While delivering the distinguished lecture on Ayurvedic Biology in the University of Hyderabad this morning to a jam packed audience, Padma Vibhusahan Dr M.V.S. Valaithan, traced the history of human medicine in the Indian context in west coast of India, with Goa as the centre. The interface was created with the arrival of Portuguese into India though for commerce and not for culture. A hybrid medicine was formed around 1782 with the combination of the European and traditional Indian medicine, i.e. Ayurveda. The Europeans noticed the local people were healthy as they were using the local herbs and better managing the tropical disease than them. This created interest in the traditional health practices.
Dr Valiathan has drawn attention to Garcia da Orta, a Spanish Jew and his contributions to Indian medicine. He further referred to the bookHortus Malabaricus by von Rheede bringing out descriptions and illustrations of the Indian (largely from Kerala which then called Malabar) medicinal plants with vernaculars. Dr. Valiathan has drawn attention to the initiative he has taken after leaving the Sri Chitra through ASIIA (A Science Initiative in Ayurvedic Science) in 2007. With some initial trouble, today there is certain success in focussing the importance of Ayurvedic medicine as a new biology. He mentioned the efficacy of Amla on one hand and Rasasindoor on the other with the work on rats using the modern tools and technique.