Matinum

Taking Charge of Your Health


Shortly after the beginning of the new millennium,
the Indian academy of sciences brought out a decadal vision document which they called
towards Ayurvedic biology; that was perhaps the first time the world heard of this term
Ayurvedic biology. Now that showed a new vista in biological research very different from
the drug relative research which had been going on for over a 100 years and very different
from clinical trials in Ayurveda which had been going on to a much lesser extent. Quintessentially, it is the application of
modern biology which characterizes the new millennium to the study of Ayurvedic questions
especially in the concepts of Ayurveda or procedures in Ayurveda. Now this Ayurvedic
biology in that document itself, they had given some examples; for example the Dosha
Prakriti, Vata, Pitta, Kapha, so very important in Ayurveda a concept, does it have a biological
basis something that is demonstrable through experiment; that was a question they had paced.
Similarly a very commonly done procedure like Panchakarma, so widely used, what are its
metabolic and immunologic correlates, are there any correlates at all? Like these they had posted several questions
and this document caught the attention of the principal scientific advisor to the Government
of India, Doctor Chidambaram. He noted this, and he indicated a willingness to do some
probe into these questions from his office. And if that probe showed some promise, then
some agency of the Government of India would be willing to take it over for regular support
which was a very farsighted gesture on the part of Doctor Chidambaram. And some of these
projects were approved; one of them was the Dosha Prakriti project, another was the Panchakarma
project and a third project mentioned there is the Rasayanas which are again very commonly
used an important branch of Ayurveda. When you do this Rasayana therapy, what happens
in the body in biological parameters which are measurable; that was the question posed.
Another was Bhasmas, mercury derived Bhasmas, controversial; its toxicity is denied, is
feared by a large group of people the world forbids the use of mercury whereas in Indian
traditional systems they use it. So, is there something in the way it is processed that
could make it not so toxic? Now these were questions; some of these were approved for
funding initially by PSA s office; that is where whole project began. Now the first 3, 4 years certainly the project
showed sufficient promise for the department of science and technology to step forward
and say we will take it over as a regular schemes for funding and that was called task
force in Ayurvedic Biology. Now in today s lecture, I will be giving you the results
of some of these projects especially two studies carried out in Rasayana and also something
about the Ras-Sindoor, the mercury derived Bhasma. Now the first two Rasayana studies
have been published in very good journals and the Bhasma project is under review for
another very good journal, so I will be mentioning these. And also a fourth project which was done in
CIMAP, Central for Aromatic and Medicinal plants in Lucknow a CSIR institute. The two
young scientists they are Sasani and Shukla, they had investigated a question Ayurvedic
plants which are anti-Vata, anti-Pitta, anti-Kapha; these are known, they are taxonomically very
different. In one group anti-Vata the plants are all very different, diverse, chemically,
taxonomically, then what is it that makes them therapeutically identical, they are all
anti-Vata. Is there some molecular basis for this and this was a question they investigated
that is the genomic basis of dosha balancing properties of medicinal plants which also
has been published in a very good journal. So, today I will be talking about this Rasayana
projects, Ayurvedic biology in the Amalaki Rasayana is the main subject for today s discussion
and in two models; one is in rats and, the other is in Drosophila and the Rasasindur
project. These I will be talking about in some detail. Now when I talk about these new Ayurvedic
Biology projects in Ayurveda, an artist friend of mine, he got the idea that Ayurveda is
like an ancient tree, suddenly it is putting out new sprouts. So, he put it in a nice painting,
which I have shown here, new sprouts on an ancient tree. Now Amalaki is a very commonly used, widely
used in pickles and so many different ways we use it, ordinary Indian households figured
in the ancient Samhitas and it is used in many different ways, formulations and it is
one of the most important Rasayanas. There are other Rasayanas like for example, Shankhpushpi.
