Decolonizing Ayurveda

Where we dig into scientific literature on Ayurveda and oncology

CREATED BY 

Adarsh Suresh
Sriya Kakarla
Saagar Dhanjani

ADVISED BY 

Lan Li

Narendra Bhatt

Lit review

Cartography

oral history

authors' statement

This research cluster focuses on contemporary research approaches to Ayurveda and evaluates the ways in which practitioners conform to biomedical standards, resist biomedical standards, and disrupt biomedical standards of research. To this end, we ask: what does it mean to decolonize Ayurveda? What are the processes and the possibilities of decolonizing medicine in this context? To start answering these questions, we offer a pilot review of  local health centers on the ground in Houston and compare contemporary journal articles on Ayurveda research. 

In “A Tale of Two Journals,” Adarsh Suresh offers a deep dive into Ayurvedic research by comparing two journals: An International Quarterly Journal of Ayurveda (Ayu) and Journal of Ayurveda and Integrative Medicine (J-AIM). In doing so, this essay sheds some light on how Ayurveda researchers have adopted western research techniques in becoming more evidence based. This journal will provide some context for the next essay, “The Biomedical Box” by Sriya Kakarla, which discusses the limits of clinical trials within Ayurvedic research. The next set of essays then dive into the strengths and weaknesses of evidence-based research on drugs. In “Can Ayurvedic Medications Be Effective Chemotherapeutics?” Saagar Dhanjani surveys five different Ayurvedic herbs and their effects on Reactive Oxygen Species (ROS), which are indicators of cancer. Sriya further supplements Saagar’s work with an essay about her personal experience and reflection on Ayurvedic herbs. These essays are then accompanied by a review of Houston Ayurveda Center by Adarsh Suresh.

Our methods involved first reading about Ayurveda within postcolonial studies (Kangarithanam 2020, Mukharji 2016). Then, we developed questions around topics of interest, such as Prakriti, doshas, COVID-19, and cancer. Next, we collected hundreds of articles on Zotero, which we added tags for the authors, the outcomes, the type of study, location of the authors, and patient information. Collectively, we read more than a thousand scientific articles and tagged close to 150 of them. For instance, Adarsh read most of the articles in Ayu and J-AIM to draft his review; Sriya surveyed a variety of journals and tagged around 40 articles; Saagar tagged around 30 articles coming from multiple journals for his essay on ayurvedic herbs and ROS. Collectively, As a team, we shared notes on read literature that introduces us to the complexities of situating Ayurveda within a colonial and postcolonial context within and beyond South Asia.

Our intentions for this project are two fold. First, we wanted to expand our own understanding of Ayurveda through its history and contemporary practice. Second, we aimed to speculate on the possibility of socially mobilizing Ayurvedic practitioners given the limited visibility of Ayurveda as a medical system and the fact that there is no official certification program in the United States for Ayurvedic practitioners.By performing this research, we believe we can shed some light into how Ayurveda will progress, the major problems, and the possible solutions. 

References

D.V., Kanagarathinam. “Revitalisation of Ayurveda in Colonial Tamil Region and Contributions of Pandit Srinivasa Narayana Iyengar - A Historical Perspective.” Journal of Ayurveda and Integrative Medicine 11, no. 4 (October 1, 2020): 547–53. 

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. 

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.

Hobani, Yahya Hasan. “The Role of Oxidative Stress in Koenimbine-Induced DNA Damage and Heat Shock Protein Modulation in HepG2 Cells.” Integrative Cancer Therapies 16, no. 4 (December 2017): 563–71. https://doi.org/10.1177/1534735416678982.

Mishra, Dhanpat, and Basavaraj R. Tubaki. “Effect of Brahmi Vati and Sarpagandha Ghana Vati in Management of Essential Hypertension – A Randomized, Double Blind, Clinical Study.” Journal of Ayurveda and Integrative Medicine 10, no. 4 (October 1, 2019): 269–76. 

Projit Bihari Mukharji, Doctoring Traditions: Ayurveda, Small Technologies, and Braided Sciences, 1 edition (Chicago ; London: University of Chicago Press, 2016).

Purvya, Mahesh Chand, and M. S. Meena. “A Review on Role of Prakriti in Aging.” Ayu 32, no. 1 (January 2011): 20–24. 

Rastogi, Sanjeev. “Development and Pilot Testing of a Prescription Quality Index for Ayurveda.” Journal of Ayurveda and Integrative Medicine 10, no. 4 (October 1, 2019): 277–83. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jaim.2017.02.008.

Shi, Yan, Ravi P. Sahu, and Sanjay K. Srivastava. “Triphala Inhibits Both in Vitro and in Vivo Xenograft Growth of Pancreatic Tumor Cells by Inducing Apoptosis.” BMC Cancer 8 (October 10, 2008): 294.

Shilpa, S., and C. G. Venkatesha Murthy. “Development and Standardization of Mysore Tridosha Scale.” Ayu 32, no. 3 (July 2011): 308–14. 

Shirolkar, Amey, Sutapa Chakraborty, Tusharkanti Mandal, and Rajesh Dabur. “Plasma Metabolomics Reveal the Correlation of Metabolic Pathways and Prakritis of Humans.” Journal of Ayurveda and Integrative Medicine 9, no. 2 (April 1, 2018): 113–22. 

Singh, Pramod Kumar, Parameswarappa S. Byadgi, Girish Singh, and Narendra Shanker Tripathi. “Impact of Season and Constitution on Lipid Parameters.” Ayu 34, no. 1 (January 2013): 77–80. 

Tiwari, Sushma, Sangeeta Gehlot, S. K. Tiwari, and Girish Singh. “Effect of Walking (Aerobic Isotonic Exercise) on Physiological Variants with Special Reference to Prameha (Diabetes Mellitus) as per Prakriti.” Ayu 33, no. 1 (2012): 44–49. 

Venkata Giri Kumar, P., Sudheer Deshpande, Aniruddha Joshi, Pooja More, and H. R. Nagendra. “Significance of Arterial Stiffness in Tridosha Analysis: A Pilot Study.” Journal of Ayurveda and Integrative Medicine 8, no. 4 (October 1, 2017): 252–56.

Zhao, Hong, H. Dorota Halicka, Jiangwei Li, and Zbigniew Darzynkiewicz. “Berberine Suppresses Gero-Conversion from Cell Cycle Arrest to Senescence.” Aging 5, no. 8 (August 2013): 623–36.

Bar Chart

Two Journals

by Adarsh Suresh

Square Stage

The Biomedical Box

by Sriya Kakarla

Chemotherapeutics

by Saagar Dhanjani

Above the Clouds

Reflections

by Sriya Kakarla

Wooden Hut

Houston

by Adarsh Suresh

Behind the scenes

The initial stages of tagging articles on Zotero. 

TAGGING SYSTEM
A: Authors information (institution and location)
C: Condition 
Co: Prakriti/types of doshas
I: Journal
M: Measured variables
O: Individual treatments
S: Study information (participant number, type of study)
T: Overall treatment plan