Sutra Sthana Chapter 10. The four important components of Therapeutics
|Section/Chapter||Sutra Sthana Chapter 10|
|Preceding Chapter||Khuddakachatushpada Adhyaya|
|Succeeding Chapter||Tistraishaniya Adhyaya|
|Other Sections||Nidana Sthana, Vimana Sthana, Sharira Sthana, Indriya Sthana, Chikitsa Sthana, Kalpa Sthana, Siddhi Sthana|
|Translator and commentator||Chandola H.M., Kajaria D.|
|Reviewer||Gujarathi R., Godatwar P.|
|Editor||Dixit U., Deole Y.S., Basisht G.|
|Year of publication||2020|
|Publisher||Charak Samhita Research, Training and Skill Development Centre|
Keywords: Prognosis of diseases, types of prognosis, importance of prognosis in therapeutics, curable, incurable, palliable diseases
- 1 Introduction
- 2 Sanskrit text, Transliteration and English Translation
- 2.1 Four components of therapeutics
- 2.2 Maitreya’s Observation and Query
- 2.3 Reply by Atreya
- 2.4 General Principles of Management
- 2.5 Knowledge of prognosis
- 2.5.1 Consequences of treatment after knowing prognosis
- 2.5.2 Types of Prognosis
- 2.5.3 Prognostic criteria for easily curable diseases
- 2.5.4 Prognostic criteria for curable diseases with difficulty
- 2.5.5 Prognostic criteria for palliable diseases
- 2.5.6 Prognostic criteria for incurable diseases
- 2.5.7 Importance of prognosis
- 2.6 Summary
- 3 Tattva Vimarsha (Fundamental Principles)
- 4 Vidhi Vimarsha (Applied Inferences)
- 5 Future scope for research
- 6 References
This chapter describes four types of diseases on the basis of prognosis and emphasizes the importance of knowledge of prognosis for successful management of disease. It is important to assess the prognosis of a patient before initiating treatment. Lord Atreya responds to the queries of Maitreya regarding the role of therapeutics in the eradication of disease and prescribes the four components of Healthcare Management. He suggests that even the most wise physician and the most efficient therapeutic measure cannot prevent or cure an ailment without knowing its prognosis. The chapter gives details of all the factors that are helpful in deciding the prognosis of a disease including prakriti (body type). Some fundamental principles of management like nourishment therapy, fasting therapy, treating the root cause of disease, hot therapy and cold therapy are mentioned to exemplify the principle of dhatu samyata (maintenance of stable equilibrium or concept of homeostasis).
Sanskrit text, Transliteration and English Translation
इति ह स्माहभगवानात्रेयः||२||
iti ha smAhabhagavAnAtreyaH||2||
Now we shall expound chapter "Mahachatushpada" (Four important components of therapeutics). Thus said Lord Atreya.[1-2]
Four components of therapeutics
चतुष्पादंषोडशकलंभेषजमितिभिषजोभाषन्ते, यदुक्तंपूर्वाध्यायेषोडशगुणमिति, तद्भेषजंयुक्तियुक्तमलमारोग्यायेतिभगवान्पुनर्वसुरात्रेयः||३||
According to physicians, therapeutics has four components which have sixteen qualities. The same has been stated in the preceding chapter, therapeutics with these sixteen qualities have the capacity to eliminate diseases, so said Lord Punarvasu Atreya.