Now these are Medhya Rasayanas, they have a special property as a tonic for the brain;
Medha is intellect. So, this Amalaki is not one of those Medhya
Rasayanas, it is for the whole body and Charaka Susruta, Vagbhata they have a number of Rasayana
preparations based on Amalaki. And the effects include long life, strength, youthfulness,
freedom from illness, enhanced fertility, sharpened, intellect and prevention of senile
infirmities. These are all the general benefits which are claimed to be provided by these
Rasayanas, Amalaki. Now most of these studies done so far, there
have been many studies on this Amalaki. They have looked at the general effects that animals
long life or its general health, weight; such gross measurements have been made, but here
in this particular study we have been looking specifically at the DNA changes in rats, especially
the brain and also the biological markers general biological markers like life span.
These are measured in Drosophila which is certainly a very unusual model. Now Rasayana studies for rats and Drosophila,
these were done in rats were done in Jawaharlal Nehru Technological University in Hyderabad
and Drosophila studies were done in Banaras Hindu University and the Rasayana itself was
prepared for this studies specifically by Arya Vaidya Sala, Kottakkal; it is not a commercial
sample in other words. And the chief investigators in the Hyderabad study all the rat brain studies
were done by Professor Kalluri Subba Rao and his colleagues and the Drosophila studies
were done by professor Lakhotia and his colleagues in Banaras Hindu University. And the preparation
of these Rasayanas specifically for this study was done by Doctor Burali and his colleagues
in Kottakkal Arya Vaidya Sala. Preparation of the Amalaki Rasayana according
to the ancient texts, dried gooseberry is pulverized and simultaneously the juice of
gooseberry is prepared from fresh harvested fruits. Now these two products are blended
in equal proportion and dried for 24 hours under prescribed conditions, this is called
trituration. Now this dry mass resulting from the soft drying that is further pulverized
and it is again mixed with same quantity of fresh juice of Amalaki. Now this process is
repeated. So, trituration is repeated 21 times. Now that particular preparation which is a
dry powder that is mixed with honey and ghee in the proportion of 1 is to 2 is to point
5. Now this paste is the Amalaki Rasayana which is used in this experiment. Now what are the markers that we are looking
for in this and that is the genomic stability which is measurable in terms of the chain
breaks, single chain breaks and double chain breaks of two types of brain cells. One is
neurons; the other is astrocytes in the cerebral cortex of rats. So, doctor Subba Rao s group
has been using adult wistar rats, this brain preparation for DNA chain break studies for
other purposes for a number of years they have a great deal of expertise in this kind
of study. Now they use these adult wistar rats 6 months old, they are fed with Amalaki
Rasayana 5 days a week. And this is supplied by Kottakkal Arya Vaidya Sala at 3, 9 and
15 months because these rats live around 2 years. So, 3, 9 and 15 months these rats are killed
and the isolated brain cell suspensions neurons and astrocytes, they are prepared from the
cerebral cortex of these animals. And the DNA damage and the prime genomic index of
stability is the chain break single strand and double strand and these are measured by
comet assay; that is a commonly used technique for doing this. And Subba Rao has also used
a biochemical method which he has an assay which he developed for double strand breaks;
he has used that also for the double strand break. And this has been published in a mechanism
of ageing and development in 2011 which is a high impact journal. Now these are the pictures taken of the comet
assay; the top two blocks those are the neurons and the bottom two are astrocytes. On the
left hand side you have the controls, around the right hand side you have the Amalaki Rasayana
fed animals; those are the four pictures that you see here. Now these markers which you
see there, the points that you can see, these are actually pictures of DNA which has broken
and then as soon as they break they begin to migrate, those are the photographs in comet
assay. That is essentially what you are measuring in comet assay that is breakage of the DNA
and its migration. Now if you look at it you can see not very clearly, but on the left
hand side the controls both for neurons and astrocytes this breakage the tail. It is a
little longer than what you see on the right hand side where the Rasayana is fed in both
neurons as well as astrocytes. But this will become much clearer because
they have been and this is the double strand break, earlier you saw the single strand break.
