What happens when a panel of eminent doctors gets together to discuss whether alternative therapies can cure heart disease? Will they express skepticism; mock the idea that heart disease can be cured? Or will they hand out prescriptions for yoga, Ayurvedic remedies and acupuncture?
Heart ailments are assuming great importance in India, since they lead to the death of about 3 million Indians every year. Unlike the West, cardiac problems are rising among younger people, affecting economic and social development adversely, and making prevention and control a top public health priority. Though conventional allopathic medicine certainly offers effective treatments for cardiac problems, these promise management and control rather than an absolute cure.
The role of alternative therapies has not been deliberated upon seriously, and as moderator of a discussion organized by the Life Positive Foundation on this topic, I had no idea what to expect from the three panelists: Dr. H.K Chopra, Chief Cardiologist at Moolchand Medcity, New Delhi; Dr. Tapan Ghose, Director of Interventional cardiology at Paras Hospitals, Gurgaon; and Dr. Ravinder K. Tuli, founder of the Society for Holistic Advancement of Medicine (SOHAM).
The doctors were extremely vocal and offered wide-ranging advice: Enjoy life and work, do yoga daily, inculcate discipline in your life, eat healthy and stay slim. While they did not advocate any specific alternative therapy for heart disease, they said that each of us must find our own route to achieving mind-body balance, crucial to maintaining cardiac health. Risk factors for heart disease such as obesity, stress, smoking and alcohol consumption, lack of exercise and unhealthy eating habits also came up for discussion.
One of the biggest moments was when all three medicos declared that heart disease was reversible. “ Yes, heart disease can be cured,” declared Dr. Chopra, whose mantra for good health was a daily walk in Lodi garden. Dr. Ghose emphasized the importance of eating lots of fruit and vegetables. “ Colourful and leafy vegetables provide anti-oxidants and reduce inflammation,” he said. Holistic health expert Dr. Tuli said that acupuncture was helpful for both stress reduction and treatment of disorders. By the end of the evening, it was clear that the future of alternative medicine in heart health was big and bright.
What is an “ideal” prescription for the treatment and cure of heart disease.
Conventional treatment is reductionist in its approach, since it regards the body as separate from the mind. Perhaps that’s why more people are beginning to search for holistic solutions, which hold the promise of reversing and even curing heart disease.
In fact, we are entering an era of “Integrative medicine,” which refers to the combination of conventional treatment and alternative therapeutic approaches that have been tried and tested. More medical practitioners today believe in the efficacy of certain alternative therapies and encourage their patients to combine these with allopathic treatment.
-Studies in the UK and US show that preventive measures can reduce CVD and diabetes occurrence by up to 60 per cent, by eliminating the most common NCD risk factors—tobacco and alcohol use, unhealthy diet and lack of physical activity.
– New health policy promises to push traditional systems of medicine, Ayurvedic, Yoga, Unani, Siddha and Homeopathy (AYUSH). The new national health policy gives AYUSH an importance place in catering to the medical needs of the country’s 1.2 billion people, and many feel that these systems should become an essential component of Indian healthcare.
– Complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) refers to numerous diagnostic and therapeutic methods that complement mainstream medicine. The increasing popularity of these therapies represents a challenge to allopathic doctors – understandably, since the effectiveness and safety of many kinds of CAM has not been proven by the modern, scientific research that backs conventional medicine. Most practitioners of CAM aren’t MBBS doctors, and their understanding of anatomy, physiology, and disease and its treatment is radically different and often contradictory to the concepts and practice of conventional medicine. In this circumstance, is it really possible to align such radically different therapeutic philosophies and create what is being embraced as “complementary” medicine?
– Instead of ignoring CAM systems or dismissing them as useless, doctors should consider educating themselves about some of these.
– The future of healthcare lies in effective collaboration between physicians, dieticians, naturopaths, acupuncturists, physiotherapists and yoga therapists. Dialogue would enable a complimentary treatment plan that is in the best interest of the patient and pave the way for the best recovery.