Acceptance of Ayurvedic Medicine in the United States

ACCEPTANCE OF AYURVEDIC MEDICINE IN THE UNITED STATES. NON-ASIAN AMERICANS AND AYURVEDIC MEDICINE. THE USE OF AYURVEDIC MEDICINE FOR COGNITIVE DISORDERS BY A US NON-ASIAN POPULATION.

by Roger Parness, RN

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Submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Science in Holistic Medicine at the

Da Vinci College of Holistic Medicine. January 2016

Roger Parness, 2016. All Rights Reserved.

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

I wish to express my respect and appreciation to Dr. Georgiou for his leadership and inspiration in offering Holistic Medicine to the world. The educational opportunity offered by the Davinci College of Holistic Medicine with Dr. Georgiou at the lead has changed my life and afforded me the opportunity to help other human beings during these challenging times.

I also want to thank those who tirelessly assisted me in producing this dissertation especially my wife, Marisa Parness CNA CMT. Thanks everybody!

TABLE OF CONTENTS

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS                                                                                   iii

LIST OF TABLES                                                                                                  vi

CHAPTER

I      INTRODUCTION AND PROBLEM STATEMENT  3

Background  3

Statement of the Problem   3

Purpose of the Study  3

Research Design  3

Research Questions and Hypotheses  3

Assumptions  3

Limitations  3

Delimitations  3

Definition of Terms  3

Theoretical Framework  3

Research Method  3

Summary  3

 

II      LITERATURE REVIEW    3

Ayurvedic Medicine  3

Emphasis on Whole-Body Health  3

Ayurvedic Medicine in the United States  3

Ayurveda as a Complementary and Alternative Medicine Method  3

Ayurvedic Medicine for Specific Conditions  3

Integration with Western Medicine  3

Modality Combination  3

Cognitive Function Enhancement 3

Ayurveda in the Treatment of Dementia  3

The Use of Nootropics  3

Need for Further Research  3

Conclusion  3

 

III     RESEARCH METHODOLOGY  3

Research Design  3

Population and Sample  3

Instrumentation  3

Operational Definition of Variables  3

Data Gathering  3

Data Analysis  3

Ethical Procedures  3

Summary  3

 

IV      RESULTS  3

Introduction  3

Reliability Test of Surveys Instrument 3

Summaries of Responses on Researcher-developed Survey Instrument 3

Normality Testing  3

Spearman’s Correlation Results of Correlation between Study Variables  3

Summary  3

 

V      FINDINGS, CONCLUSIONS, AND RECOMMENDATIONS  3

Summary of Findings  3

Interpretation of Findings  3

Implication of Findings  3

Limitations  3

Recommendations for Future Research  3

Summary and Conclusion  3

BIBLIOGRAPHY  3

LIST OF TABLES

1       Cronbach’s alpha statistics of researcher-developed survey                          57

2       Frequency and percentage summaries of responses                                       60

3       Skewness and kurtosis of study variables                                                     63

4       Spearman correlation results                                                                          69

ABSTRACT

Ayurvedic treatments and therapies which are effective in treating cognitive disorders are generally unknown in the West. Mainstream medical practitioners often do not take Ayurvedic treatments seriously. Many think that because they are alternative treatments, evidence-based research is not worth doing for these treatments. Most of the literature on Ayurveda’s effectiveness on cognitive enhancement was carried out in an Asian context, and there is limited research on the use or efficacy of Ayurvedic medicine in the United States among non-Asians regarding cognitive enhancement or the treatment of cognitive maladies. The current study was designed to close this gap. The purpose of this quantitative, correlational, non-experimental research study was to assess the progress of Ayurvedic medicine in practice and acceptance in the United States. Another related aim was to determine to what extent the practitioners treat Western-origin patients for cognitive conditions. A total of 64 Ayurvedic practitioners in the United States were identified and surveyed via a 7-point Likert scale on their perceptions of the extent that non-Asian Americans seek out and use Ayurveda, particularly for cognitive ailments. Survey results showed a positive growth of Ayurvedic practices in the United States among non-Asian Americans, a positive trend in the use of non-Asian Americans of Ayurvedic medicines for their cognitive ailments, and an inverse relationship between perceptions of and satisfaction with Western medicine and willingness to try Ayurvedic medicines. These findings led to a clearer understanding of the role of Ayurveda in the lives and health of non-Asian patients in the U.S. and led to an understanding of why Ayurveda should be integrated into Western medicine for cognitive ailments.

CHAPTER I

INTRODUCTION AND PROBLEM STATEMENT

Two growing trends in American healthcare are evident: the increasing age of the population and the consequent increasing prevalence of cognitive health issues (Perry & Howes, 2011). Coupled with those phenomena is a surge of interest in cognitive enhancement therapies of all types (Tabassum, Rasool, Malik, & Ahmad, 2012). While it is not possible with existing medical technology to enhance intelligence per se, much recent research suggests a number of efficacious ways to enhance brain performance. Hunt, Jaeggi, Stough, and Johnson (2012) noted that stimulants and other therapies can increase brain performance and, therefore, effective intelligence in that the brain will be performing at peak capacity.

Ayurvedic medicine is an ancient comprehensive medical approach with its roots in India. It is more than 3000 years old, has extensive medical literature, and uses a vast pharmacopeia. Yet, it is not very well known in the West. However, this is changing (Xu & Chen, 2012; Horrigan, Lewis, Abrams, and Pechura, 2012) as both cultural diffusion and a perception of some inadequacies in existing healthcare systems, particularly in the US, are driving patients to seek out alternative treatment modalities.

Background

As it is an ancient medicine as well as a modern therapeutic approach subscribed to and practiced by hundreds of millions, Ayurveda has tackled the problem of enhancing cognitive function and thus features many effective therapies. These therapies include approaches to improve the functioning of healthy individuals as well as to treat problems such as dementia (Dwivedi, Singh, Malik, & Jawaid, 2012; Perry & Howes, 2011) and Alzheimer’s disease. However, it is only quite recently that alternative medicine, which includes Ayurveda, has been accepted in the West (Park, Beckham-Harned, Cho, Kim, & Kim, 2012; Xu & Chen, 2012). This means that there is a relative lack of research on the efficacy of alternative medicine treatment modalities (Perry & Howes, 2011).

In the field of cognitive enhancement therapy (both of healthy individuals and of those suffering from brain disorders) many advances have been made that stem from the practices of Ayurvedic and other traditional medicines, such as the use of nootropics (Dwivedi et al., 2012) and brain performance enhancers (Chan, Cheung, Sze, Leung, and Shi, 2011; Hunt et al., 2012). It is only a matter of time before these medicines are fused into the existing Western pharmacopeia (Xu & Chen, 2012). The perception in the West that alternative medicine is “not really medicine” is fading away and being replaced with the idea of “complementary” medicine (Okoro, Zhao, Li, & Balluz, 2013). The combination of complementary and alternative medicine is often referred to as CAM and is now a widely accepted approach in the West (Okoro et al., 2013). While in some cases, administration of CAM is still culture-specific (Brat, Norman, and Dasanayake, 2012), that distinction is fading (Xu & Chen, 2012).

Statement of the Problem

The extensive recorded science and the vast pharmacopeia of Ayurveda and other traditional medicines, in most cases garnered from thousands of years of practice, can be very beneficial in treating cognitive function. Yet, most of this material is unknown in the West and there is a severe lack of research on it (Perry & Howes, 2011). Though CAM and Ayurveda are slowly going mainstream (Park et al., 2012; Xu & Chen, 2012), they are not doing so very quickly. Chan et al. (2011) and Hunt et al. (2012), among others, note significant empirical evidence for the effectiveness of CAM pharmacological cognitive enhancement therapy but at the same time, a lack of scientific rigor in terms of research to support such evidence. Thus, it is not well understood in the West what Ayurvedic treatments and therapies are most effective in the treatment of cognitive disorders.

Thus, a potentially huge benefit for those who need treatment for cognitive diseases as well as those healthy individuals who wish to maximize their cognitive powers may be presently overlooked. Furthermore, as noted by Tyler and Tyler (2014), Western medicine is by no means perfect and, in fact, such imperfection is driving more and more people in the US to consider alternative therapies. Horrigan et al. (2012) noted the need for an integrative approach rather than using Western or traditional medicine alone. While some research on cognitive enhancement has been done in recent years, such as Chan et al.’s 2011 study on the cognitive enhancements observed in study participants who had nasally ingested a Chinese herbal tincture, most of that research has not been in the West. A preliminary review of the literature uncovered no studies regarding the use or efficacy of Ayurvedic medicine in the US regarding treatment of cognitive enhancement and/or the treatment of cognitive maladies.

Purpose of the Study

The purpose of the proposed study is to assess the progress of Ayurvedic medicine in practice and acceptance in the US, particularly to what extent those Americans who are not of Asian origin seek out and use it. The specific context will be to assess who among this population uses Ayurvedic medicine for cognitive therapy. While two decades ago, this population would have been essentially “zero,” there is growing acceptance of CAM and Ayurveda in the US (Park et al., 2012; Tabassum et al., 2012; Xu & Chen, 2012).

Research Design

In this quantitative correlational study, the method will be to find and survey a population of Ayurvedic practitioners in the US and determine to what extent they treat Western-origin patients for cognitive conditions. Said population will be selected based on two criteria: having practiced Ayurvedic medicine in the United States continuously for the previous five years or longer, and accepting non-Asian patients. Contacts will be generated via an Internet search of current Ayurvedic practitioners and the building of an email contact list from their websites. The survey will collect Likert-scale responses as answers to survey questions. In this way, data on the use of Ayurvedic practices by those seeking cognitive therapy and the extent of the problem stated can be assessed. It should be reiterated here that the treatment of cognitive conditions in this context can and should include both the treatment of cognitive diseases and the enhancement of cognition in healthy individuals.

The survey questions will employ a seven-point Likert scale response. Respondents will be asked to report to what extent their practices include non-Asian patients, in alignment with the research questions. The data thus generated will be subjected to descriptive and inferential statistical analysis. Descriptive statistics will be presented and discussed for the study variables to address the first research question. Research questions 2 to 4 will be addressed through inferential statistics, using correlation tests to determine the relationship between the variables as stated in the research questions and hypotheses below.

Research Questions and Hypotheses

RQ1. To what extent are Ayurvedic practices becoming mainstream in the US, as reported by Ayurvedic practitioners there?

Null Hypothesis (H0a): There is no evidence of growth in the prevalence of Ayurvedic practice in the US for the past five years, as perceived by Ayurvedic practitioners.

Alternative Hypothesis (H1a): There is evidence of growth in the prevalence of Ayurvedic practice in the US for the past five years, as perceived by Ayurvedic practitioners.

RQ2. Does the severity of the cognitive condition of non-Asian patients have a relationship to the effectiveness of Ayurvedic medicine for them, as perceived by Ayurvedic practitioners?

Null Hypothesis (H0b): There is no statistically significant correlation between the severity of the cognitive condition of non-Asian patients and the effectiveness of Ayurvedic medicine for them, as perceived by Ayurvedic practitioners.

Alternative Hypothesis (H1b): There is a statistically significant correlation between the severity of the cognitive condition of non-Asian patients and the effectiveness of Ayurvedic medicine for them, as perceived by Ayurvedic practitioners.

RQ3.  Does the age of non-Asian patients have a relationship to their acceptance of Ayurvedic medicine, as perceived by Ayurvedic practitioners?

Null Hypothesis (H0c): There is no statistically significant correlation between the age of non-Asian patients and their acceptance of Ayurvedic medicine, as perceived by Ayurvedic practitioners.

Alternative Hypothesis (H1c): There is no statistically significant correlation between the age of non-Asian patients and their acceptance of Ayurvedic medicine, as perceived by Ayurvedic practitioners.

RQ4.  Does the effectiveness of Western medicine treatments for non-Asian patients with cognitive conditions relate to their perception of the effectiveness of Ayurvedic medicine treatments, as reported by Ayurvedic practitioners?

Null Hypothesis (H0d): There is no statistically significant correlation between the effectiveness of Western medicine treatments for non-Asian patients with cognitive conditions and their perception of the effectiveness of Ayurvedic medicine, as reported by Ayurvedic practitioners.

Alternative Hypothesis (H1c): There is a statistically significant correlation between the effectiveness of Western medicine treatments for non-Asian patients with cognitive conditions and their perception of the effectiveness of Ayurvedic medicine, as reported by Ayurvedic practitioners.

Assumptions

It will be assumed in this study that respondents will give unbiased and truthful answers to the survey questions. It will also be assumed that respondents are well-versed enough in their field, as part of the inclusion criteria will be that they have practiced Ayurvedic medicine in the United States continuously for the previous five years or longer, to give informed answers to the survey questions. A further assumption is that the survey questions will be adequate to extract the information needed to answer the research questions. Finally, it will be assumed that all participants are established Ayurvedic practitioners; it will not be possible to independently verify their credentials.

Limitations

This study will only examine Ayurvedic practitioners who meet the study criteria. It is possible that including a wider sample of practitioners could provide more precise data. The questions asked in the survey deal only with specific aspects of respondents’ practices. No attempt to collect qualitative data will be made.