This is again a similar picture; perhaps that migration is better seen here compared to
the single strand break. Now this will become much clearer when they are measured and their
number is given. Now here on the left hand side you have the
neurons, right hand side you have the astrocytes. Now if you look at these bars here, one bar
and the next bar has got asterisk on the top. So, here the bar without the asterisk that
is the control whereas those with the asterisk, these are the animals which have been fed
Amalaki Rasayana. So, if you look at this neurons in all these you will find here the
control, this is the number of chain break and this is the number of chain breaks. Now
they have been measured here 32 and 18 and what is it that we are measuring? There is
what is called tail movement and tail movement, in that tail which you saw in that picture,
the number of DNA chain breaks a product of that and the length of the tail. Their arbitrary
units, software library units they are called and those are measured; 75 measurements have
been averaged and these numbers you can see here. Now here if you look at the control at 3 months,
32 is the value whereas the Amalaki fed is 18 that is a 3 months. Now when you come to
15 months, this difference is very much magnified, in the control animals not receiving the Amalaki
Rasayana is a 55 whereas those fed the Amalaki Rasayana it is only 24. So, it is significantly
reduced and this is the female on the right hand side the same kind of measurements but
less dramatic but same change, the trend is the same, the reading is 35 whereas those
receiving the Amalaki Rasayana it is 21. So, the change is not that dramatic, but the trend
is exactly the same. These are single strand brakes neurons as well as astrocytes. Now then we move on; these are the descriptions
of what I have just now told you the DNA damage expressed as Tail moment , values above bars
represents 75 the number some of them I have read out to you and neurons and astrocytes,
the genomic stability of the Amalaki Rasayana fed samples is better at 3 months and it keeps
improving, maximal improvement is seen at 15 months. So, the rise in the cellular DNA
damage in controls with ageing from 3 to 15 months seems to be decelerated, definitely
slowed down by the use of Amalaki Rasayana. Now here we look at the double strand breaks;
again you see a single same kind of trend if you look at, say, 15 months the change
is so much 206, these software library units whereas those which have been fed Amalaki
Rasayana, it is only 59, 206 and 59. So, there is a very gray whereas in female it is 159
and 108 not so much, but again the trend is the same, so that the DNA chain breaks certainly
very definite decrease in rats which have been fed Amalaki Rasayana. Now if you look at this result again a summary
of that both neuron and astrocytes in the Rasayana fed rats show great genomic stability
in that Rasayana fed rats and beneficial effects of Amalaki Rasayana administration is in keeping
with simple as well as double strand breaks. Now feeding these at 6 months old rats confers
beyond any doubt, protection against increasing DNA damage in terms of single strand breaks
or double strand breaks, both in neurons and astrocytes, these are the two cells which
have been used for this study. So, genomic integrity is much better maintained by the
use of Amalaki Rasayana, even though Amalaki Rasayana is not really a Medhya Rasayana.
In other words working specially on the brains, in spite of that you find this clear evidence. Doctor Subba Rao has developed his own biochemical
assay for measuring this genomic stability. In this double strand breaks he has used that
study at which collaborates the findings of the comet assay which we have looked at earlier. Now this was the next model that was used
in studying the same Amalaki Rasayana and this was not when we were discussing in a
casual discussion with Professor Lakhotia in Banaras who has had many years of experience
working on Drosophila genetics. Once we were having a casual discussion I mentioned these
findings of Subba Rao and he was the one who said, why not I try this on my fruit flies,
so that was an interesting suggestion. So, very quickly we got this Amalaki Rasayana
the same preparation from Kottakkal. And it took him time to find out the dosage, because
it is not easy to determine the dosage for Drosophila. How much Amalaki Rasayana to give? He took almost a year and he had his own doubts
whether may be the results are produced by the ghee and honey that you are using. So,
he fed them honey and ghee alone and see what happens. So, it took quite some time to determine
the protocol, but anyway after a year finally it got started; they had made a personal visit
to Kottakkal to see how this is being made and no attempt was made; from the beginning
itself we realized the Amalaki Rasayana the preparation are you going to look for the
compounds in that? Now this question always comes some referees would say, what is the
compound that is doing this? Now that question we decided in the beginning
itself, we would not get involved because that is a reputation of what the Ayurveda
claims in the original texts, because it is the whole preparation which has to be used
