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Ayurveda is now the mantra in America too
by Sutirtho Patranobis 

Guess what the Americans are turning to lately after eating all that junk food? Isabgol. A survey funded by the Commerce Ministry and conducted by the Health Ministry has found that Ayurvedic drugs are becoming popular in the United States with more Americans trying to "return to nature".

"Though the market for Ayurvedic drugs in the US is not very big, four to five formulations have already gained acceptance there. Isabgol is very popular. The acceptability for such drugs is growing as well," says Joint Secretary, Indian Systems of Medicine, Union Health Ministry, L. Prasad.

In fact, a delegation of 15 US scientists is likely to fly down in April to interact with Ayurveda experts here. "We are in touch with the National Centre for Complementary and Alternative Systems of Medicine of the US. The scientists are expected in the second week of April," Prasad adds.

The survey, in which the Ayurvedic Drug Manufacturing Association (ADMA) taking part, was commissioned last year and the report was submitted recently. ORG-Marg was hired to distribute questionnaires to doctors and health officials all over the US and collect the data. The thick report at the end of it came at a cost of around Rs 25 lakh.

The report also threw up the problems that plague the fledgling industry. Says ADMA's Dr Narendra Bhatt: "Lack of awareness about is the main problem. Also the formulation of the drugs needs to be done.

Ravi Prasad of an Ayurvedic drug manufacturing company adds the herbs need to identified and analysed and series of tests need to be conducted before being released into a new market. "The US health authorities insist on trials and toxicity studies followed by clinical trials. The drugs would also have to be standardised according to laid down rules," he adds.

That could pose a problem, according to the experts, as there are 4,000 Ayurvedic formulations, combining different herbs, written down in 54 ancient books.




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