Delimitations

The researcher chooses to examine only Ayurvedic practice as administered to Western-origin patients in the US for cognitive therapy purposes. Eliminating any one of these restrictions—for example, including those of Asian origin as patients considered in the survey questions’ answers—could produce a different data set. The data collected will constitute a snapshot only; no trend will be identified over any given time span. No data will be collected on patients, patient outcomes, or patient population demographics. The only criterion used for geographical location will be that practitioners practice in the United States; it is quite possible that there is significant regional variation, such as in areas with significant Asian populations, but no such differentiation will be made in this study.

Definition of Terms

Alternative medicine. A blanket term used to refer to any medical treatment or therapy that does not primarily use Western scientific methods.

Ayurveda. An ancient system of medicine, based on a “holistic,” or whole-body health approach, with its origins in India, that is still practiced worldwide.

CAM. Refers to complementary/alternative medicine, where such approaches are used in conjunction with Western scientific medicine.

Herbal medicine. Medicine that uses naturally occurring substances, particularly plants and herbs, as medications.

Nootropics. A class of substances with purported cognition-enhancing effects, including common substances such as caffeine but also pharmaceuticals.

Rasayan. A term from Ayurveda, referring primarily to lengthening the lifespan but also enhancing the quality of life.

Theoretical Framework

The theoretical framework for this study is derived from the often-ancient concepts inherent in Ayurvedic medicine. This group of theories was most recently articulated by Chopra (2002) and Chopra and Doiphode (2003). These authors state that the primary characteristics of Ayurvedic medicine, as well as their core concepts, that distinguish it from Western medicine are the theories of nutrition therapy and constitution therapy.

Nutrition therapy theory states that there is no essential difference between a food and a drug; any item that is ingested could be considered either (Chopra & Doiphode, 2003). This concept differs from Western medicine in that nutrition science and the medical sciences are considered distinct from one another, though there is some overlap. Constitution theory suggests that there are certain body types, the particular one of which possessed by a patient should inform all therapy and recommended medication (Chopra, 2003). This is somewhat similar to the concept of “bodily humours” that was very much a part of Western medicine approximately two centuries ago.

As this study is not intended to determine the relative efficacy of Western versus Ayurvedic therapies, in cognitive treatments or otherwise, Chopra’s theoretical framework of Ayurveda will be used as a lens through which to evaluate the answers to the survey questions. It is an assumption for this study that “treatment” and “therapy” are defined by the physician and patient, not whether those things conform to one type of medical practice or another. It is this researcher’s opinion as well as the verdict of a myriad of empirical evidence that the Ayurvedic theories of constitution and nutrition are at least as valid as those of Western medicine on the subject. Again, however, only the degree of adoption of Ayurvedic medicine by Western-culture-origin persons in the US will be considered, not the extent to which they believe it is effective.

Research Method

Ayurvedic practitioners in the US will be identified by their websites and solicited by email to participate in an online survey. The survey questions will be answered via a seven-point Likert scale. A significant sample will be 64 or more practitioners. It is anticipated that it will be relatively easy, though potentially time-consuming, to obtain enough participants to make the results significant.

The questions will be constructed to directly address the research questions. These questions are restated below, along with the four survey questions that will be associated with each. Participants will be asked to strongly disagree (1), disagree (2), somewhat disagree (3), neither agree nor disagree (4), somewhat agree (5), agree (6), or strongly agree (7) with the associated statements.

These questions are tentative and may be modified by the researcher as conditions warrant. However, the final set of survey questions will be aligned to answer the research questions. Survey results will be tallied and used to verify or disprove the associated hypotheses. Only when the results show the appropriate level of significance will the study hypotheses be considered validated. It is certainly possible that the aggregated data will be insufficient to answer any or all of the research questions.

Summary

The purpose of the proposed quantitative research study is to determine and measure the growth of Ayurvedic practice in the United States. A further purpose is to determine to what degree Ayurveda is accepted through the perceptions of Ayurvedic practitioners in the US as a valid and viable treatment modality. A review of the literature suggests that such acceptance exists and is growing; the purpose, therefore, is to measure that growth.

The problem to be addressed is that all medicine, whatever its origin, should be available to all the population if it is effective or even potentially effective. Yet, Ayurvedic medicine is only slowly becoming mainstream in the US and, as a result, many who could benefit from it are not afforded access to it. The proposed study will address the problem by measuring the extent of the growth in the acceptance and practice of Ayurveda in the US. Such measurement could affect the decisions of stakeholders and policymakers in allocating medical resources.

Ayurvedic practitioners in the US will be accessed online by the researcher, with the criteria that they have a website and have been practicing in the US for at least five years. The practitioners will be invited to participate in an online survey. At the same time, they will be informed of the purpose of the study. All ethical and confidentiality procedures will be observed in the data collection process. The data will then be analyzed and quantified for significance.

The tremendous social as well as medical impact of cognitive function diseases dictate that every possible treatment of those diseases be examined. For the most part, once cognitive function is destroyed by disease, it is gone forever. Therefore, the clock is ticking for many who are potential victims of cognitive disease disorders, particularly in the US, where the Baby Boomer generation (born between 1945 and 1964) is both very large and rapidly aging. Ayurvedic medicine can potentially help huge segments of this population.

It is hoped by the researcher that the results of the proposed study will shed light on the current state of Ayurvedic practice in the US, as well as provide a glimpse into its future. It is a fundamental part of quality of life that all persons receive the best medical care possible. The increasing availability of Ayurvedic care can only enhance this possibility.

The next chapter will present a comprehensive review of the literature that is pertinent to this study and the study problem. The following chapters will present a description of the study methodology, the study’s results, and conclusions and recommendations.

CHAPTER II

LITERATURE REVIEW

Though Ayurvedic medicine has a long history in society, its timeline in literature is considerably shorter. However, even in the time that Ayurveda has been studied as a modality for health care, it has faced challenges in the United States, which has a very different focus in health care than in the East, where Ayurveda originated. One of the most significant challenges to the use of Ayurvedic medicine in the US is the assertion that there is minimal evidence to support the use of Ayurveda as a legitimate method of treating illnesses and conditions in patients, particularly in place of conventional Western medicine. It is viewed as a complementary or alternative medicine, and when health care professionals discuss these therapies as an option for treating patients, they often do so with warnings about how and when they should be used, and that evidence of results is primarily anecdotal since few clinical trials exist that support their use, particularly in place of Western medicines, which are often equated to synthetic medicines.

Though Ayurvedic medicine is routinely used as primary care and considered a standard approach to health care in Eastern cultures, the Western world continues to view it skeptically, relying instead on Western medicines. In fact, many health care professionals caution against the use of Ayurveda and other alternative treatments instead of conventional Western medicine, citing lack of evidence and negative interactions with conventional medicines as justification to keep Ayurvedic medicine as a complementary treatment rather than a primary one (Pradhan & Pradhan, 2011). In addition, the lack of evidence prevents research from being conducted, which perpetuates the cycle of lack of evidence to support the use of Ayurvedic medicine in Western health care settings.

Western health care is founded on evidence-based practice, so when a modality is unable to provide reliable, valid research, practice changes cannot be justified. This has been the case with Ayurvedic medicine. In Western health systems, Ayurveda is viewed as a complementary or alternative medicine, which makes it difficult to study in order to justify evidence-based research. However, as Ayurveda grows in popularity, researchers have increased their efforts to provide evidence of its effectiveness in treating patients and moving them toward better health outcomes. It is still perceived as complementary or alternative medicine, but the increase in interest is prompting Ayurvedic practitioners, as well as conventional Western health care professionals, to research the health system more intensively so that it can be applied to practice in conventional Western care settings.

Through the research and perceptions of Ayurvedic medicine in the Western world, researchers not only gain an understanding of the role of Ayurveda in the lives and health of patients in the United States, but areas in which further research is needed in order to provide evidence for the use of Ayurvedic medicine in addition to and in place of Western medicine treatments for patients facing illnesses and diseases. Without further research, Ayurvedic medicine will not have the evidence to support integration into evidence-based practice, and will not gain acceptance in the Western health care system. This will force Ayurvedic practitioners to remain in the category of complementary and alternative medicine rather than moving Ayurveda closer to the mainstream in Western health care in today’s society. However, even if there is a desire to integrate Ayurvedic medicine, there are specific challenges faced by researchers into Ayurvedic medicine that emerge through an examination of current literature.

Ayurvedic Medicine

Ayurvedic medicine is an ancient medicinal system founded in Buddhist and Hindu spiritual ideologies that can be traced back thousands of years in India (Warrier, 2011). According to Warrier (2011), “Ayurveda in Sanskrit literally means the ‘sacred’ knowledge (veda) of longevity (ayus)” (p. 80). In other words, Ayurveda uses the knowledge of life and health to prolong life, which includes a greater quality of life. This is accomplished through Ayurvedic medicine’s approach to the health system, which focuses on promoting health and maintaining a holistic balance in the body and life of the patient.

This ancient medicine system places emphasis on whole-body health by creating and maintaining a balance within the body, using treatments and medicines to restore imbalances and promote overall health (Tyler & Tyler, 2014). According to Basnyat and Kolasinski (2014):

According to Ayurveda, every living being is composed of five basic elements of the universe: space, air, earth, water, and fire. In the human body, these elements form “doshas” which are biophysical forces or energies that govern all biological processes. Their dynamic, continuous interactions are believed to be responsible for the state of being of the mind and body. (p. 436)

Rather than focusing on treating illnesses, Ayurveda focuses on promoting health. Promotion of health is accomplished through the emphasis of balance on the doshas, which each govern different areas of the body as well as different conditions. For example, the vata dosha governs movement, such as in the joints, and would be of primary concern for Ayurvedic treatments for arthritis or knee pain.

However, the balance extends beyond the individual, as well. The environment in which the individual lives and how the individual lives life also has an impact on the health of that individual. According to Basnyat and Kolasinski (2014):

[…] Ayurveda teaches that doshas function in inanimate objects and plant and animal life on Earth, and in the universe beyond, linking humans to all of creation. Events in daily life, in addition to diet, lifestyle, geographic location, and the seasons of the year can affect the balance of the doshas, according to Ayurveda. A loss of the harmonious equilibrium of the doshas results in a state of imbalance, termed vikriti. Ayurveda seeks to maintain balance of the doshas and thereby ensure health and longevity. (p. 436)

Just as all aspects of the physical body impacts overall health, the various aspects of an individual’s lifestyle and environment also impact overall health. Therefore, balancing the doshas must include the physical body as well as the lifestyle.

Ayurveda routinely uses medicines to help restore balance to the doshas. The medicines used in Ayurveda fall into one of two categories: those that use herbs only, and those that also include minerals or metals (Basnyat & Kolasinski, 2014). The specific uses of the medicines are dependent on the individual patient’s balance of doshas and health concerns as assessed by the Ayurvedic practitioner. Just as physicians tailor synthetic medicine dosages based on a patient’s need and specific condition, Ayurvedic medicines are tailored to the balance of doshas of the patient in order to restore them and promote health.

Ayurveda also uses non-medicinal treatments, such as meditation and diet, to restore balance in the doshas (Kessler, Wischnewsky, Michalson, Eisenmann, & Melzer, 2013). Ayurvedic practitioners know there is more to promoting health than medication, and they use an approach that focuses on the whole body not to eliminate illness, but to bring health and balance to the body. As a result, it is imperative that Ayurvedic treatments include interventions that have a positive impact on other areas of the individual’s life. Diet, like the medicinal interventions, is a treatment that has a direct impact on the physical health. Non-medicinal interventions, such as meditation or other lifestyle changes, have an impact on the individual’s social health.

Practitioners of Ayurveda are trained in the ancient medicine, and use examinations of the patient in addition to taking a medical and social history in order to better understand the patient’s health in context of his or her life. In this way, the practitioner tailors the treatment to the individual patient. In Eastern nations, Ayurveda is more rigorously regulated and monitored, and practitioners must not only earn degrees in the field, but obtain licenses with which to practice. This creates an environment similar to Western medicine in Western nations. Specifically, the medicines used are regulated and must meet standards for safety in order to protect those who turn to Ayurvedic medicine as their primary forms of health care.

Emphasis on Whole-Body Health

Even though Ayurveda is not widely accepted in American health care, there are elements of Ayurvedic medicine that are becoming more common in Western health care. One area of Western medicine that is growing in popularity is a holistic approach to care, particularly in nursing. In the context of Western medicine, holistic health care refers to developing a treatment care plan that addresses the comprehensive health needs of the client, which includes physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual. However, in Western medicine, the inclusion of emotional and spiritual concerns in a care plan focuses on the preferences and social background of the individual. However, typically, these elements of a care plan do not include specific interventions for the emotional and spiritual health of the client. This differs from Ayurvedic medicine.

In Ayurvedic medicine, health occurs when an individual’s doshas are in balance. Due to the role of doshas in human life as well as in the world around them, Ayurvedic medicine must take a holistic approach to health. According to Basnyat and Kolaskinski (2014), “In doing so, the Ayurvedic practitioner will focus on characteristics of the individual as much as on their disease, so two patients afflicted by the same illness may be treated in different ways” (p. 436). When treating the entire individual in Ayurvedic medicine, the interventions are tailored to the individual’s needs. However, unlike in the holistic approach to Western medicine, Ayurvedic medicine includes specific interventions that include the emotional and spiritual needs of the individual in addition to his or her physical health needs.