not a component on that. Because often they search for a component becomes a complete
diversion from what you really wanted to do and you may end up with searching for the
components and not looking for the effect of Amalaki Rasayana. So, we did not want to
make that mistake, so no attempt was made deliberately. But in this kind of research
I remember this paper was sent to PLoS one and one of the problems which we would face
in doing this kind of research the referee, one of the referee is pointed out that the
procedure that you are following for making this Rasayana, it is not exactly the same
as it is mentioned in the original text which we had quoted. Now this problem comes because the original
text many times it will not give you the detailed procedure such as you would see in today s
description a standard operating procedure; that kind of a description you will not see
in this ancient texts written 1600 hundred years ago or 2000 years ago. Some of the things
are not clarified, sometimes the measurements those measures may not be well known or agreed
upon today, there are many such little problems. So, what generally happens is Ayurvedic physicians
with great experience, they have a consensus among themselves that basically it is the
same procedure, but in the minor details there may be things that they decide not written
in that original texts, because you cannot expect what happened 2000 years ago to remain
exactly the same today. So, this referee was literally correct, it
is not mentioned in that original protocol. So, how can we accept this? And finally we
resolved it by saying in the materials and methods part, we will describe exactly what
we have done. And then in the discussion part we will say this is the method that we followed
is based on this particular description in the original say Ashtanga Hrudaya. Now that
was acceptable, so we have these little things we have to learn; if you want to publish this
type of work in modern journals, many of these requirements you have to comply with to satisfy
international standards. Now here the Drosophila they are fed with
this Amalaki Rasayana, Larvae as well as adult flies, they show earlier pupation; that is
one of the first things that you see and also earlier adult eclosion, they become adults;
they become pupae sooner compared to the flies which have not been fed Amalaki Rasayana.
The salivary glands the growth in size you will see the pictures; it is much bigger in
those flies which have been fed Amalaki Rasayana and the DNA count for nucleus increases and
a significant increase in the total enhatched eggs. So, the fecundity is much greater in
these flies these are all shown by these. Now here if you look at them the control animals
median pupation is 116 hours and hours is a long time in a fruit flies life, whereas
in the median adult eclosion time is 246, those are the controls not fed Amalaki Rasayana.
And as I mention Professor Lakhotia he wanted to know what happens if honey and ghee alone
not the Amalaki Rasayana that was given and you can see there is hardly any change. The
median pupation time remains the same, median adult eclosion time remains the same, there
is no change. But Amalaki Rasayana fed you can see the median pupation time is reduced
by 4 hours which is a long time in a fruit flies life. And the adult eclosion time is
again reduced, so they mature faster. And look at the salivary gland size on the
left hand side is the control and the middle is Amalaki Rasayana fed; it is almost double
the size. And the third one is Rasasindur, I would not get into that that is a different
study but here for our purpose the control and the Amalaki Rasayana, there is no question
that the size of the salivary gland very important organ of fruit flies that is very much increased. And then you look at the fecundity or the
number of eggs, and here on the left hand side that is the control without getting the
Amalaki Rasayana. And the next the tall bar, that is the animal, that is a fruit fly getting
this one getting Amalaki Rasayana. You can see the hatched eggs the number is much greater.
See consistently it is above the level of the controls in terms of the number of eggs
produced. Then we come to the life span in days, control
is 36, Amalaki Rasayna supplemented feeds its 40 days statistically significant. Then we have heat shock 37 degrees for 90
minutes, 38 degrees for 120 minutes and 39 degrees for 30 minutes; that is the heat shock
which is being applied to these flies and you can see the survival, the control is 67.
Rasayana supplemented is 84, and 38 degrees it is 41 and 79, the difference becomes much
greater. At 39 degrees there are no survivors in the controls but 6.3 surviving in those
fed Amalaki Rasayana. So, here again the thermal stress the response, there is no question
that the Amalaki fed flies they are doing significantly better. Then we look at starvation tolerance, these
are all various types of stresses being applied very difficult to do in animals; this can
only be done in the fruit flies. Now here you will find the Amalaki Rasayana fed flies
they survived much longer than controls, because controls it is only 56 hours whereas the LT
is the life time that is 56 in controls whereas those which are fed with Rasayana it is 70.
