Traditional Knowledge, Natural Growth



This post is about my understanding of Ayurvedic and chemically processed/synthetic products, and its role in a baby's early growth and development for a contest on IndiBlogger sponsored by Dabur. The topic of baby’s needs is something that has always been beyond my horizon. But the recent addition to our family has changed that. On the other hand, Ayurvedic versus chemically processed/synthetic products is something I have passionate views about. So let me start with my understanding of this topic followed by its specific relevance in the context of a baby’s early growth and development.

I see this topic having two facets which are closely intertwined– one is traditional system of medicine v/s modern systems of medicine and the other is natural products v/s synthetic products. Let us start looking at the fundamental differences between the two systems. Traditional systems developed at a time when there was very little knowledge available about the detailed anatomy of human body and it’s working and limited mechanisms available to carry our accurate diagnostics. On the other hand, modern medicine has the benefit of access to vast medical literature, specialists with deep knowledge in very niche areas and sophisticated diagnostic equipment. This difference has played a key role in the development of the two systems. While traditional systems are based on intuition and take a more holistic approach, modern systems tend to follow a rigorous cause and effect logic and have a very problem focused approach.

Since traditional systems depended on intuition, most solutions revolved around naturally occurring substances rather than specifically synthesized substances and it evolved over the years through trial and error. Since there was no way to exactly pinpoint a problem, most solutions were such that it strengthened the natural mechanisms of the body to address the problems by itself. That way one solution would address a multiple array of ailments – some kind of panacea for ills. This is the reason the traditional medicines tend to be holistic and promote general health. So these systems are best for general well being over a longer period.

Modern systems on the other hand could come up with exact reason for a specific problem using advanced diagnostic techniques. So it made it possible to develop precise solutions. So any modern medicine will have to have a planned chemical composition. Synthetic substance fit the bill here more than natural substances as natural substances are likely to be much more complex and have constituents other than what is required to solve the problem at hand as well. This kind of a system works best for a timely cure for a specific malady.

Now coming to the issue of growth of a baby, it is definitely not a specific problem to be diagnosed and fixed; a holistic solution is what is needed. So the traditional system is likely to work best. Also natural substances are closer to food and likely to interfere lesser with natural body system.

However one needs to keep in mind a couple of things while opting for an Ayurvedic product. While natural substances are good, it does not necessarily mean all plant based substances are good for the body. Many naturally occurring substances have toxins that can be fatal to the body. I am sure many of us would have heard warnings about consumption of unknown fruits or berries in a jungle.  The other issue is authenticity of the preparation and even in case of genuine recipes, quality controls with respect to hygiene etc. Since traditional recipes are not backed by heavy literature and in many cases manufactured by establishments not necessarily adhering to rigorous government norms, in some cases it might be difficult to differentiate between something genuine and something being sold by a snake oil salesman. Going for branded products manufactured by recognized companies like Dabur and Himalayan pharmacies may remedy these issues to some extent.

To summarize, “Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime”. Modern medicine in my opinion is like giving a man a fish while traditional medicine is teaching him or rather his internal system to fish. But then if a man is dying of hunger, it would benefit him more to be given a fish than taught to fish. So we need to take a situation based call.  

24 comments:

Pankti Mehta said...

True...ayurvedic medicines takes lot of time to show results despite being good for the health. In emergency, only Allopathy can work.

Diwakar Narayan said...

Very logical approach, TF. Traditional ways of treating our ailments are beneficial when we opt it for a longer duration. However, in emergency cases, we are compelled to depend on the modern approach of medicine.

All the best for the contest.

Rachna said...

I agree with your approach. Though I avoided treating my children with allopathy medication when they were very young, there were times when I just had to. For long term things like building immunity etc. natural remedies are a great way to go!

Suresh Chandrasekaran said...

Absolutely on the dot. One good thing I have seen is that traditional systems have also started taking inputs from the diagnostic tools of modern medicine - another area in which the latter scores.

Alka Gurha said...

Appreciate your nuanced, balanced approach. For some things Ayurveda works very well.

umashankar said...

That is an apt phrase for the traditional over the scientific. Being a believer myself however, I have found myself lost in the woods at times. Leaving apart minor remedies and the stock medicinal herbs, one is often shortchanged with placeboes in the name of traditional remedies. I'd say we need to strike a balance somewhere between the two.

Umamaheswari Anandane said...

Informative and true! Loved the way you have summarized your post :)

Dr. Lawrence Kindo said...

The last point is very interesting and may be I will agree to it partially being in the medical profession myself. Surgery cannot be overruled or understated. All the best for the contest.

You can read my entry at http://www.indiblogger.in/indipost.php?post=296460

Deepa said...

I am still often confused about which way to go, but I like how you have logically summarized the concepts of both modern and traditional medicine. Like you say, it's got to be a situation based call! Best wishes for the contest.

The Fool said...

Yeah - That is the point I wanted to make, Pankti.

The Fool said...

Thanks a lot, Diwa.

The Fool said...

Thanks Rachna. Everyone faces this dilemma.

The Fool said...

Thanks Alka.

The Fool said...

Thanks a lot, Umamaheshwari.

The Fool said...

Thanks umashankar. That is exactly my thoughts.

The Fool said...

Thanks Suresh - To some extent, yes. But then the traditional medicines do not depend so much on diagnosing problems closely. More often the same medicine will be given for a wide array of ailments.

The Fool said...

Thanks a lot, Dr. Kindo. Wish you the same.
Yeah - I have not ruled out surgery at all.

The Fool said...

Thanks a lot, Deepa. Good to see you here after such a long time.

jaish_vats said...

Hi Tf there are two things here - medicines and cosmetic/healthcare products. For medicines meant to cure a condition , yes modern medicine makes more sense. But for products like oils, soaps, healthfoods etc, I think traditional is better and definitely safer. Everyday we hear so many harmful chemicals being part of shampoos and soaps that can have adverse long term effects rt ?

The Fool said...

That is true, Jayashree. I agree.

indu chhibber said...

A very balanced comparison of the two kinds of treatment i must say.It is true both have their own plus points and niche uses.

The Fool said...

Thanks, Indu.

Red Handed said...

You cant choose one over the other. Some ailments or health problems need u to lean over modern meds while some make you prefer traditional.
A very straight and balanced post.

The Fool said...

Agree, red handed.

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