Dental health should be included in whole-body health, which has led to growing popularity of Ayurvedic dental treatments (Brar, Norman, & Dasanayake, 2012). As a form of preventative care, which emphasizes overall health, Ayurvedic dental treatments, which occur over longer periods of time, are often more effective than Western treatments as well as more cost effective. Like other aspects of Ayurvedic medicine, dental practice focuses on preventive care rather than crisis response or management. In this way, individuals who use Ayurvedic medicine experience overall improved dental health, which contributes to the whole-body health aspect of the health system.

In addition, Ayurvedic treatments may be more accessible to individuals with limited or no access to Western oral care (Brar, Norman, & Dasanayake, 2012). For example, individuals who live in extremely rural areas may rely on more natural health care, such as Ayurveda, when conventional Western dental practitioners are not nearby, or for those in a lower socioeconomic status in order to manage prohibitive costs of dental care. The increasing attention on dental care as an inclusion in Ayurvedic medicine shows that, even after thousands of years, Ayurvedic medicine is evolving to meet the needs of its patients.

In addition to creating a balance within the body in order to improve health, Ayurveda includes a subset of medicinal practice known as rasayan, which focuses on treatments that enhance the quality of life as well as the lifespan of the individual (Khodre, Acharya, Tiwari, Mehar, & Vidyarthi, 2013; Basnyat & Kolasinski, 2014). This is another way to emphasize the whole-body health aspect of Ayurveda, since improving the quality of life can improve the mental and emotional aspects of health, rasayan can help keep the individual in better balance and improve overall health. Since the emphasis on Ayurvedic medicine is promoting health rather than focusing on removing illness, developing interventions that promote emotional, mental, and spiritual health, alongside the interventions that promote physical health, make the health system more effective. This concept is highlighted through the practice of rasayan as the improvement of quality of life improves social aspects of health such as mental, emotional, and spiritual.

Ayurvedic Medicine in the United States

In recent decades, there has been a significant increase in interest in Ayurvedic medicine, particularly in the United States (Tyler & Tyler, 2014). More individuals are seeking information about Ayurvedic medicine from their health care professionals for a variety of reasons, and many seek out Ayurvedic medicine practitioners in order to get treatment to restore health and wellness. Despite an increasing interest in Ayurvedic medicine around the world, it is still predominantly practiced in Eastern cultures, and not embraced as readily in the West. In addition, the lack of research about Ayurvedic medicine in Western nations, which includes minimal access to research that has been done in Eastern nations, has resulted in a different perspective of Ayurveda in Western cultures than can be found in Eastern cultures.

Rather than being seen as a legitimate, primary source of health care, Ayurvedic medicine is supplementary and alternative in the United States, sometimes relegated to the status of marginalization by health care professionals who do not take it seriously as a health care system, but rather as a cultural or spiritual practice. Therefore, when Western health care professionals integrated Ayurveda into a patient’s care, it is from the perspective of spiritual or social health rather than physical, and it falls under the category of complementary or alternative medicine. In fact, health care professionals in the United States often caution against the use of Ayurvedic medicines due to potential interactions with conventional Western medicines, and due to the lack of scientific evidence as to the safety and effectiveness of the use of Ayurvedic medicines. The difference in perspectives about Ayurvedic medicine can be seen throughout current literature on Ayurveda in the United States.

Ayurveda as a Complementary and Alternative Medicine Method

Typically, Ayurvedic medicine is viewed as complementary and alternative medicine in the United States, supplementing Western medicines and treatments rather than taking their places. From the perspective of health care professionals, complementary and alternative medicines are not intended to be primary care systems, but can help bring greater benefits to the patients when used in cooperation with conventional Western medicine. However, from this perspective, conventional Western medicine is the focus of the treatment plan. Patients often seek these treatments due to cultural preferences, religious backgrounds, or to supplement conventional medicines that are not working as well as the patients would like. One reason for the increased interest in Ayurvedic medicine might be the emphasis on spirituality in Ayurveda, which attracts individuals to its practice both for their physical health as well as for their mental, emotional, and spiritual health (Kessler, et al., 2013).

While Western cultures accept that Ayurveda is often used a primary form of medicine in Eastern cultures, one of the primary concerns as to its use in Western cultures is its safety. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (2015):

Ayurvedic products have the potential to be toxic. Many materials used in them haven’t been studied for safety in controlled clinical trials. In the United States, Ayurvedic products are regulated as dietary supplements. As such, they aren’t required to meet the same safety and effectiveness standards as conventional medicines. (p. 2)

Western literature regarding Ayurvedic medicines focus on the safety and proper use of the medications, often emphasizing that Ayurveda is far less regulated in the United States, resulting in far fewer licensed, qualified practitioners that patients can use for assessments and treatments (Gadgil, 2010).

In fact, the Department of Health and Human Services (2015) recommends against using Ayurvedic medicine as a replacement for conventional care, and when it is used as a complementary or supplementary method of care, it should be under the supervision of a physician to ensure that the Ayurvedic treatments do not negatively interfere with the conventional Western interventions. Despite research into Ayurveda, it continues to be viewed skeptically by Western health care professionals.

However, this perspective perpetuates the lack of controlled clinical trials examining the use of Ayurvedic medicine in the United States. Since the American health care field does not view Ayurveda as a legitimate method of treatment, there is no demand for research, which would create the foundation on which Ayurvedic medicine could be incorporated into evidence-based practice in the American health care system. It is true that clinical trials and studies into Ayurvedic medicine are more complex than other health systems. However, studies are taking place in other countries; if the demand for evidence and information were more prominent in the United States, more researchers would conduct studies and trials investigating the safety and effectiveness of Ayurvedic medicine as a primary practice for the care of patients. This creates a cycle that continues to leave a gap in the research into Ayurvedic medicine in Western medicine, preventing it from taking a more prominent role in the health care system.

One significant difference between Eastern and Western medicines is in the approach between the two. While Ayurvedic medicine focuses on a whole-body, preventative approach (Chopra, 2003; Chopra & Doiphode, 2002), Western medicine is predominantly crisis-oriented (Xu & Chen, 2012). As a result, Western applications of Ayurvedic medicine are not from a holistic perspective, but to treat specific problems, illnesses, and diagnoses. However, when Ayurvedic medicine is used in treatments of specific illnesses and conditions, it is due to the preferences of the patient (Tyler & Tyler, 2014).

For many individuals, the desire to incorporate Ayurvedic medicines comes from a frustration at the lack of progress from Western medicine, as well as, the desire to try any treatment method in an attempt to find something that works (Xu & Chen, 2012). In the cases of these patients, the desire to try Ayurvedic medicine does not necessarily come from knowledge of the health system or a desire to use the centuries-old methods to improve health, but simply a desire to find whatever health interventions are effective to address the health concerns and symptoms being experienced, particularly when conventional Western medicines are not working. When patients experience pain or health problems despite following regimens outlined by their health care providers, they may develop the perspective that they want to do whatever works in order to find health. This often leads patients to become more open-minded and willing to try complementary or alternative medicines.

Ayurvedic Medicine for Specific Conditions

The majority of the research in the United States related to the use of Ayurvedic medicines focuses on applications for specific illnesses and conditions. This arises out of the crisis-oriented approach taken by conventional Western medicine. In conventional Western health systems, once a diagnosis is made, the treatment plan focuses on treating the symptoms and eradicating the condition preventing health. While this is essentially the opposite of the approach taken by Ayurvedic medicine, focusing on symptoms and diseases provides an application for Ayurvedic medicine within the context of conventional Western medicine and its research.

Ayurvedic Medicine for Arthritis. In the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis, many people use Ayurvedic medicines as supplementary to Western medicines (Basnyat & Kolasinski, 2014). Along the same lines, Ayurvedic medicine is used to treat osteoarthritis (Kessler, Pinders, Michalson, & Cramer, 2015). Though Ayurveda does not have an exact correspondence for arthritis, it is interpreted as falling under the category of joint conditions, which also includes osteoarthritis, related to the vata dosha, which governs motion.

Ayurvedic practice has a care procedure used to diagnose and treat conditions, including arthritis. According to Basnyat and Kolasinski (2014), “Diagnosis in Ayurvedic practice involves obtaining a detailed history, performing a thorough clinical examination, drawing conclusions regarding the patient’s prakriti, and determining the deranged doshas. Traditionally, laboratory and radiographic test results are not used in this assessment” (p. 436). Once the patient is assessed, Ayurvedic treatment typically includes herbal, physical, and dietary interventions (Basnyat & Kolasinski, 2014). Rasayana is another important component of Ayurveda often applied to the treatment of arthritis, as it rejuvenates and strengthens the body (Basnyat & Kolasinski, 2014).

Basnyat and Kolasinski (2014) reveal that clinical trials investigating the safety and effectiveness of Ayurveda for rheumatoid arthritis date back to a seven-year clinical trial between the years of 1977 and 1984, which was sponsored by the World Health Organization. This study began scientific research into this area, with various studies and trials, predominantly by Eastern organizations and research teams, taking place (Basnyat & Kolasinski, 2014).

However, in the context of the thousands of years of use of Ayurvedic medicine for various conditions, the scientific literature on its use, particularly for arthritis, is nearly non-existent. Very little research has been conducted to investigate the use of Ayurveda for arthritis and similar conditions. According to Basnyat and Kolasinski (2014):

In part this is because of the complexity of the intervention by Ayurvedic practitioners seeking to restore the balance of the doshas. The multiple modalities used and the length of time over which they are implemented and adjusted make study design challenging. (p. 439)

In other words, the nature of Ayurvedic medicine, which focuses on whole-body health and long-term interventions to restore and maintain balance, makes clinical trials and studies difficult to establish and complete.

This creates a concern for Western health care professionals. Unfortunately, without these trials and studies, Western health care professionals will be far less likely to accept the use of Ayurvedic medicine as an evidence-based health care practice for patients, particularly in place of conventional Western medicine. In the American health care system, professionals must base their practices on evidence from current literature, which comes from research. In addition, the research must be reliable and valid.

That is, the results gathered from research must be consistent (reliable), which means they must be repeatable, and accurate (valid), which means the study measures what it is meant to measure. Through valid, reliable research results, health care professionals are given proof that an intervention or treatment is effective and can be used in practice. However, as Basnyat and Kolasinski (2014) explain, the research studies used to test the safety and effectiveness of Ayurvedic medicines, because of their complexity, are difficult to reproduce. This diminishes the reliability of the studies.

Ayurvedic Medicine for Cardiovascular Disease. Another area in which Ayurvedic medicine, as part of the broader area of complementary or alternative medicine, has been applied in American medicine is in the care of patients with cardiovascular disease. According to Prasad, Sharma, Lackore, Jenkins, Prasad, and Sood (2013):

Increasingly, dietary supplements and other CAM treatments are marketed ‘over the counter’ to reduce the risks and symptoms of cardiovascular disease (CVD). In addition, patients with CVD might be more likely to seek CAM treatments to decrease the psychological stress associated with this condition. (p. 339)

In most of these cases, patients do not turn exclusively to Ayurvedic medicines to treat and control cardiovascular disease. Instead, they use elements of Ayurveda, such as creating a healthier balance in their lives, in order to supplement conventional treatments. For example, an individual may implement yoga and meditation to control stress, which helps improve heart health. However, like many studies into the use of complementary therapies in Western health care, research into the use of these treatments in cardiovascular disease patients focuses on their implementation alongside conventional Western medicine rather than their use as the primary method of treatment (Prasad, et al., 2013). This prevents researchers from comparing outcomes in cardiovascular patients using Ayurvedic medicine with patients using Western medicine in these types of studies.

Integration with Western Medicine

The perspective of Ayurvedic medicine as a complementary and alternative therapy has included Ayurvedic medicine in the increase in interest in this area of medicine in recent decades. That is, since Ayurveda is considered part of the larger category of complementary and alternative medicines, interest in complementary medicines often includes Ayurvedic medicines in statistics. Okoro, Zhao, Li, and Balluz (2013) show a significant increase in the use of complementary and alternative medicines among adults in the United States between the years of 2002 and 2007.

In addition, their study indicated that more individuals wanted to access these alternative medicines through their primary care physicians. As the demand for Ayurvedic medicine has grown, it has grown in acceptance in the United States. According to Park, Beckman-Harned, Cho, Kim, and Kim (2012):

[…T]he use of complementary and alternative medicine is significantly increasing, many aspects of Chinese medicine and Ayurveda are becoming mainstream, practitioners in the United States are beginning to be licensed, and insurance companies are beginning to cover some complementary and alternative therapies. (p. 405)

With the increasing interest in Ayurvedic medicine by patients, more health care professionals are working to integrate Ayurveda into Western medicine practices (Park, et al., 2012). This has resulted in an increased availability of Ayurvedic medicines in the United States, even though it is still not fully accepted as a legitimate form of health care. According to Horrigan, Lewis, Abrams, and Pechura (2012):

Over the past 2 decades, there has been documented growth in the number of clinical centers providing integrative medicine, the number of medical schools teaching integrative strategies, the number of researchers studying integrative interventions, and the number of patients seeking integrative care. (p. 18)

Integrative strategies seek to blend Western medicines with Ayurvedic and other complementary treatments for the benefit of the patient. However, in order to appeal to the Western demographic, particularly in the context of integrative medicine and treatments, Ayurvedic medicines have been altered to suit the needs of patients in the United States and other Western nations (Pordié & Gaudillière, 2013).