Maitreya’s Observation and Query
नेतिमैत्रेयः, किंकारणं? दृश्यन्तेह्यातुराःकेचिदुपकरणवन्तश्चपरिचारकसम्पन्नाश्चात्मवन्तश्चकुशलैश्चभिषग्भिरनुष्ठिताःसमुत्तिष्ठमानाः, तथायुक्ताश्चापरेम्रियमाणाः; तस्माद्भेषजमकिञ्चित्करंभवति, तद्यथा- श्वभ्रेसरसि च प्रसिक्तमल्पमुदकं, नद्यांवास्यन्दमानायांपांसुधानेवापांसुमुष्टिःप्रकीर्णइति; तथाऽपरेदृश्यन्तेऽनुपकरणाश्चापरिचारकाश्चानात्मवन्तश्चाकुशलैश्चभिषग्भिरनुष्ठिताःसमुत्तिष्ठमानाः, तथायुक्ताम्रियमाणाश्चापरे| यतश्चप्रतिकुर्वन्सिध्यति, प्रतिकुर्वन्म्रियते; अप्रतिकुर्वन्सिध्यति, अप्रतिकुर्वन्म्रियते; ततश्चिन्त्यतेभेषजमभेषजेनाविशिष्टमिति ||४||
NetimaitreyaH, kiMkAraNaM? dRushyantehyAturAHkecidupakaraNavantashca paricArakasampannAshcAtmavantashcakushalaishcabhiShagbhiranuShThitAH samuttiShThamAnAH, tathAyuktAshcAparemriyamANAH; tasmAdbheShajamaki~jcitkaraMbhavati, tadyathA- shvabhresarasi ca prasiktamalpamudakaM, nadyAMvAsyandamAnAyAMpAMsudhAnevApAMsumuShTiHprakIrNaiti; tathA~apare dRushyante~anupakaraNAshcAparicArakAshcAnAtmavantashcAkushalaishca bhiShagbhiranuShThitAHsamuttiShThamAnAH, tathAyuktAmriyamANAshcApare| yatashcapratikurvansidhyati, pratikurvanmriyate; apratikurvansidhyati, apratikurvanmriyate; tatashcintyatebheShajamabheShajenAvishiShTamiti ||4||
Maitreya contradicts and puts query – “What is the reason that some patients managed by proper medicaments, attendants, and well qualified physicians, who are also having self control, soon recover from the diseases? On the other hand, in spite of all these, some die? So therapeutics is of no value (in the eradication of diseases). This is just like a drop of water thrown into a ditch or pond or a handful of dust thrown into a flowing river or on a heap of dust. On the contrary, even without proper medicaments, attendants, good physicians, patients having no self control, recover from the diseases, however others in the similar situation also die. To sum up: It may be said that therapeutic measures or no therapeutic measures, results are the same. For one who is taking recourse to therapeutic measures may sometime succeed in recovering from the diseases and may sometimes die as well. Similar is the case with one who does not pay any heed to therapeutic measures”. 
Reply by Atreya
मैत्रेय !मिथ्याचिन्त्यतइत्यात्रेयः; किंकारणं, येह्यातुराःषोडशगुणसमुदितेनानेनभेषजेनोपपद्यमानाम्रियन्तइत्युक्तंतदनुपपन्नं, न हिभेषजसाध्यानांव्याधीनांभेषजमकारणंभवति; येपुनरातुराःकेवलाद्भेषजादृतेसमुत्तिष्ठन्ते, न तेषांसम्पूर्णभेषजोपपादनायसमुत्थानविशेषो
नास्ति; यथाहिपतितंपुरुषंसमर्थमुत्थानायोत्थापयन्पुरुषोबलमस्योपादध्यात्, स क्षिप्रतरमपरिक्लिष्ट एवोत्तिष्ठेत्, तद्वत्सम्पूर्णभेषजोपलम्भादातुराः; येचातुराःकेवलाद्भेषजादपिम्रियन्ते, न च सर्वएवतेभेषजोपपन्नाःसमुत्तिष्ठेरन्, नहिसर्वेव्याधयोभवन्त्युपायसाध्याः, नचोपायसाध्यानांव्याधीनामनुपायेनसिद्धिरस्ति, न चासाध्यानांव्याधीनांभेषजसमुदायोऽयमस्ति
न ह्यलंज्ञानवान्भिषङ्मुमूर्षुमातुरमुत्थापयितुं; परीक्ष्यकारिणोहिकुशलाभवन्ति, यथाहियोगज्ञोऽभ्यासनित्यइष्वासोधनुरादायेषुमस्यन्नातिविप्रकृष्टेमहतिकायेनापराधवान्भवति, सम्पादयतिचेष्टकार्यं, तथाभिषक्स्वगुणसम्पन्नउपकरणवान्वीक्ष्यकर्मारभमाणःसाध्यरोगमनपराधःसम्पादयत्येवातुरमारोग्येण; तस्मान्नभेषजमभेषजेनाविशिष्टंभवति||५||
Maitreya! mithyAcintyataityAtreyaH; kiMkAraNaM, ye hyAturAHShoDashaguNasamuditenAnenabheShajenopapadyamAnAmriyantaityuktaMtadanupapannaM, na hi bheShajasAdhyAnAMvyAdhInAMbheShajamakAraNaMbhavati; ye punarAturAHkevalAdbheShajAdRutesamuttiShThante, nateShAMsampUrNabheShajopapAdanAyasamutthAnavisheShonAsti; yathA hi patitaMpuruShaMsamarthamutthAnAyotthApayanpuruShobalamasyopAdadhyAt, sakShiprataramaparikliShTa evottiShThet, tadvatsampUrNabheShajopalambhAdAturAH; ye cAturAHkevalAdbheShajAdapimriyante,na ca sarvaevatebheShajopapannAHsamuttiShTheran, nahisarvevyAdhayobhavantyupAyasAdhyAH, nacopAyasAdhyAnAMvyAdhInAmanupAyenasiddhirasti, nacAsAdhyAnAMvyAdhInAMbheShajasamudAyo~ayamasti, nahyalaMj~jAnavAnbhiSha~gmumUrShumAturamutthApayituM; parIkShyakAriNo hi kushalAbhavanti, yathA hi yogaj~jo~abhyAsanityaiShvAsodhanurAdAyeShumasyannAtiviprakRuShTemahatikAynAparAdhavAnbhavati, sampAdayaticeShTakAryaM, tathAbhiShaksvaguNasampannaupakaraNavAnvIkShyakarmArabhamANaHsAdhyarogamanaparAdhaHsampAdayatyevAturamArogyeNa; tasmAnnabheShajamabheShajenAvishiShTaMbhavati||5||
