paracetamol, it “cures” what allopathy knows to be an “illness” called fever.

On the other hand, if one is treated by a real Vaidya (not destroyed by BAMS), he will be evaluated based on his “prakriti” and treated not for the increased temperature but for the imbalance in the “system” as Ayurveda understand a human body to be.

The reason why allopathy does what it does is its power and also the weakness and same is the case with Ayurveda.

As allopathy has broken down human-body-problems in a set of symptoms and uses a general differential diagnostic model, it has become too narrow and is now missing the bigger picture of a body that is an emergent phenomenon of many dimensions.

Ayurveda, as it stands today, has done exactly opposite, as it has lost traditional continuity, it has also lost bulk of understanding of the bigger picture and is now struggling to find the bigger picture by putting together evidence-bits from allopathy.

While Indian Medical Association and AYUSH may bicker over holding their (mostly economic) territory in “treating” patients, the bigger picture that is now getting clearer thanks to covid is being missed, and that is allopathy waking up to its limitations and accept the need to learn from other perspectives towards healthcare.

What Covid has pushed forth is an undeniable fact that every human body responds differently to an illness.

What allopathy looks to be the bigger picture is percentage and probabilities but, it fails to see that this data-analysis has no real use in curing a real person.

Just because 90 per cent of those under 25 don’t die from Covid infection, it means nothing to the young patient waiting for a doctor to save him, as he will not be able to tell his lungs not to get clogged because it is against the probability.  

While allopathy may think of holistic Ayurvedic idea of Kaph-Vaat-Pitta based prakruti as mumbo-jumbo, from the very science that allopathy originates from, we now have a glimpse of the bigger picture emerging.

Epi-genetics is now offering some insight into there being a bigger picture beyond the clinical trials and data-analysis that allopathy has focused on. It is a science that tell us that people are different based on not just their genes but the way they have lived and the environment around them, and when it comes to curing illnesses, that is The Clincher.

The Ayurveda concept of judging the prognosis based on the nature of the person is probably the closest we have come to applied epigenetics and hence it is surely worth investigating for allopathy for treating patients.

As allopathy claims to be a science, doctors need to display the spirit of what science stands for, and that is to never become dogmatic. We have new evidence at hand, and we need to bring them into the folds of allopathy. If Ayurveda has something to offer, it must be investigated and imbibed.

Science, sadly doesn’t offer an option of becoming self-righteously angry, as it is an eternal quest of correcting mistakes that only humble can carry on with. If you are a doctor and feel that allopathy is science than it is a cross you must bear.



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Disclaimer

Views expressed above are the author’s own.



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