Modality Combination

The use of Ayurvedic medicine to promote health in patients employs a variety of interventions and treatments rather than a single approach. As a holistic health system, Ayurveda is a comprehensive intervention plan impacting all areas of an individual’s overall health in order to alleviate conditions and symptoms as well as promote health. As a result, Ayurvedic medicine uses multiple modalities simultaneously in developing and implementing a care plan. Research suggests this is a superior approach than conventional Western medicine, which most often uses a single approach to care (Okoro, Zhao, Li, & Balluz, 2013; Xu & Chen, 2012).

However, the multiple modality approach to health care as provided through Ayurvedic medicine provides a framework in which additional factors can be taken into consideration in the care process. In Ayurvedic medicine, practitioners recognize that a patient’s lifestyle contributes to his or her health. Therefore, when working to promote health, lifestyle must be included in the approach to addressing symptoms of illness and promoting health. In this way, when a patient’s condition changes, practitioners are better-equipped to adapt the care provided to the changes in the patient’s condition.

In Western medicine, on the other hand, the intervention plan generally focuses on a single diagnosis and treatment for it, which is why there are specialists in Western medicine who focus on a single area of health, such as orthopedic surgeons focusing solely on the care of the bones. Since specialists focus on one area, changes in the patient’s condition caused by another area of the patient’s body or health must be referred to another specialist rather than addressed by the original care provider.

The multiple-modality approach is parallel to the holistic health approach gaining popularity in Western medicine. It is also similar to interdisciplinary medicine, which uses health care professionals from a number of fields or disciplines to care for a single patient. Through these methods, health care teams are able to address all aspects of a patient’s health. Not only does this enable the health care team to approach the patient’s care more comprehensively, but allows for greater adaptation, when needed, as new information is revealed or the patient’s condition changes. These two types of care are a Western application of Ayurvedic medicine, altered to encompass primarily synthetic, Western medicine.

However, the increasing popularity of holistic and interdisciplinary care in conventional Western medicine shows that even within the context of evidence-based practice in Western nations, the use of multiple modalities, as is used in Ayurvedic medicine, is beneficial to the health outcomes of patients. Since Ayurveda is similar to holistic and interdisciplinary care, it follows that this approach within the context of Ayurvedic medicine would also be beneficial to patients. However, the primary difference is that Ayurvedic medicine uses non-synthetic medicinal remedies, which stands in contrast to the treatments used by conventional Western medicine.

Cognitive Function Enhancement

One particular area in which Ayurvedic medicine is being used is in cognitive function enhancement (Chan, Cheung, Sze, Leung, & Shi, 2011). Though it is impossible to directly increase an individual’s intelligence, treatments can be used to help the brain work at its peak efficiency (Hunt, Jaeggi, Stough, & Johnson, 2012). This aspect of Ayurveda has become particularly attractive in Western cultures (Tabassum, Rasool, Malik, & Ahmad, 2012). Cognitive disorders impact each patient differently based on the individual patient’s physical health as well as a wide variety of other factors. Therefore, treatment of cognitive disorders must be tailored to meet the specific, unique needs of each patient rather than attempting to create a single treatment plan that can be applied to all patients with a certain diagnosis. In addition, due to the impact other areas of health, such as lifestyle, have on a patient’s cognitive abilities and health, effective treatments for cognitive function will consider all factors in a patient’s health, such as the treatments used in Ayurvedic medicine.

Due to the complexity of cognitive disorders, it can be difficult to develop synthetic treatments since synthetic treatments focus on creating one treatment, such as a pill, to benefit the most number of patients with the diagnosis. In Ayurvedic medicine, on the other hand, the emphasis on treating the whole patient, which requires developing an individualized treatment plan based on the specific needs of the patient, may be better-suited to treating cognitive disorders. Just as no two individuals experience the same cognitive disorder in the same way, no two patients experience Ayurvedic medicine in the same way. In other words, Ayurvedic medicine can be customized to each patient, which is particularly beneficial for cognitive disorders.

Ayurveda in the Treatment of Dementia

When examining Ayurveda from the crisis-oriented perspective of Western medicine, Ayurvedic medicines show promise in the treatment of dementia, Alzheimer’s, and other related disorders. The medicines in plants, which have been used to improve the mind for centuries and commonly known even in Western cultures, such as in the use of chamomile tea to reduce anxiety, are emerging as a path to improved treatments of dementia and other cognitive disorders.

The advancements in Ayurvedic medicinal research, particularly in the treatment of dementia and other cognitive functions, come from a need for advancements that are not occurring in conventional Western medicine. According to Perry and Howes (2011):

Converging themes underpin expectations that plant medicines will provide new treatments for dementia: realization of escalating problems and costs of dementia; a disappointing pace of new synthetic drug development in part due to stringent requirements for clinical evidence and licensing but also the complexities of dementia pathologies; and a wider acceptance of concepts of complementary or alternative medicine. (p. 684)

In other words, since patients are unsatisfied with the conventional Western treatments available, and synthetic medicinal advancements are lagging behind the need for new and improved treatments, patients are more readily accepting the use of plant-based treatments, such as those offered by Ayurvedic medicine in dementia treatments.

In addition, when dealing with cognitive function, treatments that include improvement of health in all areas of life are able to more effectively improve cognitive function. For example, patients with dementia or Alzheimer’s are often given support and treatment that includes methods to improve cognition, such as recommendations to do crossword puzzles or other thinking-intensive activities. Ayurvedic treatments also include the improvement of mental health. When this is combined with medicinal treatments that are used to improve cognitive function, patients struggling with cognitive disorders may be able to find greater health improvement and, as a result, greater quality of life.

The Use of Nootropics

Another area in which research is developing is the use of nootropics, which show evidence of cognition-enhancing effects (Dwivedi, Singh, Malik, & Jawaid, 2012). Nootropics are used in both synthetic medications and Ayurvedic medicines. According to Dwivedi, Singh, Malik, and Jawaid (2012), “Nootropics are thought to work by altering the availability of the brain’s supply of neurochemicals (neurotransmitters, enzymes, and hormones), by improving the brain’s oxygen supply, or by stimulating nerve growth” (p. 630). This, in turn, helps stimulate memory, which can help combat cognitive disorders, such as dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.

Many conventional Western physicians already use synthetic nootropic drugs for this purpose; however, research into the nootropic characteristics of plants is increasing, which would enable followers of Ayurvedic medicine to receive the benefits of nootropics while still adhering to the Ayurveda system of health. Some of the plants that have been revealed to have nootropic properties include bacopa monnieri, which is also known as brahmi, prunus amygdalus, which is also known as badam, and commiphora whighitii, which is known as guggul (Dwivedi, Singh, Malik, and Jawaid, 2012).

One possible benefit of the continued research into nootropics is the overlap that already exists between conventional Western medicine and Ayurvedic medicine. Since nootropics are already being used in synthetic drugs to improve cognitive functions, further research into nootropic properties in plants can parallel the synthetic drug research and usage already in place. That is, synthetic use of nootropics gives researchers a way to connect the Ayurvedic methods to Western medicine.

Need for Further Research

Ayurvedic medicine is significantly more accepted in Eastern traditions. According to Kessler, et al. (2013), “In India and some neighboring countries, Ayurvedic medicine is officially and legally recognized as on par with conventional medicine. It is used in an area with more than 1.4 billion people as a broad system of medicine” (p. 1). However, the same is not true in Western cultures, where Ayurvedic medicines are far less accepted.

In Western current literature, Ayurvedic medicine is placed within the category of alternative medicines, typically used as complementary to western medicine and treatments, often at patients’ requests. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (2015), “India’s government and other institutes throughout the world support clinical and laboratory research on Ayurvedic medicine, within the context of the Eastern belief system. But Ayurvedic medicine isn’t widely studied as part of conventional (Western) medicine” (p. 1). In fact, many Western nations have placed restrictions and bans on the import of Ayurvedic medicinal products from India (Patwardhan, 2011).

The lack of Western studies on Ayurvedic medicines plays a significant role in this mindset. This can make Western researchers and health care professionals feel removed from the research that exists, making them feel there is no foundation of knowledge on which to build research into Ayurveda as a health system. However, some of the resistance to Ayurvedic medicines is also in the concerns about the ingredients used in Ayurvedic medicines and levels of toxicity (Banerjee, 2013). Additional clinical studies would provide further insight into the apparent toxicity of Ayurvedic medicines and the general applications of Ayurveda in Western cultures.

Though the increasing interest in Ayurvedic medicines has led to increased research into Ayurveda and its applications in the field of healthcare, a significant research gap still exists. Not only is there a need for further research into Ayurvedic medicine in the context of the United States health system, but particularly in its applications to cognitive function and the treatment of cognitive disorders such as Alzheimer’s and dementia. For example, one of the problems in nootropic research is that it is typically put in the context of Ayurvedic medicine.

That is, it is viewed in the context of a complementary or alternative medicine rather than from a scientific perspective in the way conventional Western medicine research is. According to Foley (2012), “[…M]any researchers are hesitant to associate themselves with it because to do so seems as if they are stepping away from hard scientific research into the realm of traditional natural medicine” (p. 32). This perspective makes it difficult to conduct and use legitimate research into Ayurvedic medicine and practice. Since researchers tend to shy away from it in Western research circles, the in-depth, scientific studies are not being conducted, leaving the majority of the research to be conducted by Eastern researchers, as anecdotal, or within the context of Ayurveda as a complementary and alternative treatment system. Without those studies to create a foundation of research, further research cannot be conducted, which perpetuates the research gap into Ayurveda despite the increasing interest in the subject by patients.

This is a common problem faced by those who want to add to the body of research on Ayurvedic treatment options. They have the desire to improve the body of knowledge of Ayurveda, but because Ayurvedic medicine is viewed as an alternative health system, there is a reluctance for researchers to expand on the minimal existing literature as a primary scientifically based system of health care. However, this reluctance continues to perpetuate the problem of a lack of literature on Ayurvedic medicine, particularly for treating cognitive disorders. If researchers are unwilling to expand on the research that already exists, Ayurveda will continue to be viewed as a complementary or alternative treatment, preventing it from gaining legitimacy as a viable option for primary treatment and incorporation into evidence-based practice.

Conclusion

Though Ayurvedic medicine has a long history in the global health care community, having been developed thousands of years ago, research into the uses of Ayurvedic medicine in Western health care is significantly lacking. This is particularly true of the uses of Ayurvedic medicines for cognitive disorders such as dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. One of the main reasons there is a lack of research into Ayurvedic medicine in Western health care is because Ayurveda is considered complementary and alternative as a treatment system, causing researchers to not take Ayurvedic research seriously or view it from a purely scientific point of view. However, since Ayurveda is gaining popularity in the United States, additional research is needed to ensure that it can be effectively incorporated into conventional Western medicine in order to benefit the overall health of patients.

CHAPTER III

RESEARCH METHODOLOGY

The purpose of the study is to assess the progress of Ayurvedic medicine in practice and acceptance in the US, particularly in terms of to what extent those Americans who are not of Asian origin seek out and use it. Furthermore, it is the objective of this study to determine to what extent they treat western-origin patients for cognitive conditions. It should be reiterated that the treatment of cognitive conditions in this context can and should include both the treatment of cognitive diseases and the enhancement of cognition in healthy individuals. The study will be guided with the following research questions and hypotheses.

RQ1. To what extent are Ayurvedic practices becoming mainstream in the US, as reported by Ayurvedic practitioners there?

Null Hypothesis (H0a): There is no evidence of growth in the prevalence of Ayurvedic practice in the US for the past five years, as perceived by Ayurvedic practitioners.

Alternative Hypothesis (H1a): There is evidence of growth in the prevalence of Ayurvedic practice in the US for the past five years, as perceived by Ayurvedic practitioners.

RQ2. Does the severity of the cognitive condition of non-Asian patients have a relationship to the effectiveness of Ayurvedic medicine for them, as perceived by Ayurvedic practitioners?

Null Hypothesis (H0b): There is no statistically significant correlation between the severity of the cognitive condition of non-Asian patients and the effectiveness of Ayurvedic medicine for them, as perceived by Ayurvedic practitioners.

Alternative Hypothesis (H1b): There is a statistically significant correlation between the severity of the cognitive condition of non-Asian patients and the effectiveness of Ayurvedic medicine for them, as perceived by Ayurvedic practitioners.

RQ3.  Does the age of non-Asian patients have a relationship to their acceptance of Ayurvedic medicine, as perceived by Ayurvedic practitioners?

Null Hypothesis (H0c): There is no statistically significant correlation between the age of non-Asian patients and their acceptance of Ayurvedic medicine, as perceived by Ayurvedic practitioners.

Alternative Hypothesis (H1c): There is no statistically significant correlation between the age of non-Asian patients and their acceptance of Ayurvedic medicine, as perceived by Ayurvedic practitioners.

RQ4.  Does the effectiveness of Western medicine treatments for non-Asian patients with cognitive conditions relate to their perception of the effectiveness of Ayurvedic medicine treatments, as reported by Ayurvedic practitioners?

Null Hypothesis (H0d): There is no statistically significant correlation between the effectiveness of Western medicine treatments for non-Asian patients with cognitive conditions and their perception of the effectiveness of Ayurvedic medicine, as reported by Ayurvedic practitioners.

Alternative Hypothesis (H1c): There is a statistically significant correlation between the effectiveness of Western medicine treatments for non-Asian patients with cognitive conditions and their perception of the effectiveness of Ayurvedic medicine, as reported by Ayurvedic practitioners.

This chapter discusses the research design, target population and sample, instrumentation, operational definition of the study variables, data gathering and data analysis to be employed in this study.