To this Lord Atreya remarks, “Oh Maitreya! The conclusion derived by you is not correct. Because, to say that the patients adopting the therapeutic measures having the sixteen qualities die is not borne out of facts. Therapeutic measures can never be ineffective in curable diseases. Similarly, even in such cases where patients are cured without proper medication, it should be understood that had there been proper administration of therapeutic measures the process of cure would have been quicker and better. This can be likened to the lifting of a healthy person who has fallen. He can no doubt get up himself but if he is helped and lifted by another person, he would get up sooner and without much difficulty. Similar is the case with patients stated to have been cured without adequate therapeutic measures. Then there is the case where patients die even by taking recourse to adequate therapeutic measures. It is not that all patients taking recourse to therapeutic measures are necessarily cured because all diseases are not curable. Diseases that are curable can be cured only by taking recourse to therapeutic measures. Those that are not curable will certainly not respond to the treatment and not even the ablest physician is capable of curing the moribund patient. An able physician always proceeds with their treatment after proper examination. As an archer having the knowledge and practice (of archery) shoots arrows with the help of his bow and does not commit mistakes in hitting a massive body nearby and thus accomplishes his object, so a physician endowed with his own qualities and other accessories proceeding with the act (of treatment) after proper examination will certainly cure a curable patient without fail. So it is not correct to say that there is no difference between the application and non-application of therapeutic measures”. 
General Principles of Management
इदं चनःप्रत्यक्षं- यदनातुरेणभेषजेनातुरंचिकित्सामः , क्षाममक्षामेण, कृशं च दुर्बलमाप्याययामः, स्थूलंमेदस्विनमपतर्पयामः, शीतेनोष्णाभिभूतमुपचरामः, शीताभिभूतमुष्णेन, न्यूनान्धातून्पूरयामः, व्यतिरिक्तान्ह्रासयामः, व्याधीन्मूलविपर्ययेणोपचरन्तःसम्यक्प्रकृतौस्थापयामः; तेषांनस्तथाकुर्वतामयंभेषजसमुदायःकान्ततमोभवति||६||
idaM ca naHpratyakShaM- yadanAtureNabheShajenAturaMcikitsAmaH, kShAmamakShAmeNa, kRushaM ca durbalamApyAyayAmaH, sthUlaMmedasvinamapatarpayAmaH, shItenoShNAbhibhUtamupacarAmaH, shItAbhibhUtamuShNena, nyUnAndhAtUnpUrayAmaH, vyatiriktAnhrAsayAmaH, vyAdhInmUlaviparyayeNopacarantaHsamyakprakRutausthApayAmaH; teShAMnastathAkurvatAmayaMbheShajasamudAyaH kAntatamobhavati||6||
And we see with our own eyes that we cure a patient by taking a recourse to curative therapeutic measures- the depleted body elements by increasing them. We give nourishment to those who are weak and emaciated. We administer reducing therapy to the one who is obese. We treat patients afflicted by heat with cooling measures and the one afflicted by cold with heating measures. We adopt proper measures to replenish the deficient dhatus (tissue elements, doshas and malas) and deplete those that are in excess. We thus bring back the physiological state by treating the diseases with those having opposite properties of causative factors. Thus the group of therapeutic measures gives us the best result in the management of diseases. 