So, it is a very significant difference in the starvation tolerance and lastly the class
of nuclear proteins involved in the RNA transfer that is much greater in quantity in these
Rasayana fed flies and this could possibly promote more robust gene expression that is
only a kind of speculations, we have no evidence for this RNA processing. So, some of these
nuclear protein functions could be improved in these Amalaki Rasayana fed flies. Now this particular paper of Professor Lakhotia
in PLoS one that attracted global attention, because it came in nature news and they picked
it up because the reason why it attracted their attention is for the first time fruit
flies are being used for testing two Ayurvedic preparations. Because we were primarily interested
in Amalaki Rasayana and how do the personal interest of professor Lakhotia in Rasasindur,
he tried that also. So, here two entirely diverse preparation used for different purposes
and Rasasindur is not really used as a Rasayana. So, he had taken these two for his own personal
interest he took Rasasindur and this was a model so he tried it; he did find some interesting
changes. So, this new model for testing Ayurvedic drugs; that is how nature looked at it, because
there is a problem today in the regulation of Ayurvedic drugs, what kind of toxicity
test do you do? This is an area which is not very clear today. So, when you are trying to develop a protocol,
if you are thinking of exporting Ayurvedic drugs for example, we have no idea what kind
of requirements will come and there is all worldwide interest in developing less invasive
less traumatic ways of testing. If you can get rid of animal test all together that will
be the best, but that is not possible. So, if you can use lesser animal or even fruit
flies for example, it would make it much easier for drug testing and certification. So, this
is a subject of global interest that is how they picked it up. So, here this is a useful
piece of information. So, if toxicity even at the screening preliminary, if it can be
done in fruit flies; suppose, it is highly toxic in fruit flies may be there is no need
to do it in rats and other animals. So, it could have implications from a regulatory
angle; that is how they showed interest in this work, but it is an interesting piece
of work. Now this is what I referred to earlier because
if Rasayana as you know it involves character, truthfulness, all these are involved in Rasayana
which are not amenable to test in the laboratory. So, we can only take a small part. Here the
chain breaks in DNA in the brain cells; that is really part of ageing, forgetfulness, deteriorating
mental functions, intellectual functions that are part of old age. Now when you say that
the DNA chain breaks in the neurons and astrocytes, they are slowed by taking this Rasayana; that
immediately is an indication that it could have some effect in arresting the decline
of intellectual functions. So, that is an important way to look at it and it is interesting
that Amalaki Rasayana which is not primarily Medhya Rasayana shows these very interesting
results. And then we come to the next project that
is Rasasindur which is mercury-based Bhasma extensively used in Ayurveda and this will
not be approved by any modern drug controller because of the mercury being used it is highly
toxic and we have good reason to fear mercury because even when I was a medical student
1950s I remember we had no diuretic at that time oral diuretic. So, the only way to treat
a patient with congestive heart failure, we have to admit him into the hospital and mercurial
diuretics by injection. And this was something greatly feared because
of the danger of renal shutdown, you constantly measure the blood urea we have been watching.
