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Myths and Realities of using botanical products in therapeutic Practice by physicians

01 AUG,2017

NFS Correspondent

The above was the topic covered in a KLE University Foundation Oration Lecture delivered by the author on 9th June, 2017 at the Prestigious University, Belagavi, Karnataka. This University has a long cherished history and is now a large educational and research hub along with state of the art hospital.


The medical facility spans across contemporary biomedicine as well as traditional ayurvedic treatment at its best apart from being a hub running courses in MBBS and MD for Singapore. Globally there is a resurgence to go back to naturals, driven by scientific advancements, consumer preferences and a number of other reasons. Concurrently there is an expansion of the food to drug continuum involving creation of number of new categories and approaches. Consumers are also driving illness centric to wellness centric approach for health and drug usage.


The role of physicians is hence changing from a treatment oriented physician to enlarged scope of health professional. Focus on prevention, protection and maintenance of health is gaining center stage while treatment with effective drugs continue. In this scenario resurgence of use of botanicals (naturals / herbs / herbal drugs / traditionally processed products) has gained attention and popular usage. Such usage cover herbal drugs, traditional ayurvedic products, botanical based health supplements and nutraceuticals amongst others.


The oration lecture covered myths and presented scientific insights, examples of published data, realities in terms of regulatory status, and the power of long history of use documentation that India proudly possess, a few case studies (see box1). It was the British who seem to have coined various terms like oration, symposia, seminar and workshop, group discussions each connoting differently and if one were to stick to the traditional practices of such meetings, the oration should have been purely a talk or at best reading a pre prepared lecture.


Given integrated technological needs and often expected power points for any talk to be successful, while the oration covered reading a pre written text, case studies, examples and other supporting data were interjected during the oration by the use of a PPT. It is not intended to cover the entire oration here but expose the readers of NuFFooDS to this oration. 

This author often wonders why our physicians do not use either alone or as an adjuvant or in combination with their current treatment one or more botanicals or most commonly used classical ayurvedic preparations with long history of safe and effective use. There could be a number of reasons. As a case in point is inadequate or almost lack of use of botanicals for treating or supporting or maintaining liver functions in a number of conditions.


It is well known that hardly any synthetic drug molecule is available to treat many liver disorders and effectively rejuvenate liver functions including infective hepatitis. Lack of scientific data or evidence for botanicals and their efficacy in liver conditions is not tenable nor acceptable. Lack of knowledge that such scientific evidence exists for a number of botanicals amongst even leading physicians / general practitioners / gastro enterologists / hepatologists could be one prime reason.


Indian Council of Medical Research brought out an excellent scientific compilation and review of scientific data (Both ayurvedic science and biomedical sciences).

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