CHENNAI: Doctors and health experts blame lifestyle changes to be the major cause for a sharp increase in the burden of non-communicable disease in the state.
However, alternative forms of medicine, including Siddha, Ayush and Ayurveda contribute largely in bringing down the effects of chronic lifestyle diseases.
On World Health Day, which highlights the theme, “Universal health coverage: everyone, everywhere”, medicos discusses the role of alternative forms of medicine in reducing the burden of non-communicable diseases aiding universal health coverage in Tamil Nadu.
With 99 percent of Tamil Nadu population recorded to be consuming less than five servings of fruits and vegetables daily and 66 percent of the population reported with low physical activity as per the latest non-communicable disease surveillance report, state has a growing burden of NCDs that includes stroke, type 2 diabetes, cancer and heart diseases mainly.
“The burden of NCDs has increased due to a shift to urban lifestyle, that involves more carbohydrate intake and low consumption of fruits and vegetables.
The mainstream form of medicine focuses on disease management, whereas alternative forms of medicine help sustainable health at an affordable cost,” says Dr Pradeep Nair, a physician at the National Institute of Naturopathy.
A major section of the healthcare burden in remote areas and rural sector does not have access to advanced healthcare infrastructure round the clock. However, improved physical activity and dietary pattern with less consumption of junk food items help to keep them healthy, say, doctors.
Though acute medical problems require immediate surgical and clinical intervention, alternative medicine offers a curative and a preventive approach to the lifestyle diseases with the help of natural therapies and treatments.
“The lifestyle diseases are mainly due to the accumulation of toxins that cause a change in blood sugar level, loss of appetite, change in immunity level and metabolism.
However, as part of Ayush medicine, therapies such as hydrotherapy, mud therapy, massage therapy, yoga therapy, aromatherapy, acupuncture, acupressure, chromotherapy, magnetotherapy, heliotherapy, Reiki and Pranic healing have proved miraculous for patients who have come to the hospital from all over the country for treatment of various lifestyle diseases such as obesity, hypertension, diabetes and others,” says Dr Y. Deepa, assistant professor at Government Yoga and Naturopathy Medical College and Hospital.
Siddha and Ayurveda find a solution to health issues in Rasayashastra and herbal medicines that include churanams, oils and vazhagham. People have access to officially recognised alternative systems of health, including age-old traditions like Ayurveda, Siddha and Unani.
“In diseases like osteoarthritis, Ayurvedic interventions have better outcomes than conventional treatment, however, Ayurvedic interventions at the appropriate stage can help to avoid expensive surgeries and long-term use of painkillers.
In quite a few diseases, Ayurveda can also offer a frontline therapy at an affordable cost. At the level of primary healthcare, traditional medical knowledge for the management of minor ailments and preventive healthcare can empower people to address unmet needs where modern care is unavailable,” says Dr P. Ram Manohar, research director, Amrita Centre for Advanced Research in Ayurveda.
Practitioners of alternative forms of medicine can play a crucial role in validating and updating the local health traditions and identify the areas where practitioners of AYUSH or modern medicine need to intervene, he adds.