Knowledge of prognosis
Consequences of treatment after knowing prognosis
भवन्तिचात्र- साध्यासाध्यविभागज्ञोज्ञानपूर्वंचिकित्सकः| कालेचारभतेकर्मयत्तत्साधयतिध्रुवम्||७||
bhavanticAtra- sAdhyAsAdhyavibhAgaj~joj~jAnapUrvaMcikitsakaH| kAlecArabhate karma yattatsAdhayatidhruvam||7||
A physician who can distinguish between curable and incurable diseases and initiates treatment in time with the full knowledge (about the various aspects of the therapeutics) can certainly accomplish his objective (of curing the disease). On the other hand, a physician who undertakes the treatment of an incurable disease would undoubtedly subject himself to the loss of wealth, knowledge and fame and will also earn bad reputation and other royal sanctions or punishments. [7-8]
Types of Prognosis
सुखसाध्यंमतंसाध्यंकृच्छ्रसाध्यमथापिच| द्विविधंचाप्यसाध्यंस्याद्याप्यंयच्चानुपक्रमम् ||९||
साध्यानांत्रिविधश्चाल्पमध्यमोत्कृष्टतांप्रति| विकल्पो, न त्वसाध्यानांनियतानांविकल्पना||१०||
sukhasAdhyaMmataMsAdhyaMkRucchrasAdhyamathApi ca| dvividhaMcApyasAdhyaMsyAdyApyaMyaccAnupakramam||9|| sAdhyAnAMtrividhashcAlpamadhyamotkRuShTatAMprati| vikalpo, natvasAdhyAnAMniyatAnAMvikalpanA||10||
Curable diseases are of two types- one that can be cured easily and the other with some difficulty. Similarly, incurable diseases are of two types, viz., one which is palliable and the other which is absolutely irreversible. Again, the curable diseases have three alternants depending upon the moderate and excellent methods required to cure them. This alternative is, however, not possible with regard to diseases which are absolutely incurable. [9-10]
Prognostic criteria for easily curable diseases
हेतवःपूर्वरूपाणिरूपाण्यल्पानियस्य च| न च तुल्यगुणोदूष्यो न दोषःप्रकृतिर्भवेत्||११||
न च कालगुणस्तुल्यो न देशोदुरुपक्रमः| गतिरेकानवत्वं च रोगस्योपद्रवो न च||१२||
hetavaHpUrvarUpANirUpANyalpAniyasya ca| na ca tulyaguNodUShyonaDoshaH prakRutirbhavet||11||
na ca kAlaguNastulyonadeshodurupakramaH| gatirekAnavatvaM ca rogasyopadravona ca ||12||
The following are the factors that determine the nature of the diseases which are easily curable:
- Causes, premonitory symptoms, and other signs and symptoms that are mild,
- Qualities of dhatus involved are not in common with those of the doshas,
- Doshas constituting the prakriti (physical and mental constitution) of the patient are not similar
- The season is not conducive to the growth of the disease
- The geographical and bodily positions are not conducive to the growth of the disease
- Location of the disease is confined to only one system
- Recently originated (not chronic)
- Having no complications
- Only one dosha is involved in the pathogenesis of the disease
- The body is amenable to all kinds of the medicaments and
- Fourfold therapeutic measures are available. [11-13]
Prognostic criteria for curable diseases with difficulty
निमित्तपूर्वरूपाणांरूपाणांमध्यमेबले| कालप्रकृतिदूष्याणांसामान्येऽन्यतमस्य च||१४||
nimittapUrvarUpANAMrUpANAMmadhyame bale| kAlaprakRutidUShyANAMsAmAnye~anyatamasya ca||14||garbhiNIvRuddhabAlAnAMnAtyupadravapIDitam| shastrakShArAgnikRutyAnAmanavaMkRucchradeshajam||15||
vidyAdekapathaMrogaM nAtipUrNacatuShpadam| dvipathaMnAtikAlaMvAkRucchrasAdhyaMdviDoshajam||16||
Following are the factors that determine the nature of the diseases which are difficult to get cured:
- Causes, premonitory symptoms and other signs and symptoms are of slightly serious nature
- The qualities of any one of the kala (season), prakriti (physical including mental constitution) and dhatus (tissue elements) are favorable to the disease (doshas)
- The person suffering from the disease is a pregnant woman, old, or child
- There are moderate types of complications
- The diseases in which treatment, surgery, application of alkalis and cauterization are involved
- The diseases that are not new could we say chronic disease or diseases not of recent onset?
