Prakriti classification of Ayurveda has genetic basis, says study

By TNT Bureau

Nov 5, 2015: Ayurveda is one of the oldest systems of health, medicine and holistic living. Its philosophy helps individual to understand his/her own body and mind, so that he/she can cultivate a healthy lifestyle.

According to Ayurveda, each individual has a particular temperament and constitution (prakriti) which is formed during the union of sperm and ovum itself, so it is genetic in origin.

Prakriti-based classification of individuals

Ayurveda classifies people into three categories of Prakriti on the basis of dosha and the gunas (refers to three qualities ? sattva, etc.) that are prominent in each individual. There are three doshas: vata (related to movement), pitta (related to digestion), and kapha (related to cumulation).

Ayurveda defines health and illness in terms of equilibrium or imbalance in these doshas. If one?s doshas are in sync with one?s prakriti, the person is healthy. If the proportion of doshas and prakriti differs significantly, there is imbalance that leads to illness.

So classification based on prakriti plays a pivotal role not only in cultivating a healthy lifestyle, but also in diagnosing the illness of a patient. Without knowing the prakriti of any individual, no treatment is possible in Ayurveda.

Genetic basis of prakriti classification

Since long the correlation between genomics and prakriti classification has been hypothesized. Several studies in the past have tried to establish the correlation as well. But a recent study published in Nature journal by a team of Indian scientists has come upon certain results that establishes a genetic basis for prakriti classification.

?We carried out a thorough assessment of normal individuals and put one million genetic markers to analyse and segregate on the basis of Prakriti,? said Kumarasamy Thangaraj of the Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology, Hyderabad, which works under the state-run Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR).
The scientists put on observation 3416 healthy men based at different geographical locations and belonging to different linguistic and ethnic groups. Out of these 3416 men, 262, who could be clearly classified into various prakriti types based on their examination, were selected.

?Interestingly, although we had individuals from different ancestries and communities, they all got classified into these three classifications. This was a sign there is real science behind this Ayurvedic classification,? said Thangaraj, who is one the co-authors of the paper.

The scientists did a genome wide ?single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP)? analysis on these 262 subjects. The analysis showed that there were 52 SNPs (genetic variations) that were prominently different from the three prakriti types. Using the principal component analysis of these SNPs, the scientists successfully classified their 262 subjects into their prakriti types.
They corroborated their findings by further analyzing samples of 297 Indians with known ancestry. The highlight of the study is that, the scientists were able to classify subjects into prakriti types using SNP?s irrespective of their ancestry. They found a gene PGM1 that correlates with prakriti type-pitta.

So this study not only clearly establishes a genetic basis of Ayurvedic classification of individuals based on prakriti but has also provided scientific evidence for the same. It marks another successful attempt at narrowing the gap between Ayurveda and evidence-based scientific approach.

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