Complementary Medicine & Evidence Based Statistics

The main selling point for complementary medicine is the absence of side-effect associated with conventional medicines. Conventional medicine, has developed rapidly, over the past few decades, and has set a standard proving the efffectiveness of a new medicine on the market. Complementary medicine, based on herbal knowledge gained by nature centric cultures around the world seemed to have survived simply through trust based prescriptions. Complementary medicinal approaches have faced the challenge of lacking a formal statistical evidence based approval process necessary for mass market acceptance.

Ayurveda is a herbal based medical system practiced for over 5000 years across the aggrarian sections of the Indian society. A sound classification system and sets of well written herbal extraction and administration manual has enabled it to be easily adopted by modern university system of education to train technicians and physicians. Easy availability of herbs and ready availability of technicians has brought attention of this system of medicine outside India. But it also had lacked an formal statistical evidence based process for proving its efficacy.

Double blind studies are widely accepted by modern drug industry as the evidence for the efficacy of a medicine being newly introduced to the public. Placebo "pills" and a "random process" for selecting patients receiving the administrations from a sample of prospective participants in the study are the two key aspects of a double bind study.  A simple process appears to have been discovered that can not only statistically quantify the effectiveness of ayurvedic medicines. This process appears to be novel in the sense that it has figured out an an ayurvedic equivalent of a "placebo pill". Traditional administration of ayurvedic medicines do not involve a "pill" as in conventional medicine. The process also has created a way to understand the effectiveness of the ayurvedic administration in comparison with the conventional medicine equivalent.

The nine-month treatment and evaluation period had three groups with about 15 patients each, who were treated with the focus on rheumatoid arthritis. While one group was given only Ayurvedic medicines along with a placebo of allopathic medicine, another group was administered only allopathic medicines with placebos of Ayurvedic medicines and the third group was given a combination of Ayurveda and allopathic medicines. The study ran over a period of 3 years appears to have cost about US $300,000. This is an important step in bringing age old medicines from the nature's closet into the main stream medicine market. The economic opportunities are bound to increase the industry's respect for preserving global plant diversity!