RASAYANA (The Rejuvenation therapy) – a noble contribution of Ayurveda to modern day health scenario
RASAYANA in the form of geriatrics – is among eight classical clinical branches of AYURVEDA, which comprises of the judicious and specialized use of diet, drug and lifestyle to promote the longevity of life by preventing ageing & diseases. Looking to the various definitions given in texts it can be said that Rasayana therapy is primarily linked with molecular nutrition. Rasayana remedies seems to work through nutrition dynamics, improving the molecular health, in turn leading to rejuvenation and positive health.
Ayurveda is a science of life designed to fulfill two aims and objectives of health care i.e., promotion of physical & mental health and management of the diseases occurring in the body. In 21st century, after the significant control of infectious diseases, the medical professionals are engaged in prevention and management of life style disorders. In this regard Traditional Medicines have come in the lime light due to their role in the prevention and the management of life style disorders. Modern conventional medicine is a basically an offensive medical strategy without giving much thought to defensive strategy, other than supplementation of Vitamins, minerals etc. Due to the concept of host defense strategy of Ayurveda practiced as Rasayana therapy, Ayurveda is attaining a special strategic importance in global health scenario.
The Rasayana therapy, a unique, well-known and time tested regimen attracted the attention of clinicians and pharmacologists in last 30 years. After seeing the experiences of physicians, the scientists have started to explore the pharmacology of Rasayana drugs. The possible mode of actions like Nootropic, Anabolic, Adjuvant, Anti-oxidant, Free radical scavenging/quenching activity, Adaptogenic , Immuno-modulatory, Anti stress and Intellect & Memory promoter have worked out critically and results are available on net as published papers.
However, in last decade new activities of Rasayana drugs like Genomic stability, Epigenome activation and shut down, Neuroprotective, cognition boosting anti-leukemic agent, adjuvant to radiotherapy and chemotherapy, Myeloprotective, Cytochrome P450 inhibitory potential, DNA protective activity, Hepato-protective, Anxiolytic-antidepressant activity etc have attracted the attention of scientists. Now the concept of functional food is also attaining the importance where Rasayana drugs are also considered.
The classical Rasayana drugs like Amalaki, Ashwagandha, Shatavari, Guduci, Pippali, Brahmi, Sankhapuspi, Bhumyamalaki, Haridra, Bhallatak, Guggulu, Shilajitu etc have been extensively tried at clinical and experimental levels. Role of Rasayana drugs have been widely recognized for the management of chronic diseases like DM-II, obesity, Rheumatoid arthritis, Chronic Pulmonary disorders like Br Asthma & Bronchitis, Parkinson’s Disease, Alzheimer’s Disease, Cancer, Radio-chemo therapy adjuvant, Bio-enhancer of Antibiotics (Pippali), Liver disorders of infective and non-infective nature.
Rasayana word search on PUBMED gives 178 results. It is amazing to note that on Pubmed search only turmeric search results in 3102, curcuma longa – 2242 and curcumin – 7462. Piper longum –with 6040 results, is next extensively worked out drug. Further for Withania sonifra 699, Phyllanthus emblica/ Emblica officinalis- 287, Tinospora cordifolia – 246, Phyllanthus niruie -128, Bacopa monieri – 148, Mucuna pruriens – 178 and Shankhapushpi – 26 search results were available.
However, out of these published papers very less belongs to clinical studies based on fundamentals of Ayurveda, because pharmacological studies may increase the understanding of the scientists and their confidence level but it will not serve the purpose of human use in general. A research program on Rasayana therapy should focus on mechanism studies before proceeding to parametric assessment of secondary effects which could be mixed effect of many associated factors. It cannot be over emphasized that only basic studies may succeed to validate the basic principles of Ayurveda, which would open newer vistas of original research. The secondary therapeutic studies will limit the scope to mere treatment validation, with temporary impact. (Prof R H Singh 2010)