Can ayurveda be explained through genetics?

By TNT Bureau

Oct 12, 2016: Modern science has always been intrigued by traditional ayurveda and varied therapeutic ways associated with it, leading to varied scientific explanations. Ayurveda, the traditional healing method from India has a rich heritage and is widely known for both physical and mental health benefits across the world.

It was around six years ago that Kumarasamy Thangraj decided to conduct an extensive research on ayurveda after receiving a call from biomedical research founder MS Valiathan.

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In accordance to ayurvedic wisdom, recognition and dealing of illness depends upon domination forces present in an individual?s foundation. Such forces are described as dosha prakritis and consist of three elements that are vata, pita and kapha. Thangaraj started off with examining this classification using a genetic basis.

For the next 6 years he worked in collaboration with a number of renowned scientists and physicians to find out whether prakritis could be explained at a genomic level or not. Well, the findings which were published in the journal Nature Scientific Reports sure point out towards a positive reply.

 The prakriti experimentation

The research was conducted on individuals who exhibited any of the three doshas. Around 3,000 people were scanned by two sets of ayurvedic experts. Out of these only 262 of them were sure to consist of 60% and above of any of the dosha and thus, they were the ones who made it to the final list.

Then the researchers tested the DNA of these 262 participants and examined it under Single Nucleotide Polymorphisms or SNPs. At the same time, Kapaettu Satyamoorthy studied epigenetic makers at Indian Institute of Science and Pataru Kondiah looked at gene expression at Manipal University.

The analysis pointed out two important results. Firstly, 52 genetic markers were identified that were found in a single dosha only. Secondly, it was found that there were 3 unique clusters in the markers, one for every dosha.

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The pitta explanation

Additionally, the researchers found a powerful appearance of the gene PGM1. This gene is responsible for sugar levels within the body, among people who were classified as pitta dosha.

Then, the team found few connections between gene functions and some characteristics of vata and kapha doshas. ?We take a doctrine or a concept in Ayurveda and see if we can convert it into an experimental problem. How do you make dosha prakriti a biological question that we can test in the lab?, said Valiathan.

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