Ayurveda and Modern Medicine
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Ayurveda and Modern Medicine

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Item Code: IDK683
Author: Dr. R. D. Lele
Publisher: Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan
Edition: 2001
ISBN: 8172762526
Pages: 577
Cover: Paperback
Other Details: 8.6" X 5.5"
Weight 670 gm

About the Author

Dr. Ramchandra Lela (born in 1928) is an eminent medical personality who has distinguished himself in the fields of medical education, medical research, medical practice and hospital administration, and above all in pioneering the practice of Nuclear Medicine in this country. He is one person who has first-hand experience of the cow-dung age & Nuclear age that coexist in India.

After graduating from Osmania Medical College in Hyderabad in1949 at the age of 21, his idealism prompted him to serve in Primary Health Centres in the rural areas of the former Hyderabad state for five years before he went to England in 1955 for higher education. On his return in 1957 he joined the full-time medical teaching cadre of Maharashtra state. He was Professor & Head of the Department of Medicine at the Government Medical Colleges in Aurangabad, Nagpur & Mumbai. In 1972 he was Dean, Grant Medical College & Sir J.J. Groups of Hospitals, Mumbai. In July 1973 he was invited to joint the newly started Jaslok Hospital & Research Centre as Chief Physician & Director of Nuclear Medicine, which positions he continues to hold today.

He has many "first" to his credit. First recipient of the "Gifted Teacher Award" instituted by the Association of Physician of India in 1991.

First President of Indian Medical Informatics Association (1994).
First President of Nuclear Cardiological Society of India (1995).

First President of Society for Free Radical Research, India (1999).
First and only Indian to be on Editorial Board of the
Journal of Nuclear Medicine USA since 1997.
Journal of Nuclear Cardiology USA since 1997.

He received the Padma Bhushan award in 1992, Dhanvantari Award in 1997, and Hon. Degree of D. Sc. From the NTR University of Health Sciences Andhra Pradesh in February 2000.

About the Book

As Dr. Raja Ramanna has said in his foreword, "Ayurveda has been practiced in this country from time immemorial and has stood the test of time. Dr. Lela has methodically gone through the ancient literature of Ayurveda and has taken pains to establish its links to modern medicine on scientific basis. In fusing the concept of these two disciplines, he has brought out the relevance of Physics, Chemistry and Mathematics in medicine. After all, if the cure of Ayurveda is authentic it must fall in place with the medical sciences. No system can remain static and it must take into note the newer discoveries of science".

As Dr. Vasant Gowarikar has said in his foreword to the Marathi translation of this book published in 1993: "This book is not only for doctors and Vaidyas; it is for every one who loves science and believes in the scientific method".

As Dr. Dayanand Dongaonkar, Vice Chancellor of the Maharashtra University of Health Sciences has said: "This book will certainly provide the stimulus for collaborative research between the various systems of medicine, so that the best among each of them can be brought to the benefit of the vast Indian population".


Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan has always been in the forefront for upholding the traditional values of life and culture of this great country. Dr. R.D. Lela, an eminent physician actively involved in the development of nuclear medicine in this country, has joined these efforts by bringing out this book on 'Ayurveda and Modern Medicine" as a part of Bhavan's project on 'Ancient Insights and Modern Discoveries'.

Ayurveda has been practiced in this country from time immemorial and has stood the test of time. Dr. Lela has methodically gone through the ancient literature of Ayurveda and has taken pains to establish its link to modern medicine on scientific basis. In fusing the concepts of these two disciplines, he has brought out the relevance of physics, chemistry and mathematics in medicine. After all, if the cure of Ayurveda is authentic it must fall into place with the medical sciences. No system can remain static and it must take into note the newer discoveries of science.

