Ayurveda is the holistic system of health care developed in ancient India over 3000 years ago. It is actually a practical and holistic set of guidelines to maintain balance and harmony in the human mind and body which is as relevant today as it was in the past. Ayurveda is derived from the Sanskrit words ayu (Life) and veda (Knowledge or Science) and hence means the “the comprehensive science of long life.” Following the simple principles of Ayurvedic living ensures a long and healthy life, which is considered to be the pre-requisite for achieving the true purposes of human life: virtue (dharma), wealth (artha), happiness (kama) and liberation (moksha). In ancient India, medical knowledge and wisdom were passed from one generation to the next through hymns and poems, which scholars and physicians had to memorize and recite. The Veda is an ancient literature in four parts (Rig Veda, Sama Veda, Yajur Veda and Atharva Veda), the earliest of which date back at least to 3000 BC.
The principles of Ayurvedic medicine and the medicinal uses of medicinal plants are contained in thousands of poetic hymns primarily in the Rig and Artharva Vedas. The earliest foundations of Ayurveda were derived from a synthesis of existing herbal practices of holy men and forest dwellers together with a massive addition of observation-derived medical concepts, new nosologies and pioneering therapies dating from about 200 BCE onwards, and assimilated contributions from luminous thinkers of the time which included the Buddha, Kapila and others.
The first school to teach Ayurvedic medicine was at the University of Taxila (Takṣaśilā ) c. 300 BC and the first Ayurvedic medical text, the Caraka Samhita, written around that time. Another great samhita (encyclopedia)—the Sushruta Samhita-- was written shortly afterwards and together these two form the original textual basis of the Ayurveda.
Ayurveda is based on bodily humours (the three dośas) and the inner life force (prana) that is believed to maintain all physical and mental activity. The living and the non-living environment, including human beings, is composed of the five proto-elements earth (prithvi), water (jala), fire (tejas), air (vayu) and space (akaśa).
For an understanding of these traditions, the concepts of bio-impurity and biopurification is also essential. Illness is the consequence of primarily two major factors: (1) imbalance among the various elements as reflected in the dośas and (2) the accumulation of impurities and toxic substances in the mind and body. The goal of Ayurvedic treatment is therefore twofold: (a) to restore his balance to the elements and dośas and (b) to purify the mind and body of impurities and re-establish its original state of purity and function.
Scientists are becoming convinced that these chemical exposures contribute to obesity, endometriosis, diabetes, mental illness, allergies, autoimmune syndromes, cancer and other diseases. Laboratory studies—in both mice and human subjects—have demonstrated that low levels of endocrine-disrupting chemicals induce subtle changes in the developing fetus that have profound health effects in adulthood and even on subsequent generations. The chemicals pregnant a woman takes into her body may affect her children and her grandchildren.
There are currently several thousand published and unpublished studies on the clinical application of Panchakarma therapies but less than a handful of research into the fundamental mechanism of action of these therapies either as individual therapies or as a complete system. The quality of this clinical research, to further complicate matters, represents the entire spectrum from very poor to acceptable. Together, the lack of basic science to support the existence of a Panchakarma effect and the poor quality of these (premature and statistically underpowered) clinical studies renders the entire Panchakarma research literature weak and unconvincing. We believe that conducting clinical trials, even of the best quality, without first establishing and understanding of the effects of panchakarma at the cellular and molecular level is putting the cart before the horse. Besides its curative role in the treatment of disease, Panchakarma is important as a Promotive and preventive therapy in healthy individuals. Internal purification at regular intervals allows the body and mind to regain and maintain homeostasis and thus promote optimal human health and potential.
The metabolome is the complete set of small-molecule chemicals found within a biological sample. The biological sample can be a cell, a cellular organelle, a tissue, a tissue extract, a biofluid, an organ, or an entire organism. With regard to the toxic metabolome, the small molecule chemicals found in a given organism may include both endogenous products of metabolism that are naturally produced by an organism (such as organic acids, urea, altered cysteine residues in protein, Endogenous macromolecule radicals, Alcohol-derived bioadducts, Iron-related endogenous pro-carcinogen peroxides, Fructose-derived endogenous toxins, Reactive oxygen species (ROS), hypohalites, and reactive nitrogen species (NOS) etc.) as well as exogenous chemicals (such as drugs, environmental contaminants, food additives, toxins and other xenobiotics) that are not naturally produced by an organism. In other words, there is both an endogenous metabolome and an exogenous metabolome.
Our proposed research aims to use the advanced techniques of metabolomics, proteomics and epigenetics to address one very fundamental question: does Panchakarma have demonstrable up- regulating effects on purification of endogenous (internally produced) and exogenous (externally acquired) toxins from the body in normal healthy individuals at the biochemical and molecular level?