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Theme: Evidence Based Integrative Medicine:
Public Health and Advanced Research

Focus theme of the colloquium:

“Integrative Medicine (IM) selects best practice from public health and biomedicine.” It is increasingly felt that IM would complement modern medicine by providing cost effective treatment. IM combines latest scientific advances with profound insight of ancient healing systems. Complementary and alternative systems of medicine (CAM) are playing vital role in public health by the virtue of their acceptance by people with or without government backing. However, experts are divided on its utility to meet the global challenge of providing affordable and quality health care. Institute of Applied Dermatology (IAD) in Kasaragod has highlighted the benefits of IM and CAM to the public health program particularly to manage large number of common diseases affecting rural populations such as Lymphatic Filariasis. The colloquium will discuss the evidences to support the benefits of IM for public health. The experts will also discuss how Transdisciplinary research and practice in IM could collaborate with basis sciences for advance research


Importance of the 6th colloquium on Integrative Medicine in Global and National Context

Achievement of national health goals requires an integrated delivery of health services utilizing the mutual strengths of bio-medical and Indian Systems of Medicine. The National Health Policy (2002) noted that ‘Under the overarching umbrella of the national health frame work, the alternative systems of Medicine – Ayurveda, Unani, Siddha and Homoeopathy – have a substantial role. Because of inherent advantages, such as diversity, modest cost, low level of technological input and the growing popularity of natural plant-based products, these systems are attractive, particularly in the under-served, remote and tribal areas.” Similarly, the National Policy on Indian Systems of Medicine & Homoeopathy (2002) declares as its basic objective, inter alia, the “integration of ISM&H in healthcare delivery system and National Programmes and ensure optimal use of the vast infrastructure of hospitals, dispensaries and physicians”.

“Integrative Medicine (IM) selects best practice from public health and biomedicine.” It is increasingly felt that IM would complement modern medicine by providing cost effective treatment. IM combines latest scientific advances with profound insight of ancient healing systems. Complementary and alternative systems of medicine (CAM) are playing vital role in public health by the virtue of their acceptance by people with or without government backing. However, experts are divided on its utility to meet the global challenge of providing affordable and quality health care. Institute of Applied Dermatology (IAD) in Kasaragod has highlighted the benefits of IM and CAM to the public health program particularly to manage large number of common diseases affecting rural populations such as Lymphatic Filariasis. The benefits for other diseases such as Hemiplegia, Vitiligo and Lichen planus have since been published.

‘Oslerian wisdom’ would balance India’s advances in medical science and effective care for the suffering poor in Indian villages. Partnership and collaborations with traditional Indian systems of medicine (ISM) would bring this much needed change in public health. An IM, the outcome of such collaborations, is best suited for treating complex and chronic diseases that are influenced by the environment. With increasing healthcare costs globally, IM is especially favourable because of the often inexpensive nature of its treatment protocols.

Transdisciplinary research and practice requires collaboration with basis sciences. Advancement in the modern science, especially in the area of modern biology, contributed enormous amount of knowledge as well as tools to the field of modern medicine. Modern biology unravels the scientific reasons of the diseases at cellular and molecular level using holistic approaches. Genomics, Proteomics, Metabolomics, Transgenic animal models, Structural Biology, Biochemistry and Imaging technologies etc offers unprecedented prospects for advancing knowledge of human disorders in a translational context (Ref). Therefore, it is the need of the time to develop research programs where physicians and scientists will work together to reap the maximum benefit of Integrative Medicine and donate the same to the poor community of our society. This kind of collaboration will bridge the gap between allopathy and other alternative medicines more effectively and scientifically. For example, modern biology can be used to find out molecular identity of “dosha” and anti-dosha effect of herbal drugs (Ref). Dept of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, School of Biological sciences, Central University of Kerala (CUK) aims to promote education and research in the area of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology through interdisciplinary programs and houses excellent infrastructure for the same. The proposed meeting jointly by IAD and CUK will bring Trans disciplinary expertise in a common platform and help us to design new strategies to evolve collaborative research programs between physician and scientists in the area of evidence based integrative medicine.


Further Reading:

1. Ryan TJ. Integrative Medicine selects best practice from public health and biomedicine. Indian J Dermatol 2013; 58:132-141

2. Narahari SR. Collaboration culture in Medicine (Guest Editorial). Indian J Dermatol 2013; 58:124-6.

3. Ryan TJ. Does India need a William Osler for the millennium? Current Science 2013;104:169-170

4. Zerhouni EA. Translational and clinical science--time for a new vision. N Engl J Med. 2005;353(15):1621-

5. Valliathan M. S. (2006): Towards ayurvedic Biology- A decadal Vision Document.

(http://www.ias.ac.in/academy/dvdocs/ayurvis.pdf) Accessed on 4th June 2013