- The diseases occurring in vital parts and joints
- Diseases involving only one system but not fully supported by the four fold therapeutic measures.
- Diseases extending to two systems but not very chronic, and
- Diseases that are caused by the vitiation of two doshas. [14-16]
Prognostic criteria for palliable diseases
The palliable group of diseases are characterized as follows:
- As preordained, the patient has survived for a certain period by following a wholesome regimen and as such has enjoyed a little relief, but even a slightest carelessness might quickly aggravate the condition
- The disease has affected deep seated dhatus
- The disease involves a number of dhatus
- It affects the vital organs and joints
- It affects the patient continuously for a long time (chronic), and
- The disease is caused by the vitiation of the two doshas. [17-18]
Prognostic criteria for incurable diseases
औत्सुक्यारतिसम्मोहकरमिन्द्रियनाशनम्| दुर्बलस्यसुसंवृद्धंव्याधिंसारिष्टमेव च||२०||
autsukyAratisammohakaramindriyanAshanam| durbalasyasusaMvRuddhaMvyAdhiMsAriShTameva ca||20||
Likewise, the following factors would determine the absolute incurability of the disease:
- Disease caused by the vitiation of all the three doshas
- Disease that transcend all therapeutic measures
- Diseases that involves all the systems
- Disease causing excitement, restlessness and confusion
- Disease which affects the sense organs
- The affected person is usually weak and the disease is sufficiently advanced, and
- The disease having bad prognostic signs. [19-20]
Importance of prognosis
साध्यासाध्यविभागज्ञोयःसम्यक्प्रतिपत्तिमान्| न स मैत्रेयतुल्यानांमिथ्याबुद्धिंप्रकल्पयेत्||२२||
bhiShajAprAkparIkShyaivaMvikArANAMsvalakShaNam| pashcAtkarmasamArambhaH kAryaHsAdhyeShudhImatA||21||
A wise physician should examine the distinctive features of the diseases first and then start his treatment (only) of the curable diseases. So a physician who can distinguish between curable and incurable diseases, and who possesses the right applications, will not subscribe to the wrong notions prevailing among pseudo- physicians like Maitreya, and say that he will certainly succeed in curing diseases. [21-22]
In brief, therapies, prognostic criteria of the disease and its importance in therapeutics, two different views (in this connection) of Atreya and Maitreya, the conclusion, four types of prognosis of diseases and its characteristics are described in this “Detailed chapter on Therapeutics”. Treatment of diseases depends upon these considerations. [23-24]
Thus ends the tenth “Detailed chapter on four important components of the Therapeutics” chapter of Sutra section of Agnivesha’s work as redacted by Charak.
Tattva Vimarsha (Fundamental Principles)
- Proper administration of therapeutic measures hastens the process of cure in case of curable diseases. Therefore, correct diagnosis and prognosis at the earliest by the physician is important for getting better results with treatment. 
- The treatment should be aimed at restoring physiological equilibrium. The various ways to bring this equilibrium are to increase the depleted nutrients, nourish those who are weak and emaciated, and reduce the one who are obese, those afflicted by heat with cooling measures and those afflicted by cold with heating measures. Proper measures to replenish the deficient dhatus (tissue elements, doshas and malas) and deplete those that are in excess should be adopted. Thus these therapeutic measures give us the best result in the management of diseases. The diseases can be categorized under four types on the basis of their prognosis viz.
