Traditional Medicine: A Review of work in India (2012-2017)

  • Urmila M Thatte
  • Nithya J Gogtay
Keywords: Traditional medicine – Plant pharmacology – Ayurveda Biology - review


India has a rich heritage in its traditional systems of medicine including Ayurveda, Siddha, and Unani and there has been a lot of research in this area. This paper examines the published contribution of Indian scientists to “Traditional Medicine” research in the last five years (2012-2017). Medline was searched for English language publications with Pubmed as the interface using two sets of search terms “Traditional Medicine” AND India and “Traditional

Medicines” AND India. A filter for last 5 years was applied (2012-2017). Papers were included if at least one author was from India. The search yielded n = 670 papers of which 483 met the inclusion criteria. Of the 483, 63 papers resulted from international collaborations and there was a wide distribution of publications across the country. As many as 393/483 (81%) articles were on plants and the strategy remained evaluation of one or other extract or compound from a plant for efficacy, safety or development of a method. However, there was no commonality of purpose, no thread in the diseases covered, no direction. A number of clinical studies have been reported in conditions ranging from cancer and arthritis to malaria and dengue. As many as 66/483 (13%) of the papers identified were field surveys recording traditional medicine practices –either documenting all the plants (and sometimes insects) used by tribes or recording the treatments used for certain diseases. It is clear from this data that the large part of work that is undertaken under the heading of TM is related to plant pharmacology with no efforts to develop a drug from them. There is indeed very little work related to “Traditional Medicine”.