Research Design

A quantitative correlational, non-experimental research design will be employed in addressing the research questions of this study. The rationale for utilizing a quantitative correlational approach was due to the nature of the research questions, which aims to objectively prove relationships between variables (Burns & Grove, 2009). A non-experimental quantitative design is considered given the fact that the study probes the naturalistic environment of participants particularly the actual perceptions of Ayurvedic practitioners.

A qualitative approach was deemed inappropriate given that it will not be able to test for relationship of variables but rather probes on establishing phenomenon from the view of participants and involves in-depth open-ended questioning (Cozby, 2009). This was deemed as misaligned to the purpose of the study.

Given the lack of literature on the topic of Ayurvedic medicine, a researcher developed survey instrument will be employed, facilitating the objectives of the study.

Population and Sample

The target population for this particular study are Ayurvedic medicine practitioners in the US. Ayurvedic practitioners in the US will be identified by their websites and solicited by email to participate in an online survey.

A purposive sampling technique will be utilized in this study and sample participants will be selected based on two criteria: having practiced Ayurvedic medicine in the US continuously for the previous five years or longer, and accepting non-Asian patients.

Since this study will employ a quantitative, correlational research design, power analysis was done in determining the required sample size for inferential analyses. A computation of the required sample size is done through G*Power 3.1.0 and is presented in Appendix B. Using 0.30 effect size, 0.80 power, and 0.05 level of significance, the required sample size for this study is at least 64 sample participants.

Instrumentation

A researcher-developed survey instrument will be employed in gathering quantifiable data with regards to the practice of Ayurvedic medicine in the US. The researcher will employ a 13-item survey instrument gathering information on Ayurvedic practice in the US, Acceptance of Ayurvedic medicine by non-Asian patients, severity of cognitive condition of non-Asian, Ayurvedic medicine patients, effectiveness of Ayurvedic medicine in treating cognitive condition, and ineffectiveness of western medicine in treating cognitive condition.

The 11 items in the survey questions will be answered via a 7-point Likert scale. The questions will be constructed to directly address the research questions. These questions are restated below, along with the four survey questions that will be associated with each. Participants will be asked to strongly disagree (1), disagree (2), somewhat disagree (3), neither agree nor disagree (4), somewhat agree (5), agree (6), or strongly agree (7) with the associated statements. The two other items in the researcher-developed survey instrument will measure the average age of non-Asian patients and the gender profile of their non-Asian patients.

The 13-item, 7-point Likert, researcher-developed survey instrument is presented in Appendix A. Survey results will be tallied and used to verify or disprove the associated hypotheses. Only when the results show the appropriate level of significance will the study hypotheses be considered validated.

Operational Definition of Variables

There are five main study variables in this research probing the practice of Ayurvedic medicine in general and the practice of using Ayurvedic treatments for cognitive conditions in non-Asian patients in the US. A detailed operational definition of the study variables is presented as follows.

Age of patients. The average age range of non-Asian patients that consult and accept treatments from Ayurvedic practitioners in the US. This an ordinal variable consisting of six age range, which are 19 years old and below, 20-29, 30-39, 40-49, 50-59, and 60 years old and above.

Acceptance of Ayurvedic medicine practice. The representation of the acceptance of Ayurvedic medicine in the US of non-Asian patients as perceived by Ayurvedic practitioners. This is an ordinal variable as measured by the researcher-developed, 7-point Likert survey instrument.

Patient’s severity of cognitive condition. The representation of the severity of cognitive condition in non-Asian patients seeking Ayurvedic treatments as defined by Ayurvedic practitioners. This is an ordinal variable as measured by the researcher-developed, 7-point Likert survey instrument.

Effectiveness of Ayurvedic medicine in treating cognitive conditions. The representation of the perception of non-Asian patients with cognitive condition with respect to the effectiveness of Ayurvedic treatments as perceived by Ayurvedic practitioners. This is an ordinal variable as measured by the researcher-developed, 7-point Likert survey instrument.

Ineffectiveness of western medicine in treating cognitive conditions. The representation of the perception of non-Asian patients with cognitive condition with respect to the ineffectiveness of western treatments as perceived by Ayurvedic practitioners. This is an ordinal variable as measured by the researcher-developed, 7-point Likert survey instrument.

Data Gathering

A purposive sampling technique will be employed in gathering data involving Ayurvedic practitioners in the US as identified by their websites and will be solicited by email to participate in an online survey. The criteria for selection of valid participants of the study include having practiced Ayurvedic medicine in the US continuously for the previous five years or longer, and accepting non-Asian patients.

The researcher-developed survey instrument will be imported using an online survey tool in order to facilitate data gathering online. Ayurvedic practitioners will be contacted via email and solicited to participate in the study. The email to potential participants of the study will include brief information regarding the study, a consent form, and the link to the online survey.

Data Analysis

            A preliminary descriptive analysis will be done in addressing research question one, as well as describe the descriptive statistics of the study variables. Pertinent graphical representations of the data on perceived increase in non-Asian patients seeking Ayurvedic care, dominant gender profile of patients, acceptance of Ayurvedic medicine in non-Asian patients, severity of non-Asian Ayurvedic medicine patients with cognitive conditions, ineffectiveness of western medicine in treating cognitive condition, and effectiveness of Ayurvedic medicine in treating cognitive condition as perceived by Ayurvedic practitioners will be produced such that research question one will be addressed and that initial conclusions regarding the other research questions be drawn.

For research questions two to four, a test for normality will be primarily done probing the normality of sample data on the study variables age of patients, acceptance of Ayurvedic medicine practice, patient’s severity of cognitive condition, ineffectiveness of western medicine in treating cognitive conditions, and effectiveness of Ayurvedic medicine in treating cognitive conditions.

If the pertinent variables addressing each research question are proven to be normally distributed, a parametric Pearson correlation test will be conducted in order to address each research question which passed the normality assumption. In the case that the pertinent variables of each research question prove to be non-normal, a non-parametric alternative, a spearman’s rank order correlation test will be conducted instead. To test the second hypothesis and address RQ2, a correlation test will be conducted between the variables of patient’s severity of cognitive condition and effectiveness of Ayurvedic medicine in treating cognitive conditions. To test the third hypothesis and address RQ3, a correlation test will be conducted between the variables of age of patients and acceptance of Ayurvedic medicine practice. To test the fourth hypothesis and address RQ4, a correlation test will be conducted between the variables of ineffectiveness of Western medicine in treating cognitive conditions and effectiveness of Ayurvedic medicine in treating cognitive conditions.

The inferential statistic p-value output will be assessed under a level of significance of 0.05 for hypothesis testing. A p-value of less than 0.05 suggests that there is a statistically significant correlation between the study variables being probed in each of the research questions. This rejects the null hypothesis and accepts the alternative hypothesis. If the correlation between variables is statistically significant, the correlation coefficient, r, is assessed. The correlation coefficient, r, will have a value between -1 and +1. A correlation coefficient of 1 means that there is a perfect correlation between two variables and that there are proportional increase or decrease in value in one variable as the other variable.

A negative correlation coefficient signifies a negative correlational relationship wherein an increase in one variable corresponds to a decrease in another while a positive correlation coefficient signifies a positive correlational relationship wherein an increase in one variable corresponds to an increase in another. As a rule of thumb, a correlation value of 0.1-0.3 suggests a weak correlation, a correlation value of 0.4-0.6 suggests a moderate correlation, and a correlation value of 0.7-0.9 suggests a strong correlation. A correlation coefficient of 0 signifies that there is no correlation between the two variables.

Ethical Procedures

            The researcher should account for ethical concerns when conducting studies involving human participants (Cozby, 2009). As such, prior to carrying out the study, the ethical concerns will be accounted for by the researcher. Only after gaining approval from the participants through informed consent will the researcher proceed with the procedures laid out in the methodology, and the participants allowed to participate in the surveys. Informed consent from the participants will be gained through a letter of informed consent that will be provided to the participants through email.

Within the informed consent letter, a brief description of the main purpose of the study will be provided. Additionally, details of how the results and findings of the study will contribute towards research and society will be included in the consent form for the prospective participants. It will be made known to the prospective participants that participation in the study will be entirely voluntary, and that they may withdraw at any point in time during the study if they choose to do so. As such, consent will be gained from the participants once they agree to the informed consent form after presenting them with the above information. Participants who have agreed to join the study will be provided with the link to the online survey.

Included in the survey are two questions that collect demographic information. In collecting these, no identifiable information will be gathered from the participants, specifically, no names will be asked. These participants will instead be assigned reference numbers to serve as unique identifiers, so as to maintain confidentiality. The collected data will then be encoded into a password-protected spreadsheet program, such as Excel. For the purpose of back-up, a copy of the encoded data will be stored within a password-protected portable storage device accessible only by the researcher. Data will be kept only after a period of three years upon the completion of the study, after which, stored data will be deleted from the researcher’s computer and portable storage device.

Summary

            This research aims to examine the practice of Ayurvedic medicine in the US particularly on non-Asian patients and those with cognitive conditions. A quantitative correlational, non-experimental research design will be employed in addressing the research questions of the study. A purposive sampling technique will be employed in sampling for pertinent data for statistical analyses. A researcher-developed survey instrument is implemented in measuring the study variables. Descriptive analysis will determine the growth of Ayurvedic practice in the US particularly on non-Asian patients. Correlation analysis will determine the relationships of patient age, acceptance of Ayurvedic medicine, patient’s cognitive condition severity, ineffectiveness of western medicine in treating cognitive conditions, and effectiveness of Ayurvedic medicine in treating cognitive conditions. All hypothesis testing will be done at a 0.05 level of significance. The results and analysis of data and presentation of inferential statistics are discussed in the next chapter.

CHAPTER IV

RESULTS

Introduction

The purpose of this quantitative, correlational, non-experimental research study was to assess the progress of Ayurvedic medicine in practice and acceptance in the U.S.; specifically, the study sought to assess to what extent Americans who are not of Asian origin seek out and use this medicine, and to determine to what extent the practitioners treat Western-origin patients for cognitive conditions. The following research questions and hypotheses guided the study:

RQ1. To what extent are Ayurvedic practices becoming mainstream in the U.S., as reported by Ayurvedic practitioners there?

Null Hypothesis (H0a): There is no evidence of growth in the prevalence of Ayurvedic practice in the U.S. for the past five years, as perceived by Ayurvedic practitioners.

Alternative Hypothesis (H1a): There is evidence of growth in the prevalence of Ayurvedic practice in the U.S. for the past five years, as perceived by Ayurvedic practitioners.

RQ2. Does the severity of the cognitive condition of non-Asian patients have a relationship to the effectiveness of Ayurvedic medicine for them, as perceived by Ayurvedic practitioners?

Null Hypothesis (H0b): There is no statistically-significant correlation between the severity of the cognitive condition of non-Asian patients and the effectiveness of Ayurvedic medicine for them, as perceived by Ayurvedic practitioners.

Alternative Hypothesis (H1b): There is a statistically-significant correlation between the severity of the cognitive condition of non-Asian patients and the effectiveness of Ayurvedic medicine for them, as perceived by Ayurvedic practitioners.

RQ3. Does the effectiveness of Western medicine treatments for non-Asian patients with cognitive conditions relate to their perception of the effectiveness of Ayurvedic medicine treatments, as reported by Ayurvedic practitioners?

Null Hypothesis (H0c): There is no statistically-significant correlation between the effectiveness of Western medicine treatments for non-Asian patients with cognitive conditions and their perception of the effectiveness of Ayurvedic medicine, as reported by Ayurvedic practitioners.

Alternative Hypothesis (H1c): There is a statistically-significant correlation between the effectiveness of Western medicine treatments for non-Asian patients with cognitive conditions and their perception of the effectiveness of Ayurvedic medicine, as reported by Ayurvedic practitioners.

The purpose of this chapter is to provide explanation of the data outcomes from descriptive statistics analysis, normality testing, and correlation analysis. The researcher utilized IBM©SPSS® Statistics Version 22 to conduct the data analysis, by first testing statistical assumptions and then providing answers to the research questions. This chapter will present the summary of the responses in the researcher-developed survey instrument employed in gathering quantifiable data with regards to the practice of Ayurvedic medicine in the U.S., and a summary of results, statistical findings, and the analysis technique.

Reliability Test of Surveys Instrument

The researcher computed a Cronbach’s alpha to test the reliability of the responses in the 12-item self-developed survey instrument. The researcher tested the reliability of the survey results among the 39 survey respondents to ensure that the reliability of the instruments was established during the study. Table 1 summarizes the Cronbach’s alpha reliability statistics.

It can be observed from the table that the Cronbach’s alpha value of the self-developed survey instrument (α = 0.76) has acceptable Cronbach’s alpha value, since the value was greater than the acceptable value of 0.7. This established the reliability of the 12-item researcher-developed survey instrument to determine the practice of Ayurvedic medicine in the U.S.; the responses on the different items were reliable.

Table 1

Cronbach’s Alpha Statistics of Researcher-developed Survey Instrument

Cronbach’s alpha N of items
0.76 12

Summaries of Responses on Researcher-developed Survey Instrument

The sample respondents consisted of 39 Ayurvedic medicine practitioners in the U.S. The frequency and percentage summaries of the participants’ responses to the researcher-developed survey instrument are summarized in Table 2. The table uses frequency and percentage summaries, since the responses are measured using Likert-type scales. This analysis addressed research question one of the study.