So, this was the situation in 1950s until a diuretic called Diamox became available
in 1955 I think. So, a great deal of fear is there about using mercury; even mercury
in amalgams for dental work, they do not use it anymore. So, here mercury is regularly
being used if you talk to Ayurvedic physicians Rasasindur many people use it, it is a standard
drug approved by the council regulatory body. It is used extensively in Siddha medicine
and they claim that they do not see these ill effects. So this is always been a riddle;
we cannot dismiss the experience of hundreds of people over hundreds of years. So, there
is a riddle here which needs to be explained and if you do chemical examination mercury
is there, so immediately that objection would come. The next question is with all the new
analytical techniques that we have in material science, is there some change which is taking
place in the preparation of this very long preparatory step, is there some physical changes
taking place which could explain a different type of behavior that is the rational for
doing this test. And this study was conducted the preparation itself of Rasasindur was made
in Kottakkal specifically for this study; it is not a commercial sample, indeed in Kottakkal
they do not manufacture Rasasindur. A special lab was set up to prepare this for
this study. So, he was a co-investigator Doctor Muraleedharan and colleagues from Arya Vaidya
Sala, Kottakkal and the principal investigator doing these analytical studies was Professor
Sujit Roy from IIT, Kharagpur. Subsequently, he has moved to the new IIT in Bhubaneswar
and his colleagues. They had made several visits to Kottakkal and seen the lab, how
the chemical profiling they were doing; they had satisfied themselves the quality of producing
this was of a high order. Now the tests which were done, this paper
has been it is under review for bulletin of Material Science high impact journal publish
from India. Now the referees have raised some questions asking for information, so that
processing is going on. The parameters studied were elemental composition, bulk and point
and using energy dispersion studies. Crystalline phase was studied using x-ray powder diffraction,
particle size morphology, surface area was studied by using scanning electron microscope,
transmission electron microscope, BET-isotherm, etcetera and other spectroscopic studies Fourier
transform IR; these were very detailed instrumentations used for studying this. And the energy disburses in studies point
analysis showed the absence of elements other than mercury and sulfur. That product contains
only mercury and sulfur in spite of all these processing, purification of mercury, purification
of sulfur, plant extracts are used in further processing and throughout all these but the
final EDS point analysis shows only mercury and sulfur and no other sub-elements in that.
And all the samples contained this is the Rasasindur four phases of mercuric sulfide,
it will exists in four phases whereas the mercury sulfide analyzed by chemical process
in IIT, Kharagpur, that exists only in a single phase. So, there is a difference in the physical
structure of this mercuric sulfide made synthetically by chemical processes that present standard
method and the way Rasasindur is processed by traditional names. And the second all the scanning electron microscopy,
transmission electron microscopy, all these studies they show that the particles in the
Rasasindur, they exist in nano-regime and they are nano-crystalline. Of course particle
size varies, but they are all in the nano-regime and they are nano-crystalline. So, there is
a distinct tendency for these nano particles to form complexes with albumin, so there is
a certain amount of activity biological activity. Now in nano-regime this is the crucial point,
redox property of metal or material changes drastically from that of the bulk form. We
do not know whether this is the explanation for the possible non-toxicity of Rasasindur
that part this study has not addressed, but that is a possibility we cannot rule out at
this stage. Now another project which has been published
I thought we may not have time to go into it. This is the study done in CIMAP that concerns
Vata, Pitta, Kapha, this is as induced by perturbations of these doshas. These are counted
by plants which are specific, they are classified. Plants which are used for treating Vata perturbation,
plants which are used in treating Pitta perturbation, there is a classification given, but if you
look at those plants there is nothing in common in the taxonomy of those plants. They are
all very different chemically they are different but, therapeutically they seem to have the
same action. Now this is the puzzle and this was taken
up by the two young scientists in centre of Central for Aromatic and Medicinal plants
in Lucknow and Doctor Chidambaram. When this was approved, he had indicated that the PSA
s office is not a granting agency, but they can only give a start to a promising area
when it is hardly born that he had done. Now that the papers already have come and some
are due to come, the department of science and technology they have taken over this,
there is a new scheme called task force in Ayurvedic biology with the similar objectives. Now this task force in Ayurvedic Biology,
it is on the website of DST; that does not take any drug development related programs.
That it is not in their area of interest nor do they take up clinical studies trails for
safety efficacy; that also is not taken. Essentially they look at basic science applied, basic
science to a large extent it means modern biology and immunology. These are applied
to Ayurvedic concepts, Ayurvedic procedures, and these are the projects which the task
force takes. Already subsequent the first round we have mentioned all these here but
in the second round new projects for example, Amalaki Rasayana. It shows positive results
in Drosophila in their biomarkers, it shows interesting results in the rat brain cells. Now scientists from Rajiv Gandhi centre in
Trivandrum, Doctor Karta, he has seen this, he has a model; he is working on for heart,
rat heart hypertrophy of the left ventricle. He has been studying that for various other
purposes. Now Amalaki Rasayana if it is general effects, certainly it should have some effect
on the heart. So, he is doing the study of Amalaki Rasayana on the rat heart hypertrophy.
