On 11th September 2007, the National newspapers of India published a story about a senior citizen undergoing a bypass surgery for the third time. The story raised a number of questions. How many times could a patient undergo bypass surgery? Is bypass surgery the final solution to treating coronary artery disease? Why is there no guarantee that the re-clogging of arteries will not take place after the bypass? Is bypass, angioplasty or stent the only solution for curing coronary artery disease?
All treatments, be it angioplasty, bypass surgery, chelation therapy, or stent procedure, have side effects. They are localized with no guarantee that blockage will not occur again. There are several cases where people had to undergo a bypass surgery for the second time soon after the first one. Moreover these procedures offer a temporary solution and the patient has to be under medication for the rest of his/her life. Needless to say, all the above mentioned therapies and surgeries are very expensive.
In 1993, Dr. Shirish Shepal, an Ayurvedic doctor, came across a heart patient who could not afford these expensive treatments and was looking for some non invasive affordable alternative to bypass surgery. Dr. Shepal treated this patient with remedies from the Tridosh principles of Ayurveda and the patient was cured.
Dr. Shepal, along with a team of doctors, started experimenting with this treatment modality and in the last six years, they successfully treated more than 6000 patients with coronary artery disease. Patients with blockages ranging from 5% to 95%, whether single blockage or multiple blockages, got cured with Ayurveda. The average time taken to clear the blockage ranged from 4 to 6 months.
The Ayurvedic formula developed by Dr. Shepal and his team originally consisted of concentrated plant extracts of Arjuna, Shatapatri, Draksha, Rasona, Punarnava, and Pimpali. Shatapatri plant extract acts as a beta blocker. Since most of the patients were already on beta blockers, their physicians were reluctant to reduce the dose of allopathic medicines. Shatapatri was then replaced by the concentrated plant extracts of Gudichi, Triphala, Ajmoda, and Shigru Sal.
The revised formula has been patented by Dr.Shepal and is protected under IPR Act of Government of India.
Many leading cardiologists are still reluctant to accept this formula due to lack of documented scientific evidence in treating coronary artery disease. Unfortunately, Ayurveda is not an evidence based science.
When a patient comes to an Ayurvedic doctor, the doctor first checks the pulse and studies the balance of Tridosha of the patient and only then comes to a conclusion about the ailment of the patient. An expert in pulse diagnosis does not require any test reports. He can list out the complaints of the patient based on their pulse reading. After diagnosing the condition, the practitioner prepares the formula by mixing powdered herbs in different combinations and quantities and then gives it to the patient. The formula varies from patient to patient depending on their Prakriti. Along with the powders, the doctor may also prescribe Kashayams and Awalehams as the case may be. Since most Ayurvedic formulae are typically person specific, it is difficult to generalize treatments or find documented scientific data. So, the only data Dr. Shepal can boast of is the file of more than 6000 case papers of the patients who have been cured of their coronary artery disease. Most of the patients did not bother to follow up with post treatment tests such as ECG, 2D Echo, cartography or stress thallium etc. because they had no symptoms of coronary artery disease.
Regarding heavy metal and steroid content in Ayurvedic preparations, Dr. Shepal says, “Ayurveda herbs are grown in soil and are, therefore, bound to have metal contents which are absorbed from the soil. One has to check the percentage of metal content and compare them with the permissible limits. Similar is the case with steroids. Phyto steroids are natural steroids found in these ingredients and they are required by them”.