With the present level of sophistication in science and technology, medicine does not any more stand isolated as an independent discipline. There is strong and necessary interaction between medicine and life sciences on the one hand and physics, chemistry and mathematics on the other. The discovery of X-rays and radioactivity are important milestones in the development of medical sciences. As rightly pointed out by the author, the scientists and engineers have played significant roles in the development of EEG machines, linear accelerators, RIA techniques, CT scanners, ultrasonic and NMR imaging. The concept of treating the disease is gradually giving way to that of treating the patient, as has been the basic philosophy of Ayurveda. In this context, the necessity to understand the biomedical and physico-chemical aspects of the patient's body and mental function becomes a significant factor.

In this book the author deals with the body's internal environment, its control systems, the built-in safeguards against diseases and injury. Thirst and hunger are looked upon as natural urges to offset water and energy losses. The natural defences of the body, whether on the basis of immunology or the ancient 'Vyadhikshamatva' are essentially the response functions of the human body as host environment to specify antibody's onslaught. This mechanism is nothing but an efficient defensive action of a bank of 'memory cells' against this aggression. Another hypothesis of modern physiology is the concept of 'margin of safety' that is built-in in the storage of carbohydrates, fats and proteins in the body tissues. Changes in elemental concentration in serum, car-diovascular pressure, water and blood losses, pulmonary functions etc., are duly taken care of by these margins in the human system to preserve health.

The book rightly dwells on the concept of 'mind as an abode of a healthy body' as propounded by Charaka. The body functions covering aberrations, reactions to stimulants, etc., are all explained as the interaction of mind and body. The mental illness and behavioural pattern of human beings are two important fields of study, both in Charaka Samhita and modern psychology, even though the technical approaches in the two systems may be different.

An important chapter is rightly devoted to the health effects (physical and mental) on man, by factors such as tobacco, alcohol and drugs. Among the prescriptions to ward off these social problems is the practice of yoga advocated in a forceful manner.

Pharmacology and toxicology, both modern and ancient, are explained in a lucid fashion and it can be seen how some of the new drugs have their genesis in the herbarium of the ancients.

Dr. Lele has also traversed through the exotic topics, such as ageing, rejuvenation of the elderly, virilification therapy or vajikarana, psychology of sex and the concept of brahmacharya. Hygiene and public health rightly take a very important position in modern life and their significance has been well brought out.

In his earlier book on the 'Principles and Practice of Nuclear Medicine', Dr. Lele tried to address the medical community; in the present book he endears himself to the ordinary reader who is not a scientist or a practising doctor.

Preface to the Second Edition

The first edition of this book with a foreword by Dr. Raja Ramanna was published by the Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan in 1986. Dr. Rafiq Zakaria an eminent scholar, writer & ex-health minister of Maharashtra State reviewed the book in the Times of India within a week of its publication, which helped to popularize the book within & outside the country. An eminent scholar and Philanthropist Sheik Mohamed Almana from Almana Hospital, Alkhobar, Saudi Arabia read the book & invited me to give talks on this subject to the medical faculty in Dahran.

The best tribute to the book came from an eminent scholar of Ayurveda & well known Marathi writer Vaidya B. L. Vashta who was himself a 1945 graduate of the "Mishra" syllabus prevalent at one time in Maharashtra (where both Ayurveda & modern medicine were taught together) He liked my thoughts & approaches so much that he readily agreed to my suggestion to translate the book in Marathi which he did with great competence. Continental Prakashan, Pune in 1993, published the Marathi translation with a foreword by Dr. Vasant Gowarikar, an eminent space scientist of the country who was then Scientific Advisor to the Prime Minister & Secretary to the Department of Science & Technology, Govt. of India. Dr. Gowarikar emphasized that this book is not just for doctors & Vaidyas; it is for every one who lives Science & believes in the scientific approach.

Efforts to translate the book in Gujarati & Hindi have been made by some enthusiastic readers but have not been completed so far, since the translators find some sections difficult to translate in the chapters Physics in medicine, Mathematics in medicine & Chemistry of life.

