Geriatric Clinic – Ayurveda

The Department of AYUSH, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Government of India has to launched a National Campaign on Ayurveda in Geriatric to create greater awareness among Policy makers, Health Providers and the Common Man and create avenues for coordination on promotion of Ayurveda in Geriatric. Accordingly, a Geriatric Clinic is going to established shortly in the OPD City Center of NEIAH, Shillong to facilitate the specialty health care services to the people suffering with old age problems. The World population of the elderly is increasing and by the year 2050, adults older than 65 years will comprise 1/5 th of the global population. In India 3.8% of the population are older than 65 years of age. According to an estimate the likely number of elderly people in India by 2016 will be around 113 million. The global health scenario in geriatrics in the twenty-first century is going to witness a gradual decline in fertility, and with increase in life expectancy, the society will need to grapple with issues of longevity. The cause of morbidity and mortality world over is shifting from communicable diseases a few decades ago to non-communicable diseases. The leading causes of mortality among aged people comprise respiratory problems, heart diseases, cancer and stroke. Significant causes of morbidity among this group is chronic inflammatory and degenerative conditions such as Arthritis, Diabetes Osteoporosis, Alzheimer’s disease, Depression, Psychiatric disorders, Parkinson’s disease and age related urinary problems.


Ayurveda on the other hand has interventions those enhance physiological processes that influence metabolic and immunological status (cyavanaprasha, triphala) and such interventions are significant in the context of geriatric care.
Ayurveda  has a focused branch of medicine  called Rasayana (Rejuvenation) which exclusively deals with the problems related to aging and methods to counter the same. Geriatrics or Jara cikitsa or Rasayana in Ayurveda is a method to control / slow down / arrest the aging process in the human being during the degenerative phase of one’s life. Rasayana is normally advised during this degenerative phase which starts from around 45 yrs in both male and female. A holistic system like Ayurveda approaches this condition through two-fold methods. One is a radical approach in which it recharges the whole metabolic process of the body by eliminating the toxins from the system by a three to four months rigorous and organized process known as  Kutipraveshika Rasayana. However, this process is seldom practiced due to the extreme intricacy of the physiological process involved and the need for utmost care to be taken by the physician and subject including the environment where thetreatment is done. Hence this Kutipraveshika remains as a textual marvel of Ayurveda than a practical process of contemporary relevance. The second approach of Ayurveda, which is quite popular today, is called  Vataatapika Rasayana – which can go along with the normal day to day life.  This type of Rasayana is particularly important in the current scenario as it has a relatively easy mode of administration without any restrictive pre-conditions.

Apart from this, Rasayana are also classified as:

A. Medhya Rasayana: Rasayana that act specifically as brain tonics, eg: Shankhapushpi, Mandukaparni, Yashtimadhu and Guduchi.
B. Vardhamana Rasayana: Rasayana given in a gradual step-up dosage from a minimum to a maximum dose followed by a tapering back, eg: Vardhamana Pippali Rasayana.
C. Droni-Praveshika Rasayana: A very spectacular form of Rasayana, where in a person is made to consume stomach full of the juice of 38 rare herbs and made to lie down in a wooden casket for a period of 6 months (unconscious). This again has no known history of being performed anywhere in the near past, although finds a mention in the text as being one that will enable an old person to completely regain his youth.

Core areas of strength in Ayurveda

Undoubtedly the strength of Ayurveda in the context of Geriatric care is Rasayana therapy,  which is unique because of its ability to promote longevity and influence all aspects of health in a positive way. Describing the effects of Rasayana, the classical texts of Ayurveda say that from Rasayana one attains longevity, improved harmony and intelligence, freedom from disorder, youthful vigor, excellence of luster, complexion and voice, optimum strength of physique and senses, command over language, respectability and brilliance. Ayurveda considers the physical structure to be composed of 7 dhatus starting from Rasa (Rasadi Dhatus) and Rasayana is the tool to create premium dhatus (body tissues). The main utility of Rasayana therapy is in functional and degenerative disorders that have a chronic or long standing nature. In such cases, in fact, Rasayana is the only solution from the point of view of effective management in any system of medicine. Rasayana becomes more fruitful and effective if it is preceded with suitable panchakarma (purificatory therapy). The reason we see mixed results in many cases where Rasayana is employed is because of the fact that either this purification is not done or improperly done.