The first set of questions determined the extent to which the Ayurvedic practices are becoming mainstream in the U.S., as reported by Ayurvedic practitioners there. Almost half (16; 41%) of the 39 practitioners “somewhat agreed” that their non-Asian patients regard Ayurvedic medicine as equal to Western medicine. A majority (31; 79.4%) of the practitioners either “somewhat agreed” (13; 33%), “agreed” (11; 28.2%), or “strongly agreed” (7; 17.9%) that they have noted an increase in non-Asian patients seeking Ayurvedic care. More than half (23; 59%) of the participants either “somewhat agreed” (6; 15.4%), “agreed” (12; 30.8%), or “strongly agreed” (5; 12.8%) that they treat more non-Asian patients than they did five years ago. More than half (23; 59%) of the sample participants either “somewhat agreed” (8; 20.5%) or “agreed” (15; 38.5%) that they find it easier to prescribe Ayurvedic herbal remedies and that their patients are finding it easier to fill those prescriptions. Thus, as reported by Ayurvedic practitioners in the U.S., Ayurvedic practices are becoming widely accepted there.

The second set of questions determined the extent to which Ayurvedic practices are utilized by non-Asian populations in the U.S. in the treatment of cognitive conditions, as reported by Ayurvedic practitioners there. A majority (34; 87.1%) of the participants either “somewhat agreed” (8; 20.5%), “agreed” (16; 41%), or “strongly agreed” (10; 25.6%) that their non-Asian patients also use Western treatments and medicines. More than half (22; 56.4%) of the practitioners either “somewhat agreed” (13; 33.3%) or “agreed” (19; 23.1%) that their non-Asian patients are replacing Western medical treatment with Ayurvedic treatment. A majority (29; 74.4%) of the sample either “somewhat agreed” (9; 23.1%), “agreed” (14; 35.9%), or “strongly agreed” (6; 15.4%) that their non-Asian patients report better results with Ayurvedic treatments than with Western treatments. A majority (32; 82%) of the practitioners either “somewhat agreed” (10; 25.6%), “agreed” (11; 28.2%), or “strongly agreed” (11; 28.2%) that their patients express significant dissatisfaction with Western medicine. As a summary, a majority of the non-Asian patients of the practitioners in the U.S. have been utilizing Ayurvedic treatment over Western medical treatment. As reported by Ayurvedic practitioners in the U.S., the extent to which non-Asian patients in the U.S. seeking Ayurvedic treatment for cognitive disorders is growing.

The third set of questions determined the extent to which Ayurveda practices are supplementing traditional Western medicine in the U.S. A majority (29; 74.3%) of the sample participants either “somewhat agreed” (7; 17.9%), “agreed” (15; 38.6%), or “strongly agreed” (7; 17.9%) that their non-Asian patients also use Western treatments and medicines. Half (20; 51.2%) of the participants either “somewhat agreed” (7; 17.9%), “agreed” (10; 25.6%), or “strongly agreed” (3; 7.7%) that their non-Asian patients are replacing Western medical treatment with Ayurvedic treatment. More than half (25; 64.1%) of the practitioners either “somewhat agreed” (12; 30.8%), “agreed” (8; 20.5%), or “strongly agreed” (5; 12.8%) that their non-Asian patients report better results with Ayurvedic treatments than with Western treatments. More than half (27; 69.3%) of the practitioners either “somewhat agreed” (9; 23.1%), “agreed” (9; 23.1%), or “strongly agreed” (9; 23.1%) that their patients express significant dissatisfaction with Western medicine. Overall, Ayurvedic medicine is, to a significant extent, supplementing Western medicine in the U.S.

Table 2

Frequency and Percentage Summaries of Responses on Researcher-developed Survey Instrument (N = 39)

Frequency Percent
My non-Asian patients regard Ayurvedic medicine as equal to Western medicine.
Disagree 9 23.1
Neither agree nor disagree 8 20.5
Somewhat agree 16 41.0
Agree 2 5.1
Strongly agree 2 5.1
Missing 2 5.1
I have noted an increase in non-Asian patients seeking Ayurvedic care.    
Disagree 1 2.6
Neither agree nor disagree 5 12.8
Somewhat agree 13 33.3
Agree 11 28.2
Strongly agree 7 17.9
Missing 2 5.1
I treat more non-Asian patients than I did five years ago.    
Disagree 3 7.7
Neither agree nor disagree 12 30.8
Somewhat agree 6 15.4
Agree 12 30.8
Strongly agree 5 12.8
Missing 1 2.6
I am finding it easier to prescribe Ayurvedic herbal remedies and my patients are finding it easier to fill those prescriptions.    
Disagree 7 17.9
Neither agree nor disagree 6 15.4
Somewhat agree 8 20.5
Agree 15 38.5
Strongly agree 1 2.6
Missing 2 5.1
My non-Asian patients also use Western treatments and medicines.    
Somewhat disagree 1 2.6
Somewhat agree 8 20.5
Agree 16 41.0
Strongly agree 10 25.6
Missing 4 10.3
My non-Asian patients are replacing Western medical treatment with Ayurvedic treatment.    
Disagree 2 5.1
Somewhat disagree 9 23.1
Neither agree nor disagree 1 2.6
Somewhat agree 13 33.3
Agree 9 23.1
Strongly agree 1 2.6
Missing 4 10.3
My non-Asian patients report better results with Ayurvedic treatments than with Western treatments.    
Somewhat disagree 1 2.6
Neither agree nor disagree 5 12.8
Somewhat agree 9 23.1
Agree 14 35.9
Strongly agree 6 15.4
Missing 4 10.3
My patients express significant dissatisfaction with Western medicine.    
Disagree 2 5.1
Somewhat disagree 1 2.6
Neither agree nor disagree 1 2.6
Somewhat agree 10 25.6
Agree 11 28.2
Strongly agree 11 28.2
Missing 3 7.7
My non-Asian patients also use Western treatments and medicines.    
Somewhat disagree 1 2.6
Somewhat agree 7 17.9
Agree 15 38.5
Strongly agree 7 17.9
Missing 9 23.1
My non-Asian patients are replacing Western medical treatment with Ayurvedic treatment.    
Disagree 2 5.1
Somewhat disagree 5 12.8
Neither agree nor disagree 3 7.7
Somewhat agree 7 17.9
Agree 10 25.6
Strongly agree 3 7.7
Missing 9 23.1
My non-Asian patients report better results with Ayurvedic treatments than with Western treatments.    
Disagree 1 2.6
Somewhat disagree 2 5.1
Neither agree nor disagree 2 5.1
Somewhat agree 12 30.8
Agree 8 20.5
Strongly agree 5 12.8
Missing 9 23.1
My patients express significant dissatisfaction with Western medicine.    
Somewhat disagree 1 2.6
Neither agree nor disagree 2 5.1
Somewhat agree 9 23.1
Agree 9 23.1
Strongly agree 9 23.1
Missing 9 23.1

 Normality Testing

Prior to conducting the statistical analysis of correlation analysis to address the research questions and hypotheses two and three of the study, the researcher conducted normality testing of the study variables to ensure that the data of the study variables follows a normal distribution. The researcher conducted investigation of the skewness and kurtosis statistics for the normality testing. The researcher conducted normality testing on the responses of each of the 12 items in the survey. Table 3 summarizes the skewness and kurtosis statistics of the data of the different survey responses.

To determine whether the data follows normal distribution, skewness statistics greater than 3 indicate strong non-normality, while kurtosis statistic between 10 and 20 also indicate non-normality (Kline, 2005). Looking at Table 2, the skewness statistic values ranged from -1.27 to   -34, while the kurtosis values ranged from -1.01 to 2.59. The skewness and kurtosis statistics of the responses on each of the 12 items in the survey fell within the criteria enumerated by Kline (2005), indicating that the data of the survey responses are all normally distributed.

Table 3

Skewness and Kurtosis of Study Variables

N Skewness Kurtosis
Statistic Statistic Std. error Statistic Std. error
My non-Asian patients regard Ayurvedic medicine as equal to Western medicine. 37 -0.34 0.39 -0.61 0.76
I have noted an increase in non-Asian patients seeking Ayurvedic care. 37 -0.65 0.39 1.04 0.76
I treat more non-Asian patients than I did five years ago. 38 -0.50 0.38 -0.22 0.75
I am finding it easier to prescribe Ayurvedic herbal remedies and my patients are finding it easier to fill those prescriptions. 37 -0.82 0.39 -0.60 0.76
My non-Asian patients also use Western treatments and medicines. 35 -1.00 0.40 2.09 0.78
My non-Asian patients are replacing Western medical treatment with Ayurvedic treatment. 35 -0.41 0.40 -1.01 0.78
My non-Asian patients report better results with Ayurvedic treatments than with Western treatments. 35 -0.46 0.40 -0.31 0.78
My patients express significant dissatisfaction with Western medicine. 36 -1.27 0.39 1.66 0.77
My non-Asian patients also use Western treatments and medicines. 30 -1.08 0.43 2.59 0.83
My non-Asian patients are replacing Western medical treatment with Ayurvedic treatment. 30 -0.51 0.43 -0.78 0.83
My non-Asian patients report better results with Ayurvedic treatments than with Western treatments. 30 -0.74 0.43 0.74 0.83
My patients express significant dissatisfaction with Western medicine. 30 -0.58 0.43 -0.07 0.83

Spearman’s Correlation Results of Correlation between Study Variables

The researcher conducted a Spearman’s correlation test to examine the relationships among the responses on the questions on: the extent to which Ayurvedic practices becoming mainstream in the U.S.; the extent to which Ayurvedic practices being utilized by non-Asian populations in the U.S. in the treatment of cognitive conditions; and the extent to which Ayurvedic practices are supplementing traditional Western medicine in the U.S. The researcher conducted a Spearman’s correlation test because the response data on the item self-developed survey instrument use an ordinal/Likert-type scale. The correlation test used a level of significance of 0.05. Table 4 summarizes the results of the correlation test. This analysis addressed research questions two and three.

The results of the correlation test showed that the responses to the question item, “My non-Asian patients regard Ayurvedic medicine as equal to Western medicine” are significantly positively correlated with the responses to the question items, “My non-Asian patients are replacing Western medical treatment with Ayurvedic treatment” (r(33) = 0.50, p < 0.001), and “My non-Asian patients are replacing Western medical treatment with Ayurvedic treatment” (r(28) = 0.37, p = 0.05).

The responses to the question item, “I have noted an increase in non-Asian patients seeking Ayurvedic care” are significantly positively related with the responses to the question items, “I am finding it easier to prescribe Ayurvedic herbal remedies and my patients are finding it easier to fill those prescriptions” (r(35) = 0.40, p = 0.01), and “My non-Asian patients are replacing Western medical treatment with Ayurvedic treatment” (r(28) = 0.48, p = 0.01).

The responses to the question item, “I treat more non-Asian patients than I did five years ago” are significantly positively related with the responses to the question items “I am finding it easier to prescribe Ayurvedic herbal remedies and my patients are finding it easier to fill those prescriptions” (r(35) = 0.42, p = 0.01).

The responses to the question item, “I am finding it easier to prescribe Ayurvedic herbal remedies and my patients are finding it easier to fill those prescriptions” are significantly negatively related with the responses to the question item, “I My non-Asian patients also use Western treatments and medicines” (r(33) = -0.38, p = 0.02); and significantly positively related with the responses to the question items, “My non-Asian patients are replacing Western medical treatment with Ayurvedic treatment” (r(33) = 0.42, p = 0.01), and “My non-Asian patients are replacing Western medical treatment with Ayurvedic treatment” (r(28) = 0.40, p = 0.03).

The responses to the question item, “My non-Asian patients also use Western treatments and medicines” are significantly positively related with the responses to the question item, “My non-Asian patients also use Western treatments and medicines” (r(28) = 0.81, p < 0.001).

The responses to the question item, “My non-Asian patients are replacing Western medical treatment with Ayurvedic treatment” are significantly positively related with the responses to the question items, “My non-Asian patients report better results with Ayurvedic treatments than with Western treatments” (r(33) = 0.76, p < 0.001), “ My non-Asian patients are replacing Western medical treatment with Ayurvedic treatment” (r(28) = 0.82, p < 0.001), and “My non-Asian patients report better results with Ayurvedic treatments than with Western treatments” (r(28) = 0.58, p < 0.001).

The responses to the question item, “My non-Asian patients report better results with Ayurvedic treatments than with Western treatments” are significantly positively related with the responses to the question items, “My patients express significant dissatisfaction with Western medicine” (r(33) = 0.46, p = 0.01), “My non-Asian patients are replacing Western medical treatment with Ayurvedic treatment” (r(28) = 0.66, p < 0.001), “My non-Asian patients report better results with Ayurvedic treatments than with Western treatments” (r(28) = 0.70, p < 0.001), and “My patients express significant dissatisfaction with Western medicine” (r(28) = 0.45, p = 0.01).

The responses to the question item, “My patients express significant dissatisfaction with Western medicine” are significantly positively related with the responses to the question items, “My non-Asian patients are replacing Western medical treatment with Ayurvedic treatment” (r(28) = 0.37, p = 0.04), “My non-Asian patients report better results with Ayurvedic treatments than with Western treatments” (r(28) = 0.42, p = 0.02, and “My patients express significant dissatisfaction with Western medicine” (r(28) = 0.91, p < 0.001).