A separate University of Health Sciences has been established in each of the 4 states - Tamilnadu, Andhrapradesh, Karnataka & Maharashtra, wherein all medical Colleges including modern medicine, Ayurvedic & Unani and Homeopathy, are brought under one Vice Chancellor. The success of this experiment will be gauged by the extent to which collaborative research among various systems of medicine will lead to better health care for the vast Indian population. Currently there is a great interest world wide in alternative medicine. It is important to appreciate that a major motivation for recourse to alternative medicine is the fear of adverse reactions to modern drugs and the public perception that alternative approaches are safer. In their quest for safety more & more people are likely to choose safe but ineffective therapy which is no better than a placebo. This would have 2 undersirable social consequences (1) wasteful expenditure on ineffective therapy (2) Genuine deprivation of effective therapy for those who would truly have benefited from it. The Universities of Health Science have an excellent opportunity for collaborative research among various systems of medicine to find out the best from each system, for our health problems. Situations in which two systems can be combined for incremental benefit should also be identified & validated.

In January 2000 Dr. Dayanand Dongaonkar, Vice Chancellor of Maharashtra University of Health Science invited me to deliver a keynote address in a symposium at Nasik, in which Deans & Professors of Medicine from all medical colleges in Maharashtra from all systems of Medicine participated. He expressed the hope that my book will provide the stimulus for all collaborative research efforts as indicated above. In that symposium & in several other scientific meetings organized by Ayurvedic Physicians to which I was invited as a speaker or chairman of scientific sessions I was happy to note that the younger generation of Vaidyas & Homeopaths are quite receptive to the thoughts expressed in my book. The young vaidya appreciates my urge & exhortation to re-interprete the Ayurvedic "Dravyaguna Vidnyan" in terms of the vocabulary of Harper's Biochemistry 25th edition published in 2000 AD! The Homeopath is thrilled when I tell him that Hahnemann was the first person to conceive the theory of receptor blockade by competitive agonists (similes similibis curantes). The late Dr. Dhawle MD of Modern Medicine, a doyen of Homeopathy in this country described my book as a "symphony between Ayurveda & modern medicine", He urged me to write a similar book on Homeopathy & modern medicine, which I could not do mainly because of the conceptual barrier that by serial dilutions, the active substance is no more detectable even by modern NMR spectroscopy (which can detect one part per billion of any molecule).

Two new chapters have been added in the 2nd edition: Chapter 22: Molecular Genetics and gene therapy. It is remarkable that the new knowledge & insights of 20th century molecular biology have brought Ayurveda & Modern Medicine conceptually closer rather than pulling them apart. The knowledge gained from the Human Genome Project will give a new emphasis to each individual's "Prakruti" & re-emphasize patient based medicine, making effective therapy safer for the individual patient. More important, it will help achieve the major goal of Ayurved viz promotion of positive health & prevention of disease.




  Dedication v
  Foreword vii
  Preface ix
  Preface to the Second Edition xi
  Introduction xiii
  Prologue xxiii
1 Ayurveda Through Modern Eyes 1
2 The Scientific Method in Medicine 26
3 Scientific Evaluation of Therapy 43
4 Classification, Ancient & Modern 63
5 Mathematics in Medicine 94
6 Physics and Medicine 113
7 The Chemistry of Life 136
8 Human Genetics, Ancient and Modern 165
9 Nutrition, Ancient and Modern 191
10 Fever, Sepsis and Microbiology 223
11 Wisdom of the Body 246
12 Body and Mind 267
13 Understanding Mental Illness 281
14 Health-related Behavious 311
15 Exploring the Herbarium 346
16 Pharmacology, Ancient and Modern 363
17 Toxicology, Ancient and Modern 389
18 Rejuvenation of the Elderly 405
19 Vajikarana or Virilification Therapy in Ayurveda 416
20 Hygiene and public Health 429
21 Promotion of Positive Health and Prevention of Disease 461
22 Molecular Biology – A New interface between Ayurveda and Modern Science 469
23 Current Status of Molecular Genetics and Gene Therapy 493
  Epilogue 512
  Bibliography 517
  Index 525

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