by Adarsh Suresh
Tagline: Journals such as An International Quarterly Journal of Research in Ayurveda (Ayu) and The Journal of Ayurveda and Integrative Medicine (J-AIM) have documented the globalization of Ayurveda research. This essay compares the scope and reach of these journals by considering the number of articles published, and the content of the articles using digital humanities methods of tagging essay types, author location, and analyzing publisher data.
Keywords: Ayurveda, literature review, Ayu, J-AIM, COVID-19, integrative, colonialism, postcolonial science, decolonizing science, plagiarism, open access, World Ayurveda Foundation, Institute for Post Graduate Teaching & Research in Ayurveda
Ayurveda originated over 5,000 years ago in India and was an integral part of Vedic culture. Ayurveda is composed of the Sanskrit words Ayur (defined as life) and veda (defined as science). Once India was forced under colonial rule, the government considered Western medicine as the only valid medical practice and Ayurvedic practitioners were forced to change their practices (Mukharji 2016). After gaining independence, there was a resurgence of Ayurveda and journals such as An International Quarterly Journal of Research in Ayurveda (Ayu) and the Journal of Ayurveda and Integrative Medicine (J-AIM) are helping document this post-colonial Ayurveda.
Colonialism had profound, long-lasting effects on India and is part of the reason that Ayurveda today isn’t the same as Ayurveda 5,000 years ago. By analyzing these journals, we can get a better understanding of what Ayurvedic research is in today’s world. Before colonialism, Ayurveda was a practice focused purely on healing. However, now Ayurveda has adopted this Western medicine mindset of needing extensive research to prove its effectiveness. This has in turn contributed to a culture of toxicity as many researchers plagiarise and fabricate details to have their article published. I wanted to do this literature review to understand how Ayurveda has shifted throughout time and what postcolonial Ayurveda looks like. I chose these two specific journals because of their popularity and their different approaches. Ayu is an older journal which has more general practices while J-AIM is a newer, trans-disciplinary platform. Comparing these two can tell us a lot about what modern Ayurveda is but also how it’s changed even within a period of 20 years. Additionally, these journals can tell us about how Ayurveda will look in the future specifically in the US. Given these journals cater to a more Western audience when it comes to clinical research, these publications could help Ayurveda become certified in the United States and become more well recognized. Throughout this process I have read through almost every article in both journals and have gained an understanding of their similarities and differences. With each article I tagged information about the author, the institution, the treatments, variables measured, and other critical information.
Ayu is a peer-reviewed open-access journal that was established in 1964 that aims to cover a wide variety of topics regarding Ayurveda. It is published quarterly by the Institute for Post Graduate Teaching & Research in Ayurveda. The first issues of Ayu were published online in 2010 after this journal partnered with Medknow Publications (Chandola 2010). Prior to this, Ayu was strictly on paper which prevented the wide spread of knowledge and recognition. The mission of Ayu is to “encourage ayurvedic baseline researchers and scholars to publish their work in a scientific way” (Chandola 2011). In terms of articles published, Ayu reached its peak number of articles published in the period 2010 - 2012. Ever since then, the numbers have been slowly declining and the last article published was in 2019 (Fig. 1).
Fig. 1 Number of articles published by the journal Ayu based on pubmed search results. Number of articles published peaks in 2011 and is at zero for both 2020 and 2021. Image by the author.
After an examination of the most popular articles published by Ayu since 2010 (Shukla et al. 2010, Patel et al. 2011, Dhiman et al. 2014, Gupta et al. 2015, and Muraleedharan et al. 2017), a few patterns emerge. The top five most downloaded articles are all case studies that measure various ayurvedic treatments’ impact on uterine fibroids, rheumatoid arthritis, anti-mullerian hormone, fallopian tube blockage, and chronic renal failure, respectively. These articles were published from various scholars across India at different institutes. The only study in which patient consent is mentioned is the Muraleedharan et al. article published in 2017. A retrospective analysis done by Pravin Bolshete, a professional medical writer in India, revealed that for Ayu, the percentage of articles that reported ethics committee approval and patient consent was in the mid 30’s for 2012 (Bolshete 2015). The study shows that this number improved in later years, which aligns with the observed trends in the most popular articles. Most of the popular studies in Ayu had a sample composed of female patients aged 25-50 (Dhiman 2014, Gupta 2015, Muraleedharan 2017, Shukla 2010). The only one of the top five articles without this sample demographic was the Patel article which looked at patients with CRF with no criteria relating to age or gender (Patel 2011). There was no overlap when it came to the specific treatment protocol but there was overlap when it came to the diagnosis process. All studies involved an examination of the patient’s doshas and basing treatment based on the prevalence of one of the doshas (their prakriti).
The Journal of Ayurveda and Integrative Medicine (J-AIM) is a peer-reviewed open access journal established in 2010, established by The World Ayurveda Foundation and The Institute of Trans-disciplinary Health Sciences and Technology and published by Elseiver. This journal focuses on the “relationships between Ayurveda, biomedicine, biology and other contemporary natural and social sciences.” In terms of articles published, the number of articles has slowly been increasing over time with a peak at 2020 (Fig. 2).
Fig. 2 Number of articles published by the Journal of Ayurveda and Integrative Medicine based on Pubmed search results. Number of articles hit a low in 2011 and has been steadily climbing with a peak in 2020. Image by the author.
I'm a paragraph. Click here to add your own text and edit me. It's easy.