The responses to the question item, “My non-Asian patients are replacing Western medical treatment with Ayurvedic treatment” are significantly positively related with the responses to the question items, “My non-Asian patients report better results with Ayurvedic treatments than with Western treatments” (r(28) = 0.60, p < 0.001), and “My patients express significant dissatisfaction with Western medicine” (r(28) = 0.46, p = 0.01).

The responses to the question item, “My non-Asian patients report better results with Ayurvedic treatments than with Western treatments” are significantly positively related with the responses to the question items, “My patients express significant dissatisfaction with Western medicine” (r(28) = 0.37, p = 0.04).

As a summary of the correlation results, most of the significant correlations were positive. This indicates that Ayurvedic practices are becoming mainstream in the U.S., are being utilized by non-Asian populations for the treatment of cognitive conditions, and that are supplementing traditional Western medicine in the U.S.

Table 4

Spearman Correlation Results

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12
Spear-man’s rho 1.    My non-Asian patients regard Ayurvedic medicine as equal to Western medicine. Correlation Coefficient 1.00 0.17 0.07 0.30 0.17 0.50* 0.27 -0.02 0.22 0.37* 0.29 -0.02
Sig. (2-tailed) . 0.31 0.68 0.07 0.34 0.00 0.12 0.93 0.25 0.05 0.13 0.92
N 37 37 37 37 35 35 35 35 30 30 30 30
2.    I have noted an increase in non-Asian patients seeking Ayurvedic care. Correlation Coefficient 1.00 0.26 0.40* -0.30 0.22 0.22 0.18 -0.11 0.48* 0.25 0.27
Sig. (2-tailed) . 0.12 0.01 0.08 0.21 0.21 0.30 0.58 0.01 0.19 0.15
N 37 37 37 35 35 35 35 30 30 30 30
3.    I treat more non-Asian patients than I did five years ago. Correlation Coefficient 1.00 0.42* 0.09 -0.14 -0.06 -0.04 0.05 -0.15 0.08 -0.04
Sig. (2-tailed) . 0.01 0.61 0.42 0.73 0.84 0.81 0.44 0.68 0.83
N 38 37 35 35 35 35 30 30 30 30
4.    I am finding it easier to prescribe Ayurvedic herbal remedies and my patients are finding it easier to fill those prescriptions. Correlation Coefficient 1.00 -0.38* 0.42* 0.25 -0.03 -0.18 0.40* 0.09 0.08
Sig. (2-tailed) . 0.02 0.01 0.14 0.88 0.35 0.03 0.65 0.67
N 37 35 35 35 35 30 30 30 30
5.    My non-Asian patients also use Western treatments and medicines. Correlation Coefficient 1.00 -0.15 -0.13 -0.04 0.81* -0.24 -0.04 -0.18
Sig. (2-tailed) . 0.38 0.45 0.81 0.00 0.20 0.84 0.35
N 35 35 35 35 30 30 30 30
6.    My non-Asian patients are replacing Western medical treatment with Ayurvedic treatment. Correlation Coefficient 1.00 0.76* 0.30 -0.11 0.82* 0.58* 0.34
Sig. (2-tailed) . 0.00 0.08 0.56 0.00 0.00 0.07
N 35 35 35 30 30 30 30
7.    My non-Asian patients report better results with Ayurvedic treatments than with Western treatments. Correlation Coefficient 1.00 0.46* -0.03 0.66* 0.70* 0.45*
Sig. (2-tailed) . 0.01 0.90 0.00 0.00 0.01
N 35 35 30 30 30 30
8.    My patients express significant dissatisfaction with Western medicine. Correlation Coefficient 1.00 -0.12 0.37* 0.42* 0.91*
Sig. (2-tailed) . 0.53 0.04 0.02 0.00
N 36 30 30 30 30
9.    My non-Asian patients also use Western treatments and medicines. Correlation Coefficient 1.00 -0.02 -0.09 -0.12
Sig. (2-tailed) . 0.91 0.63 0.53
N 30 30 30 30
10.               My non-Asian patients are replacing Western medical treatment with Ayurvedic treatment. Correlation Coefficient 1.00 0.60* 0.46*
Sig. (2-tailed) . 0.00 0.01
N 30 30 30
11.               My non-Asian patients report better results with Ayurvedic treatments than with Western treatments. Correlation Coefficient 1.00 0.37*
Sig. (2-tailed) . 0.04
N 30 30
12.               My patients express significant dissatisfaction with Western medicine. Correlation Coefficient 1.00
Sig. (2-tailed) .
N 30
*. Correlation is significant at the 0.05 level (2-tailed).

Summary

The purpose of this quantitative, correlational, non-experimental research study was to assess the progress of Ayurvedic medicine in practice and acceptance in the U.S., particularly in terms of to what extent those Americans who are not of Asian origin seek out and use it; and also to determine to what extent they treat Western-origin patients for cognitive conditions. Results of the descriptive statistical analysis showed that Ayurvedic practices are becoming widely accepted there; the extent to which non-Asian patients in the U.S. are seeking Ayurvedic treatment for cognitive treatment is growing; and Ayurvedic medicine is, to a significant extent, supplementing Western medicine in the U.S. The result of correlation tests showed that Ayurvedic practices are becoming mainstream in the U.S., are being utilized by non-Asian populations for the treatment of cognitive conditions, and are supplementing traditional Western medicine in the U.S.

CHAPTER V

FINDINGS, CONCLUSIONS, AND RECOMMENDATIONS

More people are recognizing the limitations of mainstream or Western medicines, and more patients are willing to consider alternative therapies (Tyler & Tyler, 2014). However, which Ayurvedic treatments and therapies can be effective in treating cognitive disorders is generally unknown in the West. Not enough research has been devoted to this topic. Moreover, mainstream medical practitioners often do not take Ayurvedic treatments seriously. Researchers think that because they are alternative treatments, evidence-based research is not worth doing for these treatments. Research on Ayurveda’s effectiveness on cognitive enhancement has been carried out mainly in an Asian context (Chan et al., 2011) The specific problem is that there is limited research on the use or efficacy of Ayurvedic medicine in the United States among non-Asians regarding treatment of cognitive enhancement and/or the treatment of cognitive maladies. The current study was designed to close this gap.

The purpose of this quantitative, correlational, non-experimental research study was to assess the progress of Ayurvedic medicine in practice and acceptance in the United States. The aim was to determine the extent to which non-Asian Americans seek out and use this medicine from the perspectives of the Ayurvedic medicine practitioners. Another related aim was to determine to what extent the practitioners treat Western-origin patients for cognitive conditions.

Summary of Findings

The quantitative research led to significant findings for each research question raised, showing a positive growth of Ayurvedic practices in the United States among non-Asian Americans, a positive trend in the use of non-Asian Americans of Ayurvedic medicines for their cognitive ailments, and an inverse relationship between perceptions of and satisfaction with Western medicine and willingness to try Ayurvedic medicines. These findings are presented here according to the research questions they represent.

RQ1. To what extent are Ayurvedic practices becoming mainstream in the US, as reported by Ayurvedic practitioners there?

To determine to what extent Ayurvedic practices are becoming mainstream in the United States, as reported by Ayurvedic practitioners, 39 U.S. Ayurvedic medicine practitioners answered a questionnaire measuring the frequency and percentage summaries of the participants’ responses to the researcher-developed survey instrument. Cronbach’s alpha was computed to test the reliability of the responses in the 12-item, self-developed survey instrument.

Demographic statistical analysis showed that there is significant growth in the number of non-Asian patients utilizing Ayurvedic medicine according to the perceptions of the practitioners. Almost half of the practitioners claimed they observed a growth in the number of their non-Asian patients. They also asserted that they now treat more non-Asian patients than they did five years ago. The practitioners also shared that it is easier to prescribe Ayurvedic herbal remedies and that their patients are finding it easier to fill those prescriptions.

These findings led to the conclusion that Ayurvedic practices are becoming widely accepted in the United States. These findings satisfy the first alternative hypothesis proposed, which is that there is evidence of growth in the prevalence of Ayurvedic practice in the United States over the past five years, as perceived by Ayurvedic practitioners.

RQ2. Does the severity of the cognitive condition of non-Asian patients have a relationship to the effectiveness of Ayurvedic medicine for them, as perceived by Ayurvedic practitioners?

To determine the relationship between the severity of cognitive conditions among non-Asian patients and the effectiveness of Ayurvedic medicine in treating those conditions, as perceived by Ayurvedic practitioners, the practitioners’ responses to the survey were also analyzed. Findings revealed that Ayurvedic medicine practitioners perceived growing number of non-Asian patients in the United States seeking Ayurvedic treatment for cognitive disorders.

Correlational analysis revealed a significant relationship between the extent to which Ayurvedic practices are becoming mainstream in the United States and the utilization of these treatments among non-Asian populations for their cognitive conditions. Analysis also revealed significant relationship between the extent to which Ayurvedic practices are becoming mainstream in the United States and how Ayurvedic practices are supplementing traditional Western medicine. This means that as Ayurvedic medicines become more recognized, patients are more willing to use these treatments for their cognitive disorders instead of Western medicines.

RQ3. Does the effectiveness of Western medicine treatments for non-Asian patients with cognitive conditions relate to their perception of the effectiveness of Ayurvedic medicine treatments, as reported by Ayurvedic practitioners?

Another research question focused on whether the effectiveness of Western medicine treatments for non-Asian patients with cognitive conditions was related to their perception of the effectiveness of Ayurvedic medicine treatments, as reported by Ayurvedic practitioners. Findings revealed that there is a statistically significant correlation between the effectiveness of Western medicine treatments for non-Asian patients with cognitive conditions and their perception of the effectiveness of Ayurvedic medicine, as reported by Ayurvedic practitioners.

Most practitioners revealed that their non-Asian patients also use Western treatments and medicines. Most also reported that their non-Asian patients are replacing Western medical treatment with Ayurvedic treatment. Practitioners agreed that their non-Asian patients report better results with Ayurvedic treatments than with Western treatments. They revealed that their non-Asian patients express significant dissatisfaction with Western medicine. In summary, a majority of the non-Asian patients of the practitioners in the United States have been utilizing Ayurvedic treatment over Western medical treatment.

Findings also revealed that Ayurvedic practices are supplementing traditional Western medicine in the United States. Non-Asian patients continue to use Western treatments and medicines. Nonetheless, some practitioners claimed that there are patients replacing Western medical treatment with Ayurvedic treatment because they expect better results with Ayurvedic treatments than with Western treatments. Some patients even express significant dissatisfaction with Western medicine.

Interpretation of Findings

Most of the findings of the study, based on demographic analysis and correlational analysis, went against findings of the available literature, presenting a rich, comprehensive, and alternative understanding of the current state of Ayurvedic medicine usage in the Western world. In general, findings revealed that contrary to the findings of past research, Ayurveda in Western nations may be of interest to non-Asians in these countries.

The finding that more non-Asian patients are using Ayurvedic medicine indicates a change in attitudes towards alternative treatments. According to past literature, even though Ayurvedic medicine is routinely used as primary care and considered a standard approach to health care in Eastern cultures, the Western world continues to view it skeptically, relying instead on Western medicines. However, this may now be changing. The literature also showed that most health care professionals warned against the use of Ayurveda and other alternative treatments and asked patients instead to trust conventional Western medicine, citing lack of evidence and negative interactions with conventional medicines as justifications to keep Ayurvedic medicine as a complementary treatment rather than a primary one (Pradhan & Pradhan, 2011).

However, the findings revealed that because of their dissatisfaction with Western medicines, some patients, even non-Asian ones, are starting to think that Ayurvedic medicines are worth trying. According to past literature, a lack of evidence prevents research from being conducted, which in turn prevents the discovery of potential evidence in support of Ayurvedic medicine in Western health care settings. The current study’s findings may have closed this literature gap.

The findings of the current study also showed that a number of patients prefer Ayurvedic medicine as supplementary medicines. The findings are a breakthrough. Past studies only confirmed that Ayurvedic medicines are mainly used to help restore balance to the doshas, which are biophysical forces or energies that can shape individuals’ biological processes. The doshas are believed to affect one’s state of mind and body (Basnyat & Kolasinski, 2014; Kessler et al., 2013). The medicines used in Ayurveda fall into one of two categories: those that use herbs only and those that also include minerals or metals (Basnyat & Kolasinski, 2014). The specific uses of the medicines are dependent on the individual patient’s balance of doshas and health concerns as assessed by the Ayurvedic practitioner. Just as physicians tailor synthetic medicine dosages based on a patient’s need and specific condition, Ayurvedic medicines are tailored to the balance of doshas of the patient in order to restore them and promote health. However, the findings of the current study showed that non-Asian patients are more open to using Ayurvedic medicines mainly for their cognitive conditions. Western people are starting to believe that Ayurvedic medicines can target specific cognitive ailments, rather than just bringing and restoring health and balance.

In general, the findings of the study deviated from existing literature. According to Tyler and Tyler (2014), in recent decades, there has been a significant increase in interest in Ayurvedic medicine, particularly in the United States, with an increasing number of individuals seeking information about Ayurvedic medicine from their health care professionals for a variety of reasons, but mainly to improve health and wellness in general. Tyler and Tyler (2014) found that despite an increasing interest in Ayurvedic medicine around the world, it is still predominantly practiced in Eastern cultures and not embraced as readily in the West. In addition, the lack of research about Ayurvedic medicine in Western nations, which includes minimal access to research that has been done in Eastern nations, has resulted in a different perspective of Ayurveda in Western cultures than can be found in Eastern cultures (Tyler & Tyler, 2014). The findings of the current study showed that from the practitioners’ perspective, the trend may be currently changing.

