With Ayurveda emerging as a powerful alternative, the industry is all set to reap the benefits by using technology to harness its wealth.
Ayurveda industry is gaining momentum growing is at the rate of 17 per cent year-on-year. People in many countries have been turning to Ayurveda as an alternative treatment option for some of the diseases, which can deliver therapeutic benefits.
The Ayurvedic industry in India has a lot of small and unorganised players. But there are also few companies that are investing heavily on research and development to ensure that only safe, effective and evidence-backed products are reaching the market.
“Doctors have been recommending clinically validated herbal medicines for some of the chronic ailments. When it comes to personal care, customers are looking for safe and gentle products for their skin. Herbal skincare and hair care products are becoming the first choice,” said TL Suresh, business head, Pharmaceutical Division, The Himalaya Drug Company.
Ayurveda did not limit itself to skincare but is also competing with mainstream medicine for treatment in some of the diseases. “Many doctors recommend Ayurvedic products for illnesses that require long-term treatment like diabetes, hypertension and obesity. In fact, research has revealed that the vegetable karela (bitter gourd) has a chemical referred to as ‘plant-insulin’, which helps in maintaining normal blood sugar levels.
The technology is being tremendously used to develop clinically approved medicines in Ayurveda. “ Our product development process follows allopathic protocols, which includes toxicity tests, mutagen studies and clinical trials. At various stages, scientists make use of different technologies to develop more effective drugs,” he said.
On the flip side, some small companies are trying to exploit term Ayurveda and bringing in products without thorough clinical trials. “Department of AYUSH (Ayurveda, Yoga, Naturopathy, Unani, Siddha and Homeopathy) has outlined policies and guidelines for Ayurvedic firms. But, the size of the market and the presence of many unorganised players make quality control difficult.
“However, it is important to remember that a lot of herbal manufacturing SMEs compromise on the quality due to the lack of funds or knowledge. Government subsidies and tax rebates for these companies would help in improving the quality and overall raise the profile of Ayurveda,” he said.
There is tremendous potential for Ayurveda. It can become an effective alternative treatment option, akin to the status enjoyed by Traditional Chinese Medicine today, he added.