There are a few trends observed with the most popular articles in J-AIM as well (Rastogi et al. 2020, Girijia et al. 2020, Saoji et al. 2019, Gautam et al. 2020, Shweta et al. 2021). Three out of five of the most popular articles have to do with Ayurveda and its potential effect on COVID-19 (Rastogi 2020, Girija 2020, Gautam 2020). The Rastogi article is a short communication detailing an action plan for how to deal with COVID-19 from an ayurvedic standpoint while the Girija article is a case report of a 43 year old investment banker who was treated with Ayurveda in New York and his success with the treatment. Gautam conducted a review of other articles that researched Ayush Kwath and stated that there may be a potential role of these herbs in COVID-19 symptoms. A review article that doesn’t involve COVID-19 is the Saoji article which deals with Pranayama, a yoga breathing technique. The Shweta article is a study involving rats which looks for a link between Samyoga Viruddha (incompatible food) and various physiological issues such as myocarditis and liver issues.
Overall, the two journals have many similarities. For instance, both of them have acknowledged issues in terms of scientific writing and plagiarism. Many Ayurveda scholars, due to the pressure of publishing, have plagiarised from others and themselves which caused both journals to have a high rejection rate (Patwardhan 2020). Another issue both of the journals have run into is the quality of scientific writing. They observed that many Ayurvedic researchers are not aware of how to properly write in an accepted format so they want institutions to teach proper scholarly writing so more articles can be published.
Fig. 3 Number of articles published for each year for both the Journal of Ayurveda and Integrative Medicine and Ayu based on Pubmed search results. Seems that the two trends are inverse. As J-Aim increases in the number of articles published, Ayu goes down. Image by the author.
In terms of content, there are many differences between the two journals. They both focus on Ayurveda, but the most popular articles for Ayu are all case reports and focus on a variety of diseases while the Journal of Ayurveda and Integrative Medicine is more known for its overall approach with review articles in addition to clinical studies. Additionally, there are big differences in the time that each journal was most popular (Fig. 3). As the Journal of Ayurveda and Integrative Medicine rose in popularity, Ayu started declining and has been silent for the past two years. The main difference between the two journals is the response to COVID-19. J-AIM saw this as an opportunity to show the power of Ayurvedic care to the world and published many articles. Ayu on the other hand hasn’t done much regarding COVID and is fairly silent on that branch of research. It is possible that due to India’s COVID crisis, it has been hard to publish and there might have been many delays. However, it is clear that J-AIM’s full throttle approach in response to coronavirus has led to the journal’s and Ayurveda’s popularity increasing worldwide.
Both Ayu and The Journal of Ayurveda and Integrative Medicine have made great contributions to the field of Ayurveda. The various clinical trials and reviews have all provided insights into the true power of Ayurveda and helped with its globalization. The future of Ayurvedic research is bright, and it will be interesting to see how these journals adapt to changing circumstances, and what other journals will develop.
Gautam, Shankar, Arun Gautam, Sahanshila Chhetri, and Urza Bhattarai. “Immunity Against COVID-19: Potential Role of Ayush Kwath.” Journal of Ayurveda and Integrative Medicine, August 17, 2020. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jaim.2020.08.003.
Girija, P. L. T., and Nithya Sivan. “Ayurvedic Treatment of COVID-19/SARS-CoV-2: A Case Report.” Journal of Ayurveda and Integrative Medicine, June 19, 2020. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jaim.2020.06.001.
Gupta, Sanjay Kumar, Anup B. Thakar, Tukaram S. Dudhamal, and Aditya Nema. “Management of Amavata (Rheumatoid Arthritis) with Diet and Virechanakarma.” Ayu 36, no. 4 (December 2015): 413–15. https://doi.org/10.4103/0974-8520.190688.
K, Shweta, null Sudhakar, and Shobha Bhat K. “Evaluation of the Toxicological Implication of Combination of Kadaliphala and Cow Milk w.s.r to the Concept of Samyoga Viruddha.” Journal of Ayurveda and Integrative Medicine, March 25, 2021, S0975-9476(21)00020-6. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jaim.2021.02.005.
Muraleedharan, Anjaly, Parvathy Unnikrishnan, Priyadarshana Narayan, and Hemavathi Shivapura Krishnarajabhatt. “An Ayurvedic Treatment Protocol to Improve Anti-Mullerian Hormone: A Prerequisite for Assisted Reproductive Technique- A Case Report.” Ayu 38, no. 1–2 (June 2017): 66–69. https://doi.org/10.4103/ayu.AYU_167_17.
Patel, Manish V., S. N. Gupta, and Nimesh G. Patel. “Effects of Ayurvedic Treatment on 100 Patients of Chronic Renal Failure (Other than Diabetic Nephropathy).” Ayu 32, no. 4 (2011): 483–86. https://doi.org/10.4103/0974-8520.96120.
Rastogi, Sanjeev, Deep Narayan Pandey, and Ram Harsh Singh. “COVID-19 Pandemic: A Pragmatic Plan for Ayurveda Intervention.” Journal of Ayurveda and Integrative Medicine, April 23, 2020. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jaim.2020.04.002.
Saoji, Apar Avinash, B. R. Raghavendra, and N. K. Manjunath. “Effects of Yogic Breath Regulation: A Narrative Review of Scientific Evidence.” Journal of Ayurveda and Integrative Medicine 10, no. 1 (March 2019): 50–58. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jaim.2017.07.008.
Shukla Upadhyay, Kamayani, Kaumadi Karunagoda, Nita Sata, and L. P. Dei. “Effect of Kumari Taila Uttar Basti on Fallopian Tube Blockage.” Ayu 31, no. 4 (October 2010): 424–29. https://doi.org/10.4103/0974-8520.82031.