- Easily curable,
- Curable with some difficulty,
- Palliable and
- Absolutely irreversible or incurable. (9-10)
- The following factors should be considered to determine prognosis of disease [ 11-20]
Table 1: Factors affecting prognosis of disease
|Easily curable||Curable with difficulty||Palliable||Absolutely incurable|
|Severity of signs/ symptoms||Mild||Moderate||Severe||Severe and advanced stages|
|Dosha involved in disease||Opposite to one’s prakriti [constitution]||Same as of prakriti /favorable to disease||Same as of prakriti /favorable to disease||Same as of prakriti /favorable to disease|
|Dushya [body tissues affected]||Opposite to one’s prakriti [constitution]||Same as of prakriti /favorable to disease||Same as of prakriti /favorable to disease||Many tissues, deep seated and Favorable to disease|
|Place of living of patient||Opposite to one’s prakriti [constitution]||Same as of prakriti /favorable to disease||Same as of prakriti /favorable to disease||Same as of prakriti /favorable to disease|
|Season/ time of affection /Age||Opposite to one’s prakriti [constitution]||Same as of prakriti /favorable to disease||Same as of prakriti /favorable to disease||Same as of prakriti /favorable to disease|
|Movement of dosha||One sided||Two sided||Many ways for movements||All ways for movements/all systems involved|
|Duration of onset||New onset||Chronic, but still recent||Very chronic and continuously affecting the patient||Very chronic and continuously affecting the patient|
|Complications||No||Minor/less complications||Many complications||Many complications with bad prognostic signs|
|Number of involved Dosha||One||Two||Two||Three|
|Body||Can tolerate all medicines||Occurred in pregnancy, children, old age||Affecting vital organs, major joints||Weak body, Affecting vital organs, major joints|
|Nature of treatment||Medicines||Surgical/ agni/ kshara||Continuous treatment needed||transcend all therapeutic measures|
|Four pillars of management /patients nature||With all qualities of physician, patient, nurse and medicines available||Not with all qualities||The patient lives, get relief for some time after following wholesome regimen and the disease gets triggered after a little exposure to causative factors also||All senses of patients are affected, signs like undue excitement, restlessness, confused state of mind with bad prognostic signs|
A wise physician should always consider above factors to determine prognosis of a disease and then start treatment. 
Vidhi Vimarsha (Applied Inferences)
In the contemporary medical system, the curable and incurable signs and symptoms of diseases are well understood but the criteria for deciding the prognosis are different than Ayurveda. There is availability of advanced technology in the form of imaging, biochemical, immunological, molecular and genetic studies etc. for diagnosis and assessment of prognostic factors of diseases. Inspite of such sophisticated tools, prognostic criteria are limited to diseases only. Overdependence on these studies has caused enormous increase in the cost of medical care. On the other hand, assessment of prognostic criteria of Ayurveda based on understanding prakriti (body type) with dosha, dhatu, mala, agni, and indriya are for both health and disease. These are entirely clinical and fairly accurate depending upon the clinical acumen of Ayurvedic physician. The concept of personalized medicine known to modern medicine is very limited at this time and is helpful in certain cancers and genetic diseases only. In future, it will be helpful to use a combination of prognostic criteria of both systems to provide better care at less expense.
Medical model and healthcare system
In 1971, the famous psychiatrist R.D. Laing coined a term ‘Medical model’ in his book “The Politics of the Family and Other Essays”, for the set of procedures in which all doctors are trained. This set includes complaint, history, physical examination, ancillary tests if needed for making diagnosis, treatment, and prognosis.  The medical model has proven highly successful, and even indispensable, in many contexts. The concepts of "disease" and "injury" are central to this model. An important aspect of the medical model is its focus on the identification of pathology of disease and an attempt to remove or control it (offense strategy). There is less attention paid to the capability of human body to heal itself or understanding what health is and ways to preserve, protect and rejuvenate health. That is why there is no defense strategy in modern medical system to prevent disease. There are vaccinations to prevent certain known infectious diseases and address mitigating factors causing chronic diseases, such as ischemic heart disease. That appears to be the reason for increasing incidences of autoimmune and degenerative diseases.
