Linking ancient wisdom with science

Linking ancient wisdom with science

new study has revealed that empirical method of treatment of individuals in accordance with prakriti classification of three doshas or constitutional types by ancient Ayurveda system of medicine has scientific basis.

Announcing the findings at a news conference here on Wednesday, CSIR-CCMB Director, Ch. Mohan Rao, said the genomic study revealed that ancient wisdom collected through experience has a molecular basis. The study should, in principle, identify the prakriti of a person based on his/her genome. “In my opinion, this is a major breakthrough linking our ancient wisdom with modern science,” he said.

A central doctrine of Ayurveda postulates that human beings consist of three dosha prakriti or primary constitutional types that have been fixed at the time of conception.

The three doshas are: vata (relating to elements of space and air), pitta (relating to elements of fire and water) and kapha (elements of water and earth). Each individual would have different levels of the three doshas, hence the diversity. The physical, mental and behavioural traits are based on these doshas and each person could be classified as belonging to one type or the other if one of the doshas predominates.

The study by CCMB and six other institutions was taken up to see if there was a correlation between prakriti classification and the genome of the individuals.

Dr. Mohan Rao said that Dr. Valiathan, a famous surgeon and scientist along with a few scientists, wanted to address the potential relationship between prakriti as described by three doshas with genomes of individuals. A research team at CCMB under the leadership of Dr. Thangaraj took up the challenge and a mega programme was chalked out.

Well-trained Ayurvedic physicians screened about 3,416 normal healthy males between 20-40 years on the basis of traits associated with each prakriti. The same set of people was also screened by a software called AyuSoft developed by C-DAC by quantifying the traits of prakriti listed in Ayurvedic texts. Finally, a total of 262 individuals with more than 60 per cent dominance of one dosha as determined by Ayusoft were selected for DNA analysis using nearly one million genetic markers.

Dr. Thangaraj said following extensive analysis, 52 genetic markers were identified. These markers were sufficient to significantly differentiate the three dosha prakritis – vata, pitta and kapha, despite the recruitment of subjects from different ethnic, linguistic and geographical backgrounds.

Mentioning that PGM1 gene was significantly associated with pitta prakriti, he said that it was important because it was associated with heat/digestion or metabolism in Ayurveda.

“The specific genotype of PGM1 gene is significantly different among pitta dosha prakriti individuals correlating Ayurveda basis not only for classification but also treatment,” he added.

Dr. Thangaraj said that further molecular studies might help in sub-classification of each dosha and lead to effective personalised treatment.

The other institutions which participated in the study are Manipal University, Manipal; Shri Dharmasthala Manjunatheshwara College of Ayurveda, Udipi; Sinhgad College of Engineering, Pune; Foundation For Revitalisation of Local Health Traditions, Bengaluru; University of Pune, and Indian Institute of Science, Bengaluru.

The findings were recently published in an Open Access Journal, Science Reports of Nature Group of publications.

The study by CCMB and six other institutions was taken up to see if there is a correlation between prakriti classification and the genome of the individuals

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