Alternative medical therapy in modern times has been gradually gaining acceptance worldwide. It is estimated that nearly 60 percent of the population resort to some form of alternative therapy in order to treat their health problems. Ayurvedic medicines have a special role in the treatment of chronic disorders, and are being increasing used both by the lay public as well as by medical practitioners. However, there are some strongly prevalent myths regarding the use of Ayurvedic medicines. This article seeks to explain and clarify the misconceptions regarding Ayurvedic medicines, and also lays down some guidelines for the correct use of these medicines.
The commonest myth regarding Ayurvedic medicines is that these medicines are completely safe, and can therefore be safely consumed by the patient on his/her own, without a physician’s prescription or advice. This belief has led to large-scale self-medication by people all over the world, often leading to disappointing end-results, side-effects, or unwanted after-effects. Another myth, often propagated for commercial reasons, is that a single herb, or a single medicinal product, is capable of treating all or diverse medical conditions.
While it is true that most herbal medicines have a wide safety margin, there are also several herbs which can have very strong side-effects, e.g. Bhallatak (Semicarpus anacardium), even with a few doses, can cause skin rash and blisters, and burning urine with bleeding; Kuchla (Strychnos nux-vomica), taken in high doses and for prolonged periods, may cause convulsions; and Sarpagandha (Raulwofia serpentina), taken long-term, may cause depression and increased suicidal tendency. Ayurvedic preparations which contain minerals and Bhasmas may cause toxicity due to incorrect manufacturing methods, or the presence of heavy or toxic metals. There is also a small risk of a cross-reaction with other medications.
Most patients do realize that treatment may differ from disease to disease, and from patient to patient, and also that the same patient may require different treatment approaches from time to time. However, the failure of modern medicine to comprehensively treat a host of assorted chronic ailments; the urgent need for resorting to alternative therapy (especially Ayurvedic treatment); and the local unavailability of such medicines or the related treatment expertise, has forced the average patient to seek medicines online. To facilitate decision-making for such patients, the following do’s and don’ts while ordering Ayurvedic medicines online, have been enumerated.
1) Check the authenticity of the products. This is easier said than done for the average layman. This problem can be easily solved if there is a reference from someone who has already used the products. Otherwise, it would be more prudent to check the authenticity of the web-site. This point is discussed ahead.
2) Try to collect the maximum possible information on the products that you intend to use.
3) Consult your family physician for more details and clarifications.
4) Inform your treating physician about your decision to start Ayurvedic medicines.
5) Remain under the ongoing supervision of some local physician.
6) Remain in touch with the doctors of the web-site from where you have ordered medicines.
7) Check for the authenticity of the web-site. The contact numbers and e-mail i.d.s of the web-site should be current and valid. The web-site content should be updated and should display concern for the well-being of the patient rather than having purely selling content.
8) The selection of health problems which do not require strict medical supervision and can be treated by patients themselves can be highly subjective; nevertheless, a few examples are mentioned here. Ayurvedic herbal medicines can be ordered online as self-medication for the treatment of chronic acidity problems (but not a known peptic ulcer); chronic acne (pimples); mild to moderate tobacco and alcohol addiction or dependence; simple anemia; chronic bed-wetting in children; recurrent boils; chronic neuritis; recurrent muscle cramps; recurrent common cold and cough (after ruling out serious causes); chronic constipation; recurrent dandruff; chronic and uncomplicated skin diseases; premature or excessive hair fall; recurrent headaches (after serious causes have been ruled out); high cholesterol; indigestion and gas problems; reduced immunity; disturbed sleep; weak memory or loss of memory; obesity; simple menstruation problems; recurrent mouth ulcers and chronic sexual problems.
1) Do not try self-medication for complicated heart and kidney diseases; metabolic disorders; inherited disorders; bleeding disorders; acute medical emergencies; chronic, end-stage diseases; auto-immune disorders; HIV; cancers; any disease with multiple complications; and diseases where the end-result or the known complications can be serious or fatal.
2) Do not continue self-medication if there is no response within a stipulated time-period; or you see some unexpected results.
3) Do not conceal self-medication information from your local family physician.
4) Do not rely heavily on testimonials or the advice of lay persons. What has worked for someone else may not necessarily work for you.
5) Do not rely on instant cures for chronic health problems, especially life-style health problems.
6) Do not communicate with web-sites with a dubious background, especially when the credentials of the owners cannot be verified.
7) Do not place undue importance on claims of one cure-all for all diseases.
8) Do not believe in the efficacy of a medicinal product just because it is priced heavily.
Following the above-mentioned advice will thus help patients from getting the maximum possible benefits from online ordering of Ayurvedic herbal medications.