The rules and ethics that governed the medical system in ancient times remain the same even today. A step ahead of the contemporary classification of diseases, Ayurveda advocates the classification of diseases on the basis of prognosis before applying therapeutic measures as the basis of treatment for restoration of health. There are many diseases that are still incurable and according to medical ethics, it is essential to give proper information to the patient regarding diagnosis, management, and prognosis. Withholding the truth or giving wrong assurance is unethical and punishable. Thus, one should ascertain the prognosis of disease before proceeding with any course of treatment and then share the outcome with the patient.
Changes in prognosis with advanced medical care
Ayurveda holds the view that some diseases are incurable right from the beginning and also provides the details of the factors that cause such diseases. Therefore, it is irrational to apply therapeutic measures for such diseases. However, research shows that incurable diseases such as type-1 Diabetes mellitus (resembling with Vataja prameha) can become less severe with treatment factoring in all prognosis outcomes.
Type-1 diabetes meets all the criteria described above for incurability, like vitiation of all three doshas, affliction of ten dushyas with the nature of involved dosha and dushya are same (kapha dosha and meda dushya) along with prakriti compatibility of patient (predominance in kaphaja prakriti, like in an obese patient). Again due to genetic predisposition, kapha loses its natural characteristics, becoming liquefied and losing its usual properties. There is vitiation of vata dosha due to depletion of all dhatus, especially oja (the ultimate resultant of all seven dhatu metabolism). The pathogenesis of the disease starts with the admixture of vitiated kapha and meda and progression successively to involve other dhatus like mamsa, kleda etc. The dhatus are depleted so quickly that the body is unable to replenish it, ultimately leading to death. Thus, Diabetes Mellitus, is not merely a disease but a syndrome, proves to be fatal due to many complications like diabetic neuropathy, nephropathy, microangiopathy, cardiomyopathy, retinopathy, skin complications, as well as emergency crises such as hypoglycemic shock and diabetic ketoacidosis. There is successive involvement of all body tissues involving connective tissues, nerve tissues, muscle tissue etc, leading to severe depletion of insulin due to autoimmune degeneration of beta pancreatic cells. Genetic abnormalities cause impaired glucose, lipid and protein metabolism. Type-1 diabetes mellitus is an autoimmune disorder and destruction of body tissues by autoantibody is very fast causing loss of immune- intolerance and immune-component (oja) thus impairing body defense mechanism. There is disturbance in production and clearance of lipoprotein causing hampered functioning of insulin resulting in hyperglycemia and producing microvascular complications like retinopathy and nephropathy. However, for macrovascular complications, including neuropathy, pathogenesis starts before the onset of diabetes i.e. at the stage of lipid abnormalities. These factors make Type 1 Diabetes mellitus difficult to treat. The treatment consists of life-long insulin replacement by exogenous insulin. This is an example of an incurable disease although there is a lot of research work going on to find an effective remedy for this ailment.
Recent research has shown some herbs have effect on beta pancreatic cells to induce endogenous insulin production. Meshashringi (Gymnema Sylvester (Retz.) R.Br.; Gurmar) Kutaki (Picrorrhiza kurroa),Kiratatikta (Swertia chirata (Roxb.) Buch.-Hum  , Mamejjaka (Enicostema littorale Blume) and Pterocarpus marsupium  have proven to reduce blood glucose levels by modifying the prognostic factors of type 1 diabetes in experimental animals. Thus yearly detection and treatment of an incurable disorder like diabetes mellitus, by means of addressing prognostic factors at an early stage of disease, may prevent the progression of the ailment further into becoming incurable.
This chapter has emphasized the importance of understanding the prognosis of diseases and the factors causing them. Recent research in the field of Ayurveda has shown that incurable diseases can be controlled by addressing the prognostic factors and there is a need for both Ayurveda and contemporary medicine researchers to work together.
Future scope for research
- Research studies should be conducted to assess the impact of modern medical facilities , geared with sophisticated medical infrastructure, skilled nursing staff, and features to handle emergency services, in controlling the mortality and morbidity of a disease.
- Data can be collected to estimate the usefulness as well as limitations of therapeutics in the management of curable and incurable diseases.
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