Rising Demand for Traditional Medicine
17 Nov 2021

Rising Demand for Traditional Medicine

Post by uday patel

Traditional or age-old healing systems earlier had been confined to domestic audiences that too within a small sphere. Unlike modern medicine, traditional systems have relied upon time-tested and experience-bound approaches. They are devoid of credibility in some scientific communities due to a lack of controlled testing in modern laboratories and clinical trials. Anyway, with the passage of time standardization, and research both are creeping in making the products more reliable.

Indian Tradiational medicine
Herbal Traditional Medicine

Adaptogen health food with herbs, spices, fruit & supplement powders. Natural plant-based foods help the body deal with stress & promote or restore normal physiological functions. On rustic wood. Ancient healers had shunned modern research-based evaluation of remedies and therapies in earlier times, their approach though not less pragmatic failed to convince a large segment of users.

People wish for strong scientific evidence that modern medicine is able to deliver. Traditional systems in absence of evidence lag behind in the contemporary era. Nevertheless, the use of traditional practices and pharmaceuticals is rising not only in India but globally. There are many reasons for the increasing demand for traditional medicines:

  • Less after effects
  • Natural ingredients
  • Cultural affinity
  • Holistic healing
  • Greater economy

The usage is expanding in case of non-life-threatening ailments. But this is not the limit, people follow a traditional approach in conjunction with modern therapy even in case of serious disorders. As much as sixty percent of the human population uses traditional medicine in the World. These systems are not only popular in underdeveloped countries but more so in economically dominating developed countries as well.    

Traditional Healing Systems in India

The prominent healing systems that evolved in India are:

  • Siddha
  • Ayurveda
  • Unani
  • Yoga

Yoga is associated with meditation, breath control, and aerobic exercise hence it is a potent wellness therapy, it creates a healthy body and mind. Of the four systems, Ayurveda and Yoga are the most popular and have already created a niche for themselves. These systems enjoy immense popularity internationally as well. These health care systems believe in keeping the metabolic system in balance, harnessing positive energy as defined in the Chakra system, and following a holistic approach to wellbeing keeping all aspects of longevity in mind.

In Ayurveda and Yoga, the healthy lifestyle changes that are incorporated lead to empowerment.  Surgery is not within the purview of these systems but in ancient times Susruta was the first Indian physician to perform certain types of surgeries including cosmetic procedures. 

As much as 70% of people in our country depend upon the Ayurvedic healing system. India is home to a large base of medicinal plants with many occurring naturally in substantial quantities. As per a developing trend, rare and high-value herbs and shrubs are being cultivated as part of agrarian practices in the country. This is to ensure regular supply and to enrich the farmers with additional income.

The country has around 250,000 registered medical practitioners (BAMS) prescribing Ayurvedic formulations. About 20,000 plants have been recorded and more are being discovered.  About 20,00 plants are primarily used in Ayurveda medicine while about 5000 species are frequently used.  Throughout the centuries of evolution, the characteristics of flora have been well studied along with their healing potency.  The pharmocology also includes products based on animals and minerals. In the case of animal-based ingredients, the killing does not take place. Ghee or clarified butter and honey are used as popular bases which are derived from livestock and bees. Minerals and metals find widespread use in the formulations but their inclusion is controversial as some are toxic in large quantities. Standardization keeps the ingredients at a safe level and helps deliver their beneficial properties.

Ancient Ayurveda Rising Demand

Despite the prevalence of modern medicine and therapeutics, the country is experiencing a surge in alternative healing practices. Ayurveda tops the list with nearly 80 % domestic adherents. Its promotion is widespread and the medical outcomes have proven to be favorable in case of many common ailments and some serious disorders. The use of isabgol husk for constipation, ashwaganda as a general tonic, neem, and vajradanti for dental care, and brahmi for hair care are markers for the efficacy of this tradition-bound healing system.  

Ayurveda market is expected to grow to 700 plus billion INR globally by the year 2024 due to a CAGR of 24.04%. The immense and ever-increasing range of products is the reason for spectacular growth. Up till now, the formulations were created by the practitioners most of which were not registered and delivered on the spot. In absence of standardization and delivery mechanism, the reach was immensely curtailed a few decades back.

There are many companies that are making only Ayurvedic products. They have diversified the segments, especially in dental care, hygiene, tonic, and antihistamines thus providing relief from various allergies and minor infections.  Therefore, the range is being increased at a fast pace.

As compared to 62 % of users of Ayurvedic medicines in the year 2016 around 80% of households use them in 2021. The paradigm shift in standardization with the emergence of registered practitioners, and availability of formulations in medical stores pan India in hygienic, attractive packaging has led to widespread consumption.

The system has been promoted in Europe and the Americas not by the immigrants but by westerners who follow the Indian Gurus. This has been the case with Yoga as well.  Encouragement by AYUSH Ministry in charge of promoting alternative systems is having a positive impact on medical travel in India.


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