So, there is a study going on there. Similarly the dosha specific patterns, if it shows manifestations
in these molecular markers what about autonomic functions, because many of these traits described
for Vata, Pitta and Kapha. They are autonomic functions about sweating, about diarrhea;
many of these are autonomic functions. So, if you take autonomic functions and if
you do a study on them or their dosha specific patterns, we are not looking at molecular
markers now. We are looking at standard autonomic functions measured and do you find dosha specific
patterns there. Now these are studies which are and also there is a very interesting question,
when you look at these Dosha Prakritis; I was asked a question during this formulation
of this project, is there heritability in this? In other words a father who is Vata,
Pitta, what is the son? Does he have the same Prakriti? Now this is not discussed in the
old text. It was asked by young Ayurvedic physician in SDM College. Now he has a project,
he is doing that study now, so like that there are several projects which have come out of
these original first round of studies which is highly encouraging and we must also realize
Ayurvedic biology is not confined to human biology. We should also know Ayurveda itself there
is a great deal of Ayurveda called Vriksha Ayurveda; Ayurveda of plants, Ayurveda of
trees, there are several books on this. Similarly Ayurveda of animals, there is a very big book
almost as big as Charaka Samhita on Ayurveda for elephants, Ayurveda for horses. So, there
is no reason why in Ayurvedic biology, we would look for projects in these areas. For
example, it is already we have a project; there is a stipulation in Ayurveda a medicinal
plant not for all plants, but several times you will see it mentioned it should be collected
from that particular area, it should be collected at a particular season or a particular time. Now is there any importance attached to this,
what is the significance of this? If you wish to investigate that question, one of the projects
we have received is on garlic and garlic should be collected from the Himalayan areas; it
should be collected in a particular season. Now if you collect garlic from that area and
also collect garlic regardless of the specifications from a different area in a different season
and if you compare these, what differences do you see, are they chemically different?
If they are not chemically different, is there some other way that you can investigate? And
here there is a new very rapidly growing area of science called microbiomes. Microbiomes
are normal human beings, plants or animals, they have billions of micro organisms living
within them and they are essentially providing very important service to the organisms in
terms of nutrition, in terms of defense, metabolic process and so on. So, without them it is hardly possible to
live; they are beneficial, they are synergistic, they part of us. So, this microbiome now has
become a huge area of interest, a new wave more or less. Now if garlic also has microbiome,
so if you find that the chemical composition is different or identical, then how do you
explain this particular, you have to collect it at a particular season. You may find if
chemical composition is the same, why is it that you are insisting on this? You may find
the differences because of the microbiome may be different. If chemical composition
is the same still you insist that it should be used, then only you will have this effect
that could well be due to the presence of a particular microbiome profile. Already a scientist has put up a project;
that is a plant molecular biology work. Again it comes in the Ayurvedic biology because
the cue comes from Ayurveda. So, essentially all these projects because of this Ayurvedic
cue it may be a project in plant molecular biology or it may be in animal science. For
example, in Atharva Veda they noticed that when the pig is sick or a dog is sick, it
would go and nibble at certain medicinal plants; normal times it would never do that but they
do this. There is an extensive amount of work done in the western countries on Chimpanzees.
When they have parasitic disease in the bowel, intestinal parasites, then they go and nibble
on certain plants and it was believed to be because of their cognitive functions, they
are able to identify and so on. Anyway it is an area of great importance. Now here for example, can we do a project
here because what happens is let us, say, a dog. A dog which does not normally eat a
particular type of grass, but when it becomes sick then it goes and nibbles on that grass;
grass is unchanged, it is the same. It is only the sickness which has made it smell
and taste different, the sensitivity has changed. Now there is smell and taste institutes at
the west. So, here if somebody wants to be a scientist in animal biology wants to study
this particular phenomenon smell and taste in animals in relation to medicinal plants
again the cue comes from Ayurveda, but it is a very up to date project in molecular
biology in relation to animal science. So, like this in many of these areas the task
force would be interested in receiving proposals and supporting. So, it will slowly over a
period of time, may be 10 years, we would have an impressive body of knowledge, so that
Ayurvedic biology becomes a reality and a promising sunlit road ahead.

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