Most of the available literature showed that rather than being seen as a legitimate, primary source of health care, Ayurvedic medicine is not taken seriously by most mainstream, Western healthcare professionals (Chan et al., 2011; Foley, 2012). Most Western medical practitioners worry about promoting Ayurvedic medicine because they think that they are stepping away from hard scientific research into the realm of traditional natural medicine. This perspective makes it difficult to conduct legitimate research into Ayurvedic medicine and practice. The current study showing that more patients are interested in Ayurvedic medicine may start an evolution in medical practitioners’ perspectives.

Most Western medical professionals believe that this form of medicine is a cultural or spiritual practice (Kessler et al., 2013; Tyler & Tyler, 2014). Most Western health care professionals who do integrate Ayurveda into a patient’s care do so from the perspective of spiritual or social health rather than physical; for them, it falls under the category of complementary or alternative medicine (Kessler et al., 2013; Tyler & Tyler, 2014). It seems that this perspective may change in the near future as more practitioners observe patients seeking Ayurvedic medicine.

According to existing literature, using Ayurvedic medicine to promote health in patients includes a variety of interventions and treatments rather than a single approach (Gadgil, 2010). As a holistic health system, Ayurveda is a comprehensive intervention plan that can affect all areas of an individual’s overall health in order to alleviate conditions and symptoms, as well as promote health. As such, the traditional notion of Ayurvedic medicine is that there are multiple simultaneous modalities in developing and implementing a care plan. Research suggests this is a superior approach than conventional Western medicine, which most often uses a single approach to care (Okoro, Zhao, Li, & Balluz, 2013; Xu & Chen, 2012). It seems that more Western patients are starting to realize the value of multi-modal treatment plans for their cognitive ailments.

The findings, however, do coincide with the literature on complementary and alternative therapy in general. The literature often cited an increase in interest among patients in alternative medicines in the past decades. Okoro et al. (2013), for instance, found a significant increase in the use of complementary and alternative medicines among adults in the United States from 2002 to 2007. Most of the interested patients also prefer to receive Ayurvedic medicines and treatments from their primary care physicians (Okoro et al., 2013). The findings of the study coincided with the findings of Park et al. (2012), which indicated that the use of Chinese and Ayurveda medicines are becoming mainstream; more medical practitioners in the United States are beginning to get licenses, and insurance companies are starting to cover these treatments in their plans (Park et al., 2012).

The findings of the study also coincide with the trends in integrative medicines in general. Horrigan et al. (2012) also found that in the past 20 years or so, growth in the number of clinical centers where integrative medicine can be accessed has been documented. In addition, the number of medical schools offering courses on integrative strategies, the number of researchers interested in exploring integrative interventions, and the number of patients wanting to experience integrative care have increased. These past studies showing positive interest, however, are still quite limited.

Moreover, the dissatisfaction that many patients are starting to feel with Western medicines is supported by the literature. For example, Perry and Howes (2011) found that interest, research, and advancements in Ayurvedic medicinal field, particularly in the treatment of dementia and other cognitive functions, stemmed from a need for advancements not yet made in conventional Western medicine. Perry and Howes asserted that the realization of escalating problems and costs of cognitive disorders, coupled with the disappointing pace of new synthetic drug development for cognitive disorders, generated a wider acceptance of concepts of complementary or alternative medicine. As many patients are unsatisfied with conventional Western treatments and the supply of effective synthetic medicines is falling behind the demand for new and improved treatments, patients have become more willing to use plant-based treatments, such as those offered by Ayurvedic medicine.

According to Kessler (2013), if synthetic medicines are unsatisfactory, and alternative medicines are offering better treatment outcomes, it is natural for patients to shift from the use of Western medicines to alternative medicines. This is especially the case in dealing with cognitive disorders. When dealing with cognitive function, treatments that could improve health in all areas of life are able to enhance the cognitive function of individuals more effectively. Patients with dementia or Alzheimer’s are more likely to experience improvements if they are provided with support and treatment that includes methods for improving cognition instead of just pills. Examples of these activities are doing crossword puzzles or other thinking-intensive activities (Kessler, 2013). Combined with medicines designed to improve cognitive function, patients struggling with cognitive disorders may be able to find greater health improvement and, as a result, greater quality of life.

Implication of Findings

The purpose of the proposed quantitative research study was to determine and measure the growth of Ayurvedic practice in the United States. Another aim was to determine to what degree Ayurveda is accepted through the perceptions of Ayurvedic practitioners in the United States as a valid and viable treatment modality. The findings of the study showed that such acceptance exists and is growing. Few studies have looked at how Ayurvedic medicine can be used in treating cognitive function diseases instead of just being used to achieve holistic well-being. The current study showed that from the perspective of the practitioners, many are now starting to trust Ayurvedic medicine for this purpose. This finding is significant, especially with the severity of cognitive diseases. Once an individual’s cognitive function is destroyed by disease, it can be too late to reverse the condition. In the United States, the Baby Boomer generation is highly at risk, which is a significant problem because their population is very large and rapidly aging. The findings of the study showed that Ayurvedic medicine may potentially help large segments of this population effectively. The positive findings of the current study also implied that the medical field should start taking Ayurvedic practice in the United States seriously, given that many are now willing to use it, as opposed to using Western medicines only. It is fundamental to the quality of life that all persons receive the best medical care possible. The medical field should consider enhancing availability of Ayurvedic care.

Currently, the American health care field still does not view Ayurveda as a legitimate method of treatment. As of now, there is little demand for research, which would create the foundation on which Ayurvedic medicine could be incorporated into evidence-based practice in the American health care system. The findings of the current study can potentially change this negative or lukewarm perspective of Ayurvedic medicine held by mainstream, Western medical professionals

The findings of the current study that more patients are interested in Ayurvedic treatments also serve as evidence as to why some mainstream medical practitioners are exploring ways to integrate Ayurveda into Western medicine practices (Park et al., 2012). According to literature, even though there are trends to integrate and blend Ayurvedic medicines with Western medicines for the benefit of the patient, integration is not easy. To attract the Western demographic, particularly in the context of integrative medicine and treatments, Ayurvedic medicines are still being altered to suit the needs of patients in the United States and other Western countries (Pordié & Gaudillière, 2013). Currently, there are already some mainstream medical practitioners integrating Ayurvedic medicine into their practices, increasing the availability of these medicines in the United States. However, the rate of integration still showed that it is still not fully accepted as a legitimate form of health care (Park et al., 2012). The findings of the current study can speed up this integration.

Marques (2015) claimed that Ayurveda medicine has the potential of becoming more popular outside of India because the demand for more natural and healthier eating habits and practices does not only exist within India. Worldwide, the demand for healthier and more wholesome eating habits is increasing. There is also an intensifying realization that fad diets are ineffective (Marques, 2015). Marques added that the increased success of using mindfulness and meditation practices for improving learning capacities, reducing stress, and enhancing cognitive function among children and adults makes Ayurveda potentially more popular outside of India.

One of the main obstacles to integrating Ayurvedic medicine into conventional or Western medicine is the lack of well-controlled clinical trials and systematic research reviews to prove that the Ayurvedic approaches to human diseases can lead to better treatment outcomes. Even though the situation is slightly changing, because of the encouraging and positive results of studies that evaluated the effects of Ayurvedic treatments on different diseases–such as schizophrenia, diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis (Deepak, Giri, Kishor, & Sureskha, 2015; Kessler, Pinders, Michalsen, & Cramer, 2015; Marques, 2015; Pratte, Nanavati, Young, & Morley, 2014)–more research on Ayurveda medicine in the Western world is going to close this gap. The findings of the current study serve as a start.

Limitations

The study’s findings may be a breakthrough and effectively close the gap in Ayurvedic medicine research. However, the findings are also limited by the sample and methodology of the current study. The researcher only examined Ayurvedic practitioners who meet the study criteria. It is possible that including a wider sample of practitioners could provide more precise data. In addition, the perspectives of the patients themselves were not examined. Gathering the views of Ayurvedic medicine practitioners can be a limitation, because it serves as a potential for bias. Gathering the views of Western practitioners on what they perceive may be necessary. The quantitative method may also serve as a limitation. Quantitative research cannot do what qualitative research can, such as provide more in-depth understanding of the current state of Ayurvedic medicine in the West based on the lived experiences and perceptions of the participants themselves.

Recommendations for Future Research

The findings of the current study were able to show the progress of Ayurvedic medicine in practice and acceptance in the United States, particularly regarding to what extent non-Asian Americans seek out and use it. The findings of the study were able to reveal the potential of using Ayurvedic in treating Western patients for cognitive conditions. Ayurvedic medicine was revealed to be more preferable for both the treatment of cognitive diseases and the enhancement of cognition in healthy individuals. However, further research is warranted. There are four main recommendations for future studies.

First, a larger sample of practitioners can be taken into account. Asking more Ayurvedic practitioners to participate can lead to findings that are more precise. Another recommendation for future research is that instead of asking participants to fill out a survey with predetermined responses, their perspectives can be gathered through interviews or focus group discussions, because these methods can lead to a more comprehensive understanding of their experiences and perceptions. A third recommendation for future researchers is to gather the views of patients or Western professionals, instead of focusing on Ayurvedic practitioners. Future researchers could also conduct comparative research studies, wherein the effects of Western medicine and Ayurvedic medicine can be compared for patients with cognitive ailments.

Summary and Conclusion

Based on the literature, it was expected that non-Asians are still not interested in Ayurveda. However, the findings of the study showed the intensifying role of Ayurvedic medicine in the lives and health of patients in the United States, even among non-Asian patients. The study contributes to the growing literature revealing evidence for the use of Ayurvedic medicine in addition to and in place of Western medicine treatments for patients facing illnesses and diseases. The findings showing greater interest among non-Asian patients in the use of Ayurvedic medicine serve as evidence to support integration into evidence-based practice, potentially helping it gain greater acceptance in the Western health care system. The findings may help Ayurvedic treatment shift from the category of complementary and alternative medicine to mainstream medicine in Western health care, especially as the findings revealed that more patients are willing to try Ayurvedic medicine for their cognitive ailments.

The findings of the study add to the limited literature that Ayurvedic medicine is helpful for cognitive function enhancement (Chang et al., 2012; Hunt, et al., 2012). According to the available literature, even if it is impossible to directly increase an individual’s intelligence, Ayurvedic treatments can improve brain work at its peak efficiency (Chang et al., 2012; Hunt, et al., 2012). This is why Ayurveda has become particularly attractive in Western cultures in the first place (Tabassum et al., 2012). Cognitive disorders affect individual patients differently according to their physical health, as well as a wide variety of other factors. Therefore, the most effective treatments for cognitive disorders should be tailored to meet the specific, unique needs of individual patients (Tabassum et al., 2012). Using or creating a single treatment plan that can be applied to all patients with a certain diagnosis is not found to be effective when it comes to cognitive disorders. Other factors such as lifestyle can impair the cognitive abilities and health of individuals, so treatments that are more holistic and that consider all factors in a patient’s health are going to be much more effective. This leaves room for the application and use of Ayurvedic medicine (Chang et al., 2012; Tabassum et al., 2012).

Moreover, Ayurvedic medicine has been shown in existing literature to be a better option that synthetic treatments (Kessler, 2013), which are difficult to develop. Because of the complexity of cognitive disorders, pills cannot be as effective as holistic treatments. Ayurvedic medicine, wherein the emphasis is on treating the whole patient, which includes the preparation of an individualized treatment plan according to the unique needs of the patient, may be better suited to treating cognitive disorders (Kessler, 2013). Just as no two individuals experience the same cognitive disorder in the same way, no two patients would experience the Ayurvedic treatment in the same way. In other words, Ayurvedic medicine is customizable to each patient, which is specifically beneficial for those suffering from complex cognitive ailments (Kessler, 2013). According to Perry and Howes (2011), examples of cognitive disorders for which Ayurvedic treatments show promise are dementia, Alzheimer’s, and other related disorders. Although alternative medicines are considered by many as helpful for clearing and sharpening the mind, even in Western cultures, Ayurvedic treatments are emerging as improved treatments for dementia and other cognitive disorders.

Even though Ayurvedic medicine has a long history in the global health care community, having been developed thousands of years ago, research into the uses of Ayurvedic medicine in Western health care is significantly lacking, which is why the current study is timely and significant. This is particularly true of the uses of Ayurvedic medicines for cognitive disorders such as dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. According to the existing literature (Foley, 2012), one of the primary reasons why Ayurvedic medicine in Western health care is not researched enough is because Ayurveda is considered a complementary and alternative treatment system, leading researchers and mainstream medical practitioners to not take Ayurvedic research seriously or to view it from a purely scientific point of view. With the current findings emphasizing how fast Ayurveda is gaining popularity in the United States, more research is needed to ensure that it can be effectively integrated into conventional Western medicine in order to benefit the overall health of all patients (Foley, 2012).

A more recent study by Manohar (2015) showed that the only way for unfair criticism and skepticism about Ayurveda to be addressed and eliminated is by fostering and encouraging scientific research so that it can be given greater credibility. There is a need for more research papers being published in peer-reviewed journals. Currently, there are only three Medline-indexed research journals devoted exclusively to Ayurveda, and this should be changed (Manohar, 2015). The current study, therefore, is timely and important. This chapter concludes the study.

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