Ayurveda: Knowledge of Pharmacogenomics in Indian Traditional Medicine
Last Updated on August 21, 2016 by Joseph Gut – thasso
August 19, 2016 – We at thasso believe that on a worldwide scale, both, most modern principles of theragenomic and personalized medicine and traditional medicines approaches, have a place when it comes to effective and successful treatments of patients. Both may offer treatments for some conditions that are beneficial and least strain full for seriously ill patients. For treatment decisions by treating physicians theragenomic and personalized medicine rely very heavily on the molecular aetiologies of diseases and the genetic outfit of the individual patient to be treated. In contrast, in traditional medicine treating individuals (local doctors, healers, etc.) rely more on the experience of preceding generations in obtaining a phenotypic response of a patients after treatment, without knowing in detail the genetic and molecular constellations behind the observed phenotypic responses by the patients.
Very many patients worldwide rely on traditional medicines for treatment for a variety of reasons, which may include, among many others, the non-affordability of modern medicines for economic reasons. Also, the accessibility to modern therapeutic procedures may be difficult if not impossible in rather rural areas. In order to provide to those patients the best of the possible medicines also, it would be fascinating if traditional and most modern approaches in medicine could meet in order to arrive at a mutual understanding factors that make traditional and modern therapies efficacious and successful and form the basis for a “genotype-phenotype personality expression”.
In this context, researchers from India have published an article in the Journal of Pharmacogenomics & Pharmacoproteomics on “Knowledge of Pharmacogenomics in Indian Traditional Medicine -Ayurveda”. This article makes for a phantastic reading for the reader (i.e., patient, physician, healer, etc.) who is interested in the phenotypic behaviour of a disease and the molecular and genetic basis of this behaviour. As a paradigm, the authors use phenotypic personal expressions in Ayurveda as the starting point and consolidate this with underlying pharmacogenomic knowledge. From the Abstract of their article, we learn that
Charaka (The author of Charaka Samhita, believed to compiled in between 1500BCE-200 AD) explains in Sanskrit“yōgamāsām tu yō vidyāt dēśa kālōpa pāditam, puruṣam puruṣam vīkṣya sañjēyō sa bhiṣaguttama:”  that “He is the best of physicians who knows how to administer the medicine in accordance with their region (habitation and procurement of medicinal plants) and time and prakr̥ti (Psycho somatic constitution) of each person individually. This is probably the first classical reference in the history of Indian medicine on pharmacogenomics. This review article has in-depth information on concept of Prakr̥ti, – which is the Psycho Somatic constitution or Genotypic- Phenotypic expression) of a person. The benefits of knowing your Prakr̥ti, its role in health care and wellness, factors influencing the formation of Prakr̥ti and its relationship with epigenetic factors as understood in Traditional Indian medicine (Ayurveda) are explained. This paper refers to very important correlative studies on Genomics and concept of Prakr̥ti.
In their conclusion to the article, the authors state that selection of appropriate medicine for a person Prakrt̥ i type is the most practical and time tested method followed in Ayurveda since ages. It is inexpensive and the methods are easy to remember and can be practiced easily by physicians and individuals for their health benefits. At the same time, the epigenetic factors are very essential to shortlist appropriate medicine for ones Prakrt̥ i type. The scientific studies carried out by various experts reconfirm the importance of Prakrt̥ i analysis and its role in innovative research programs in pharmacogenomics.
Similar approaches to traditional medicines in other places worldwide can be imagined which, when combined with more detailed (i.e., genetic, molecular, treatment history) knowledge about the patient, may lead to maximal benefits of patients from traditional medicines and avoid ineffective or simply wrong treatments all together.